Failure to speak the language of Business

Marco was in a good mood. He had an idea during his morning run to improve the Locke+Emmons website to make it easier for customers to purchase products. He was aware that the improvements would be expensive, and he expected to face resistance from the executives who had to approve the expense.

He was confident he could win them over. He walked into his office and told himself, “After all, the new site will do wonders for our brand image.”Marco later that week presented his argument for an improved Web site to the executive team. He described the changes confidently. He also provided cost estimates and detailed studies that compared LLocke+Emmons’brand’s brand image strength to competitors.

Marco noticed that his audience was polite and had asked some questions. However, there wasn’t much excitement. He finished his presentation, thanked the audience, and hoped they would get back to him in a week.

Marco waited with impatience for the team to respond to his proposal. Marco was confused by the lack of enthusiasm from the team, but he felt confident that his business case was compelling. He was surprised when Ann called him to her office to explain that she could not approve funding for changes on the Website.

She said that updating the Website was not a priority.

Marco did not realize that he was making a common mistake in how he made his argument: He wasn’t using the language and values of his audience, which were executives. His discussion focused on how improving his Website could improve the company.

He was probably right. The phrase ” rand image,” which he used to describe his company’s marketing team, had left his audience cold.

MMarco’sproposal would have been more likely to be approved if he spoke the language of business. He could have said, “Because of our confusing Web site, 15 percent leave the site without purchasing anything.”This translates to between $100,000 and $200,000 in lost sales each quarter. He would have gained the attention of his audience if he spoke in terms of lost sales.

How do you learn the language of business, and how can you improve your skills?

  • When talking to non-marketing executives about your project, don’t only rave about brochures, trade shows, or webinars. Explain the business outcomes that each activity is expected to generate. Explain, for example, that a new webinar and brochure will generate leads. Leads will lead to recent sales. Sales will create cash flow, which will allow the CEO to fulfill his promise to shareholders that the company will grow by 10 percent during the next fiscal year.
  • Prioritize marketing activities. Determine which marketing activities are most likely to spur the growth that your company wants and generate the highest returns on investment. Your budget, time, and energy are limited. Invest those resources into the marketing activities that give you the best return on your investment.
  • These activities could include creating new products and services, using another distribution channel, or participating in more tradeshows. The goals of each marketing department are different. Still, they all share the same objectives: improve your company flow, generate fatter margins, increase returns on assets, and turn over inventory more quickly. Which activities will produce the most valuable business results for your company?
  • Showcase your business savvy. Even though you are not responsible for the sales results, show that you understand how your actions affect them. Use business language when expressing your goals. You don’t need to “spend” two million dollars to buy newspaper inserts. Instead, you should “invest” two million dollars in inserts projected to yield a 10% return.
  • Understand how Wall Street speaks business. Read stock analyst reports regularly to learn how Wall Street translates financial language into marketing-related activities.

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