Written by Barbara Bogue
Do I need 'authenticity' in my 'account-based' 'content marketing' for 'mindful' 'micro-moments'?
Huh? Marketers, writers, would-be content generators: stop talking gobbledygook. You’re confusing your audience! From over-used buzzwords to vertical-specific jargon, it’s a bad idea to pack your content with empty words. Does it make you sound smarter or give you an “in” with your reader because you name-dropped that inside lingo? Nope. The opposite is true. Looking to alienate your readers? Check.
Show and educate in simple terms
For truly knock-out content, you need to tell and educate with real words in simple terms. Sound too simple? It can be hard.
We’ve all been guilty of using buzzwords or over-used terminology that’s popular at the time. Marketing is filled with some nasty culprits—so much so that the creative folks at Cornett launched a “marketing buzzword jar” (the equivalent of a swear-word jar) as a virtual spoof on the problem. Use one of the over 500 no-no marketing buzzwords and you’re putting your hard-earned cash into the communal jar. Yikes! (http://marketingbuzzwordjar.com/)
Let’s see if you recognize these commonly over-used terms.
• Deep dive
• Low-hanging fruit
• Outside the box
• Close the loop
• Level the playing field
• Mission critical
• Data-driven decisions
• Growth hacking
• Account-based marketing
• Thought leadership
• POV (point of view)
Ugh! Any of these words sound familiar? Maybe too familiar.
Toxic trend that obscures clarity
Digiday.com coined this phenomenon as a “toxically obfuscating buzzword culture.” Wanting to sound informed or in-the-know we can fall victim to clouding our meaning with meaningless words. Yet Content Marketing Institute explains that successful speakers and marketers don’t resort to using jargon or phony words to communicate their messages, citing such giants as Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs as stellar examples.
But what about connecting with your audience, you say? Doesn’t using some inside lingo show that I’m one of them, that I understand their problems?
Getting to know your audience, what marketers like to term “personas” is certainly important. The trick is grasping their issues and problems to speak to them insightfully, but doing so in basic language everyone can understand.
By the way, see what I did there with “personas”? I used the term and explained it at the same time. This is one of the tactics recommended by Content Marketing Institute.
How to walk the terminology tightrope:
1. Meet the reader halfway
If you find it necessary or important to use jargon in your content, meet the reader halfway by explaining the meaning at the same time. Your best material is used to educate and inform your readers in a useful way. So, if a terminology is relevant then explain what and why, making sure not to talk down to nor alienate any of your audience.
2. Show, don’t tell
A powerful tactic to be used instead of jargon is to illustrate. Show an example, give a real-life experience, case-study result or otherwise demonstrate the meaning of the term to drive home your point. Your subject matter should be rich with reality and meaning, not empty words. Don’t tell readers what to do, show them how others have done it successfully, providing models for them to emulate. This can have a powerful effect on building your readership and proving your value.
3. Eliminate trite words from your speech and writing
When you remove empty words from your vocabulary all together, you’re less likely to slip them into a blog post or article, thus distancing yourself from potential prospects. Strive for words that everyone knows for maximum persuasion and punch.
A word about acronyms
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a brief mention of acronyms in this post. Some folks just love acronyms and think they’re the best tool around. We find acronyms used especially in government and public institutions like education or non-profits. And while acronyms can be useful for helping us to remember a meaty or complicated concept (like BANT Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline or KISS Keep it Simple Stupid) that doesn’t mean they make good company names, project names, slogans, causes or campaigns. So, let’s keep them out of marketing please.
There are a few company names who have used and survived the acronym model. Think ABC, IBM, KFC and GE. But closer examination shows these companies: 1) didn’t start out as sheer acronyms but were once full names that were later dropped over time; 2) spent billions of dollars saturating the market to build awareness and educate prospects about who they were and what they did and finally; 3) they ran the risk of not have a unique, one-of-a-kind identity. Google (that’s the verb) ABC and you get a list of organizations and enterprises that share the same acronym with American Broadcast Corporation. If you want to be unique, an acronym is not your best option.
But, if there’s still any doubt in your mind, when you have the right use for an acronym or you just want to play around with the idea, check out this crazy site www.allacronyms.com. Ridiculous fact: one meaning for the government application of the acronym LOVE = Level Of ViolencE. No kidding. And, if the need dictates you decipher some government speak of the abbreviated form, try this online government library http://ucsd.libguides.com/govspeak.
Marketing-schmarketing aside, just tell it like it is
To sum up: For the best results from your marketing content—building increased loyalty, awareness and sales—just use straight-forward, direct language. Be helpful and educational. Don’t talk over the heads of your readers with terms that someone might not understand. If you do use terminology or jargon, explain it and demonstrate it. Keep acronyms to their place and over-used words in the trash.
Turn to the experts
Need help choosing the right words for your content marketing? For strategy, design and copywriting, I can choose the brand words and images that people will love. Check out my work then let’s chat.
Want more reading? Check out these supplemental articles on buzzwords, jargon and acronyms:
Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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