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The Top 7 Marketing Buzzwords and Why They Suck

Listen, I’m all for loving-up trends – that’s why I got into marketing. I’m not, however, one for beating a dead horse, and that’s exactly what’s being done with many of the marketing buzzwords we see today. Corporate jargon is often tossed around with the reckless abandon of dollar bills at a strip club, and it needs to stop. Buzzwords lose their punch when they’re overused. What’s more, they become downright annoying, and as a result, people tune them out. More to the point, they tune you out. Your message – all that hard work, creativity and prep – falls on deaf ears. There’s nothing wrong with using some corporate jargon, but you’ve got to know when enough is enough. If you want to keep your message fresh, here are some marketing buzzwords to eliminate from your vocabulary (or at least use less frequently).

1. Big Data. Referring to sets of data that are so massive and intricate that they require new sets of tools to process, this intimidating term is the Kardashian of 2014/2015 marketing buzzwords – you see it everywhere, whether you want to or not. I’m not suggesting the term is irrelevant, or that discussions concerning big data should cease; I’m only saying that its use as a hot trending term needs to stop.

2. The Internet of Things. While this term may conjure up images of the mild mannered and highly compelling David Suzuki, the reality is that the term has become far less ecumenical – and far more agitating. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future (and to some extent, a present) where objects communicate via the Internet. Your home security, your thermostat, your microwave – they will transmit data to and from each other. This will give marketers access to a bevy of information about their consumers and their lives. Neat, creepy, and also grossly misused on a daily basis.

3. Growth Hacking. I respect the sort of industrious budgeting this term stands for, but I’m sick of hearing about it – and I’m not alone. Upstart marketers are using this term loosely to describe utilizing standard marketing techniques on a skimpy budget. As Econsultancy says, it “seems to cover everything from resizing your Twitter profile picture to improving the grip on your pencil with a bit of Blu-Tack.” In other words, it embodies the worst combination of all marketing buzzwords: it’s overused, hipster, and vague.

4. Native Advertising. Like the sentiment behind all of this marketing jargon, I don’t see anything wrong with what native advertising does, in fact we’ve had a lot of success with this tactic – I just think the term, itself, is a dud. In this case, it’s because it’s trying too hard, and as a result, it’s confusing. All native advertising means is paid content. That’s it. So when you see a piece of content on social media, or on a website or in a magazine that is subtly or blunt-force pimping a brand, that’s the sort of sponsored content native advertising refers to…so why couldn’t they just call it that?

5. Rich Media. Rich media has nothing to do with making it rain – though if used correctly, it can definitely bolster your bottom line. Again, this bit of business jargon is not only used in excess, but it’s vague. The term means to add interactive content to sponsored content, but this isn’t what it suggests when the term pops up in conversation.

6. Selfie. Who isn’t sick of the selfie? Well, if you’ve logged on to Facebook lately, you’ll probably notice a lot of people are still jumping on that bandwagon, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating – especially because brands are using selfies now, too. They’re encouraging people to take more selfies with their products. There was the Oscar Selfie, and now there’s Selfie TV and #Selfie dance music. It was fun until it was tagged with that horrible name, it’s then become fairly overkill. I can’t say it hasn’t been effective in various marketing campaigns, but its starting to get old fast. Remember YOLO?

7. Terms that Tell. These aren’t the marketing hipster terms that we’ve just been talking about, but they do likewise flat-line when it comes to effectiveness. I’m talking about marketing jargon that’s (again) overused, and moreover, doesn’t actually show you anything new; words like ‘innovative’, ‘quick’, ‘easy’, ‘exciting’, ‘substantial’, ‘affordable’, ‘cheap’ and so on. They’ve been used to death, and we need to think of other ways to move beyond just telling our audience something: we have to show them. For example, let’s say you own a local bakery and want people to sign up for your mailing list. Instead of saying, “Signing up is quick and easy!”, you could say, “Sign up in less time than it takes to butter our buns!” (See what I did there? I’m saying the same thing, but it doesn’t sound so gimmicky.)

There you have it. A rundown of marketing buzzwords that have been used to death. Don’t feel ashamed if you’ve used them – we all have, I still use them all the time. It’s simply that their time in the every-roving spotlight of business jargon is over and it’s time to think of new, more effective ways to express ideas.

Anything to add? Feel free to comment below.

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