Removing the Stinger From Empty Buzzwords

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B2B marketers who bandy overused terms in their content marketing do so to their detriment.

Avoid buzzword babble.
Avoid buzzword babble.

If we can all agree that B2B content marketing is, for the most part, comprised of a strategic procession of words—doesn't it behoove us to we make sure all those words mean something?

Seems obvious. And yet, I see so many fall victim to the bewitching honey trap of Buzzword Babble. It's easy, it's shorthand, it's quick—and at some point it's a content killer. I'm not talking about an overuse of clichés, or the numbing effects of semantic satiation. I'm talking about something simple and fundamental: accuracy of meaning. When I say what I mean, I mean what I say.

Content marketers in the marketing technology space are one example of those often guilty of Buzzword Babble. In fact, just this week I received several emails trying to get me interested in three of the latest B2B trendy topics: Big Data (yes, in caps), predictive scoring, and the buyer's journey. Recognize them? They're all the rage, everyone's bandying them about. But what the heck do they mean?

Not what they're supposed to. Let's pop these hype bubbles right now.

1. Big Data. Data is dirt. Big Data is a bigger pile of dirt. A mountain. And unless you're able to pull together a successful mining operation that unearths something useful out of that mountain (gold, pirate treasure, actionable information), all you've got is a blocked view and a growing storage problem. Big Data? Big Deal. Give me big insights—or how about just one insight into how I can do business better? Oh, I know it's buried there in Big Data Mountain. How do I dig it out?

2. Predictive scoring. Seemingly overnight, this weed popped up in the marketing garden. Let's be clear: a score is a prediction. So, when people with trendy glasses and calf skin shoes throw out this term, we should gently smack them upside the head (watch the glasses) and remind them that they're selling us a Predictive Prediction. And that's two guesses short of useful. What we should be asking for are predictive profiles—basically, a more benign version of what the NSA does when it looks through all our data trying to figure out who the bad guys are. With that in hand, we can then judge which people are most likely to buy from us. Yes, it's profiling, and yes, it's a good thing.

3. Buyer's journey. Really? A journey? Look, if I've got to pack a rucksack and go on a journey to buy what I need, some marketer out there isn't doing his job. If I've got a business problem, ideally as a marketer you should already be right in front of me with your solution. My “journey” shouldn't require a cartographer. Build the right destination, make it clearly visible, and I'll show up without a map—along with lots of others with the same problem.

Peppering your content pieces with empty buzzwords like these is a great way to confuse your prospects. A confused prospect either freezes like a light-stunned frog, or stumbles off into a lengthy, frustrating process of comparison shopping. Either way, you lost your edge. You've committed the opposite of good marketing.

Content marketing can be a powerful way to engage people in conversations around what your company does best. Keep your messaging simple. Avoid Buzzword Babble.


Steve Gershik is acting CMO of Leadspace. He tweets at @SGersh


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