The 2015 Marketing Buzz-Meter Kicks into Gear

We’re only a few weeks into 2015, and already the marketing buzz-meter is operating at full force.

amplificationThe latest marketing buzz phrases are always interesting because, while they surely relate to trends and tactics that are taking on greater importance, they can also be short-hand references that “everyone” uses but “no one” really understands.

Consider one popular buzz-phrase example from 2014:  “Big Data.”

I don’t think I’ve heard the same definition of what “big data” is from any two people.  Yet it’s a term that was bandied about throughout the entire year.

No doubt, “big data” will continue to be a popular buzz phrase in 2015 as well.  But you can be sure it’ll be joined by a number of others.  As Natasha Smith, editor of Direct Marketing News magazine reports, get ready to hear many of mentions of these buzz terms as well this year:

Dark Social:

This references online content, information or traffic that’s hard to measure because it occurs in messaging apps, chat and e-mail communications.  Purportedly first coined by Atlantic magazine, it’s a term whose very name conjures up all sorts of mysterious and vaguely sinister connotations about behaviors that are at work below the surface – thereby making it an irresistible phrase for some people to use.

Viewability:

This term is becoming increasingly popular due to people’s concerns that much of what makes up “viewed” online content turns out to be hardly that.  For instance, there’s a difference between a simple video impression (merely an open) and a “viewable” one (opened and staying open for at least a few seconds).

More than likely, over the coming year the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other “great experts” will be debating over what actually constitutes a “viewable” impression.  All the while, you can be sure that marketers will be referencing the term with abandon.

Attention Metrics:

Dovetailing “viewability” is the idea that traditional online marketing metrics such as unique visitors, clickthroughs, and page views are too shallow in that they don’t really measure the true consumption of content.

Enter the buzz term “attention metrics.”  No doubt, marketers will be all over this one in 2015 as they focus more on the time and attention people are spending with content, not merely the fact that some form of engagement happened.

The Internet of Things:

This term started appearing on the radar screen in 2014 but is really coming into its own now.  It even has its own Wikipedia page entry.  While the commercialization of data-collecting devices such as wearable sensors and sensors embedded in appliances and other electronics is an undeniably significant development, this term has to be one of the most pretentious-sounding phrases ever coined.

… Which makes it an irresistible entry in the buzz-meter lexicon, of course.

Conscious Capitalism:

Rounding out the 2015 list – at least for now – is a buzz phrase that captures the essence of what every socially aware marketer wishes his or her company to be.  “Conscious capitalism” refers to companies and brands that are purportedly socially responsible and “in sync” with the needs of the community and the world.

This is considered important because so much survey research shows that people respond positively to companies that “do well by doing good.”

what's all the buzz aboutExpect many people to embrace this approach – and the accompanying buzz phrase – because it sounds so perfect.

[Never mind that things often come crashing down to earth if and when consumers are asked to pay more for the “socially responsible” products and services, or to make unpleasant or unexpected adjustments to their routine in the event.]

Do you have any other examples of marketing buzz terms that you think are poised for stardom (or notoriety) in 2015?  Please share your thoughts with other readers here.

“Corporate Speak”: Updating the Buzzword Baedeker

Corporate buzzwords
Corporate buzzwords: Meaningless blather, signifying nothing.

All of us are familiar with them: jargon words and phrases that have become so overused, they’re nothing more than meaningless noise.

These are the so-called “descriptive” terms that are meant to add flavor and emphasis to a particular subject, but are more likely to make you want to roll your eyes – or maybe even reach for the nearest comfort bag.

Traditionally, the worst offenders have been high technology companies and other B-to-B firms when it comes buzzwords. But we’ve been seeing the phenomenon leech into consumer categories as well, such as automobiles and healthcare services.

Even worse, we’re now seeing a new generation of buzzwords coming to light, joining the veteran terms that have been plaguing us for years now.

Some of the old standbys are still overused today, unfortunately.  They include terms like:

  • Cutting-edge
  • Flexible
  • Next generation (or the too-cute variation NextGen)
  • Out-of-the-box
  • Partnering
  • Robust
  • Seamless
  • Solutions provider
  • Synergies
  • Toolbox
  • Turnkey
  • Value-added
  • World-class

Today, one may be more likely to encounter a crop of more contemporary-sounding – but equally obnoxious – phrases such as these:

  • Best-of-breed
  • Best practices
  • Core competency
  • Groundbreaking
  • Integrated
  • Mission-critical
  • Scalable
  • Thought leader

Much as we’d like for these buzzwords to just go away quietly, that’s hardly likely. And there’ll be plenty more new ones to come along in the future.

In fact, marketing strategist David Meerman Scott and others are already taking a stab at predicting tomorrow’s new buzz terms. You can view one such prediction here.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any buzz-cuts in the offing when it comes to lowering the level of “corporate noise” out there, however welcome that might be …

So if you can’t beat ’em … join ’em.  Are there any particularly irritating buzz terms you encounber that aren’t noted above?  Post a comment and let’s see what we can add to the list.

Taking the Buzz-Saw to Corporate Buzzwords

No buzzwordsBuzzwords – those stock words or phrases that have effectively become nonsense through their endless repetition – tend to find their penultimate manifestation in forgettable corporate vision and mission statements.

If you look online, you’ll find that the “about us” pages on corporate web sites are littered with the detritus of high-mannered phrases. We all know them — terms like:

 Best-in-class
 Best practices
 Commitment
 Customer-focused
 Cutting-edge
 Delighting customers
 Exceeding expectations
 Expertise
 Green
 Innovation
 Integrity
 Out-of-the-box thinking
 Proactive
 Quality
 Solutions
 Sustainability
 Synergy
 Trust
 Worldclass

Considering how frequently these terms show up in company positioning statements, is it any wonder they’ve become nothing but meaningless pablum?

Here’s an interesting exercise: Try to find a published corporate vision, mission or positioning statement that doesn’t contain any of the terms above. I spent the better part of an hour looking, only to come up empty handed.

This is not to denigrate the aims of businesses. We all want our companies to embody the laudable qualities these terms describe. And why not? They’re good principles that are worthy goals in how to interact with customers, with communities, and with the larger world.

But companies also want differentiation, not sameness.

Unfortunately, you’ll find none of that with these terms here. Just mealy-mouthed nothings and “yesterday’s vision for tomorrow” … conveyed with all the pizzazz of a cold mashed potato sandwich.

So it’s back to the drawing board, or it should be. But considering the birth pangs most of these mission / vision statements must have endured in the first place — committee assignments and all — that’s probably not going to happen.