Marketing Jargon and Acronym Overload

Let’s face it, every day we are flooded with the latest marketing trends, tips and predictions. Marketers selling to marketers! Much of this is related to the time of year and it’s “trendy” to predict. It is also very opportunistic to describe the latest inventions and offerings with a snappy new acronym or invented word that gets a bit of brand attribution to the promoter.

Admittedly, I love to read these prognosticator’s reports and declarations. I’m a marketing nerd and trend junkie. I’ll often promote these ideas and reports through my various social feeds.

I’m also highly motivated by fear. The fear is of not knowing what all these new terms and acronyms mean. If it is buzzworthy, trending and top-of-mind with all other marketers, I need to know! My personal nightmare scenario is being completely lost by the latest lingo when quizzed by an executive, peer, or worse, a client. “How does NLP help marketers?” What? NLP? Who? Uh. Um.

Yet, three weeks into the new year and reading these predictions and trends, I’m saturated. I’m done. Chats, bots, blockchains, CX, CAC, SERP oh my! This CMO is overloaded! Not by the content and concepts, by the jargon and acronyms. No matter how strong the fear is of not knowing, the fact is I’m at the tipping point, tipping over.

It’s the words and the over-use of something that has caught fire in trending topics which is now dominating everything we discuss online. Basically, we are being over-marketed with complexity and spin mixed with new and old terms, to a point where it doesn’t have meaning.

An example, nearly every marketing solution that lands in my email has some new incredible AI feature. It is as if marketing invented AI. Not true. A machine to perform reasoning was written about in the 1300’s and a calculating machine in the 1600’s. It’s not new, it’s trendy. It makes me question the validity of these offers. Is this hype or reality? Why do I need AI in list segmentation? Are you talking basic algorithms or scientific invention?

As marketers and content producers, I confess that many of us are notorious for over-marketing words. It is inherent in our function to continually create, reinvent, brand, own and define the words used to sell our value. The problem is we are all talking in inflated expressions and a complicated vocabulary that in the end, business owners and CEOs are tuning out. They want us to generate revenue. We are burying the benefits of what we do with jargon.

Here is how leadership thinks about a marketers role: find a customer, support selling goods and services to the customer, retain the customer so they buy more. Find. Sell. Retain. That’s it.

Now put that proposition out to the marketing world and here is what you get.

“Our highly-intuitive marketing campaign targets SMBs using WOM, PR, SMM and DM by BI-based personalized content distribution via our CMS. Through supporting initiatives utilizing MarTech, SEO, PPC, ASO and a new UI, we will generate MQLs with lead scores based on CTRs in a custom digital UX with strong CTAs. All activities will captured in our agile SaaS CRM for immediate follow-up by ISRs. Upon conversion, AI and GA data will be used to create a buyer personas for ABM programs, supported by established BANT criteria and measured through NPS results to increase LCV and renewals. All of which will demonstrate incredible MROI.

Too much? Yes! We have entered jargon and acronym hell. The competition between marketers to have a unique proposition is resulting a language that no one beyond the marketer (and maybe not even the marketer) understands. CEOs don’t want to hear about this word salad that is defining how and what we do. They want results.They want revenue. It’s not complex.

Yes, we need rankings, clicks, eyeballs and earned media. We need to be great at driving awareness, engaging and influencing. It is also easier to use an acronym than spell it out. The problem is that we have so many references to our marketing activities, tools and technologies, it is difficult to have a conversations in the C-Suite that focuses on the value of marketing without an appendix or dictionary.

Maybe we start with the definition of marketing.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (AMA approved definition July 2013)

It may help get through the swarm of trending hyperbole and phraseology. Perhaps it is time to go back to basics and focus on the value. Saving time, creating new customers, reducing costs, increasing loyalty, generating revenue seem like great trending topics. Boring perhaps and a little old school, yet it is the financial reality of a marketers role. We need to be talking about how we contributing to bottom-line results.

We’ve fought hard to gain the attention of the business leaders and get a seat at the table. How we can help organizations achieve results? How can we contribute to the success of the business? Let’s not bury our message and value in a dictionary of terms that seems to be growing exponentially in size and devaluing our contributions.

Trending now, KISS! Let’s go find some customers, sell them something and make them happy so they buy more.


For those, like me, that need a dictionary to keep up, here are two great references.

75 Marketing & Business Acronyms & Abbreviations Every Industry Pro Should Know

149 Marketing Acronyms that Every Online Marketer Needs to Know