Recently I was at an event where I was enjoying a conversation with a mid-sized property developer about land banking. When I disclosed that I was the founder of THE LEAD ICON, he looked at me curiously and asked, “what do you mean by founder?” This simple question threw me, and my immediate thought was, "is he serious, how can he not know what a founder means?" As a result of this interaction, it compelled me to check my biases and rethink my relationship with certain words, their true meaning and their desired impact on my audience.
I now realise, rather than endeavouring to mesmerize with the latest buzzwords, that it is much more valuable to focus on sharing, growing and evolving a solid brand that knows its voice, is clear, real and engaging. Apple has achieved tremendous success with this approach and positioned itself as the leading technology, lifestyle and fashion company in the world.
I decided to broach the topic with a few companies that I work and network with and what I discovered is that buzzwords make most of us cringe. Nonetheless, the unspoken sentiment is, “if you’re not down with the latest catchword you’re not relevant”. The other interesting point I uncovered is that business buzzwords are mainly used in certain circles, for instance; the corporate and start-up world's, venture capitalists/capital raising, co-working spaces, universities, business schools, business clubs, media and some government departments. In fact buzzwords are in every industry.
These “in words” are difficult to escape from and as we move further into the digital age, language and conversations are increasingly becoming cryptic and full of hyped words with no meaning. Although I am a qualified and experienced marketer, who also has an MBA, I believe in continual learning and am currently undertaking an online course in new digital marketing and growth techniques. The terms that are being dropped are indeed incredible, and some are absurd such as, “fully stacked marketer” and “low hanging fruit”.
Consequently, it is important to remember when we are creating strategies and content to continually ask; is there alignment between what the customer wants and what we think they want? Whilst educating and sharing new concepts is necessary, knowing the appropriate language our customer responds well too is vital and only once we have gained their trust can we start to develop a shared language. Today customers/consumers are highly savvy and know when brands are being inauthentic. Harley Davidson is exceptional at delighting and connecting with their customers, they deeply understand what is important and how to communicate with them.
So, it’s not all bad, buzzwords can also be fun and convenient to use because some words generally evolve and carry several different meanings. For example, the word innovate can also mean something new, cutting edge or simply an improvement in a feature.
Take for instance a change to a call to action on a website that substantially increases the number of customer inquiries, this is considered to be a very humble touch point innovation.
I have deconstructed a handful of trending buzzwords below and would like to share them with you. Think for a moment which ones you are overusing; which ones will disappear, and which ones are now entrenched into the business lexicon.
Innovation: We create/deliver products, services and strategies that no one else can or a positioned in a different way
Bleeding Edge: These are new and unproven technologies, processes or strategies no one else is working on
Value Creation: We make more money because we have discovered untapped demand, and our stakeholders believe we are woke
Woke: Our customers love us, we know what delights them, and we do it the best
Value Proposition: We communicate very clearly our why, how and what we offer is better and different than any of our competitors products/services
Voice of Customer (VoC): We are on top of our customer feedback loops, expectations and experiences
Newsjacking: Our content is regularly picked up by a journalist or publication
Disruptor: We break other businesses and industries, or we are unbreakable
Growth: Our sales, hires and profits keep increasing every year
Moat: We use warfare tactics to protect our brand and IP
Hand Raise: Potential customers who show interest in us
Pain Point: What challenges are causing our customers grief? (just say customer problems)
Inbound: Pull marketing activities that draw customers to us
Outbound: Push marketing activities that outwardly connects us with customers
Low Hanging Fruit: The easy wins we get
Highkey: Love that……….
ITL: Invited to leave
Let's now see what we can do with this; I hope as your bleeding edge gains huge traction and you attain many hand raises, that you are not only continuously jacked, you become woke. May your moat be fierce, and your value creation highkey.
Words can move or repel customers and whilst business buzzwords are here to stay, it is imperative that we think deeply about our brand, how it engages with customers and how it is being perceived by all stakeholders. Over 20 buzzwords have been used in this article, clearly I need a detox.
Thank you so much for reading this article, please share your thoughts on business buzzwords.
Also please share this article with your friends and colleagues.
With gratitude, Dijana