Tuesday, October 16, 2012

buzzwords: bad for business

Have you ever been to a meeting where the key presenter uses a bunch of business-speak? Soon these buzzwords begin to lose their meaning—many of which have vague meaning in the first place—as they are repeated. Slowly, your eyes began to glaze over as you hear, for the zillionth time, words like “leverage” and “value-added”… yaaaaawn….

After hearing them so frequently, buzzwords become boring, and their exact definitions aren’t always clear. So here’s a question: if buzzwords really are used often, why are they still confusing?

Many times buzzwords are tossed around so often within certain circles that those who use them forget that the general public—i.e., customers and clients—may never have even heard of them.

So why use them all?

Simple answer: don’t. At least don’t use them in your marketing materials. If this business-speak from your boss or a co-worker bores you (or confuses you), think about how your customers feel when they come across these terms!

If you’re writing content that’s designed to inform or educate your audience about a product or service, it’s best to stick to the basics and make sure your communication materials are easy to comprehend. Remember, people won’t buy from you if they don’t understand what you’re selling.

Think about these points as you write your next draft:

Consider your audience. 
It’s ok to use buzzwords (in moderation) in an article that will appear in a trade magazine within your field, but it’s not a good idea to use them when writing content for potential customers to review. Think about how your ideal buyer talks and thinks. You don’t have to talk down to anyone, but you should provide information they can comprehend, in a way that catches their interest.

Be clear and concise.
Useful information that readers can understand not only helps them make an informed decision; it also helps earn your trust. Penning a tips piece for your blog? Be sure to give clear directions. Writing brochure content for a new product? Don’t focus on the specs—talk about how the product will benefit the buyer.

Test the message.
Ask someone without ties to your field or office to read your copy. Do they understand what you’re saying? If so, great! If not, it’s time to revise. 

Use words as they are meant to be used. (I.e., nouns as nouns—not verbs)
We’re all guilty of this. How many topics did you Google today? Did you Facebook your aunt to tell her happy birthday? While it’s fine to swap parts of speech in casual conversation (as long as the other person knows what you’re talking about), doing so in writing risks losing your reader.

Avoid acronyms.
Abbreviations and acronyms are often industry-specific. Use them only within circles of others in your profession.

What’s your take on buzzwords? Any particular pet peeves? Anyone care to defend a favorite buzzword?

1 comment:

Vikki Baptiste said...

Pet peeves: "reach out to", and "dive into" - not necessarily business-speak, but annoyingly overused nonetheless!