‘Use Their Language’

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think.”
−David Ogilvy

My daughter is taking French 1 in junior high. Last night I helped her study for a quiz. And I don’t know a lick of French.

“That’s OK, Dad,” she said. “Just say the words the best you can and I’ll spell them. It’s a spelling test.”

Imagine you were marketing something to Americans — in French. That would be absurd. Most would immediately tune it out because they wouldn’t understand a word of it.

Unfortunately, the language disconnect happens in many arenas. It’s not as obvious as my French to Americans example. Rather, it’s when communicators fail to learn the language nuances of their audiences, whether gender, educational, professional, cultural or other differences.


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