Marketing Jargon: why it’s bad and what you should say instead

The next time you feel the need to think outside the marketing box, shift a retail paradigm, or leverage a client’s core competency, by all means do so. Just make sure to communicate your intentions in plain, accessible, authentic language.

Please remember: dropping a lot of trendy, meaningless business jargon in a big pitch doesn’t make you sound more experienced or intelligent.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Here are 5 examples from our company’s voice guidelines written to help the newer members of our Charlotte marketing agency express themselves without the use of jargon (i.e., “obscure and pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words only recognizable within small, insecure groups”).

From a stylistic standpoint, people tend to tune out when they have to read or hear something that sounds predictable and trite.

So the next time you’re tempted to grab tried and true (predictable, boring, etc.) vocabulary, try using the birdsong gregory Jargon Scrubber to turn boring corporate/marketing language into real human sentiments.

Your new business prospects will be grateful. And, hell, they might even start reading what you’ve sent them.

  1. Core competency
    This awful expression refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength – even though that’s not what the word “competent” means. But do people talk about peripheral competency? Ancillary competencies??
    Instead just say “Our area of expertise” or “Our strength”
  2. Best-of-breed
    OK to use … if you’re judging a dog show. But if you’re bringing in top digital talent to collaborate on a project, then just say so.
    Instead just say: “The best” or “The most talented.”
  3. Leverage
    Ahh, the granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs. ‘Leverage’ is mercilessly used to describe how a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled.
    Instead just say: “Take advantage of” or “Make good use of”
  4. Outside-the-box
    When you say ‘think outside the box’, you’re still talking inside one. For an expression that purports to express original, fresh thinking, this shopworn buzz phrase is anything but. It’s time to get rid of the box.
    Instead just say: “Creative” or “Unconventional”



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