When (like me) you’ve been around the traps a few times, you tend to see trends in advertising and marketing come and go. Television once all-consuming to ad folk up and down the land has made way for one-on-one conversations with people via inbound marketing and social media. Once upon a time big businesses would think nothing of spending millions of dollars with huge ad agencies (most of them uninspiringly named after their founders), before procurement departments were created to monitor said businesses spend, rosters became de rigeur and budgets shrank as the world worried about a financial crisis. Next came the arrival of in-house studios before the corporates realised this was an expensive overhead and reverted to agency input for their output. Now, we’re witnessing the age of specialisation, where clients seek ‘partners’ to ‘enable’ them to build whizzy websites and understand the inner machinations of SEO and more.
As agencies, partners, consultants (whatever they’re called today) and new routes to market continue to evolve, so too does new language, to the point where, I don’t know about you, but I have to Google the latest lingo. You’ll be pleased to know that as a copywriter, I have (rather unsurprisingly) a great love of words. Learning new business ‘buzz’ words is fun and interesting – most of the time. Trying to keep up with the latest lexicon is slightly more problematic, particularly when using terminology that makes you sound like a tw*t.
While those in the creative world of advertising have always been prone to espousing marketing bullsh*t, for me it all started with ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ or was it ‘pushing the envelope’? Whatever the phrase was, there followed more verbal horsesh*t which has a) never made anyone sound intelligent and b) made who ever uttered the inane phrase look like a prize numpty who should be mercilessly ridiculed.
What scares me the most about this new patter is how quickly it’s adopted and how it can be heard in ‘break-out rooms’ from London to New Zealand. New sayings get filtered down from senior management to the shop floor at an alarming rate. Most will last for around 12-18 months, before the same people who were ‘early-adopters’ then begin to ridicule the once cool phrases and laugh in the face of anyone who dares use them during a meeting. Worst still are those that pre-empt the clichés with exaggerated air/finger speech quotations.
Long before Google, I was using Yahoo as a search engine and hearing meeting blinders such as ‘value proposition’ ‘synergy’ and ‘paradigm shifts’ – I’m still not exactly sure what any of those mean. These were followed by ‘ballpark figures’, ‘closing the loop’, ‘milestones’ and ‘touching bases’. Having recently joined the Badger sett, I find myself learning another round of jargon. I have already been at a ‘tissue meeting’ without a Kleenex in sight, and yesterday I asked one of the team what on earth a ‘simple product proof’is?
To keep myself up-to-date, I’ve just checked the latest ‘must-know and love’ buzzwords for 2018. I’ll spare you the list, but frankly, if you’re not sprinkling conversations with ‘algorithms’, ‘marketing automation’, ‘AI’, ‘geofencing’ and ‘customer journeys’, then you shouldn’t be working in marketing.
Exit strategy (mine from this article)
What’s my view on all this? Simple really. Yes, keep it simple. How you speak and present yourself in meetings is one thing, but when it comes to communicating with your customers, don’t use language you don’t understand – guess what, they probably won’t understand it either. And don’t write or talk in marketing speak; chances are your customers are busy people, think of your reaction when you hear someone saying they are ‘socialising an idea’.
In an age where (dare I say it) the multitude of customer ‘touch points’ requires brevity and key benefits, get straight to the point and leave them wanting more – oh, and give them the opportunity to do just that.
Right, I’m off to hyperlocal my micro-moments!