An ‘Apparatus’ By Any Other Name

Back in the day (and no, I’m not saying how far back, exactly), I was a somewhat naive, green, clinical assistant for a mid-town medical center that provided a variety of healthcare specialties to a grossly disadvantaged community.

It was in this challenging setting, complete with its own street-wise language, that I learned more about the words we use, or don’t, and how that translates effectively, or not. I quickly learned to leave my more rigid structures at the door and get down to the real art of communication.

Let’s face it; sometimes a “treatment apparatus” is just a douche bag.

Every time one of my physicians would use a more “professional” term for a process or treatment, I’d watch as my patient’s eyes would glaze over and their heads cocked ever-so-slightly to the side. I knew I’d have to step in and explain.

Like any industry based upon highly trained and educated personnel, healthcare obviously has its own written code of terminology — if it sounds complicated, it must be important (and you must be very, very smart) — but when you break that code down effectively, in simple terms, the lights come on, everybody’s home and let-the-healing-begin!

Playing To Your Audience

If you were thinking about now that I simply got my “slang” on, you’d be wrong. There was no dumbing down, or abolishing my ethics relating to respectful dialog. It was more a matter of choosing analogies that related to the world of my patients (my target audience), and engaging them with terms more widely recognized and understood. Let’s face it; sometimes a “treatment apparatus” is just a douche bag.

The result? Patient compliance, at least on my side of the clinic, was high, and more so, my trust factor was the envy of fellow staff.

Communicating Rocket Science

As a freelance writer and editor, I’ve carried those lessons into my work today, always ensuring first and foremost that I understand the target audience.

Want to talk technology? No problem. You can do that.

But if the goal of your project is to help CEO’s or administrators understand and select your products based on what they will do for their business development in straightforward application and ROI terms, well, that’s my favorite playground.

Think about how you might describe the process or product to a friend or associate not engaged in the industry. Is there a more user-friendly term or analogy for the “apparatus” you’re presenting?

Kick Off Your Shoes (metaphorically speaking) and Relax

From healthcare, to legal services, IT to energy conservation, consumers and potential clients rarely change their spots. They’re all looking for value: integrity of product, exceptional service and the ability to overcome a problem.

Start with the problem and outline — simply — how you can solve it, why your product or service makes good business sense (saves time, money, energy?), and how you intend to support that process.

Speak to them in those terms and analogies and you’ll win the communications battle every time!



Categories: Copy, Marketing/Advertising