Mar 2, 2011

The Gobbledygook Lingo Paradigm

In 2007, David Meerman Scott wrote The Gobbledygook Manifesto. Years before that, there was another list of Buzzwords to avoid. There was even a buzzword generator. B2B web sites aren’t using the top 50 buzzwords as much, but buzzwords still proliferate on these websites. It’s an addiction that we can’t break because we don’t realize when we are doing it. Your buzzword is my marketing category or value proposition. When I see category names that aren’t relevant to me, I see buzzwords. But when I see the category name I use for my market, it looks like the commonly used description.

I’ve become a huge fan of books that explain why we act irrationally. The experiments they run convince me they’re onto something. Influence talks about how familiarity breeds liking. In fact, the book describes an experiment where you show 2 pictures of a person to themselves and friends. One picture is what is taken by a camera – the view most people see of the subject. The other is flipped – showing what the subject sees in the mirror. The photographed subject will prefer the flipped (mirror) picture and the friends will prefer the normal photo. We prefer what we are familiar with.

We use our own lingo within our own company so much it becomes natural to us. We know what we mean by Small Business or Medium Business. We know what we mean by “socialize the change.” We know what we mean by “parametric search.” That these terms are meaningless or mean something completely different to our prospects doesn’t occur to us. We are blind to our blindness. We don’t see that prospects don’t see what we see. We assume our prospects are as on top of the lingo slung by our company as we are. We’re usually wrong.