Buzzword Bingo

By October 7, 2017purpl.

buzzword : pronouncedˈbʌzwəːd/

noun, informal

plural noun: buzzwords

  1. a word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.

Hands up if you have used any of these words in the last 30 days?

big data — customer journey — holistic — organic — bespoke — content curation — millenial — crowdculture — native — boutique — lifestyle — aspirational — influencer — engaged— experiential — end to end — funnel — customer generation — programmatic — optimisation — conversions — responsive….This list could on for days so I’ll cut it short.

Come on, fess up! If you work in marketing, digital, branding & comms, these are ALL listed in your 2017 Buzzwords Vocabulary.

I have a love — hate relationship with buzzwords. Whenever I hear them being used is talks/presentations I have a violent urge to yell “BINGO” but then on the flip side of that relationship, I sometimes find myself compelled to using them in my own eloquent orations because they just make sense in the context of what I am saying. The dictionary’s definition above says it is a fashionable way of expressing yourself, but I don’t want to be fashionable or, heaven forbid, trendy, I want to be relevant. And some buzzwords just do that for me.

But I had questions that needed answering, so I did some research. One important factor that repeated itself in my findings was that when using buzzwords, it may appear to make a marketing claim or product statement more concise but upon analysis, it often doesn’t provide the recipient with any real information or detail.

Let me put that claim into context for you: Over the last month, I have been investigating upgrading our CRM software. All of the companies that have pitched for the business have told me their tools are “powerful” and can be “seamlessly integrated” into our existing platform.

In whose opinion is it “powerful” because, unless you provide me with more detail, I really don’t know how to quantify your claim and you might not come across as credible as you think you do.

And if everything is so “seamlessly integrated” into everything else, why do companies that provide integration solutions always have so much work to do to get it right? Again, you raise credibility issues.

Instead, try telling me something that makes it all sound credible, like: “Our software enables an x% increase in close rates and a y% reduction in sales cycles, and our customers also report substantial increases in the quality of leads generated and pursued…”. Wow! Really? Sold!

Fact is that in most industries, we have all learnt to be articulate and eloquent story-tellers whilst also heeding to the perception that we need to be concise. Using buzzwords in our vernacular also confirms the impact social media interaction has had on our ability to communicate. It’s like limiting our conversations to 140 characters.

The rapidly changing landscape of marketing and the constantly changing digital innovations in our industry can’t be confined to the traditional marketing vocabulary so it’s pretty safe to say that buzzwords are around to stay, and that our Buzzword Vocabulary will continue to grow as we find new ways to express ourselves.

As an industry, we should always keep relevancy top of mind and make an effort to not always gloss over the details. I know I will continue to use buzzwords when they are relevant but I am also going to find the time to go into detail and build credibility and relevancy in my audience’s mind too.

Oh, and if you are in (or worse, giving) a presentation and hear someone shout out “Bingo!”, you should probably try to pull back on the buzzwords because someone in the audience has started Buzzword Bingo and the craze is starting to take off!