Marketing should be about making brands more accessible. Not using fancy words.
There is this feeling that in order to convince people you know what you are talking about, you need to make common sense sound complicated, by wrapping up seemingly simple concepts in obscure jargon. It’s got to the point where any randomly selected impressive sounding words put together in a sentence are being passed off as “strategy.”
There is an aspect of Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome about the whole thing. We go to these events where impressive sounding phrases are banded around and everyone nods in agreement. Hollow meaningless sentences are met with responses such as “Yes that’s exactly right” and no one points out that the phrases don’t really mean anything because they are scared that they’ll be branded as someone who “doesn’t get it.” And so we are all drawn into this pseudo intellectual speak, forced to speak this fake language where we all feel clever by saying a lot without ever saying anything.
This fancy language also enables people to hide their lack of knowledge and expertise in the area. A person can add a few buzzwords to a sentence and give the veneer of experience and intelligence to the lay man, but in reality have no real idea what it actually means. It’s bad enough that people do this intentionally, but the really alarming thing is when people have convinced themselves that they actually know what they are talking about simply because they can string these impressive sounding sentences together.
There is the argument that we have to add a certain amount of lingo to our language to ensure that clients know what we are talking about. But in reality all we are doing is talking to clients in a language they will not understand, demonstrating that we speak the language, and since they don’t we had better do the talking for them.
It’s a shrewd business model; after all, as Andrew Davis said, “Where there is confusion, there is money to be made.” It’s this fear that clients will see what we do as simple that is driving this desire to make the problems that we solve for clients sound more complex than they actually are.
At the end of the day, the problem we try to solve, the real aim of marketing, be it digital, social or otherwise, is to talk to people, and hopefully, on occasion, get them to talk back. That’s it. It’s not a complex problem. But this doesn’t mean that the solutions are easy, of course they aren’t. The solutions are the brand planning, the communications approach, the strategy, and of course, great tactical executions. Looking at advertising in particular as an example, the specific problem they are trying to solve is to get awareness of a message, be it about a product, a service, or a brand. That is a simple, easily understandable problem. The difficulty comes in getting the right ad to deliver that message. It’s a complex and difficult thing to get right, which is why truly great brands and campaigns are rare. We shouldn’t be spending time trying to make the problem sound more complex, we should be demonstrating that finding the perfect, tailored solution to the problem is where we add value.
As an industry we are so focussed on intellectualising what marketing is trying to do, rather than actually doing it. If we spent as much time developing strategies as we do trying to come up with new definitions for things, and clever ways of saying simple things just imagine how the world of marketing would progress.
Note: @alasdairgray came up with the much better name for this post – The terrible tale of Jason and the Jargonaughts. Go and congratulate him.