Calling all marketers! Get ready to disrupt (yup, that’s one of them) your digestive tract with marketing cliches that will make you puke. These marketing buzz terms are polluting creative minds everywhere – and there might even be scientific evidence linking these cringe-worthy catchphrases to Millennials’ intense feelings of “I don’t want a desk job”. It’s certainly possible. However, for everyone else, can we make a pact?
As fellow marketers and creative professionals, let’s kindly retire (or extinguish) these irritating phrases so we can all evolve past this “noise” cluttering our industry. Are you with me?!
First, let’s be clear. “Disruption” is really more of a business term. It describes a market condition that takes place when an existing market collapses and a new one emerges. It’s actually very similar to “Disruptive Innovation” which happens when a new market comes to fruition entirely. Uber might be a great example of both – depending on how you look at it.
However, when this “Wall Street” phrase ended up leaking all over Madison Avenue, “disruption” and “disruptive” became overly used, watered down terms that essentially started to mean nothing.
Certainly “Creative Disruption”, might have a place, as it refers to exposing business model flaws and promoting big changes in consumer behavior (in the creative sense). However, I can’t help but wonder whether some Agency Account Director just throws out “disruptive” terms just to win some big account. I mean, come on. Disrupt what? Isn’t it our job as marketers to change consumer habits and get noticed?
2. Growth hacking
Okay, I realize that “hacking” is supposed to mean “coding” in this sense (not cutting down), but this phrase sure does sound like an oxymoron to me!
Popularized by Sean Ellis and other techies in the early 2000s, the term was meant to describe non-traditional ways to achieve growth through experimental marketing strategies and emerging technologies. READ: this is also a glorified way of describing underpaid “bootstrappers” (oh, but with equity of course!) trying to unlock the key to “crowd culture” (yawn).
Perhaps growth-hacking was a relevant, meaningful term 15 years ago, but not today. Most marketers are expected to (magically) achieve growth with technological brilliance and creativity because it’s our job. Sound like a lot of pressure? Well, welcome to marketing.
Oh no-no. If your ears have not been scarred yet by this irritating term (in what seems like “slow-mo”), it means “Social-Local-Mobile” as if this is some genius concept or secret to being relevant. So, please, don’t use this catch-phrase. Ever.
4. Actionable Insights
Actionable? As opposed to “Well, we learned something today, and we’re not going to do anything about it”.
I mean, am I missing something? Where does one look for “actionable insights”? Is this something people need in addition to regular insights? For example, if I’m comparing landing page performance in The Marketing Manager, and I see one campaign outperforming the other, I think I know what action to take. Do you?
5. Seamless Integration
If you work in the tech sector, I bet you are emphatically nodding your head “yes”. This godawful term is about as common and meaningless as your vendor saying “we have an API” when asked “does your product do (xyz)?”.
In fact, let’s just throw in some puzzle pieces to truly visually convey (because we’re idiots) that our software seamlessly integrates (puke) with boredom and cliches. After all, we need to “scream” that each piece of our ho-hum app actually functions when interfacing with some other random technology.
And while this style of tech marketing seems awfully common (more like ubiquitous), to me, it feels rather ironic. After all, I’m pretty sure that puzzle pieces have jagged, noticeable edges. Don’t they?
Besides, there is no such thing as “seamless” integration. It takes work and maintenance for two tools to “talk” to one another – and you (the consumer) get to pay for it. There you have it.
6. Turn-key (and everything “key” in general)
Let’s face it. If someone offers you a “turn-key”, “off the shelf” solution, does it make you open your wallet? Personally, it makes me turn into a glazed-over zombie. Why? Because even if something is difficult, a brand will either never admit it or up-sell you the “turn-key” solution (rigor mortis setting in).
Now of course, I understand that this term was once synonymous with “effortless”. Nevertheless, it has since evolved into a useless adjective that lazy marketers use to describe some blah-blah-blah with blah-blah-blah. That being said, I propose we lock up this useless adjective (pun intended).
In fact, as long as we are stuck on cliche doorway analogies, can we please also stop saying [anything]gate to describe a conspiracy theory? Maybe I’m being unreasonable, but I would love it if people could coin something new. After all, the key (cringe) to creative marketing is to explain concepts meaningfully. That’s why “turn-key” is no longer descriptive; tell me WHY something is so effortless – in an engaging, concise way. Does this sound difficult? Well it is. That’s why creative people have jobs.
7. Content Is King
Yawn. “Content is king” and “(whatever) is queen” sounds like a big, gay party – but everyone’s really bored with it.
It’s no mystery. Live sports and fan favorites like “The Walking Dead” keep Cable television in business. After all, those Cable bills are expensive! Perhaps that’s why this cringe-worthy, irritating phrase simply won’t die; decision-makers in the media universe are ignoring the fact that modern consumers are stingy with their time. How else can we explain this endless sea of boring content?
Maybe I’m wrong, but here is my understanding of modern consumers (who all have built-in A.D.D)
AWESOME content = I will only tolerate ads if they cannot be blocked. And if I really hate ads, I will PAY to have them blocked – so please stop forcing these painful pre-rolls and what feels like 10-minute commercial blocks on me.
BORING content = I hate you for wasting my time – also known as “get out of my in-box” syndrome while emphatically clicking “spam”.
Assuming that the media gods disagree with me, I believe this painful phrase will continue to exist.
Speaking of “content is crap”, marketers make up stupid terms like “advertainment” to seem like they’re solving some really big cultural problem – but they’re not.
“Advertainment” is essentially just an annoying way to explain “branded content”, product placement or flat-up fantastic marketing in disguise. I understand the concept, but here’s the problem: if you call your own work “advertainment”, you sound like a pompous fop.
Don’t get me wrong – some marketers have managed to make advertising very entertaining, including Red Bull with their adrenaline junkie videos, and AMC with their Walking Dead and Mad Men apps (also known as “gamification” – which theoretically could make this list).
Nevertheless, does “advertainment” really solve a problem? I guess so, but can we please not call it that?
In all seriousness though, if you are a marketer that somehow figured out how to move product without annoying people, congrats. This is an achievement. I’m serious.
9. Ecosystem (to describe everything)
Are we a bunch of ants stuck in a science class diorama demonstrating seamless integration (see term #5 above)? Silicon Valley seems to think so.
We hear this word a lot, especially when some “thought leader” (yawn, could also make this list) is ill-prepared to answer a tough question in a meeting.
“Well you see [insert CEO name here], our next step towards changing consumer behavior patterns is to move the social conversation to the Internet-of-Things ecosystem,” said the slightly hungover marketing executive recovering from last night’s vendor bender.
Look. We’ve all been there, but the use of the word “ecosystem” is starting to feel out of control. Somehow, everything can arguably be an ecosystem, including that Chia Pet they sell in Walmart. Do you see what I mean? Germination. Photosynthesis. Whatever. And it all brings me back to where I started: my seventh-grade science class.
10. Snackable Content
Doesn’t this phrase make you want to vomit? Personally, I find it nauseating, but here’s some “food-for-thought”: the term “content consumption” is actually the mothership concept that spawned this ugly-duckling buzz term. All it means is that time-starved consumers prefer concise headlines, bullet points, easy-to-read lists (unlike mine), and pretty much the opposite of heavy, homogenous-looking text. Makes sense.
Nonetheless, isn’t it amazing how unappetizing this trite phrase sounds? I actually almost puked (in a good way) when Grant Higginson of Welby Consulting tweeted it to us during our “Tweet the most annoying marketing buzzword to win a drone” contest. Needless to say, he won.