Hey, What Do You Know? Speaking Like a Human Actually Helps You Better Connect With … Humans

Posted on July 1, 2010 by 2 Comments

As anyone who’s worked with any of us at WE Studio D can attest, we’re not the biggest fans of jargon appearing in any sort of communications fit for human consumption. To be honest, we’re not huge fans of jargon in general, but some will argue that if it’s internal, acronyms and shorthand can certainly speed up certain transactions. And in that limited scope, we’d possibly agree.

It’s when corporate-speak creeps into a company’s outside communications through press releases — and yes, shudder to think, even blogs — that we begin to climb atop our soap boxes. It will come as no surprise then that we were thrilled to see woot.com’s distinctively human approach to communicating its news of an Amazon acquisition. Well, actually, there was a rapping monkey in the official announcement video, so I guess it’s about being a highly functional primate with more than a fair share of creativity.

OK, these guys have taken it to the (near) extreme, but they’re staying true to themselves. Given the positive response that’s resulted from this use of decidedly noncorporate speak, I sincerely hope communications professionals everywhere are taking notice. Speaking like a nonhuman drone isn’t going to win you any friends in the media, is quite likely to outright confuse your customers and will overall alienate most everyone else. With that, I recommend you skim through an excerpt from CEO Matt Rutledge’s acquisition letter below, watch the aforementioned rapping monkey video and, for bonus points, add “Fight the Bull — Why Business People Speak like Idiots” to your business books archive.

I know I say this every time I find a picture of an adorable kitten, but please set aside 20 minutes to carefully read this entire email. Today is a big day in Woot history. This morning, I woke up to find Jeff Bezos the Mighty had seized our magic sword. Using the Arthurian model as a corporate structure was something our CFO had warned against from the very beginning, but now that’s water under the bridge. What is important is that our company is on the verge of becoming a part of the Amazon.com dynasty. And our plans for Grail.Woot are on indefinite hold.

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Sarah Luzader on July 6, 2010

Great write up, Matt! I wonder if Amazon’s communications dept. approved this and if its the last time we’ll see this type of creativity around communicating Woot’s products. What happens to their communication style when they get the fancy desks?

Matt Whiting on July 6, 2010

Thanks, Sarah. My guess is this tone will continue well into their door-desk era. Who knows, they might even keep their IKEA desks…if that’s what they want to do.

For “The ‘Zon” it certainty seems that autonomy is the name of the game.

As Zappos has kept their unique personality, I’m fairly confident woot’s fate will (thankfully) be quite similar.

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