Art of Message

Art of Message – May 3, 2023

Who’s your dictionary

When we’re young, we believe words have fixed meanings. But word meanings are fluid and change over time. Noam Chomsky, the father of modern linguistics, said,

“What we call definitions are not definitions … they’re just hints that a person who already knows the concept can use to understand what’s really going on.”

This is obviously true in the b2b tech ecosystem, with its new jargon, buzzwords, platforms, and frameworks. At some point in many conversations, you hear, “Ok but what do you mean by that _____”?

Maybe this has happened to you, where a customer asks a question that forces you to define a key part of what you’re selling:

  • ‘What does your “customer success” program actually mean – what is that?’
  • ‘Ok for the purposes of this conversation, what do you mean by “digital transformation” – you mean just putting our data in the cloud?’
  • ‘What do you mean by single-source of truth? Isn’t our Avectra instance already that?’

It’s easier to field questions like this if you have written down your definitions. It’s also a lot easier to work these definitions into your product messaging. (And you don’t need that many.)

The alternative is letting someone else write your definition for you. Some other company, pundit, authority, tech journalist, whoever. And your customer uses their definition instead of yours.

What sounds like the better option to you?

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