This Buzzword Bulls#!t marketing series is aimed at explaining – and hopefully ending – some undesirable buzzwords that run rampant in the current world of marketing. Most of the commentary comes from a B2B perspective and, while snarky as heck, is written to provide insights in an entertaining way. You’ve all thought it. I’m just going to say it out loud.
Here, I’d like to talk through how a buzzword makes the cut. We’re rarely going to focus on a buzzword that is simply overused and annoying (there is plenty of out-of-the-box, low-hanging fruit to pick there), but rather on ones that have been so overused as to have lost all impact or misused to the point where they mean so many things that they become meaningless. These, to us, are true buzzwords…ambiguity frequently abused by marketers or by unsuspecting newbies that don’t know any better (hint: using buzzwords doesn’t actually make you sound smarter).
The Buzzword Cycle is the process by which this happens. It typically goes like this:
Someone invents a real or perceived micro-improvement to an existing idea so slight that they create a new word or name for it in order to give it more perceived novelty. Think “Account-Based Marketing” which is really just focusing a lot of existing marketing tactics on individual prospective accounts or “Engagement” which is, well, a soft measurement of whether people care about the marketing you’re doing – whether they end up buying or not (more on this gem later).
Everyone jumps on the bandwagon and starts using the new word or phrase for EVERYTHING – whether or not they are applying the moniker in any way resembling its original intent. This immediately starts diluting the language by stealing meaning and impact.
Overuse gets so rampant, that people stop clarifying which meaning they intend, which causes ambiguity we no longer question and leads to conversations bleeding value whenever that word/phrase is included.
Voilà…you’ve created a pile of Buzzword Bulls#!t.
This should be a lot of fun and, I hope, shine a playful light on how ridiculous we marketers can get with our craft sometimes. Stay tuned for articles where we relentlessly tear into our favorite overused buzzwords – who knows, we might all learn something.