When Matt and I were doing portrait photography, we learned pretty quick the importance of using the right words. You see, we didn’t want to be perceived as a $20 for a disk of 500 images (all edited, no less) shoot and burn photographer. We did good work, loved taking pictures, enjoyed serving our clients and wanted to actually make money, not basically pay someone to take their pictures. So we had to change some of the words we used to change our audience’s perception of what kind of photographers that we were.
One of the changes that we made was that we started using portrait instead of picture. Nowadays, anyone can take a picture, pic, photo, snapshot (you get the idea), but only someone with special skills can provide you with a portrait. We valued what we did and we wanted others to do the same. Sometimes the first thing that you need to do to exemplify value in what you do is to use your words intentionally.
Use These Words Instead
Here are a few words that that we have changed over the course of doing business. You may consider changing these as well. The words you use will give your clients an impression of your brand. Give them the right impression and use words that mean something to your brand.
Discount vs. Savings
Here at Threefold Design, we very seldom use the word discount. We use savings instead. We don’t want to be seen as a brand that is cheap or doesn’t value what we do. When we offer our clients a special offer, we want it to be about the value that they receive. Using savings instead of discount, makes it about value and what our client saves instead of us giving them a discount.
Customers vs. Clients
For the most part, we don’t use the word customer. We use the word client, audience or “the people that we serve”. A client is someone that engages in the services of a professional. Well that’s what we are. Professionals. We aren’t a big box store selling merchandise to thousands of people. There’s nothing wrong with those stores. That’s just not who we are.
Cost vs. Investment
We all know that everything has a cost. However, an investment gives you are return on what you put into it. So you not only get what you pay for, but you will likely get even more of a return on your investment. Most small business owners want to know the money they spend will be an investment for the future of their business. Cost is taking something away, but an investment adds value.
Use These Words VERY Sparingly
The following words are not necessarily bad. However, they may not be the best words to use to get your point across.
“It is just $14.95”. That makes it seem like you are trying to justify your price. Simply say, “it is $14.95” and leave it at that. When you start to justify what you are charging, that can be perceived as a lack of confidence. This might make a potential client feel uncomfortable doing business with you if they don’t feel like you know what you are doing. And sometimes that can even make a client feel like the price is negotiable when it is not.
There is always someone out there that is cheaper. Maybe you are even the one that is cheaper. You need to position your product or service as valuable. When you are using a word like cheap, you are taking away the value that your product or service has and undercutting your business. Even if something you offer is cheap, point out the value that it has rather than the fact that it is cheap. You might even choose to use the word affordable instead of cheap.
There’s a really good chance that your audience already knows about your competition. Even if they don’t, you need to tell them what you can do for them, not what the competition will do. Your potential clients are on your website or in your store because they want to hear what you can do for them. Let your audience know the benefits of doing business with YOU.
There may be other words that apply directly to your niche area of business. Ultimately, you must do what is best for your brand. Think about the words that you use. You don’t want your audience to make the wrong assumptions about your brand by using the wrong words. And the language you use might work for you now, but you may choose different words later. That’s okay.
Always be ready to learn and make adjustments as needed.