The “Ugh, Marketing” Series: Four Phrases We Should Be Ashamed Of

April 30, 2014

I have a confession: I loathe the term marketing. As a PR pro, this is a conflict I’ve been trying to resolve for my entire career.

Hearing the word makes my stomach sink. I can’t stand the way people – myself included – look when I say marketing. Eyes roll, a slight turn of the head or shoulder so they don’t catch “it” (the marketers disease), unavoidable expressions, perhaps a grumpy cat face, a slight shiver.

Blaine Disgusted

Notice I did not say: I hate marketing. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that I love what marketing as an industry can achieve for a business. PR especially. As an industry, we have the ability to influence customer and business behavior, create or destroy markets. Unfortunately, it comes with a negative connotation that marketers ourselves have created over time with false promises and hot air. It’s a stereotype that we’ve yet to overcome. Drastic as it might sound, if this were only a personal opinion, I’d be writing about it on a personal blog.

This is a business matter, a disease (whether you’re infected or not) amongst the business community that is more contagious than swine flu. It’s reached consumers, business execs and journalists who’ve turned their eyes, ears and devices off to any form of communication that has even the softest tickle of marketing fluff. For you, who are likely a current or potential client, this is a big problem. For me as a PR pro, and my colleagues in PR or marketing, this is a HUGE problem. And together, we must stop it.

In the debut post for our “Ugh, Marketing” blog series, let’s pull the big ball of marketing fluff out of our…mouths, and stop sounding like marketers. Here are four phrases we should be ashamed of using:

will1. Strategic public relations. Synonyms include strategic planning or strategic campaign. Public relations as a function should be strategic to your business. Putting ‘strategic’ in front of PR, or any other business function, won’t make it strategic.

2. Based on customer (or consumer) demand.
While market opportunity is fundamental to business success, great customer validation lies in a publicly reference-able list of these customers – including their willingness to talk about your product and the benefits gleaned.

burgandy3. We differentiate by being faster, easier, and most effective. Any brand can define what faster, easier and most effective mean. Your differentiators should be unique – as in truly, I can’t get this from anyone else different. Make sure you’re not the only one (as my marketing friends would say) “drinking the Kool-Aid” – customers and analysts should be raising their glasses with you.

4. January 2014: Your Company Announces Yet-To-Be-Developed Product, Available in December 2015.
Unless you’re Apple or Microsoft, the good idea from your last product meeting isn’t news yet. Talking about features/functionality that won’t be available for several months will not only will piss off your customers who want what they can’t have, it also puts what’s ‘under your kimono’ (a phrase that should probably retire) on full display for competitors.

There are plenty of phrases to be discontinued; this is by no means an all-inclusive list. And as an industry, marketing has much more to overcome. To be continued…

– Lindsey

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