If you keep up with new developments in marketing you likely read lots of blogs and check out how other marketing agencies talk about their services. Like any industry, those who work in marketing have a common language—an evolving vocabulary of impactful words to describe how we can help our clients connect with their customers and grow their businesses.
But some of these words become so overused they completely lose their meaning—they become buzzwords. Really annoying buzzwords.
As a marketer, your job is to cut through the BS to explain marketing concepts clearly to your clients, not over-message them with magical words that sound far more impressive than the actual tactics they describe. Far too many agencies are relying on buzzwords because they can’t clearly explain what they want to do or differentiate themselves from their competitors. Please stop using words like these.
If everyone innovates all the time, can we still call ourselves innovative, or is that the new status quo? The word “innovative” is constantly thrown around pitch meetings, keynote speeches and agency case studies. It’s so overused that no one pays attention to what it actually takes to be innovative.
To innovate is to introduce something new for the first time. That’s pretty difficult to do. But nonetheless, there are tons of agencies out their claiming they come up with new, innovative solutions, strategies and tactics all the time. Yes, these ideas might seem “innovative” to your clients, but they’re probably well-known concepts. Unless you’re Apple.
Every time I read the word “optimize” on an agency site, I think to myself, “But really, how?”
The popularity of the word “optimize” or “optimization” started with search engine optimization—a series of methods to boost a website’s ranking in search results. But optimize has been pulled from SEO and is now often used as a way to add value to marketing tactics. Agencies say they’re going to optimize your homepage. Or your blog. Or your social media content. It’s like they’re going to wave a magic want to make sure your content gets the most visibility.
But if they’re not explaining what they’re actually going to do—even a little bit—they might be full of … something.
3. Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is process of trying to identify the best, most efficient ways to grow a business. It originated in the startup world, because growing quickly gives a startup its best shot at funding or continued organic growth.
But the term quickly found its way from the startup world into mainstream marketing. Do a quick search on Indeed and you’ll find companies out there searching for “Digital Marketer/Growth Hacker.”
Isn’t everyone looking for a “growth hacker”? Don’t most agencies take part in the process of trying to find the best, most efficient way to grow? No need to use some fancy buzzword. We’re all growth hacking. But most of us call it “marketing.”
I’m guilty of this one. “Engagement” as a marketing term is usually a shortcut for someone’s Facebook likes (and now laughs, cries, loves and hates), comments, retweets, likes, hearts, etc., etc., etc.
Using the word “engagement” is a convenient way to describe to someone in the C-suite that someone has acknowledged your content and they have some sort of reaction to it. Whether they actually read it or not is another story. Depending on your goals, social engagement might be a “vanity metric” that looks great but doesn’t prove your tactic is working. Regardless, you should explain what engagement actually means.
Here’s a word agencies use when they are trying to sound more intelligent and professional than they really are. The definition of leverage is “to use something to maximize advantage.” So why not just say “use” or “combine” or any other simple word that conveys the same meaning?
BONUS: Handcrafted / Artisanal / Bespoke
I know what you’re thinking. Handcrafted, artisanal and bespoke were words reserved for chic farm-to-table restaurants and clothing boutiques.
I thought the same thing until I noticed the phrase “made by hand” used in a completely unironic way on a content studio’s website two weeks ago. These words attempt to create a more personal connection and hearken back to the days of yore when imperfections were valued and each and everything you bought was painstakingly created by a “maker” of some sort. But now they have no meaning because everyone’s using them—even Dominos.
Just because I typed this blog with my hands does not mean it’s “handcrafted.”