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Banish Buzzwords - Top 8 Offenders.

We really need to look at the way we use the English language. So many "Buzzwords" in today's marketing and communications really shouldn't be there!

Unfortunately, they are so overused, and in many cases misused – that’s one of the reasons you cringe. (Me? I get so fired up, that I often have to mentally edit myself to ensure I don't negatively react)

“Buzzwords are like weeds: They’re just flowers that are in the wrong place,”

Doug Kessler, co-founder, Velocity.

Let's make an honest effort to kill the weeds, and promote flowery growth, not flowery words.

Content Marketing World 2020 speakers were asked for their top candidates for buzzword banishment – and suggest possible replacements, so here's a bit of a wrap-up. Sadly we haven't seen any reduction in the use of these words, if anything they are more overused, misused, poorly used, and just generally irritating than ever.

And the nominees are . . . . .

1. Empathy (Empath)

It’s fine to acknowledge humans with feelings, but can we just move on already? This word is basically shorthand for manipulating emotions to get clicks. Try “useful,” “meaningful,” and “enjoyable” instead of playing with biases. Ultimately a combination of the quality and quantity of content will lead to a better and more inclusive story. Much better than content based on empathy.


The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another in either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

2. Unprecedented

Banished back in 2002, but reemerging with the Corona Virus, wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula say they want to kick any trace of the word from the English language due to overuse, misuse or uselessness. We are all so tired of reading it, write that sentence if you must, then delete it and use the next sentence as your lead.

3. Smarketing

Go on and take the extra second to say “sales and marketing.” Smarketing is just tacky. The objective was for the sales and marketing functions to have a common integrated approach, it failed! Stop being lazy and express your word intelligently. Phillip Kotler is often credited with first proposing the concept in an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 1972, do we really want to go back there?

4. Low-Hanging Fruit (snackable content)

Just say easy or quick. Shouldn’t all content, regardless of its length, be easy to consume? Everybody loves a good quick tip or quirky quote that they can slip into their content with no more time investment than a few seconds. But if your content is going to start building actual relationships, they’re going to need something more substantial. You can feed consumers tweets, Snapchats, and Vine videos all day long, but until we supplement it with content they can sink their teeth into, we won’t get very far.

5. Leveraging

Just use a different verb like “help” it’s way more human. If anyone can think of another example where use of the word "leverage" is acceptable, or a reason why I'm wrong and why "leverage" should be used as a word in place of use, influence, lift, advantage, support, power, capability, backing, exploit, force, or any other - please do let me know. This practice clearly isn't going to stop, I struggle to accept this inevitable decline of the English language.

6. Growth Hacking

A created buzzword for marketing that implies temporary, false growth. It’s just marketing. Content marketing (using content to promote your business) - Product marketing (promoting your product within or via the product itself) - Advertising (paid promotion)

But the popular concept of ultra-fast growth is part of a mania that has dragged the startup concept into a back alley and pummeled it until there's almost nothing left.

7. Digital Transformation

The digital space is always in a transformative state, something may come along tomorrow and disrupt their whole process. Even for an organisation that thinks they have it all figured out, digital transformation has too many variables to be defined. Let’s instead talk about our journey, the continuation of an ongoing process.

After almost 30 years in digital, I still don’t know what it is. And I’m pretty sure that those who talk about it also have different definitions. Or, are they using a buzzword to sound like they’re on the leading edge, a step ahead of the rest of us. Instead of an alternative, let’s stop using the term entirely and refer to what really makes up digital transformation today.

8. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is used across the board when what is often meant is machine learning, which allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so. Entered algorithms use historical data as input to predict new output values.

Machine learning has become a significant competitive difference for many companies, but let's call it what it is, it's NOT Artificial Intelligence.


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