Every marketer has industry-related terms that make their skin crawl.
We collected some of the top marketing words and phrases the pros we work with want banned from the lexicon.
1. Added Value
Marketers often use this term to justify their jobs. They’re providing added value to their stakeholders. The truth is that there is no such thing as added value. Anything you add to the work you do should probably be in your job description.
Related term: Stakeholder is an overused term in marketing. Interested party is probably more accurate because it forces marketers to define why someone has an interest in the work they do.
2. Change Management
When it comes time to change how your team handles its marketing tasks, don’t refer to it as change management. Marketers don’t like forced change, and feeling that others are managing change makes it even worse. When you need to make adjustments in how you do marketing, give some power to the people who will carry it out. That way, they’ll have an ownership stake in its success.
Related term: When marketers can’t agree to a solution, someone usually suggests tabling the matter. Table it is almost as bad as talking to the hand. It’s just another way to say shut up.
3. Content Is King
This phrase is overused and not always true. While having top-quality content is critical to marketing success, you also need superior marketing strategies and informed metrics monitoring and reporting. It’s better to think of all aspects of marketing as parts of a royal family.
Related term: Marketers often refer to learnings when analyzing their marketing results. It’s another vague term that can be subjective. Instead of learnings, refer to the more objective metrics that better express the success or failure of a marketing effort.
Unnecessarily gendered language, including terms like guys, is exclusive, not inclusive. It makes it less likely consumers will see themselves in your marketing. It’s okay to use he if you’re selling a product only for men, like Viagra. For most other things, gender-neutral references will sell more products and services.
Many service businesses resort to this term when explaining their offerings. The truth is that no business sells everything, and you’re likely to disappoint prospective clients or customers when you don’t provide what they need. The disappointment may leave them unwilling to come back to purchase the services you do sell.
Related term: Service businesses often refer to the solutions they offer without explaining them. This is a cop-out that could be leaving consumers unclear about what your business offers.
Jargon isn’t a term that should be banned. It’s a concept. Any time industry terminology creeps into a marketing campaign that could leave anyone feeling excluded, isn’t being inclusive at a time when it’s critical to be. Marketing can’t be successful if people don’t understand it.
Related term: Unexplained or undefined acronyms must also be banned from copy. No one wants to stop reading to look them up. They’re more likely to abandon and move on to content that’s easier to read.
Whether used in marketing or to describe a marketing effort, nothing is perfect. Instead of using the simplistic perfect, take the time to find the words to explain why something is approaching an ideal state.
Related term: Flawless is a word often used in cosmetic and beauty product marketing. It sets unreasonable expectations. The truth is that one person’s flawless could be another individual’s highly flawed.
Another related term: Marketers often think it’s okay to push out work that’s 90 percent perfect. Of course, work is never really 100 percent perfect or finished, but thinking in 90 percent terms often results in poor quality deliverables.
The pandemic made combined physical and digital events popular. Trendy marketers started referring to them as phygital. People in the real world have no idea what this word means and may not attend your event because of it.
Old-school marketers often reference PMS or Pantone colors. While the shades and tones on Pantone chips have value, people are as likely to experience color on a screen as in the real world. If you’re still thinking PMS colors, it’s time to move to the world of Hex.
10. SEO Used Wrong
SEO stands for search engine optimization. There are no such things as SEO results. They’re search results. SEO content is simply good content. And SEO optimization is redundant.
11. Single Source of Truth
Content marketers often use this term to describe the ultimate source of information on a particular topic. It doesn’t exist. Good content is based on thorough research and information from several credible sources. If you think you’ve found the single source of truth, you’re probably wrong.
Big pretentious words should be avoided when they can be replaced with shorter, simpler-to-understand ones. Big words ruin the flow of copy, stopping readers in their tracks. Any time someone stops reading, it presents an opportunity for them to abandon and move on to someone else’s content.
13. Up at Night
Marketers often refer to the needs their products solve as what keeps their consumers up at night. Bread, toilet paper, and nail polish don’t keep people up at night. Guns in schools, cancer, and higher prices do.
Does anything go viral these days? And if it does, is it really of any value? Today’s viral is tomorrow’s forgotten. If viral is forgettable, it might be more valuable to invest in evergreen content and long-term campaigns.
15. And Last but Not Least: Think Outside the Box
All aspects of marketing are, by their nature, creative. Even number crunchers have to view stats creatively to understand their meaning and express it to others. If your brain is in a box, you shouldn’t be working in marketing.