Why acronyms, buzzwords and jargon sabotage your marketing - Avenir Thinking

Why acronyms, buzzwords and jargon sabotage your marketing

General

1 month ago

The overuse of jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords negatively impact your marketing efforts and communication in general. They often needlessly complicate your message when communicating with a broader audience.

It’s one thing to use this shorthand with peers, a niche B2B space, or other industry insiders who get it – it’s even a way to bond. But when trying for a wider reach, it’s branding suicide.

Littering your speech and writing with esoteric nonsense can make you seem like you’re trying too hard. It only adds bloat without substance. When crafting content, always use plain, straightforward language that your target customer can easily understand. Rely on simpler synonyms instead of buzzwords whenever possible, and define necessary acronyms or technical terms

Mark Twain said it best: “Use plain, simple language, short words, and brief sentences.”

Brilliant advice in just a dozen words – something we could all stand to remember. Too often, businesses and entrepreneurs get tangled up trying to explain what they actually do. When the acronyms start flying, it’s best to refer back to Twain’s wise words.

Whether you’re crafting the next literary masterpiece or just trying to convey the value you offer customers, ditch the multisyllabic monstrosities.

Insider lingo creeps into every community, from corporate boardrooms to elementary school playgrounds.

Why do we lean so heavily on this language

According to Professor Adam Galinsky, who teaches at Columbia, “We use jargon when we’re feeling insecure – it helps us feel like we have higher status.” Coauthor Zachariah

The straight-shooter Mark Cuban can’t stand the word “cohort” for instance, ranting “There’s no reason to ever use it when you could say ‘group’…you sound stupid using ‘cohort’ because you’re desperate to seem smart.”

Newbies to any field are susceptible to this. In marketing, peppering your content with incomprehensible buzzwords is the kiss of death. Instead of impressing prospects, you’ll come across as inauthentic and lose them entirely. Cue the crickets.

I was on a discovery call recently where the exec used so much marketing jargon and senseless acronyms, it felt more like an alien webinar than a discussion. At one point, I missed his next question straining to decipher an acronym from a moment prior. Ironic given we were supposed to be talking about communication strategies.

Still, some folks haven’t gotten the memo about avoiding these pitfalls. “Authentic” was Webster’s Word of the Year recently, beating out gems like “deepfake” and “dystopian.”

Like Cuban, there are words that trigger me, including “circle back,” “unpack,” “get granular,” and “put it in the parking lot”. In the digital marketing realm, you’ll be hit with mind-numbing acronyms like CPC, CTR, KPI, PPC, EPS, and SEO. To drive home my point, I’m not going to provide definitions.

Miscommunication can get worse when used in text messaging and email

Jargon isn’t just a spoken vice – it can really run amok in messaging over email, text, and other written forms. Psychology Today says our brains naturally skew toward a negative bias when we can’t hear tone of voice. Your seemingly innocent missive could easily come across as passive-aggressive or condescending without those missing context cues

Generational gaps

Age differences in the corporate world make discourse even trickier. Boomers are still trying to get their “ducks in a row” and “run things up a flagpole” while youngsters are too busy “chasing vibes” to understand what those idioms even mean. Gen Z slang like “lit,” “sus,” and “bet” fuels a whole new level of confusion into the generational divide. Add multiple languages and dialects into the mix, and suddenly the workplace is a jargon minefield.

The only surefire way to communicate effectively is to do your homework on the specific audiences you’re trying to reach. Once you uncover their commonly used vocabulary and frame of reference, you can craft messaging that actually makes sense to them.

In a nutshell (okay, one cliché), ditch the buzzwords and corporate-speak when reaching out to the masses. Clarity always wins. As the band from yesteryear The Fixx said: “One thing leads to another…why don’t you say what you mean, mean what you say?”

If you need help demystifying your marketing content and speaking clearly to your people, we’re all ears at Avenir. No linguistic acrobatics required.

Post written by Jonna Jerome // WordsWerk.