Most of us have seen sentences like this, “We need to drive sales of customer solutions through an integrated, personalised approach to strategic management policies,” and had no idea what they mean. Unfortunately, that’s also how our audiences feel when we litter our content with marketing speak. If we want our customers to listen, it’s time to ditch the jargon and start making sense.
Buzzwords, marketing speak, corporate jargon – whatever you like to call it – does very little for business. As marketers, we’re often compelled to use marketing lingo, and, in some instances, that’s fine. But we need to think about our audiences – people who are unlikely to be impressed by the same terminology.
Clients, customers and prospects are busy people. They have little time for interpreting jargon. They need information in clear, plain English so they can quickly make decisions about products or services. And, if we’re smart, we’ll avoid blinding them with corporate speak because they simply won’t stick around to listen.
This marketo.com blog does a great job of clearing out marketing words and phrases that are already losing favour. But now it’s time to ditch the more common jargon terms, some of which we’re so used to using that we’ve forgotten they’re jargon in the first place. See if you agree:
Reach out: in the context of, “I’m going to reach out to the Asia office and see if anyone there has availability.” Why say reach out when you can just say call/talk to/speak to/ask?
Ping: As in, “Ping me.” In the dictionary, ‘ping’ is either a high-pitched sound or refers to troubleshooting internet connections. But for some reason we’ve adopted it for, “Send me an email”, or “Contact me”.
Going forward/moving forward: “We will be extending our services moving forward.” In the context of time (to which this refers) we aren’t going anywhere but forward! So, unless you’ve invented time travel and, therefore, have alternative possibilities, leave it out completely – it adds nothing.
Utilise: ‘Utilise’ offers nothing that ‘use’ doesn’t. ‘Use’ is fine.
Skill sets: Do we have to have sets of skills? Or can we just have skills?
Pain points: People have problems, challenges, issues. Pain points sound like they might only hurt if prodded.
Leverage: “We will leverage the expertise of the team.” Unless you need to dig the expertise out of the ground with a trowel, just say ‘use’.
Facilitate: This is a word we’re more likely to write down than say out loud. What about ‘help’, ‘aid’, ‘promote’?
Bandwidth: Perfectly fine if you’re referring to your broadband. If you’re talking about your time, however, just say ‘time’. It’s far less confusing.
Incentivise: One of those words where ‘ise’ has just been tacked onto the end making it cumbersome and mildly unpleasant. ‘Motivate’ is a nice, simple alternative.
Growth hacking: To end on a particularly tricky one, growth hacking is a marketing term commonly applied to the act of using different tactics to grow your customer base. Aside from the fact that it’s a term people are almost certainly going to need to Google, it also infers this marketing process is a touch shady and underhanded.
For every jargon term, there’s almost always a perfectly acceptable alternative that makes more sense. If you’re unsure, there’s an easy way to determine whether your words are plain English. Read your sentence out loud. If the words you’ve chosen aren’t words you’d normally use in an everyday conversation with a friend, don’t use them in your content.
If you’d like to know more about how KG Moore uses plain English to deliver high-quality, searchable content, call us on 01206 646 006.