Apply the Granny test to get closer to your customers

Young Man! I am quite capable thank you!

Earlier today I was sitting on a train after visiting a couple of clients. Now. whilst I was fiddling with my phone…..answering emails, sending out tweets and playing a few games (ahem! It is was a long-ish journey), I overheard three guys talking in the seats in front of me. I don’t normally listen in on conversations. But, I can safely say that I couldn’t listen into this conversation because I couldn’t understand what was being said. It wasn’t that they weren’t speaking English because they were. It’s just that they were speaking a version of English that I don’t understand.

Let me explain. Now, I’m sure you’ve come across it before… know that …, in-business, in-corporate, in-function speak that we are all able to do from time to time, where we end up using all sorts of jargon and technical speak and acronyms and buzzwords.

Right? Been there? Done it? I know I certainly have from time to time.

Anyway, that reminded me of another conversation that I had with a client the other day, where we were talking about some of their sales and marketing and what they could do to improve their lead generation, client acquisition and customer retention.

When we reviewed what they and their competitors were doing we uncovered an issue that, I think, many businesses can suffer from. That is their use of language and how they talk to and try and engage their customers was not simple enough and was too technical and full of industry/profession speak.

Now, many businesses settle into use of their own language when trying to explain their business to existing or potential customers. And, nowhere is this more so than in industries that are somewhat technical in nature e.g. web-design, law, architecture, accountancy, tax, engineering etc etc.

However, using the language of our own profession, can be a real problem and a real barrier to success.

As a result of this, my client and I have decided to take a step back from their sales and marketing and we are going to spend some time getting to know their customers and the language that they use. Once, we’ve done that we’ll get a better understanding of things like, how they should be marketing to their customers and what they should be marketing.

I’ve had this experience with a client before and have found that spending the time to better understand a client’s customers and the language they use is invaluable and has gone a long way to improving understanding, increasing engagement, trust and sales.

What to do next? Take a step back and look at the language that you use in your marketing, sales and customer service and ask yourself if it is in your customers language?

Not convinced? Then try this: apply the Granny test ie. give your marketing materials to your Granny and ask her if she gets what you are talking about. If she does then she is either an expert in your field or you’re doing a great job. If not, then you know what to do.

Thanks to Neil.Moralee for the image.

18 comments On Apply the Granny test to get closer to your customers

  • Pingback: Christine Davey ()

  • This sounds so familiar Adrian. First thing I do when I get a new client; ask a bunch of friends who are completely unrelated to my business field to critique their website. I ask them to be really honest, asking a few key questions like ‘what does this company do/sell’ – more often than not the client is surprised by the responses, usually because they haven’t actually considered who they’re actually talking to!
    Nice article, by the way!

    • Hi Christine,
      Thanks for that and great to hear that is something that you are applying in your business.

      Quick question: have you ever done the same thing to yourself ie. ask a bunch of ‘grannies’, and preferably ones you don’t know, to critique your website and marketing materials?


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  • Pingback: Andrew James Whalley ()

  • Adrian, I am all for a little simplicity, but I think there is an extra nuance here.

    My mother used to say, if you want to sell coals to Newcastle you had better use a Geordie accent.

    If your Granny is from South Kensington she probably needs help. Yes, you need to be simple and straight forward, I couldn’t agree more, but I would add you need to be simple in a language your customer uses.


    • Hi James,
      Thanks for pointing out that nuance. However, i think there is a difference between simplicity and style of delivery. Don’t you think?

      I agree that we should tailor, where possible, our style of delivery as it is more likely to get a better reception. However, I think simplicity and non-technical language transcends all geography. What do you say?


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  • Nice to be visiting your weblog once more, it has been months for me. Properly this write-up that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this post to total my assignment inside the college, and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks, great share.

  • Thank you, you gave me new ideas for my blog. I hope this doesn’t bother if I take up this subject in my next article.Sincerely, Roger

  • Valuable information and excellent style you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs up

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