I have resisted calling myself a “coach” for agencies. In my mind’s eye, I see a coach as doing something slightly different from the consulting advice that I provide.

When I ran CustomScoop, I liked to call it a “media intelligence” service instead of “media monitoring” or “online news clipping” because I believed it provided a more apt description of the services we offered. I was not alone in this attempt among other providers in the space.

Yet when clients of these businesses tell others about them, they use the terms “coaching” and “media monitoring.”

It’s a good reminder that most of us don’t have the power to control the language of the marketplace. Instead, we must adapt to it.

That doesn’t mean we can’t explain why we are different from the common understanding of those terms, but we can’t stop using them altogether.

Using the language of our customers helps to ensure that our websites and other marketing materials are easy to navigate.

Using the language of our customers helps to improve search engine performance — after all, we need to use the words that prospects will type in when looking for the services we offer.

Using the language of our customers helps to shorten sales cycles by removing an obstacle to understanding what we do.

If you want to go beyond the existing vocabulary, that’s fine. It can be a powerful differentiator to explain a new term or a new outlook.

But you ignore the language of your customers at your own peril. Start there and build upon it instead of trying to replace it.