More Overused Marketing Terms that Need to Go

Lady on building screaming at annoying marketing words flying in stormy sky

The reaction was loud and extreme to my recent article 20 Overused Marketing Terms that Need to Go. Some marketers reached out to me with kind agreement, enjoying the self-deprecation in guilty pleasure, and even providing their own terms. On the other side, some marketers were rather caustic, basically telling me to “leverage this!”

The latter reaction is a bit strange, I feel. After all, marketing is about showmanship, that razzle dazzle. It’s intrinsic to marketing as it is to politics, law, and even banking. The American consumer—more educated than ever—expects some smoke and mirrors, some doublespeak, just to even look at what we have to offer. Here we are, entertain us, the song goes.

Many, including myself, consider Seth Godin a main luminary of marketing. His signature book is titled All Marketers All Liars (in the sense they are authentic but audacious storytellers, more than semi-creative statisticians).

Godin also writes in his book that marketers should just be as transparent as possible. Why? Because that’s the last thing consumers would expect from them (as with politicians and lawyers), and that’s what will truly and positively impresses them. So why not be transparent by giving away the industry lexicon and having a little fun with it?

In market research, however, I’ve come to learn, there is no razzle dazzle. People in this industry say what they mean and mean what they say, stick to their true and tried terms. Market research is as dry as a California landscape or a Maggie Smith quip.

With all this in mind, I thought I’d both mention ten more annoying marketing buzzwords, and as well craft some new market research euphemisms that might spice up the industry.

Overused Marketing Terms



1. Any additional labels to “Marketing.” This happens periodically in overeager circles (LinkedIn is a repeat offender). Even Godin did it with his term “Permission Marketing.” Other esoteric lexes include “Hybrid Marketing,” “Sophisticated Marketing” and “Conversation Marketing.” Lipstick on a pig, boys. Lipstick on a pig.

2. Ecosystem. Used as a synonym for “my little corner of the internet where I hope to bag more prospects.” The word works for National Geographic or an old Jacques Cousteau rerun, but not your social media fiefdom.

3. Influencer. Talk about razzle dazzle. “Thought Leader” seems to have come and gone, replaced by this word that sounds more like a virus or Tron arena fight.

4. Brand Evangelist. Wrong on so many levels, but right when your doorbell rings on a Saturday afternoon, the source an eager group of folks wanting to share with you the Gospel of Colgate.

5. Empower. Forbes calls it “the most condescending transitive verb ever.” I empower you to agree with this…

6. Growth Hacking. It just means business development, for crying out loud. The phrase sounds like it should come from a mom nagging a smoking teen or a scene from The Walking Dead.

7. Piggy Back. This term is used in a lot of meetings. In the right context it means: “I’m going to rip off some of your own ideas, right in front of you and the boss, and add an extra unneeded five minutes to an already long meeting.”

8. Native. No one knows what it really means, but it seems to be a synonym for marketing…maybe advertising…and it’s used a lot. It’s amazing how a term can be both politically correct and insensitive at the same time.

9. Omnichannel. A word that is defined as all-encompassing: offline, online, mobile, and just everywhere, everywhere! It sounds heroic, like a new Avengers character, even though marketing in different channels at once has been done for decades.

10. Low hanging fruit. The phrase signifies either the easiest task or the less difficult customers to reach (sometimes it can refer to long-tailed keywords in the SEO domains). Beyond insulting to clients, it does have vulgar connotations.


New Market Research Euphemisms



1. Online Panel: Amazon Card Bobba Fetts

2. Online Sample: Ipaders

3. Focus Groups: Fight Clubs

4. Quantitative Research: Glorified Polls

5. Qualitative Research: Freud Couch

6. River Sample: Low hanging fruit

7. Big Data: Data

8. Mobile research: Millenial-scavenging

9. Omnibus Study: Coupon Research

10. Respondent Fatigue: ADD’ing

I have no doubt market researchers will ignore these euphemisms. They are just too busy in their ecosystems. As for marketers, the lesson is always the same: stay ahead of the game and keep being an authentic storyteller. Even if that means conjuring new terminology that will go out of style faster than Guitar Hero or the Blackberry phone.

As for me, with these articles I feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire—specifically that scene where his peers applaud his attempt at transparency, while saying under their breaths he’s about the get crucified.

At least, I hope to have brought you a little razzle dazzle.

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