Advertising, marketing, public relations, content — whatever we call it, we’re in the business of communicating effectively to others. Yet those of us working in those industries are just as susceptible to using jargon and buzzwords as any other profession.
Frankly, there are so many common marketing and advertising buzzwords and trite phrases they could fill a book. (I know, because I did just that.)
So how can you think outside the box and disrupt your jargon ecosystem? In other words, how can you talk and communicate like a normal human being?
Recognize that buzzwords don’t impress people. Not even in the world of enterprise-wide best-of-breed solution suites. Packing your ads, websites, or PowerPoints with jargon isn’t going to do anything but turn people off. Muhammad Ali never boasted of his “best-in-class performance.” He said he was “the greatest.” Then he proved it. Simplicity beats confusing complexity every time.
Prepare a list of acceptable alternate phrases. Don’t say “curating” if you don’t work in a museum; you’re just “selecting.” Don’t say “drill down” if you’re not in oil exploration; you’re asking for more information. Don’t refer to a “solution” if you have a tangible product to promote. Lose the phrases that make people roll their eyes, and replace them with ones that are simple, direct and make sense.
Dramatize the product or service without resorting to a cliché festival. When the iPod was introduced, it wasn’t described by Apple as a “revolutionary paradigm shift in music aggregation.” It was sold as “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Find the magic in what your client does and express it in a way no one else could.
Hey, sometimes it’s fun to drink the Kool-Aid and choose the low-hanging fruit of marketing jargon. We all do it occasionally. But if it’s your job to find unique, engaging, and provocative ways to communicate, now’s the time to push the envelope in a new direction. So I’m throwing it over the fence: The ball’s in your court now.
Dan is a Seattle-based freelance senior copywriter and the author of “Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks: An Outside-the-Box Look at Obnoxious Advertising and Marketing Jargon,” available on Amazon.com.