Use the right language

If you want to be a bad product manager, make customers and users learn your lingo. Use internal acronyms and come up with unique names for common features. Menu names like “File,” “Edit,” and “View” are so passe and are missed opportunities for branding your product. Marketing materials should have lots of references to important-sounding words, preferably followed by a trademark symbol — that’s how customers will know that your product is unique and better than the competition. If an internal code names for a project was good enough for use inside your organization, it’s good enough to use it to market to customers.

If you want to be a good product manager, talk in the language of your users and customers. Users are accustomed to seeing links to Help on a web site, not Questions? Acronyms are only useful when customers know what they stand for. Terminology you use within your organization to communicate within and across departments may be only known to those of you within your organization.

To ensure you are communicating properly, leverage common industry terminology when available and appropriate. Where standards exist, don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel; rather than uniquely branding your product, it will lead to confusion as customers decide whether or not to purchase yet are unable to determine the benefits of your solution.

It is appropriate to uniquely name certain value-adding and distinct aspects of your product, but only in limited cases, and those should always be accompanied by an explanation of what that name or acronym means. Doing this on a conscious level is very different from accidentally letting internal jargon slip out during a product demo or in a press release. Actively monitoring the language you are using and making sure it makes sense to your customers is an important part of product management and product marketing.