I don’t remember exactly when I first heard “impact” used as a verb, but I took an instant dislike to it. It sounded too forced and aggressive, like it was trying too hard (plus I always picture the Deep Impact movie poster). Then came the constant “utilizes” instead of “uses.” And don’t get me started on “leverage.”
These buzzwords are everywhere in corporate life, and they naturally seep into our marketing content, especially in B2B. We use jargon as a way to show that we’re part of the club in whatever industry we’re in. We think it signals we belong.
The problem with jargon in marketing
The problem with using jargon in marketing copy is two-fold. First, your prospects and clients are not part of your organization. They might not use the same jargon, or worse, they might not understand it. Not understanding will lead to the feeling of being left out, which is the absolute wrong impression you want to leave with your marketing.
You don’t know who exactly is consuming your content. Yes, you have personas and plan to sell to Melanie the sales director. But maybe Melanie outsourced the preliminary research to her assistant or the new hire in the sales department, who isn’t comfortable with corporate buzzwords yet. Or Melanie has recently switched from working in nonprofits, where they have a completely different set of jargon. Or English isn’t Melanie’s first language, and she struggles to understand the message. There are endless reasons why using jargon is alienating.
Second, these corporate buzzwords are unnatural! Most of us don’t go home and say to our partners, “Did you utilize the last of the ketchup?” or “Should we leverage my parents as babysitters this Saturday?” It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? People don’t talk that way.
This unnatural language issue is most pronounced in marketing videos or ads. When we listen to a voiceover or an actor in a video, our brains expect it to sound like a person talking to us. Perhaps because it is. For a video to work, we want to feel spoken to directly. When a voiceover is telling you to “leverage best-in-class services to eliminate your disparate systems,” you tune out.
An effective B2B video needs to inspire your viewer to take action. People remember and take action on videos that leave them with an emotional response. My only response to hearing the word “disparate” is to yawn and open Twitter on my phone.
How to eliminate jargon from your marketing
Simplifying language in marketing copy is easier said than done. We wouldn’t have to be fighting back against it if it were easy for us all to move on from jargon.