How to Speak Like a Customer—Not Your CEO - Carney
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How to Speak Like a Customer—Not Your CEO

Why it matters: Copy that caters to the C-suite rather than your customer-base undermines all of your marketing efforts, including:

  • SEO
  • Paid advertising
  • Organic social posts
  • Headlines
  • Landing page copy
  • Media buy strategy
  • Information architecture
  • And more…

Why it happens: Immersed in their own expertise, internal teams begin to think and talk in ways that just don’t connect with an external audience.

How to fix it: Study your customers and analyze how they actually speak. Below you’ll find:

  • 4 Sources of Customer-Centric Language
  • 4 Ways to Analyze Your Findings

4 Sources of Customer-Centric Language:

1. Shadow Your Sales and Customer Service Teams

Why it matters: Dealing with customers all day long, your team mentally “autocorrects” customer-speak to company-speak all day long.

  • A customer asks for a “widget,” the salesperson says, “Oh, the Series 3000 Models are right this way.”
  • A customer asks the rep to help solve a specific problem, the rep says, “Oh you’re looking for our fancy solution over here.”

You want to learn what the uninitiated, non-expert audience calls your products and services. You want to learn how they describe the problems they have and the solutions they are looking for. An objective set of eyes and ears on the sales and service process can yield those insights.

2. Your Internal Site Search

Why it matters: You may be surprised at the terms your audience is looking for on your site. Look for terms that they are using but you are not.

True Story: One marketing team snickered at its customers’ search terms saying they were out-of-date. “We don’t call it that anymore.”

A Better Approach: Don’t dismiss the language customers are using, even if it is out-of-date or incorrect. Use this insight as an opportunity to create content that speaks to your audience and educates them, bridging the gap between what they know and what they don’t know.

3. Your Ratings and Reviews

Why it matters: Customer reviews are a rich source of data about the language customers use to describe your products and services.

  • Resist the urge to mentally “autocorrect” what they are saying.
  • Look for language you can use in advertising, content marketing, and SEO efforts.
  • The same applies to customer comments on your social channels.

4. Search Trend Analysis Tools

Why it matters: These tools expand your view beyond existing customers to the language of your potential customers. Here are two tools that can help:

Google Trends

  • Find terms people are paying attention to across Google Search, Google News and YouTube.
  • Compare the search volume of similar terms over time. You may be surprised what terms have entered the collective consciousness and which haven’t.

  • Analyzes keywords from websites including Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, App Store, Play Store, Instagram, X, and Pinterest
  • Most keywords, hashtags, and products come from the autocomplete data of the search engines.

4 Ways to Analyze Your Findings

1. Pure Immersion

Take as many of those sources of customer language as you can find. Throw out your preconceived notions and expectations. Soak it all in. Become a Subject Matter Expert in your customers’ mindset rather than your own products and services.

2. Word Cloud Generators

Feed your customer-focused language into a word cloud generator. You can quickly visualize which words they are using the most.

Word Cloud Generator by MonkeyLearn highlights popular words and phrases based on frequency and relevance. These quick and simple visual insights can lead to a more in-depth analysis.

3. AI Powered Tools

More and more AI-powered tools are available to help you analyze large volumes of customer data more quickly than ever.

  • Transcribe: AI can rapidly convert recordings of customer feedback into text.
  • Summarize: Use AI to summarize customer transcripts and other sources of customer language.
  • Analyze: Use natural language processing (NLP) techniques to identify prominent themes in customer language.
  • Rate: Train an AI model using data collected from customers to rate the effectiveness of your customer-facing copy
  • Recommend: An AI model can generate suggestions on appropriate words, phrases, or tone for your content based on its analysis of customer data.

4. Enlist the Help of an Informed Outsider

An outside agency can play the role of an objective audience with the patience and curiosity to call out company-speak, ask for clarification, and suggest alternatives that are more in tune with the public ear.


At the beating heart of all of your marketing efforts you need to have a firm grasp of the language your customers actually use. Here’s how to make that happen:

Gather customer insights from…

  1. Sales and customer service teams
  2. Internal site searches
  3. Customer ratings and reviews
  4. Search trend analysis tools (like Google Trends)

Then analyze your findings with…

  1. Pure immersion in the customer mindset
  2. Word cloud visualizations and statistics
  3. AI powered analysis
  4. An outside agency that plays the role of the informed outsider

Your customers (and your C-Suite) will thank you.

Looking for an agency to serve as your team’s informed outsider? Carney can help. Let’s chat.


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