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My first job after university was as a trainee accountant. We had desktop PCs with elementary email and little or no internet. Our accounting journals were input on one stand-alone terminal where you booked time to use it. It feels like the dark ages, and technology-wise it was. Back in 1995, a mobile phone allowed you to call and text. There wasn’t even the game ‘Snake’ to while away the hours. Now, we track our health, keep in touch, and run our finances through a handheld device. Times have changed.

I mention this as a reflection on recent conversations about using the correct business language when speaking to different audiences. Over time technology has advanced but have our communication channels? And do the words, tone, and delivery reflect the changing generations, expanding marketplaces, and working patterns? The answers can be crucial to sharing and writing our future business success stories.

Reflecting the changing needs of the generations and the current world we live in, every language develops over time, with new words, phrases, and senses added to our vocabulary daily. Side hustles and influencers are here to stay, and getting jabbed is more than being punched in the face.

There has been plenty of books, articles, and presentations about how effective communication is crucial to long-term success. However, finding the correct approach while striking a balance with technological solutions is becoming increasingly challenging. However, successful brands and businesses navigate this minefield and recognise, in certain instances, the need to change their tone of voice.

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Image: Igor Rodrigues

Take SAGA plc, a British firm that, as their website states, offers a range of products and services exclusively for the over 50s, including insurance, holidays, money, and a best-selling monthly magazine. They also happen to have been delivering this offer since 1951. In the intervening 70 years, not only have they had to grow with technology, but the expectations of their core customers have increased significantly.

And in that time, the average life expectancy of UK adults has increased by around ten years, lifestyles have changed dramatically, and now life begins at 50. Rather than signifying a slowdown toward retirement. The SAGA leadership team recognised these key indicators and re-invented the brand, creating a more upbeat, vibrant, and engaging communication plan. Even I am looking forward to receiving their brochure next year!

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Image: Vance Osterhout

But it's not just the customers that you need to consider. Businesses may well have a three-generational age range for their people, with 16-year-old apprentices working in the same environment as employees as old as their grandparents. It truly is a different world, with changing priorities for all concerned. While formal, direct, and unnatural language has become friendly, personable, and warm dialogue, finding the right words delivered through the best medium can be difficult.

You must know your audience, and most businesses only communicate with two groups, their teams and their customers. Each group will digest communications using different mediums across multiple platforms, so the right combinations are crucial to telling your story.

For example, knowing where your target customer or client is consuming social media can help you hone your marketing communications. Thus, avoiding a scattergun approach which wastes time and resources in the process. Or creating a one-stop shop using multi-media solutions can increase team engagement in internal communications. It's crucial to remove the jargon. Every business area has acronyms, technical terms, or buzzwords that only those in their specific sphere understand. The risk of the message becoming unclear increases if the language can't resonate with the recipient. Cutting through the tsunami of information received daily is problematic. So finally, keep it short, sweet, and interesting, finishing with a clear call to action to get the impact you deserve. 

Are you speaking the correct language for your business to flourish?

Or is it just Blah, Blah, Blah?

Have a brilliant week!

David Rogers, Chief Business Narrator, Fuelled Fit and Fired Up Ltd

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