Marketing Jargon: Lost in Translation

By WorkBook6

By Rob Stevenson

Marketing people love marketing jargon – ROI, KPI, CPC, CTR, and literally thousands more cute acronyms and fun, secret ways to make what we’re talking about seem more important than it really is. Call it jargon, call it buzzwords, call it gibberish (my current favorite, and a completely random sampling: Alignment wheelhouse tablet virality content curation iterative Cloud.)

Whatever you call it, insider language can become a crutch, and worse, result in your brand’s voice consisting solely of you shouting into a meaningless void. But are you being heard?

Over here at WorkBook6 world headquarters, we are wrestling with this very problem right now.

In a nutshell, we help companies overcome something we call the Unit Economic Crisis (explained beautifully by beloved leader JT Benton), a big-picture concept defined as the point in time when a customer’s lifetime value (or LTV) drops below a specific (preferred) ratio of Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). Every business is different – but when the LTV:CAC ratio drops below the business’s desired figure, it’s time to be concerned.

This happens in almost every business (there are a number of reasons, we’ll simplify down to competition and a general decline in customer persistency), and marketers and BD folks are in a pickle. How do I improve my unit economics quickly, and sustainably? (*The answer is through strategic partnership marketing, but that’s not the point).

Whew – 264 words in and I’m finally getting to the point. And what’s the point?

Marketers Love Marketing Jargon

As we look to increase the impact of our outbound (and inbound) marketing efforts, it’s VERY easy to rely on this world view (the Unit Economic Crisis, LTV and CAC) as WorkBook6’s primary differentiators. In fact, they define the core of our business – we help our clients overcome rising acquisition costs and falling LTV by forming strategic partnerships.

But to our prospective clients, do they phrases mean anything at all? Do they resonate in a meaningful way? Or are we shouting into a meaningless void? We’re A/B testing, offering multiple messages (and creative) and deliveries, following the “Very Good Marketer” playbook to leave no stone unturned, but if language choices don’t resonate, does it matter?

I even had our COO Brett Kaufman post on his VERY active LinkedIn feed about this very conundrum, asking for advice re. CAC and LTV and lingo/jingo/gibberish. Now, Brett averages nearly 10,000 post views and 250+ likes/comments every time he sneezes on Linkedin, but this post? 7 likes, one comment. A (virtual) fart in the wind, if you will. Does everyone hate lingo, or just talking about it?

So what say you? Does marketing jargon fly in your world, or does common sense language prevail? Is there a balance based on preference/audience? Or am I just shouting into a meaningless void (again)?

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