When marketing jargon becomes just a bit too much.

In 2001 I was working for a marketing company who provided support to newly established ecommerce businesses. We had a client that had set up a new website and was retailing a singular product for $10.99 per unit. They wanted to boost their sales. The company CEO aware of my retail background asked me to work with one of our new marketing graduates to come up with a solution.

Two weeks later I’m sitting in my office and in he comes, big smile on his face, and hands me the “strategy”. I turn to the exec summary and there it was.

“We recommend that an integrated retail sales enhancement program is implemented, based upon the principal of 4P’s marketing strategy, to facilitate an enhanced retail experience which will lead to an increase in customer loyalty and product consumption which should then be monitored and evaluated to establish the effectiveness of the marketing effort deployed”

I looked at him, he looked at me, I sighed, he frowned, and in the end I just shrugged and said “great work, I’ll go talk to the client”

He asked me if I wanted him to “background” the client for me but I said I was good, I could handle it.

He then asked what I was going to tell them.

“Simple” I said, “I’ll tell the client we’ve looked at it and think that they should reduce the price of the product to $9.99 for 4 weeks, promote the crap out of it and see how it goes”

16 years later I’m starting to feel not much has changed, in fact I swear it’s going backwards. As I have progressed through my career I often feel like I’m being left behind. Maybe it’s just the goal posts keep moving or I need to make a paradigm shift or I should just start thinking outside the box either way when I read some of my marketing strategies I think, just maybe, I should be chucking in a bit of jargon to make it sound like I at least know what I’m doing.

I think part of my problem is I struggle to call a spade a garden redevelopment tool, when it’s just a spade, but thankfully, the internet has an answer for everything. And for my little problem, I came across this little gem, the marketing bullshit generator. Now with the click of a button I can be up there with the best of them. So I grabbed myself a coffee, clicked away and hey presto my new strategy document now includes these very important phrases;

  • aggregate out-of-the-box schemas
  • extend transparent channels
  • enable viral experiences
  • engineer out-of-the-box methodologies
  • brand virtual content
  • and my favourite … transition value-added platforms

Although I must admit sitting in meetings listening to the endless stream of jargon can be somewhat demoralising, confusing and frustrating but thankfully, the internet has an answer for that too!!

Let me introduce you to “wank word bingo”


Now when you are sitting in a meeting and the jargon starts following, just mark on the sheet a cross for each word used and when you have a complete line, jump to your feet and yell “WANK WORD BINGO!!!”. This probably isn’t going to win you any friends and you might have to sit down with your manager and work through some performance management adjustment discussions, but at least it will take some of the stress out of the meetings.

If you want to really mess with people’s heads, just hand one of these out to everyone at the start of the meetings and sit back and watch the effect it has.

The Plain English Campaign has been going now since 1979 and their website has some great examples of communication at its worst. Go have a read and next time you sit down to write your marketing plan on a page or integrated marketing communication brief, just have a think about your audience and how much of a dill they probably think you are.

Article written by Keith Day, Partner at Hyphen8 Business Solutions (info@hyphen8.com.au)