Bad Marketing Jargon

Every industry has its own lingo, but marketing seems to particularly
suffer from an onslaught of buzzwords.

Anyone who has worked in marketing or advertising for very long has their own list of the words and phrases that get under their skin. Maybe it’s because you have simply heard someone say, “Value proposition” one too many times. Or maybe it’s because you actually have no idea what “SoLoMo” means. Regardless (and we do mean regardless, not irregardless—words that people simply get wrong is a WHOLE other post waiting to happen) of your reasons, it’s only a matter of time before you come to hate certain terms. We created our own top 10 list of buzzwords we would like to see buzz off, in no particular order:

1. Synergy

It was probably big before In Good Company ushered it to the silver screen, but that flick really brought it to our attention. Yes—two things coming together to accomplish something bigger and better is great, we admit it. So now will you stop saying it?

2. Content

We know that we say this one all the time, but we hate ourselves a little more every time we do. All words and communication are content, and all of it is important when it comes to creating good marketing. 

3. ROI

Some acronyms are just fine, but we have determined that this one is bad. It just feels laced with so much pressure.

4. Ideation

If we didn’t know better, we’d swear this word was simply made up a few years ago. But Merriam-Webster assures us it has existed since the early 1800s. Its origins come from the study of psychology, and we’d like Freud to take it back, thank you very much.

5. Thought Leader

Yes, some people seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking creatively. And yes, calling them a thought leader seems an obvious way to separate them from the rest of the unenlightened pack. But it also sounds a little pompous and self-promoting. Can we go back to simply admiring people/companies with good ideas without assigning them the title of thought leader?

6. Pain Point

We’d like to blame the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon for this one, but unfortunately we think it is more likely to be traced back to some go-getter who wanted to be a bit more clever when talking about a client’s problem areas. We wish they would go-get another phrase.

7. Holistic

Here’s another word that was perfectly fine, when it was first used by philosophers and medical PR practitioners. But brand people decided they wanted it for their own. We’re sure a proper philosopher could craft a lovely argument as to why such language convergence grows our vocabulary or something, but we’d rather they just tell us to leave their terminology alone.

8. The "Ables” (such as Scalable
or Actionable or Deliverable)

Tacking on the suffix “able” shifts a simple noun or verb to an adjective. Technically there is nothing wrong with this practice, as it is to thank for many incredible and capable words we use to modify nouns. Non-technically, we feel that marketing folk might have taken this practice a bit too far. Time to rein it in boys and girls.

9. The “Izes” (including, but not limited to, Strategize, Incentivize or Monetize) 

The English language contains so many lovely verbs that we simply don’t feel it is necessary to create any new ones from otherwise perfectly content nouns.

10.  Drill Down

No, just no. It strikes us as a passive-aggressive way of telling someone they simply haven’t thought long and hard enough about something to come up with an idea that is sufficiently new or clever. We love a trend, but this is one we’d like to see the backside of, and soon.