By definition, buzzwords are doomed to fail but it doesn’t stop B2B software and technology marketers from using them with great enthusiasm. According to Wikipedia, a buzzword is a word or phrase used to impress, or one that is fashionable. For example, “transformation” and “innovation” are some of the most fashionable buzzwords in B2B marketing today. They have quickly become over used and thus anyone who uses them is failing to differentiate which is one of the most critical factors in claiming a position in the market.
Not only do buzzwords fail to differentiate but they also do not get through the filter that your target audience uses to screen out unimportant messages. You must understand that your target buyers are so overwhelmed with marketing messages today that they have developed a filter system that blocks meaningless information that does not address their most pressing problems.
The Most Common Buzzwords in B2B Software and Technology Marketing to Avoid & Why:
- “Empower” – Microsoft’s favorite buzzword. You can’t listen to or read a Microsoft marketing communication without getting pitched the meaningless notion of “empowerment.” Need proof that buzzwords don’t work? Look at Microsoft’s lackluster financial performance over the last 10 years. Buzzwords like “paradigm shift,” “synergy” and “empower” confuse the decision-making portion of the brain. Simple, clear language works best because the mind likes it that way.
- “Transformation” is perhaps the most over used buzzword in B2B technology. I hear or read about “transformation” every day from CEOs on CNBC to business reporters to marketers. It is almost comical how often it is being used, and in almost all cases, misused. Most companies aren’t transforming anything. They are just doing what has always been done, just a little better.
- “Leverage” has been with us for a number of years now, and it seems that today, everyone is leveraging everything. For example, here’s the tagline for MICROS: “We leverage innovation to empower hospitality and retail professionals.” Are you choking on all the buzzwords MICROS used? For MICRO’s sake, I hope it means something to its target audience, but I doubt it. Benefit statements that address genuine customer problems are the most effective way to get through the target audience’s filter. You’ll get your target audience to listen when you give them confidence that you understand their problem and have a solution.
- “Inspire” is a claim that is so far removed from reality that one has to wonder why anyone would use it. Since when does technology inspire people to do more work or better work?
- “Single version of the truth” – This phrase is often used by marketers in the budgeting, planning and financial reporting software market, and gets the award for best example of industry jargon. What does it mean? Your financial data is accurate. Best to just say it rather than make a confusing statement the brain isn’t likely to understand.
- “Cutting edge” potentially implies a benefit, but what is it? The target audience has to figure out the benefit when it is far more effective to just tell them. “Cutting edge” is particularly problematic because it focuses on the company or product rather than your solution to the target audience’s most pressing concern. Another problem with “cutting edge” is that it has different meaning depending on the recipient’s frame of reference. Early adopters like to be out on the edge to gain competitive advantage, but for most buyers, it’s too risky and often referred to as the “bleeding edge.”
- “Thought leadership” – I’m a journalist by trade and early in my career I learned a valuable lesson from an editor who also happened to be an outstanding writer. “Show, don’t tell,” he advised me. So rather than say you are a “thought leader,” it is far more effective to demonstrate thought leadership. But if you insist on claiming to be a “thought leader,” give your target audience a break and explain to them why they should care.
Even More Buzzwords That Are Annoying B2B buyers:
“What are the most annoying B2B marketing buzzwords?” was the topic of an on-going discussion inside LinkedIn’s 64,000 member B2B technology marketing community. Here are some of the nominees that we haven’t discussed yet:
- Game changer
- Mission critical
- Big data
- Innovate and innovative
Here are some of my additional nominees:
- Single version of the truth
- Fast time to benefit
- Unified software platform
- Accelerate time to value
Comment below this article and share what you think the most annoying B2B marketing buzzwords are and why you think software and technology marketers use them with such zeal. The only reason I can come up with is that marketers are too inwardly focused on their company and product instead of their customer and target audience. Or they are lemmings.