Buzzwords come and go, but good ideas continue on


In both the technology and marketing industries you’ll find a number of “fad” terms/concepts that seem to come out of nowhere, get beaten to death, and then morph into the next big obsession. Stop me if you’ve heard any of these:

  • Big data
  • Responsive design
  • UI/UX
  • Content marketing
  • Data-driven marketing
  • SEO

I hate to break it to you, but all of these are buzzwords that cheapen the bigger idea lying beneath their respective surfaces. They are simply labels created for the purpose of building hype for an idea. Which is not inherently bad (we are marketers, after all), but what IS bad is when the phrase becomes detached from the actual idea it represents.

Big data, for example, is a catchy phrase that really just means “a lot of important data.” It’s thrown around in boardrooms as if it were a mystical entity that is going to solve the problems of the world. “Big data is here to stay” “How are you leveraging big data?” “Big data — the good, the bad and the ugly.” Really, big data as a concept represents businesses’ growing need for (and ability to gather) consumer and industry data in order to optimize their operations. It’s much less sexy when you say it like that, but in my opinion, it carries a lot more weight than some fleeting catchphrase.

The same goes for “content marketing.” You’ve probably heard (or maybe not) the term “content” being used as a new marketing tool that will delight your audiences. “Produce content for a winning campaign” “Promote your content pieces” “Create a content strategy.” What’s hidden behind this hype, and bastardization of the term, is that “content” is literally just content. As in, the stuff I’m writing right now, or the copy on your ad, or the design of a cereal box (or the cereal IN the cereal box), or literally any other touchpoint between your business and your consumer. What people really mean to say is that you should be focusing on connecting with your audiences by presenting information in a way that is valuable to them. Creating a “content marketing strategy” is a service that many marketing agencies will include in their list of capabilities nowadays, but it really boils down to a company’s ability to present itself in an interesting and relevant way. That’s it! So the next time someone asks about your content marketing strategy, just tell them that you’re focused on knowing your customer and positioning yourself in their lives. They’ll probably judge you temporarily for not buying into the hype, but don’t worry. Just like this buzzword, their judgment will pass.

So the next time you catch yourself of your coworker uttering one of these trendy “strategy” phrases, take a step back and make sure you fully understand the IDEA behind the words.

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About the Author
Justin is the owner/founder of Fox Consulting Group, and a lead consultant for strategy engagements.

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