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10 Marketing Buzzwords to Avoid in 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

According to dictionary.com, a buzzword is ‘a word or phrase, often sounding authoritative or technical, that is a vogue term in a particular profession.’ In other words, buzzwords are marketing fluff: stuff everyone says but that doesn’t really add any value. Digital marketing is all about getting the best results, but you can’t get the best results if important concepts and ideas are muddied in confusing, overhyped language. But as they say, ‘new year, new you,’ so let’s all vow to sweep away the fluff and cut to the value stuff. Here are the 10 marketing buzzwords to avoid in 2017!

1. Millennial

Buzzwords to Avoid People claim millennials are obsessed with themselves, but no one’s more obsessed with millennials than marketers. ‘Millennial’ usually refers to the age group that reached young adulthood in the mid-to-late noughties (spoiler: the writer of this blog is one). A quick Google Images search will let you know what most people picture when they think of millennials. Many marketers view this age group as a mysterious goldmine. We see so many stats about what millennials love and hate, what social media platforms they’re using, and why they are simultaneously the best and worst generation yet. Why It Needs to Go: Millennials are just as diverse as any other age group, and all they want is for brands to be honest and offer something worthwhile. So instead of struggling to find a Snapchat filter that suits your B2B sales company, you’ll get better results by experimenting with new tactics such as accessible live video and engaging content marketing.

2. Storytelling

Buzzwords to Avoid

Now THIS guy is a storyteller.

Content marketing is often referred to as a buzzword, but that’s not really fair. Content marketing is a fully-fledged branch of marketing, digital and otherwise, and it also supports other areas in digital, including SEO and PPC. Storytelling, however, is where things get tricky. It can refer to long-form content, non-brand content, user-generated content, video content, live content – basically, good content. Why It Needs to Go: Content marketing is vital for most businesses, and yet many executives are still unsure of its worth. The term ‘storytelling’ arose as a way to give the field a layman-friendly mystique, but all it does is muddle the message – an unforgivable sin in content marketing. Instead, focus on creating content that fits your brief, actually engages your users, and generates outstanding results.

3. Thought Leader

Buzzwords to Avoid

‘Now, where did I put my clothes?’

According to Forbes, a thought leader is someone the public views as ‘one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialisation’ and a ‘go-to’ source for expertise. Marketers often reach out to these influencers, seeking anything from advice to a social media content share. Like several terms on our list of buzzwords to avoid, there’s value lurking underneath. Positioning your CEO as a thought leader will certainly help attract traffic – and potential new business – to your site. Why It Needs to Go: “Thought leadership” is a verb, not a noun. So as long as you’re actually doing some thought-leading, you can probably keep it. If you’re just using it as a glossy label to make your blogs sound more important without actually delivering any value, that label will start to flake off, leaving behind a bad impression. If you don’t have the time or space to do the research and have pioneering thoughts, then it’s probably safer to avoid the term altogether.

4. Synergy

Buzzwords to Avoid Ah, yes, synergy. That thing. It’s one of those things everyone talks about, but no one seems to know how to make it happen – or even what it is, really. That is the defining criteria of a buzzword to avoid. According to dictionary.com, synergy refers to “the interaction of elements that, when combined, product a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.” In other words, teamwork. Doing your fair share. Working together to create something spectacular. Why It Needs to Go: Teams often spend too much time talking about how to be more ‘synergistic,’ but it happens naturally with the right skills and a group of open minds. Deluding your pitches or reports with buzzwords like this distracts from the real value you’re offering – and that is certainly not synergistic.

5. Innovative

Buzzwords to Avoid

‘I came up with an innovative device that automates innovation!’

In marketing, an idea or process is innovative if it is new, unconventional, or even risky – and generates amazing results. You’ll hear people use it to refer to startups and giants alike, as long as they offer something from that rare sweet spot between valuable and unique. It’s another one of those words that’s not inherently bad. But if used recklessly, it can be a dangerous message muddler. Why It Needs to Go: Some marketers describe themselves or their ideas as ‘innovative’ simply because it’s what they think people want to hear. But don’t overuse the word when speaking with clients or customers. That way, when you do have something truly innovative on offer, they’ll know you’re a trusted source.

6. Alignment

Buzzwords to Avoid The word refers to multiple components of an object working smoothly in line together. You might need a tyre alignment, for example, if your vehicles pulls towards the left or right. It also refers to when people or concepts are in sync with one another. Alignment is all the rage these days. From customer alignment to sales and marketing alignment, marketers everywhere seem to want to align stuff. That’s good. It’s also common sense. Why It Needs to Go: When people refer to customer alignment, for example, they’re saying they need to align their marketing strategy with their customers. Of course they do! Create an effective strategy, by all means, but don’t allow a buzzword to confuse stakeholders into thinking you’re doing something more.

7. Growth Hacking

Buzzwords to Avoid


Often associated with ‘tech rock stars like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs,’ growth hacking refers to marketing experiments meant to skyrocket a business’s growth. Think A/B testing, social media, or experiments with viral marketing. If you search for ‘growth hacking jobs,’ you’ll discover thousands of companies are hiring growth hackers to their marketing teams, from innovative startups to well-known tech giants. Why It Needs to Go: If tactics like A/B testing sound more familiar to you than growth hacking, that’s because growth hacking is often used to refer to anything meant to produce results and grow a business – and that’s pretty much everything. That’s not to say that growth hacking isn’t a valid profession, but let’s not diminish their expertise by overusing the term.

8. Viral

Buzzwords to Avoid

‘Look ma, I’ve gone viral!’

There’s a lot more to ‘going viral’ than getting millions of view on a YouTube video. Marketers often use the term when referring to content or a product that’s been widely shared online by the public. Many marketers attempt to use sites like BuzzFeed or Reddit to gain high profile links. Even though these links are usually nofollow, they can bring in a healthy helping of referral traffic and revenue, especially for eCommerce sites. And there’s the problem. Why It Needs to Go: Unless you’re arranging an AMA for a prominent industry figure or commissioning sponsored or native content, marketers really shouldn’t use sites like the ones mentioned above – especially for links. And going viral generally isn’t a good term to use when speaking to clients or customers, anyway. You don’t want to set their expectations impossibly high or make them think content is valuable only when seen by millions of users.

9. Dynamic

Buzzwords to Avoid

A dynamic team offering dynamic solutions.

According to Google, something is dynamic if it is ‘characterised by constant change, activity, or progress.’ A dynamic team, for example, think on their feet, work well together, and offer adaptive solutions. But isn’t that what all teams are supposed to do? Why It Needs to Go: Marketers often describe their teams as dynamic in order to stand out from the competition. Or they’ll offer a ‘dynamic’ solution, one that bends instead of breaks when confronted with a challenge. Like many of these buzzwords, doing something you’re supposed to do shouldn’t be a selling point. Cut to what will deliver real value, and the benefits will follow for everyone involved.

10. Buzzword

Buzzwords to Avoid

Whaaat? A surprise ending?!

Yes, we know we just wrote a blog all about buzzwords to avoid, and now we’re saying that you shouldn’t use the word ‘buzzword.’ Hear us out. All of these words are part of the marketing vernacular for good reasons. It’s great to be a thought leader, for example, but don’t get caught using the phrase to refer to yourself. And as a marketer, it’s your job to offer innovative solutions – although you shouldn’t tell clients a tried and true strategy is innovative simply because they haven’t used it before. So, please don’t take this list too seriously or call us out if you stumble across any of these words on our site. Each of these words has its use, as long as you don’t muddle your message and allow the fluff to cover up the value stuff.

Contact DAC today to find out more!

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