Are You Alienating Customers with Your Made-Up Words?
Marketing jargon is a part of any marketing professional’s daily life, much to the chagrin of the average consumer. Still, even though most people react to made-up or repurposed words with the following expressions—
—marketing professionals insist on throwing around words like low-hanging fruit or buzzworthy or, ewww, viral. Sure, there are some industry-insider words that mean nothing to anyone but the professional using them, and if that marketing professional understands the words coming out of his own mouth, more power to him.
Where you’ll really run into trouble, where marketing jargon does the most damage, is with your potential customers. The moment you let a flashy word escape your lips or show up in your web copy, you take a chance on losing those buyers.
Dehumanizing Your Buyers
As vital as a buyer persona may be to marketing professionals, those words should never reach your buyers’ ears. Neither should target market or demographic. See, consumers pride themselves on individuality, on being unique and silly and full of dreams that are all their own. When you group them all together like this—
—as nameless, faceless, soulless beings, you immediately dehumanize them. And probably make them a little mad.
Remember, too, that buyer personas are simply guidelines. While you’re likely to get more purchases out of the target market (without calling them that, of course), you limit yourself and your product or service if you don’t reach beyond those walls. Not every buyer fits a mold, and if you try to force them into one, you’ll miss out on some potentially loyal customers.
Fighting Unnecessary Battles
Many of the invented and inflated marketing terms thrown about are solely for tracking metrics to improve reach. When you’re setting aside time to enable productive people and processes or talking with colleagues on how to synergize (really?), you’re setting yourself up for a long, hard battle. Sure, these numbers are important, and they let you know if you’re reaching customers. But when those numbers become more important than the buyers themselves, you’ve lost the war.
You shouldn’t be fighting with your buyers at all. These struggles to fill the blanks for your next company meeting, reporting on how to engage in reputation management or increase visibility across business silos (huh?), are just distractions from the real battle: selling your product.
You Might Just Look Stupid
Let’s face it; there are dozens of reasons to cut the marketing jargon from your vocabulary. Losing customers and creating more work aside, your made-up words might just make you look dumb. Why? Because you’re making up words to look smarter. With just a few choice words, you become that kid on the playground who brags about his trip to the moon or shows off photos of his model girlfriend from Canada.
"Yeah, she's coming to visit me this summer..."
By masking what you’re doing with fancy terms, you run the risk of eliminating trust. When you say core competencies, but really mean “it’s what we’re good at doing,” your potential customers might have trouble believing you.
As a marketing professional and content writer, I understand there’s no way to get around using industry terminology all the time. Sometimes increasing visibility across business silos is just something that must be done (though I’ve never actually run into that particular problem.) The message here isn’t to avoid all marketing jargon; it’s to use the words only when necessary. If you’re throwing words into your blog and web content to impress your potential buyers, you’ll miss the mark every time. If you’re creating new tasks around the hottest marketing terms out there simply so you can be on top of Marketing Mountain, you’re fighting a losing battle. And if you’re using technical terms simply to look cool, with it, or smart, you’ll probably achieve the opposite.
Think hard about your message and try to relay the words simply and effectively. The real goal is to sell, and you can’t do that by giving people the runaround.
Image credits: freedigitalphotos.net/Artur84