Magazine article Marketing

Opinion

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion

Article excerpt

Marketers must ditch the buzzwords and jargon and start to speak in plain English if they want to continue to talk to brands about achieving 'clarity'.

Marketers talk a lot about brands needing 'clarity', but the route they take to achieve this is often paved with terms of remarkable vagueness.

Here is a phrase I heard a week ago: 'I need to align my team behind some key drivers, so I wondered if you could workshop that through in an ideation session.' One sentence, a whole bundle of buzzwords. Let's take a look at them.

Align

To have a team in complete agreement seems an innocent enough objective That, however, should be an outcome, not an imperative. 'Align', spoken by a manager, often masks a desire for simple subordination: 'Some of my team disagree with me, and they really mustn't.'

It is, therefore, a euphemism; the velvet glove around the iron fist. To be the one person 'out of line' is meant to feel deeply uncomfortable. Yet marketing needs its dissenting voices, so watch out for over-enthusiastic 'aligners'.

Key drivers

'Key' means no more than 'important', often applied to things that are not. 'Drivers' could mean anything. Together, they dress up an ordinary concept - factors that could influence outcomes - and 'big up' the person speaking. Or, at least, that is what she or he thinks.

Workshop

It was bad enough as a noun, likening the flinty associations of the industrial workshop - where the outputs were always hard, useful and specific - to a sloppy marketing session where the outputs are normally anything but.

But, as a verb, it really grates, struggling to bring a note of vigour to long, wearying sessions in airless hotel meeting rooms.

The workshop process, based on the dated and discredited shibboleth that no one should ever criticise, has generated its own mini-lexicon of verbal dishonesty: 'challenge' ('I disagree') and 'build' ('I disagree and here's my better idea'). These terms succeed in masking their true meaning in the same way that 'special needs' does (ie, not at all).

Ideate

Yes, I know, it's horrible. Something to do with the 'a' that doubles as the last bit of 'idea' and the first bit of '-ate', a suffix that often connotes something vaguely unpleasant: 'Excuse me, I'm just popping in here to ideate. …

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