Common language? You Say Tomato, I Say lycopersicum?

Green tomato

What is the common language that your customers use to find you? Here is why you need to connect words or phrases that your ideal customer uses to your scientific words.

‘You say toe-may-toe. He says toe-mah-tuh. And, I say lycopersicum.’

Sometimes the words we use within our industry are foreign to our customers and our business loses out on potential sales. Here are some steps to get started into finding the right words to help the right customer find you.

Who Are You Talking To?

When writing about your business, you need to know yourself and know your customer before know what words to write. Start by writing 3-5 words or phrases that fit your business — and answer what is:

  • Your industry?
    For example: software or electronics or engineering … or electronics engineering
  • Your products or services?
    Such as: retail electronics, membership software or software manuals
  • Your history or biography?
    And so forth: 10 years development experience, a spin-off of a larger company, an innovative or award-winning inventor


Then, write 3-5 words or phrases about your most successful projects and your ideal customers — and answer what products or services were sold:

  • During your best jobs?
    Examples: software manuals and classroom training, sports timing and measurement tools or retail audio devices
  • By your competitors?
    Sample ideas: help desk support in addition to software manuals, more expensive sports timing tools, less expensive retail audio devices
  • To you by your suppliers or contractors during the job?
    Suggestions: copy editing, low cost programming, high-volume reliable product casing, advice on product packaging and branding

Your Words Become Their Words

Now you need to do a little research by talking to colleagues, suppliers and good customers. Ask people, ‘What phrase do you use to refer to your software manuals?’ and you might get an answer like, ‘We call these the computer books.’ Or you say to a company retailing your electronic device, ‘How do the customers find your store and buy this device?’ and you might hear, ‘The swim coach refers his athletes to us for the stroke-tool.’ You can even glean words out of the advice a packaging supplier gave you when he suggested a picture of a happy, young lady dancing with your audio device instead of a picture of the audio device on the box.

Looking at the answers to this point what words do you need to include when describing your business?

Technical Writer Electronics Engineer Electronics Retailer
computer books

classroom training

content writer

low-cost, high-value

electronics engineering

sports coaching tools

athletic performance measurements

spin-off of a large company


music player


award winning

GoogleAd Words to the Rescue

While I don’t recommend obsessing over Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online advertising campaigns before you’ve written and published your website, you can use the free SEO and advertising tools to further uncover what people call your industry, business, products or services. Don’t use this tool alone, you need to research and discover how people identify you by human sources first (like talking to the real people above) and through reading websites or looking at print media.

Now it’s time to give your words a try:

Here are real examples of what I discovered:

  • ‘Technology Writer’ was more frequently used than Technical Writer to describe what I do
  • ‘Online training’ is more popular than classroom training (maybe time to change my format from classroom to online!?)
  • ‘Looking for a writer’ and ‘content writer’ were commonly searched phrases

Ripe and Ready to Pick

It does matter whether you call it a Tomato or a lycopersicum. The way you say something really matters when appealing to your customers. Use the words and ideas that fit your customers’ language and help your customer recognize you as the business, product or service that they need.

Now it is time to pick your crop – update and create the description in your website, your directory listings (such as industry directories or trade show listings) and your online networking identities (like LinkedIn, Google+). If you are also using print, add your new words or phrases to business cards or fliers. Watch for new words, phrases and technology that change the way your customer describes you and finds you.