Businesses want to communicate with their customers. It’s how they gain new customers and sell their products. Many firms make the mistake of over-relying on buzzwords, which makes them sound dumb and alienates them from their clientele.

Buzzwords are like cliches; they’re overused and help people dance around genuine, productive and original thoughts. They’re a crutch that provides support when there’s a gap in conversation, or somebody doesn’t know what to say.

Savvy customers know when a marketer is just trying to buy time or when they don’t have a legitimate answer to their questions. Buzzwords might appear to smooth things over, but they can make your firm look amateur and unable to deal with their concerns.

Using annoying marketing buzzwords isn’t limited to in-person interactions. They’re also communicated through marketing materials.

Not only do buzzwords impede real communication with your customers about your product, they also make you look less professional. If you’re trying to put your best foot forward, you might turn some customers off.

The Problem With Buzzwords

Why do customers get so upset when you rely on buzzwords?

One reason is they create language exclusivity. While it’s important to have knowledge that your customers do not, they want to feel your company understands their needs.

Companies need to establish genuine connections with people. Firms have to appeal to customers’ base instincts through words they understand, as opposed to peppering them with industry jargon that alienates customers.

Buzzwords are inherently superficial and can mean something different to everyone. Many successful businesses envision themselves as disruptors in their field, doing new and different tactics, but if they’re not meeting the needs of their clients, they can’t sustain success.

Industry jargon in marketing impedes clear communication, which leads to disappointment for companies and their customers.

So what are the most annoying marketing buzzwords that make “experts” look dumb? Let’s look at the major offenders.

“Content Is King”

Marketers love the phrase “content is king.” That may have been applicable a few years ago, but the landscape has changed. It’s not just content that matters, but how it’s delivered.

Several years ago, a common tactic was to push out as much content as possible to rank high in organic searches. Today, with the market so saturated, paid promotions and well-timed, high-quality content rises to the top.

A better expression, therefore, might be something like “paid content or quality content is king on social media.” Better yet, “paid promotional content that is well-written and optimized is becoming an important component of digital marketing relative to organic and native advertising.”

“Influencer Marketing”

Today’s digital marketers should understand the concept of influencer marketing. It’s easier than ever for anyone to become an “influencer”.

Many marketers believe that influencer marketing is an excellent way for companies to sell to consumers, without doing so directly. By going through a personality who has a community of followers and is viewed as “independent,” they’re able to promote their products without being too salesy.

The problem today is that consumers have become more aware of the influencer marketing game. Influencer marketing is just paid promotions, as most influencers receive compensation for posts, whether it be monetary or in product.

“Artificial Intelligence”

There’s no doubt that big tech companies have made progress with artificial intelligence. Technology today can drive cars unassisted, voice search is rising and our phones use facial recognition software.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become an overused buzzword in the marketing community. Many marketers don’t understand what AI is, or that it encompasses a group of technologies, all designed to improve and automate digital advertising.

When marketers use the term AI or AI algorithm, they seldom understand the underlying technology. We don’t have general AI – something akin to human intelligence – but we have systems that depend on data. AI is only as good as the information it receives, and even then it can disappoint for marketers.

“Growth Hacking”

Growth hacking is an annoying marketing buzzword introduced in the 2000s by Sean Ellis. Ellis had a clear idea of what he meant by the phrase; finding novel marketing methods to boost under-funded or bootstrapped startups. Since then, it has become more nebulous and has ceased to offer further insights.

“Hacking” often means “a shortcut to the desired outcome.” For instance, there are websites dedicated only to the concept of “life hacking” – or making one’s life more comfortable through novel methods.

But today, the term growth hacking seems to refer to practically any technique that helps a business to expand, whether or not it be marketing-related. When something describes everything, it means nothing.

“Actionable Insights”

Bloggers love to use the term “actionable” to describe their recommendations and insights. One has to wonder what value calling you insights “actionable” truly has. If the people reading them can’t act on them, what’s the point?

Imagine famed British TV chef Mary Berry posting an article on her website entitled “5 Actionable Cheesecake Recipes.” Actionable is redundant in most situations it’s used. If you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, avoid it.

“Advertainment”

When there’s already a word for something, it’s confusing when people come up with another word to describe it.

This is what’s happened with “advertainment”, a word that glues advertising and entertainment together into a confused monstrosity. Advertainment is just another form of branded content marketing.

Yes, it offers customers some engagement value, but most of the time, entertaining advertising annoys customers. Is it entertainment? Probably not, unless you are Red Bull.

“Ecosystem”

The terms “product ecosystem,” “marketing ecosystem” and “customer ecosystem” get used a lot. Just like other examples we’ve discussed so far, when something describes everything, it really means nothing.

When you think about it, there’s not much that the word “ecosystem” cannot follow. Most company activities operate in some kind of ecosystem.

A services firm has a logistics “ecosystem” for getting goods from A to B. They have a corporate “ecosystem” comprised of busy workers sharing information with one another in chaotic offices.

Companies have “customer ecosystems”, which refers to the many ways in which firms and consumers build relationships on and offline. They have “product ecosystems,” referring to how their products fit in with each other and the broader market.

The word ecosystem could follow anything to describe how a small, conceptual unit fits into a larger one. The physical universe is hierarchical, meaning something is always nested in something else.

Where does it all stop? Never…

“Snackable Content”

The phrase “snackable content” is food for thought (see what we did there). It’s also a rage-inducing term for people of high intelligence.

Snackable content implies that users should be able to dip into content and extract information quickly. List articles (yes, such as this one…) are a good example.

With snackable content, it’s not so much the concept that’s the problem, but the annoying buzzword itself. Linking content with food seems wrong. Marketers should think of a better analogy to describe easily read articles than a bag of potato chips.

“Synergy”

In the scientific community, synergy has a precise meaning. It’s where two variables come together to produce an outcome that is greater than if they were working independently.

When you mix people and machines in a factory, you get more production than if they worked independently in separate locations. Synergy has now started to mean “cooperation.”

People will say “let’s put our heads together and synergize the product” without knowing what it means. It’s annoying, and smart people can tell when it’s misused.

“Thought Leader”

Finally, there’s the term “thought leader.” Marketers like to be known as thought leaders because of the perceived prestige it adds to anything they say.

The concept of leading people’s thoughts is silly. What it really means is someone who knows their stuff or has a high level of education in a particular area.

People use the phrase thought leader all the time, but when something is used all the time, it loses value. Beware of these annoying marketing buzzwords.