"It needs to be social at times and viral."
That sentence was one of biggest turning points in my career. Young, doe-eyed entrepreneur and slick marketing dude faced with the same jargon I slung for years. It was a proposal filled with buzzwords. The customer was asking for something they couldn’t define to fill expectations they couldn’t articulate. Nightmare.
Customers are not dumb, but we’ve trained them to buy into the hype so hard that they expect lightning in a bottle. They’re repeating the same jargon that we spewed for years to sound impressive in a sea of competition. We’ve created a monster!
- “It’s gotta be organic.”
- “Can we get it trending?”
- “Let’s use best practices.”
- “We need synergy.”
- “Let me introduce our social media guru!”
I’ve gotten used to these little gems. Now I have to ask customers what their buzzwords mean just to make sure we’re speaking the same language. I also have to discover just how buried they are.
- “I want a strong brand culture.”
- “Can’t we just hack it?”
- “Gamify the experience.”
- “How do we target millennials?”
- “It needs to be mobile ready.”
The problem isn’t with the customer adopting these terms; it’s with the industry using them to sound smart. Every industry has jargon, and I can prove it. Sit down with your mom some time and start talking about SEM, UI, CTR or whatever junk your industry uses to sound big.
We can’t kill buzzwords, but we can remove the ego. Think of your mom next time you want to sit down and talk cool. If she wouldn’t understand, there’s a good chance the customer won’t either. Save us the trouble and be a bit more common in your language.