Buzzwords can be useful things. They provide a handy summation of a new (or at least newly popular) concept and can help spread the word on interesting and occasionally even useful trends.
The problem comes when they become over-used or are misunderstood and used in the wrong context.
With that in mind, here are 7 buzzwords we’d like to see less of over the next 12 months:
Disruptive innovation is a theory first advanced by Professor Clayton Christensen in 1995, but it’s only become an over-saturated buzzword since the emergence of ‘net-assisted business models’ such as Airbnb (which has disrupted the hotel industry) and Uber (which has done the same for taxis). Christensen’s business partner Mark W. Johnson describes the idea as transformation of “a complicated, expensive product into one that is easier to use or is more affordable than the one most readily available.” So stop describing your product as ‘disruptive’ just because it’s successful or has dislodged a sliver of market share from the big boys in your field. It might be good and it might even be innovative but if it doesn’t change the game from the ground up, it’s not truly disruptive.
Every business wants to achieve growth and increase its profile, market share and brand reputation. That’s part of the business of being a business. If you can come up with short-cuts that still provide lasting results, or ways of getting maximum results from minimum resources, then so much the better. Not every last bit of successful marketing requires its own buzzword however. Marketers: coming up with content, strategies and innovative techniques to get your brand noticed is not growth hacking. It’s called doing your job.
Thought leaders, aka influencers, are recognised industry experts and/or people who, well…lead opinion and thought in a certain area. The trouble is that anyone with a platform and a pushy enough set of marketing advisors can set themselves up as a thought leader, even though they might actually be parroting whatever they read this morning in a genuinely thoughtful blog. Or, worse, collated with an automatic keyword-powered content harvester. Oh, and an another problem with so-called thought leaders is that they’re also likely to promulgate buzzwords like ‘thought leadership’.
Landscaping, okay. Manscaping; if it floats your boat, we suppose. Storyscaping? Not so much. At one time the only things most businesses needed were a high quality product or service (or at least one that people wanted to buy which, admittedly, is not always the same thing) and a way of getting people to hear about it. Now every business needs its own story to tell. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with this – as long as you have an interesting story to tell. But don’t take a sketchy blog and try to pass it off as a literary masterpiece, or foist your ‘story’ on people who are just looking to get in, buy your stuff and get out again.
The idea of merging a number of different channels – websites, social media, mobile apps, traditional media and real-life interaction (remember that?) – into one seamless whole is actually a good idea, at least for some business models. Argos has successfully merged online with the high street with Click and Collect for example. But can we please stop using a buzzword to describe it that sounds like it was created by a villain from The Incredibles?
Take a look at your birth certificate and then take a good, hard look in the mirror. If you were born anywhere between the late 80s and early 2000s, you’re an online native who is also inherently self-absorbed and with a sense of entitlement bigger than the average pampered moggy, you might just be a millennial. While Generation X were the slackers, Generation Y are the ‘me generation’. Everyone in the world loves sweeping generalisations (you see what we did there?) and customer data and demographics are obviously very useful from a business or marketing standpoint. To be meaningful however, you need a bit more than a birth-date and a sack-full of assumptions.
Okay, specifying something as happening within the digital marketing sphere tells you it’s happening online. But please stop treating digital marketing as some specialist or esoteric niche. With the UK spending more on digital advertising than on all other forms in 2015, maybe digital should be the default and ‘analogue advertising’ should be drafted in for all those marketing platforms grandad used to enjoy.
*Photo credits: Michael R Ross / Shutterstock.com