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Idea: Avoid Acronyms in Customer Content (The AACC Rule)

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the first-known appearance of the acronym LOL for “laughing out loud.” BTW, LOL used for “lots of love” has been around even longer. Acronyms date back thousands of years BC or, if you prefer, BCE. How far back? The word “Tanakh,” the Hebrew name for the collection of writings in the Jewish canon and source of the Christian Old Testament, is an acronym formed from the first Hebrew letters of the words given to the sections of the canon: Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim.

My point? Acronyms are everywhere, and their use stretches from today’s texting teenager back to Adam and Eve. They speed up conversations by eliminating the need to repeat multisyllabic words or multi-word phrases. Acronyms also help form subconscious tribal languages that differentiate authentic members of the group (the “laughing out loud” tribe) from the inauthentic (the “lots of love” folks).

IMHO, there is one place where acronyms should NEVER appear: In content you create for your customers. That’s because customer content should be focused on helping customers, not confusing them. And acronyms are as likely to confuse as they are to help.

 For example, Rex Hammock recently used his blog to encourage those who market products and services to small businesses to avoid using inside-marketing tribal acronyms outside of the marketing department. Rex wrote: “If you are not a marketer to small business, but an actual small business, there’s a big possibility that you have no idea what the term SMB means.” (It stands for “small and medium business,” a term few small businesses understand either.)

Bottom line: When you are creating content helpful to customers, assume they don’t know what any acronym means, or worse, that the acronym can mean something to them that isn’t the same thing that it means to you. Use words and phrases anyone can understand, no matter where they are in the customer journey.

Effective customer media and content marketing comes by following the lesson found in the word HELP, which stands for, well, help.





John Lavey
President & COO, I mean, Chief Operating Officer

(Photo: Cole via Flickr)

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