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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Small Business Jargon That Needs to Die - Now!

    Posted by Richard Foshee

    Meaningless Buzzwords

    You’ve probably heard them. You might even be guilty of using some of them. But it’s time we took a very serious look (okay, a moderately serious look) at some marketing jargon that is long overdue for its date with the Reaper. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but I felt it was pretty important to review these popular marketing jargon terms and why you should definitely stop using them. 

    One-Stop Shop

    Nothing says “I live in a town with a population of less than 500 that is completely devoid of technology” more than using the marketing term “one-stop shop”. Now I am not bashing small towns because I happen to love them and also grew up in one.

    It’s just that if you are trying to position your business as a multi-service provider, there are better ways to do it. Perhaps you should focus your message on the quality of your service, rather than the breadth. You could also emphasize that you are “equipped to meet the marketing needs of healthcare companies and their clients.”  Keep in mind another issue with this jargon is that you could give off the vibe that while you do everything, you don’t do any of it well. Let’s face it: A store that offers chainsaw repair and bridal gowns can’t be an expert in both.

    Out of the Box


    First it was “You have to think out of the box.” Next it was “We live, work, breathe ‘out of the box’-ness.” Then it was “While everyone else was out of the box, we were in it working hard for you.” I am so tired of the whole box analogy I could duct tape the box shut, set it on fire, and throw it in a dumpster. It just screams “I am trying so hard to be different from everyone else so that you will like me!”


    My main concern with this statement is that it is a marketing cop-out. It doesn’t really say anything important, drive the user as a call-to-action, or provide any kind of brand authority. Again, instead of relying on this jargon to convey your company’s creativity, use a clear, concise statement with a CTA to your portfolio or case studies. This will quickly convey the same message, but also provide the visitor an opportunity to get more information or see how your company is a leader in that particular area.


    Low-Hanging Fruit


    Luckily this one is typically only used in internal communication, but it can still send the wrong message to your staff. It can definitely convey the feeling that the people involved in these particular opportunities are too ignorant of your business or competitors to provide much of a challenge to your sales and/or support teams. Liberal usage of terms like this could actually lead to a decrease in the perceived value of your customer accounts. Instead of telling your staff to go after the low-hanging fruit, explain to them that they are highly qualified candidates to do business with these companies.


    Best In Class


Having to exclaim that you are No. 1 instead of letting your work and customers speak for you can best be summed up by a quote from Margaret Thatcher—“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”


    Make It Pop


    I am actually borrowing this one from the design world, but over the years it has grated on my nerves so badly that I just have to mention it. Believe me—all marketers want their message to “pop”. Otherwise, how else would we end up with those God-awful neon billboards with huge black lettering for “going out of business” sales? Also, coming from the perspective of the designer, this gives us very little instruction as to what your actual objectives are.


    That being said, my biggest concern with this statement is not that it doesn’t properly communicate things to designers. My concern is that it doesn’t clearly communicate things to your potential customers. Do you really know what your objectives are? Do you know why you are redesigning your website or sales collateral? Why are you doing this type of marketing?  As a business owner or manager, you need to reflect on these things and make sure that your marketing efforts, communication, and objectives are properly aligned.

    As you build and refine your marketing communication, make sure that you take into account the following:

    • The effectiveness of your specific verbiage in attracting visits or converting them to leads.

    • The perception your communications can give your staff and/or customers.

    • The alignment of quality and scope to the brand you are building.

    What are some of the more irritating marketing jargon terms that you think are well overdue for permanent retirement?

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    image credit: Patou/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: Inbound Marketing