Why marketing is a load of rubbish

My breakout session at this year’s B2B Marketing Conference, ‘How to get finance to love marketing’, gave marketers three key techniques on gaining the support from their commercially driven colleagues, one of which was to handle marketing jargon with care… and here’s why.

So, obviously, I don’t really think marketing is a load of rubbish. But, I completely understand why so many people do. Especially managing directors, sales people, and our colleagues in finance. It’s because marketing people insist on speaking in their own language. Which is ironic, seeing as marketers we are meant to be the masters of communication.

Imagine going into a management team meeting and saying something along the lines of… “We’ve nailed a really great concept, I’m totally loving the big idea, I reckon this campaign will go viral, generating excellent word-of-mouth amongst our advocates. I’m really looking forward to tracking the buzz metrics.”

Those of you who are up to your eyes in the latest ‘marketing thinking’ day-in, day-out might think that sounds great (and many more will roll your eyes in dismay). You might also counter that you would never say a thing like that – what about your team or your agency, would they?

If so, you can be pretty sure that most business people will have heard something like… “I’ve just spent a load of money with hand-waving creative types doing something that I think is fun, that will generate little but hot air.”

Now, the keen-eyed amongst you who’ve sussed me out will quickly see that Clear Thought website (http://www.clear-thought.co.uk) has its fair share of marketing jargon. I like to think we make it digestible, but we know that the plain English campaign would take us aside from time to time. The point is to at least consider the language you’re using, not just externally, but internally too – because what you mean to say is not always what people hear.

And, of course, the problem isn’t confined to marketing. It’s in any expert discipline or established community. Business disciplines, like IT, law, marketing, finance, operations, human resources, etc. all have their own jargon. It’s worth taking a moment to consider whether the people you’re talking to actually understand a word you’re saying. If not, think again. Find someone outside your area to give you some honest feedback – do your words sound like gobbledygook to them? Perhaps you can return the favour for them.

I’m not completely anti-jargon. Indeed, a well-chosen word in the right context can get your point across precisely and succinctly. So, if everyone in the room understands the word in question, and it gets you to the point more quickly – use it. If, however, some people would need a translation – save them the embarrassment of asking (or the confusion of not asking) by introducing your point more fully and plainly. My advice, to help keep your non-marketing colleagues on-side, is handle buzzwords marketing terminology with care!