Marketing has always been prone to lingo that many people don’t understand. But in the world of digital marketing, it feels like we’re getting into “emperor has no clothes” territory.
A friend told me recently about sitting in a marketing plan where everyone nodded along in agreement to a stream of digital marketing buzzwords. It later became clear that many in the room didn’t understood the meanings of the buzzwords, but were hesitant to ask.
By relying on buzzwords, marketers risk breathing their own exhaust. The emphasis gets placed on the tactic rather than on the business goal that should be driving the tactic.
I like this quote from Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes:
“It is not about doing ‘digital marketing.’ It is about marketing effectively in a digital world.”
We are fortunate to work in marketing in a time when there constant new tools at our disposal. But too frequently I think we chase the buzzwords for the sake of the buzzwords. It becomes a lazy crutch that gets in the way of creative marketing.
If it’s a marketing idea worth doing, it’s worth articulating in plain English.
Here’s another cartoon from last year making fun of marketers’ affinity for buzzwords.
5 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Richard Warland says
Too true Tom! Most often, use of these buzzwords serves to give the wiser members of the audience a negative perception of the speaker. Can you imagine what I thought when they came from a former McKinseys consultant?
Bernie Weiss says
Reminds me of when “solutions” was the buzzword du jour, and I wrote:
A marketer that substitutes “solutions” for the hoary yet well understood “products and “services” displays hopefulness and arrogance, but not competence. A vendor can hope what it sells will solve its customer’s problem. But only the customer can decide whether a problem in fact may be solved by what’s being promoted. Preemptively characterizing what is sold as a solution thus insults the very person the marketer seeks to impress.
Suzanne Pecore says
This is definitely not limited to marketing folks. Working in the corporate world (I was in R&D), we often get caught up in “management-speak”, using the latest jargon to explain our work. I know more than once I’ve thought, “Wait. What did she just say? And what did that mean, really?” The trap is not saying it out loud, as I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking it.
Chris Turner says
P&G CEO AG Lafley, on “jargon monoxide”, said “keep it Sesame Street simple.”
My personal goal, not always achieved, is this – when speaking outside of the inner circle (fellow marketers, fellow geeks, fellow financiers, etc.) the simpler, the better. Less chance for misunderstanding, greater chance for comprehension.
Bob Misita says
Love this – so true. I think much of this is due to increasing competition and desire to differentiate. Some marketers are so interested in marketing themselves (without regard to whether or not they confuse customers) they invent more buzzwords. Rather than focus on essentials and providing value, they take the path our society seemingly values more – viral/social media fame.
For me, I agree keeping it simple is the best – and actually provide results by marketing using digital means.