If you grew up in the marketing world where this jargon is practically your native language, this post may not make any sense to you. However, it may help your work with non-marketing people. If you are a non-marketing person, this post may help to clarify some marketing terminology for you in a way that improves your marketing strategy.
When I started my consulting business to do research in the business world rather than in the academic world, I had many new terms to learn: target market, value proposition, branding, CMS, SEO, B2B, B2C, the 4 P’s, and so on. I had to learn these terms not only for my business but to help the businesses of my clients. I wanted to not only do the research but also be the bridge from the research to the marketing strategy.
To be honest, I was slow to catch on to much of the jargon and instead many of the concepts seemed to hinder my progress with my business and ability to help my clients. It was an incredibly frustrating process for me. I considered myself a smart and quick learner and yet all this marketing terminology was challenging for me to internalize and make second nature.
Therefore, I made it a point that when I worked with clients, I would try to stay away from as much marketing jargon as possible. For example, my client assessments are as jargon free, both in research and marketing terms, as I could make them.
<Honest and transparent moment: I have been guilty of using common marketing terms but mainly to work within the language framework of my marketing colleagues and take advantage of things such as SEO.>
Here are three ways I have found marketing terminology hinders businesses and their marketing strategy.
1. It sets up the wrong visuals. When I say the phrase “target market” what visual do you get? Here is what comes to my mind:
Not a visual that helps move me or my clients forward in thinking about how to best connect with and engage with those who may have a problem I can solve. Instead I use questions like “Who do you think is the best fit for your product?” and “Imagine your product is uniquely suited for one particular group of people. What does that group look like?”
While I certainly help clients define their market in terms of numbers, having a powerful image of your target market is extremely useful for moving to the next step in the marketing strategy.
2. It’s alienating for people who aren’t formally schooled in business or marketing. In fact, marketing terminology can end a conversation. Has this ever happened to you? You are talking with a colleague or maybe a marketing strategist and they throw out some marketing terminology or question. You answer it the best you can or maybe you don’t answer it at all. What happens next? Not much.
Consider the difference between “Who is your competition?” versus “Who else might a customer go to for this product?” I have asked the question both ways and here are my observations. The first question seems to put people on the defensive, is centered on the company, and tends to box people into thinking only about obvious competitors. The second question seems to be easier for people to answer, puts the emphasis on the customer and what choices she might make, and allows for more brainstorming and conversation for non-obvious competitors. Different questions elicit different responses, which lead to a different marketing strategy.
3. It gets too far away from the main points of change and the customer. I love this post by Seth Godin “You can’t change everything or everyone, but you can change the people who matter” in which he talks about how marketing is about changing something or someone. Your product is about change and there is a customer on the other side. It isn’t about you, your sales, or your company, which is why we should stop asking questions full of marketing terminology that puts the focus on us or shuts down conversations and continue asking easy to understand questions that focus on the customer and broaden possibilities.
How has marketing jargon hindered your business? Or your work with clients?