As 2014 draws to a close, here is my annual compilation of overused Marketing words, terms, and phrases. I include personal ‘favourites’ plus some deemed “ready for retirement” by the wider marketing community. A couple of these are too new to be truly overused yet, but you’ll be hearing them heavily in 2015. In the interest of brevity I have kept my commentary short. By all means, feel free to comment on the ones you really can’t stand, and if you’re feeling brave you can even try and stick up for some of them.
- Big Data We’re still figuring out how to use small data effectively. Just wait until you see what we can’t do with even more information.
- Bleeding Edge When Leading Edge just doesn’t ‘cut it’, let it bleed.
- Lean in This one belongs to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her 2013 book by the same name. It’s great, but it’s hers. It’s also a white-collar way to say “Git ’r done”.
- Guru, Ninja, Visionary, Expert It’s common knowledge that anyone who calls themselves this, isn’t, and anyone who is, wouldn’t dream of using any these terms.
- Tweeps Nobody thinks of themselves as one, so don’t try and find them.
- Growth hacker Or anything+hacker for that matter. See Guru, etc. above.
- Optimize Still suitable when referring to search engine optimization. That’s about it.
- Viral Everyone wants to know the secret sauce (another overused term this year, sorry) to making something “Go Viral”.
- Pivot Experimenting is great, but it’s better to start with a sound plan then practice ‘continuous improvement’. Pivot is a fancy way of saying we got it wrong and we need to change.
- Snackable Content that addresses our ever-shrinking attention spans. What? Sorry, I wasn’t listening.
- Thought leader I still like this title, as long as we are referring to Simon Sinek or Seth Godin. If you don’t have your own TEDTalk you are probably just a smart person with a platform.
- “Un” Anything UnMarketing? Unless your strategy is living under a rock in the middle of nowhere, you are still marketing. You’re just doing it differently. I think 7UP used this best in the 1970s with “The UnCola”.
- Revolutionary Almost always an overstatement. Find a more accurate word to describe your difference.
- Influencer This would include every Mom on the planet. Time to stop using it for everything.
- Engagement Okay, we are guilty of this one. We practice “Authentic Engagement”. We really mean it, and “Get Real” sounds kind of nasty. Some think it’s too vague, but I prefer it to “connect”.
- Millennials Gen Y is the current mystery demographic, especially to the baby boomers. Heard out of the mouths of C-Level executives to demonstrate that they know and care about this mystifying market segment.
- The Internet of Things aka “IoT” It’s the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. Now you know.
- Responsive Web Design One of my very talented web designer friends said last year “Responsive Web Design? Around here we call that Web Design.”
- Viewability Primarily used in reference to online banner advertising, where click through rates (CTR) are low (between 0.1% and 0.04% by most estimates). Ad views are measured in cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and unscrupulous use of “bot traffic” means we don’t always know if the views are by humans. Welcome to the future.
- Click Fraud (see also Astroturfing) There’s those pesky bots again.
- Omnichannel Retailing Omni means all things, or everywhere. If you’re going to use it, you’d better mean it.
- Neuromorphics This one is both cool and scary. It refers to a new class of “brainlike” computers. Artificial Intelligence is just around the corner. Eventually most science fiction comes true.
- Media Agnostic It means knowing the right channels and the right strategies to use with the right client initiatives. Most people use it incorrectly so it has become somewhat meaningless.
- Stakeholdering As in “We need to do some stakeholdering.” Please just don’t, okay? Ask what people really want and need.
- Selfie The single most overused word of 2014.
A few more for good measure: Rich Media, Synergy, Contextualized, Aggregate, Disruptive, Game Changer, Innovate
Want some fun seeing how ridiculous jargon can get? Try the Business Buzzwords Generator, brought to you by those wacky folks at The Wall Street Journal. It’s a meta game-changer. http://projects.wsj.com/buzzwords2014/
My final thought: Think of how much easier it would be to explain your ideas to colleagues, clients, friends and family without needing to explain the jargon you’re using. They will thank you for it.