Marketers are a bit like lawyers, in that the more windy and highfalutin’ they sound, the more they tend to charge and the less value they add. Anyway, if you do get trapped at a party with a marketer, chances are you won’t understand what they’re talking about (they may not either, by the way). Below are 7 marketing buzzwords, translated into their real meaning. Feel free to toss these buzzwords around with random marketers or simply dump them in the garbage, as I so often do:
1. Analytics: marketers love to measure their (in)effectiveness, so they use analytics to monitor how they’re doing. Analytics are numbers that provide insight into the outcome of marketing efforts. They are often used to “prove” ROI, or return on investment made by clients into marketing. The problem comes, as it so often does with marketers, when you are measuring the wrong things and “succeeding” at the wrong things. Like all human beings, marketers tend to be self-serving folks who want to look good -- they can also be lazy. So they might share only the analytics (i.e., the numbers) that make them look good, but don’t necessarily best serve their clients (spoiler alert). So your blog post on ERP implementation got 10,000 additional page views after you added that fluffy kitten to it, but did those additional page views help your client sell any more ERP software? If not, let’s change the kitten’s name from Mr. Fluffy to “ERP Kitty” (#ERPKitty).
Analytics mean zilch unless you and your client are measuring the right things, and have the right strategy underlying everything you do. Numbers lie, marketers lie, and so can analytics. Or as I like to tell other marketers, “analytics should never replace thinking,” which gets me uninvited to most marketing parties (#ERPKitty gets invited, though).
2. B2B, B2C: marketers either work for brands that sell to consumers (Nike, Burger King, Target, etc.) or for brands that sell to other businesses (Oracle, Caterpillar, PwC, etc.). When your target audience is consumers, you’re doing B2C marketing; when your audience is businesspeople, you’re doing B2B marketing. For example, I generally do B2B marketing, writing for software companies, consultants, and HR vendors. Does the B2B/B2C distinction matter? Nearly all marketers say yes, but the answer is NO. In the end, we are all just people doing people things, and communicating with a consumer at the cosmetics counter isn’t so different from selling to an HR Director at a giant company. Sir or Madam, do you have a moment to hear about a great opportunity? Sir or Madam, I understand your concerns and have your best interests at heart. Sir or Madam, I have some solutions to offer you for the challenges you face (I want my hair to look shiny, I want to retain my best employees, I want to save money and beat IBM). What serves marketers best is being H2H, human to human: look the target in the eyeballs, feel their pain, and try to help. Simple, but actually it’s the rarest thing in marketing today.
3. The marketing funnel: God help me, but marketers love nothing more than talking ad nauseam about the funnel. They put posters of the funnel on the walls, include it in every presentation, and it appeareth in their dreams. The funnel is supposed to represent the buyer’s journey from beginning to end, from awareness of the product to purchase to becoming a brand ambassador who puts others into the funnel. The “top of the funnel” is where brand awareness happens, while the “bottom of the funnel” is where (sorry, I just dozed off for twenty minutes, but am now awake) the prospect makes a purchase. My advice to marketers? #Basta (enough!) with the funnel; stop putting people into funnels, stop talking about funnels. Again, we are just people connecting with people, and nobody wants to be put into funnels anymore.
4. SEO. Another favorite of marketers everywhere is SEO or “search engine optimization,” the idea that you want all your content to be “findable” at search engines like Google. You have to pay for the top positions for any keyword at Google, and each click you get through “paid search” can be incredibly expensive, depending on the keyword you buy. For example, an ERP software company might want to “buy” the keyword “ERP implementation” because potential B2B customers looking for ERP systems would likely type that search term into Google. When they do, the payee’s website would appear in the paid search at the top, whereas the “organic search” results would appear below those paid results. Want to know how Google makes so much money? Now you do -- they charge for keywords like “ERP implementation.” While paid search is expensive, getting high up the Google page for organic search results takes one thing: knowledge about Google’s search algorithm and how it ranks content.
In the past, Google would reward high-on-page positions to content that had the keyword included a certain number of times. I refer to these days as “SEO as a creative curse.” Clients would ask you to write a blog post about ERP implementation and want the keyword (“ERP implementation”) repeated eight to ten times in the text. So I’d find myself writing clunky, awful prose like, “When it comes to ERP implementation, you need to find the best partner (my client, obviously) to help with your ERP implementation. Why? Because ERP implementation is important, as anyone who’s experienced a failed ERP implementation well knows.”
Google has recently made changes to its algorithm (in November, 2017) and it now does a much better job rewarding quality, useful content instead of the number of times the keyword appears. Google now rewards writing that’s more organic, valuable to readers, and less mechanical. So writing an easy-to-understand blog post about ERP implementation, filled with definitions of key terms, now gets you ranked higher than a clunky post that mentions “ERP implementation” in every sentence (God help us!). What this all means is that the marketer must now write quality content that HELPS the reader, that answers key questions, and provides understanding and insight about the topic/keyword. This is a far, far better world for all involved. I can focus less on the keyword and more on adding value to my readers by (spoiler alert) writing stuff readers can actually understand.
5. CTA or “Call to Action.” Marketers are nothing if not mechanical. The rule is that each marketing message must end with a CTA. Typical CTAs include, “visit our website to learn more,” “call our 1-800 number before this offers runs out” (trust me, it won’t), and “download this free brochure about ERP implementation. You’ll love it!” (no, you won’t. I wrote the darned thing).
6. WOM or “word-of-mouth. This is the best form of marketing ever invented. One pretty great sign that your brand is working is when people actually mention you to their friends. Here’s a crazy insight about all marketing, and it’s an ugly one: people actually trust their friends and family more than they trust marketers. Some marketers have gotten so (ahem) “creative” that they pay people to talk about brands with their friends and family, something marketers call “influencer marketing.” Does it work? Well, how many friends do you have who drop brand names into every conversation? “Well, Chuck, I know you’re having problems sleeping this week but you look hungry too. I have a coupon for 30% off your next Clif Bar or one for 40% off a pastry at Starbucks. Want a coupon?” No, I do not, my former friend. I want a nap and to be left alone by influence marketers worming their way into my life.
7. CX or “customer experience.” This is the buzzword of 2018. It means, wait for it people, impacting the experience of customers in positive ways throughout their buying journey (i.e., as they move through the dreaded “funnel”). So marketers are looking at ways to improve the CX by asking brands to do such radical things as “caring about the customer’s needs” (or what I call “giving a shit”), offering a frictionless online experience (i.e., I have to push fewer buttons to make my purchase. Wow, my life is complete now that 2 buttons have been removed from my online experience at PetFurnitureNow.com [not sure if that’s even a real thing, but I like it]).
Okay, enough marketing buzzwords for today. You can now converse intelligently with 99% of marketing professionals and get them to like you (I’m in the 1%, so you’ll need to bring me cookies). The key takeaway here? Marketers use a lot of bullshit language to make themselves seem smarter than they actually are. This makes them no different from lawyers, city councilors, consultants, bankers, and cookie bakers (send me a batch of chocolate chips). I feel that I should close this blog post with a stirring CTA: “for more information on marketing lingo and lessons on how to live a happy life, please keep reading my blog.” Otherwise, go to Google and search for my posts on ERP implementation: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your enterprise software outcomes will never be the same again (trust me).