Buzzwords and Why We Can’t Stop Using Them

Buzzwords exist for a reason.  They are a shorthand way of expressing a complicated concept.  Words like “next-generation” and “advanced” are ways of saying that your product is better.  Not just a little bit better, a whole lot better.  It’s like a generational gap, it’s so much better.  It’s no wonder we want to use them.  Saying “next-generation” is a whole lot easier, not to mention briefer, than trying to describe how your database returns queries much faster because the underlying architecture is fundamentally different than your competitors, or how your deployment and ongoing maintenance costs are much lower than other solutions in your space because of your deployment model.

Unfortunately when you use those generic terms, you force customers to interpret what you mean when you say them.  Does “next generation” mean faster, slower, cheaper, more expensive, easier to use, harder to use, contains more features or contains fewer features?  Your customers might interpret that in any of those ways and make a purchase decision based on that.  If your product really is next generation, you probably have some great reasons for customers to buy.  There are no good buzzword shortcuts to creating great value propositions – you simply have to do the work.

If you think your prospects know exactly what you’re talking about when you say your products are “innovative”, you’d better test that assumption.

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17 thoughts on “Buzzwords and Why We Can’t Stop Using Them”

  1. I try to approach buzzwords the same way I would any words. Take them at face value for what they actually mean. The reason they become buzzwords are because they work. Many people find these words to be the most efficient way to describe something. If they really are, then use them…if they’re not, don’t.

    What’s important is that you’re not avoiding cliches simply because they’re cliche, and you’re not using buzzwords in place of actual value. That’s where the problem comes in. If you’re using buzzwords to make something seem valuable, without actually providing value, you won’t last long.

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for the comment. I think sometimes you can do that but other times the words get so twisted by being used for things that they don’t mean that it’s hard to predict whether a customer will know what the word actually means. Cloud Computing is a great example of this. At times it has meant applications hosted in the cloud or just hosted data. We even have “enterprise clouds” now, whatever those are. The trick really is figuring out how the customer interprets the words so when it doubt – test your messages.
      April

  2. Hey April…I think you’ve gone “2.0” with your new blog! Well done. As for buzz words, I agree with you and would add one more point. Buzz words are often things that are generic enough that any of (or all) your competitors can say it too so it really does not differentiate. After a while of hearing a buzz word, consumers stop hearing it all together.

    1. Hey thanks Kevin. This is my ground-breaking next-generation innovative blog look!
      I agree with you – the biggest problem with buzz words is that they either mean nothing or are so open to interpretation that you can’t predict how the customer translates them. They are, in short, easy to ignore. Simple and specific messages will get a better and more predictable response from customers.
      April

  3. April,
    My problem with buzzwords is that they are not really executable. Consultants tend to use them more than most and as someone running a business it is great for me to understand a concept which is represented by a buzzword and agree that the thoery it represents is something I should be doing BUT the devil is in the detail. Its your ability and experience in the application of the meaning of the buzzword that will impress me, not the use of it.

    Agree with everyone on the look and feel of the new blog…love it…inspired me to do a redesign & new platform.
    ~Paul

    1. Hi Paul – thanks for the comment.
      I like the way you put that – it’s important to understand the concepts behind the buzzwords (there’s a reason they became buzzy in the first place) and just being able to throw them around doesn’t demonstrate that, being able to get down into details and specifics does.
      April

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  9. It’s laziness.

    10 years back it was synergy, then globalization, then low-hanging fruit.

    they come and go…

    It’s harder to write something original. Most sales people cant write, so they resort to cliches. Sad but true.

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