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Marketing buzz word decoder: what they say, what they mean

You’re sitting in a meeting room, colleagues brainstorming around you. They keeping throwing out phrases like: “delivering on expectation”, “providing an agile solution”, “let’s do a deep-dive to find the low-hanging fruit”.

WTAF?

Who goes diving for fruit?!

What are these words and why does everyone else seem to know what they mean?

Here’s a secret, my friend: buzz words are largely smoke and mirrors used to sex up perfectly normal terms. As a fan of plain English, I thought I’d take five to break down—in real words—what the most fashionable buzz words mean.

 

Why are buzz words gross?

Before we get started, let’s quickly run over why buzz words are so hideous and the kind of damage they can do.

According to psychologists, we’re mentally programmed to follow the pack. We have a built-in need to do what everyone else is doing; it’s how we learn, communicate and survive.

“For an individual joining a group, copying the behaviour of the majority would then be a sensible, adaptive behaviour. A conformist tendency would facilitate acceptance into the group and would probably lead to survival if it involved the decision, for instance, to choose between a nutritious or poisonous food, based on copying the behaviour of the majority.” — Julia Coultas, An Evolutionary Perspective on Conformity

It stands to reason that conformity has leaked into the board room and the brainstorming sesh. It makes us compelled to impress, adopting clever phrases with huge conceptual connotations that mask very basic meanings.

I mean, are you going to choose the agency offering a “holistic agile solution to your creative problem” or the ones which can have the power to help you “solve creative problems, quickly”?

 

Buzz words: what they say, what they mean


Optimise

This is clever-talk for making something more efficient, usually by looking at data and finding better, quicker and easier ways of doing shit. Not rocket science.


Growth hack

I cringed even as I wrote that title. People throw this particular buzz word around like a hacky sack in a common room. What it really relates to is gaining rapid and efficient business growth by working through low-cost methods and using existing resources. Basically all the simple but effective things I talk about here on the blog, like using customer reviews in your copy.


Snackable

What a delicious buzz word! Knives and forks away, folks, it’s not as tasty as it sounds. We often refer to online content as being ‘easy to digest’, meaning people can read it quickly. Think BuzzFeed or Mail Online articles, for example. For something to be ‘snackable’, it has to be a short, sharp, powerful piece of content that can be read in minutes. Done.


Agile

This is a brilliant buzz word because it has transformative properties. Put it in front of almost any other word and it instantly becomes a new and impressive jargon phrase. In all seriousness though, ‘agile’ is a legitimate tech term that’s been ‘hijacked’ by meeting room posers.

When this little nugget comes into play, what you’re dealing with is cross-team collaborations and continuously evolving work processes that help companies get shit out the door better and faster than they could sticking to a more rigid way of doing things. The market moves at the speed of light at the moment and if you’re slow, you lose. But it’s less impressive when you say it like that. Obv.


Deep dive

Oh wow, this one must be crazy technical, right? I mean, with a random-ass name like “deep dive”. The process itself is pretty intense, but the term? No. A deep dive is basically getting all your research and data ducks in a row and then getting into a hardcore brainstorming and idea generation sesh with your team. That’s it.


Low-hanging fruit

Like ‘snackable’, this buzz word sounds far more delicious than it really is. The term ‘low-hanging fruit’ refers to easy-win goals and targets that can be accomplished now, rather than needing a lot of hard work and time. Just like swiping low hanging fruit from a tree—no climbing needed, bro.


Holistic

The most delightful thing about this buzz word is that, in researching and sense checking it before writing this, I came across a heap of bullshit articles on what the term actually means. The words ‘philosophy’ and ‘ideology’ kept cropping up like warning bells. Basically, a holistic approach in marketing is the unification of all departments towards the same goal. Considering all parts and all views as one. You know, like a business should be doing.


Millennial

‘Millennial’ is the jargon term for individuals belonging to Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1994. There are 13.8 million of them in the UK and they’re currently the ultimate target for marketers thanks to disposable incomes, tech-savviness and a burning desire to be a trend-setting ‘early adopter’. Rumour has it they’re also superficial, lazy and narcissistic, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.



All done! Maybe you’d like to print this off and keep it handy next time you’re due in a meeting with people that like to sound clever?

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