When it comes to content marketing, an array of organizations in a myriad of verticals seamlessly leverage optimized outcomes to drive sustainable marketplace paradigms for utilizing streamlined digital transformation.
Hold up…. What did I just say? Yeah, no idea.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of leaning on some of these words a time or two (or more). But as content marketers, we should always be striving to explain ourselves with brevity and clarity.
We get it, you’re smart.
Think of buzzwords like truffles or brownies. They’re fine in moderation, but if you eat too many, you’re going to make yourself (or your readers) sick. Use buzzwords sparingly to avoid sounding wordy and over-indulgent. Aim to speak plain English whenever possible.
Good jargon vs. bad jargon
It’s important to note that there are two different kinds of jargon. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call them ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
- Good jargon: industry-specific terms that – when used correctly – identify you as an insider. For marketing, these are words and phrases like “demand generation”, “marketing automation”, and “revenue attribution”. Terms that are unfamiliar to outsiders, but are meaningful and necessary in our marketing universe.
- Bad jargon: non-specific ‘business language’ that can usually be translated into simpler, clearer verbiage. (words like leverage, utilize, and optimize)
Bad jargon = cliché
In general, just say ‘no’ to general business jargon. It’s cringey – and can distract from the idea(s) you’re trying to present.
As your high school teacher probably told you a million times, avoid clichés like the plague. That’s because clichés have become so overused, they’ve lost their meaning and ‘punch’, if you will.
The same thing has happened to common business jargon. It seems to be used as a crutch of sorts, strategically placed in sentences when the writer doesn’t really know what else to say. So instead of sounding super knowledgeable and offering useful insight, the message is unclear.
Here’s 13 of the top offenders:
This is first on the list for a reason. While most of these words are OK in moderation, I literally cannot think of one situation where using this word is acceptable. I apologize if I hurt your feelings with this one, but there are just so many better ways to describe working in-sync:
Instead, try: In-sync. Better together. Interdependent. Hand-in-hand. Collaborative.
Even worse are made-up synergy-derivatives like “synergistic” – yeah, I saw that somewhere. Try to define that one.
This is a tough one. According to the folks over at Merriam-Webster, ‘optimize’ means to “make perfect, effective, or functional as possible”. This sounds like something most businesses are striving to do, so why wouldn’t we use it? Unfortunately, the word is thrown around carelessly, and far too often. As with clichés, this word is losing its meaning.
Instead of: Televerde will optimize your tech stack. (sounds vaguely illegal)
Say: Televerde’s managed services help you get more out of your tech stack. (more clear and authentic)
Or: Get more out of your tech stack with Televerde’s managed services. (clarity + brevity + customer focus)
This one is one of the most controversial and widely used. This word is often unnecessarily complex. Trust your own judgement; if it makes sense, keep it. If you can, eliminate it – or use “use” instead.
Instead of: We leverage our knowledge and experience to allow for better results. (Awkward and overly complicated)
Say: Our knowledge and experience gets you better results.
Instead of: We leverage the latest tools and tech (sounds a little ‘robo-marketer’)
Say: We use the latest tools and tech (Much more conversational/human)
Take a minute to ponder the definition of “streamline”.
If you’re like me, you looked it up for clarity.
If you go down to the fifth possible definition of the word – then scroll down to “verb” option, under subsection B – it says “to make simpler and more efficient”. I suppose this is what most content writers are aiming for?
Because the definition(s) of this word are so convoluted and not easily understood, let’s just streamline this whole process and use plain English words like “simplify”, and “make more efficient”. That way the words you are using to actually convey your message will be more powerful.
This is literally a bloated version of the word “use”. It’s fancy and can be acceptable when used by itself; but when surrounded by other jargon and technical terms, it’s too much.
Instead of: We utilize deep-learning technologies to measure attribution.
Say: We use deep-learning technologies to measure attribution.
Remember in middle school, breaking down fractions to the simplest terms? Like fractions, your ideas are more easily understood when you break them down into the simplest possible language.
‘Deep-learning technology’ is something that cannot be broken down into simpler terms. Thus, it can stay.
‘Utilize’, however, can always be broken down to ‘use’.
Adverbs rudely tend to grossly complicate inherently simple ideas. ‘Seamlessly’ is another pretty little adverb that is often unnecessary.
Most of the time in content marketing, this word is extra – it adds no meaning. It’s up to you to gauge whether or not it’s appropriate; and a good way to determine this is to look at whether it changes the meaning of the sentence.
Instead of: Adverbs rudely tend to grossly complicate inherently simple ideas.
Try: Adverbs tend to complicate simple ideas.
(Unless you’re writing a riveting romance novel. In which case, you’re on the right track.)
Instead of: Our customers get better outcomes. (vague)
Try: Our customers get better results. (clear)
Or: Our customers increase revenue. (clear + tangible)
8. Best Practices
The term ‘best practices’ is a misnomer. It implies that we should all be following the same industry standards. How do you expect to stand out as the ‘best’ in your relentless pursuit of someone else’s best practices?
Unfortunately, the overuse of this term has made it’s literal translation into “what everyone else is doing” or “status quo”. That is nowhere near the same thing as what’s “best”.
So when you say that your company uses “best practices”, you really aren’t saying anything other than “my company is a company like all the other companies”.
Instead, verbalize the practical, tangible ways you differentiate yourself.
Instead of: Televerde leverages best practices to generate demand for our clients while simultaneously providing opportunities for disempowered women.
Say: Televerde generates millions in revenue for our clients, while simultaneously helping thousands of disempowered women achieve success.
(Unless you’re talking about actual bandwidth)
Eek. Can’t you just say you don’t have the ‘time’? Maybe it’s just me, but using computer terms to describe human problems sounds like it might be a slippery slope.
Pretty soon we’ll be arguing with our friends about how their new boyfriend is taking up too many gigs on their hard drive. Or trying to cure ADHD by installing more RAM into our children. (don’t try this at home).
It just doesn’t sound natural or human. And with content marketing, topics can naturally get pretty technical. You want to sound as conversational as possible.
I am super guilty of overusing this one. It just gets a little repetitive sometimes! Try ‘make sure’, ‘assure’, or ‘be sure’, or try to change up your sentence structure a bit to eliminate the sure-words altogether.
Instead of: We’ll work to ensure alignment across the board. (not so natural)
Try: You’ll experience alignment that drives your business forward. (More powerful, customer-focused)
This is another I have admittedly overused. It’s unnecessarily complex, so try mixing it up by substituting simpler alternatives.
Instead of: Our solution enables optimized outcomes
Try: Our solution gives you amazing results
Substitute this franken-word for a simpler alternative to improve readability.
Instead of: The country’s commitment to environmental transparency can incentivize companies to mitigate supply-chain emissions.
Try: The country’s commitment to environmental transparency leads companies to mitigate supply-chain emissions.
When it comes to jargon, sometimes less is more.
I am honestly a little torn on this one. For clarity’s sake, just try not to overdo it
It’s become a super-common marketing term – and it can make your writing look generic, unclear, and well – like everyone else’s.
Instead of: Our team of experts drives more revenue throughout your partner channel.
Try: Our team of experts increase revenue throughout your partner channel.
These are not ‘rules’ that are forever set in stone, just some ideas to consider next time you sit down to write an article.
Try going through an old piece and getting rid of some of these words. Or, next time you’re writing a content marketing piece, I challenge you to not use any general business jargon.
You’ll be surprised how much more clear your writing will be, and eliminating these words will go a long way to improving your general readability.
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