Straight Talk or Industry Jargon?

What is the best way to communicate with your customers? Do you approach them in a completely straightforward manner while emphasizing your brand’s exceptional qualities, or do you use lingo? While many people would say that directly communicating your brand’s advantages is the way to go, reality does not always support this stance. Sometimes buzz words get into the marketplace and take over. Before long you aren’t talking as much about your product, as you are battling with competitors to say the same thing. Truthfully the consumer doesn’t always know what the marketer is saying, and–surprisingly enough–it doesn’t seem as if they always care. In the end, however, it is best to make sure that you say what you mean.

To help illustrate the point let’s take a look at a couple of past and current examples.

Green

Green marketing was (and still is) a huge deal. Advertisers wanted to show you how green a brand was at any cost. Some did it through innovative means like compostable packaging and a commitment to recycled material. Truthfully, words like green and sustainable were thrown around so much that they seemed to lose their meaning, except they never actually had one. Consumers got tired of it, and they now respond better to an explanation of how products really benefit the environment.

Natural

Healthier eating habits are taking hold. People are looking for lighter dishes with better ingredients. To meet this demand, food marketers are attached to the word natural. From Wendy’s “natural cut” French fries to the word “natural” now finding its way onto packaging in every category at the supermarket, the word is starting to get ambiguous. Realistically the FDA does not define the word “natural” when it comes to food labeling. It seems that now, “natural” is close enough to “organic” from a consumer perception standpoint. Just keep in mind that if you are using this term, it will probably lose its luster sooner than later and you might want to have something on the back burner.

4G

Look around your office; there are probably several smart-phone enthusiasts running around who can tell you why their choice of phone and carrier is the best option out there. You will probably hear the term “4G” in the explanation. If so, stop them there and ask what “4G” means. While “4th generation” technology does imply faster connections and better use of multimedia applications like video conferencing, “4G” actually describes one of three different technologies that are in competition to provide a better cell phone experience. There is no exact system or definition, and before long this term may very well join the list of lost and useless marketing terms.

The point of this piece is not to demean trends or even marketing speak for that matter. The point is that trends are identifiable (and useful) happenings within the real-life population of consumers and marketing speak is at best a trend within the marketing community. Don’t mistake one for the other, but do be ready to explain “How your brand’s potato chips are more natural” or “What your 4G network can accommodate that the next provider can’t.” Building a campaign around a straightforward message is the best long-run option available.

Sources:

Food and Drug Administration

Ad Age

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Building Word of Mouth Advertising

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