Let’s face it: No one wants to be that person – the one who uses a tired cliché that’s been overused in advertising, marketing, branding or public relations to the point of diminishing return. Yet, as 2013 comes to a close, it seems the only way to get our culture to evolve is to single out these buzzwords by name and kill them before they kill all creative thinking in the boardroom, management meetings and brand communications.
- “Hashtag”- Hash tagging has become one of the most rapidly overused social media terms heard on daily basis. One recent example is network television, desperately trying to compensate for lost market share by capitalizing on Twitter and Facebook followings. Networks leverage hashtagging via social media sites in an attempt to build their shows’ brands and increase engagement with teenagers and young adults by promoting series, characters and episodes. Oddly enough, most people didn’t know that the same hashtag symbol existed on their push button phones since the 1980’s!
- “It’s The New Normal” – Yes, the economy has sucked over the past two years, stunting growth and forcing people to reconsider spending. But it’s time to stop falling into ‘Learned Helplessness” behavior, (a psychological term that explains why people can’t get out of their depression). The only thing constant in business is change, be it in technology or the economy. Nothing is the ‘new normal’. Your ‘new normal’ should be ‘abnormal’ if you want your branding to succeed despite the odds. Accepting the mediocre isn’t an option.
- “Your company must be active in social media”— While social media certainly plays a strategic role in building and disseminating messaging for many brands, not every company culture is conducive or appropriately positioned to effectively utilize Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The social media peddlers who are pushing “must be active” must cease and decease.
- “Engagement Marketing”—The concept of total client engagement is very much alive and important. That being said, when everyone refers to their direct marketing and advertising efforts as part of their “engagement process,” it becomes something I want to divorce and declare 40 years of marketing celibacy. I would argue marketing will always be about “consummating the marriage” and not “being engaged.”
- “Print is dead” – Print publications have continuously declined to the point of oblivion but just the way HP didn’t usher in the era of the “paperless office” in the 90’s, newspapers are simply going digital and successfully building new paywalls. Next year you will see Amazon, who recently purchased the Washington Post, making a case for a future where books and newspapers will combine print and digital to produce a sustainable readership ecosphere.
- “How do we measure it? It Depends” – This year, I observed that more digital advertising platforms are moving away from Google’s traditional KPIs in an effort to convince clients that their metrics are more meaningful. So, instead of measuring Cost per Click (CPC) and Click-Through, they say, you should measure “Cost per Acquisition” and “Quality Scores”. But at the end of the day, they say, ‘it all depends what you want to measure’. I predict that in 2014, digital measurements will be recalibrated, since “it depends” isn’t an acceptable answer to accountable marketers.
- “Thought Leadership”- Descartes’ philosophical declaration of “I think, therefore I am,” has certainly been adopted in recent years in the marketing world. In the business of public relations and branding, we have created a monster. Everyone thinks they are a thought leader. The term is so overused to a point that diminishes the original intent, which is to generate new ideas, provoke discussions, and promote intellectual discourse. No, sir, publishing a white paper on an over-chewed topic doesn’t make you a thought leader. In fact, it is quite thoughtless to assume it.
- 8. “Using Big Data”- 2013 shall be remembered as the year where every technology marketer decided to overuse the term “Big Data” to describe the conglomeration of information in multiple formats across an enterprise. In reality, Big Data isn’t new. It’s been bottled up in the enterprise data center since the days of Disco Inferno. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope marketers will overcome their fear of getting specific and provide real business terms to educate consumers without resorting to “Big Data.”
- 9. “Let’s use a Word Cloud”- The intention was good but the execution has been horrible. The practice of using words in a visually compelling way to illustrate amplitude and effectiveness has overwhelmed us in the marketing world. In reality, the practice of going to Wordle.com and generating a meaningless graphic that simply confuses your audience should cause marketers pause and promptly discard it from their lexicon in 2014. At the very least, limit its usage.
- “It’s all about the User Interface”—2013 was the year were every presentation started and ended with the saying “…and remember it’s all about the user experience.” While there is no denying that marketing is about satisfying requirements in order to evoke a reaction or, more preferably, a transaction, User Interface doesn’t mean ignoring business fundamentals such as “back office operations” that fulfill the user experience. With more business analytics at hand, marketers should grasp why UI is a construct and not the end goal of business.
So how many cliché’s have I used in this article? More than I can count. Hence the most important lesson. As branding, marketing and PR professionals, we must be aware that one person’s cliché’s is another person’s innovative gift to the world. Never forget to contextualize your choices before killing a good cliché’. As I often quote an old friend of mine: “There is no dead horse that is too dead to beat; as it’s already dead.”