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July 14, 2016
Summertime, and the Buzzwordification Blows Hot and Thick
Let’s look at the latest iteration of the jargon ecosystem
When I published my last book that deconstructed many of today’s overused buzzwords, I really thought I was changing the nomenclature game. Raising the bar against jargon. Disrupting the content curation paradigm.
But alas, the buzzwordification of marketing and advertising continues unabated. So it’s time to examine a fresh batch of overused and misused words and phrases.
Here’s a word that served a noble purpose until marketers got a hold of it. Scientists use it to describe the fragile, interconnected, biological worlds you might find in the Amazon rainforest or in the Galapagos Islands. Now “ecosystem” describes the intricate, detailed ways we create and cram messages down people’s throats. Or the infinite amount of media avenues in which a brand can seep into every inch of our existence and every action we take. Our constant overuse of “ecosystem” needs to head towards extinction. And soon.
Boy, are we suckers for endless amusement in our culture. Why just this week, millions of people are wandering the streets looking for Pokemon GO apparitions and virtual tchotchkes. And I have no doubt that over the past few days every marketer in the world has looked at it and thought, “We need a version of that! Gamification will be a key component of our holistic brand integration strategy.” And while there’s nothing wrong with a little marketing-as-adventure, it’s the word itself that reeks of desperation. If you need to gamify your product or service in order to get anyone’s attention, chances are it was already a loser.
“Customer Journey”
When I go #2 I’m looking to wipe my butt. But to a bathroom tissue (don’t say “toilet paper”) brand, I’m on a customer journey in which the lure of multiple ply sheets, double rolls, and a feeling of confident clean might appeal to me along a path to purchase. Which is why “customer journey” is such a misleading term. Because we marketers think it’s an idea that’s focused on customer needs, when in reality it’s a concept singularly aimed at selling what we have to sell. I’ve never seen a marketer’s sample “customer journey” document in which the outcome was a customer buying a competitor’s product or service, or heaven forbid deciding not to buy anything at all. Anyone who uses “customer journey” too much needs to take a sharp detour and get themselves back on The Road To Sanity.
I could sit and write 100 versions of this paragraph, editing on the fly thanks to Microsoft Word. Which reminds of what an old copywriting teacher once told me. When I asked him what writers did before computers and their magical editing powers, he replied, “They thought about things more.” You can lump “iterate” in with using “version” as a verb. The overuse of “iterate” makes me irate.
I’m not talking about the freeform activity of children. I’m talking about the use of the word as a substitute noun for “intended action.” Usually the people who use it like to combine it with other buzzwords: “Oh, it’s not a series of advertorials. It’s really a native content play.” Most of the folks who use “play” like this are just playing with themselves.
This word typifies the ‘Always Be Selling’ world so many marketers are glomming on to, where you can’t look down or look up or look around without being pitched something. So for marketers, it’s important to flood everyone’s senses with a barrage of offers, messages or icons at every possible opportunity. And now with everyone tethered to a digital gadget of some kind, the idea of “micromoments” represents one more way marketers seek to embed themselves in our existence whether we want them to or not. Not every moment in our lives should be someone else’s selling opportunity. But if you believe every nanosecond is a potential micromoment well hey, buy my book.
8 Reasons Why You Should Never Write a Listicle:
1) It’s lazy article writing.
2-8) See #1.
But listicles are everywhere. My friend Bob told me, “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the listicle word. Sounds too close to testicle.” I never thought about it that way before, but he’s right. Seems like everyone has a need to scratch that listicle itch and make sure the whole world knows about it. People are playing way too much with listicles in public. We have seen an epidemic of Listicular Cancer. Let’s stop it from spreading.
I harbor no illusions we’ll see the end of brand babbling and the people who embrace it. Let’s face it: Advertising and marketing are industries rife with buzzwords. So many they could fill a book. I know, because I did.

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Since 2002, Dan Goldgeier has been writing the most provocative advertising columns about advertising and marketing -- over 170 of them, covering every related topic you can think of. Now based in Seattle, Dan is a copywriter and ad school graduate who's worked at shops big and small. 

Visit his copywriting websitesee his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter.

And please, buy his book for 99 cents.


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