Why ‘Buzzwords’ Suck! - Think Like a Fish

Why ‘Buzzwords’ Suck!

Take a moment to think of some of the funky new buzzwords that you hear during your business life.

What did you come up with?

Here are some of mine:

  • Anything ‘Hack’
  • Conversational Marketing
  • Social Selling
  • Smarketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Owned Media
  • Customer Centricity
  • Business Automation

There are hundreds I’m sure.

Are they that bad?

Pretty harmless really, so why do I think they suck?

They are nothing new, yet blind us into thinking they are. They eventually become meaningless and make you lose focus on fundamentals and the human behaviour behind what the ‘buzzword’ refers. Or we forget why they work and do it because everyone else is.

Add in all the flashy new technology these tend to emerge from and we become reliant on a ‘tool’, thinking it will be a ‘one click’ answer.

We become lazy.

Overall though, if you remove fluff around the buzzword, you’ll find the clues are in the names. Let me show you what I mean:

  • Anything ‘Hack’ = our constant search to be better than others, compete, find a better, faster, cheaper way of achieving a desired result. Innovation!
  • Conversational Marketing = connecting, meeting people on their level, dropping the act, pulling the stick out your arse.
  • Social Selling = All selling is social, it deals with people!
  • Smarketing = don’t get me started…
  • Content Marketing = speaking to a crowd, sermons, influencing by showing your knowledge, gaining trust, actually knowing what you’re talking about, education, creating goodwill and value first
  • Owned Media = Rolodex anyone? Customer list? Your network?
  • Customer Centricity = Try and pay your bills without it. It’s good old fashioned ‘service with a smile’, actually understanding what your customers want, specialisation (horse shoe? Go to a blacksmith. Bread? Go to a baker. Sausages? Go to a butcher).
  • Business Automation = plough, tractor, factory… Similar to ‘Hack’

You may not agree with all my comparisons, so I would love to hear your own versions. But I hope you see where I’m going here.

Basically I see a lot of these being adopted by people that see what they describe as something that ticks a box or makes them sound clever. Meaning it’s all about them.

Let’s take a closer look at one of these examples;

Social Selling

A rough definition of this is:

“Social Selling is a type of sales that develops relationships as part of the process. This is most common today across social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.”

Or something like that.

But ‘Social Selling’ isn’t just confined to social media. That’s just a tool.

All selling is social!

We’re by nature social animals. We like to interact with others we like or are ‘similar to us’. Introduce anything ‘cold’, be that a call, email or any unfamiliar person to person contact, we become uncomfortable.

Approaching someone in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable way is ‘threatening’, and we avoid threats wherever possible. Back on the Savanna, threatening situations used to lead to death. Our brains can’t tell the difference yet.

So when you make that cold call, send unsolicited promotions, chug someone on the street; people see you as a threat, not a friend. So they avoid you, run away or ignore your calls. Whatever tool or method you use, is the same challenge…

How can we be as non-threatening and familiar to a particular group, community, audience, market, or individual as possible

Without asking yourself this fundamental question, you’ll always be in danger of selecting a sub optimal approach for acquiring and keeping customers.

Down the rabbit hole we go

Let’s look a little deeper. Is it any coincidence that despite the emergence of all this technology and ‘new ways of doing things’ labelled with ‘buzzwords’, that good old fashioned ‘word of mouth’ is still to this day one of the most effective way to grow many a business? Even more so today with how connected we are.

That’s because it breaks down invisible social barriers. You overcome all the negative association you get from being an outsider in an instant, through the association with someone a potential customer already trusts.

Below is what I would call ‘Social Selling’.

  • It’s connecting with a group of people who have similar likes, characteristics or problems.
  • It’s about understanding those people in the group.
  • It’s about having something of real value that will make their lives better.
  • It’s about respecting social boundaries, people’s time and only turning up in places where they are open to receiving your message.

As a result you will have yourself or product/service introduced to a group of people, by one of their own members, with no agenda accept to help.

You are a member, not an outsider.

The phone, email, Facebook etc. are just tools that connect these people as a group, enabling them to bond around their similarities. Once you or your business is introduced, the same tools are used to build and nurture your relationship with that group.

They will also allow the members to talk about great experiences they’ve had with a product/service/person or company that spills out into wider networks.

And we’ve been doing that for thousands of years.

Any monkey can use a tool, doesn’t mean he can build a house

The problem I have with this, and all buzzwords that mask the reality behind why they work, is that the focus ends up being more on the ‘tool’ rather than the people on the other side.

Every lead, prospect, like, follower etc. is a real human being.

Yes, metrics and numbers are vital to be able to determine whether or not you’re able to pay your staff every month.

I’m not living in total la la land.

But they are the effect, not the cause. Instead I would encourage you to view your numbers through a slightly different lens now on.

Look for the story your numbers are telling you about how well you’re connecting with another human being, multiplied exponentially.

  • Poor response rates?
  • Not enough clicks?
  • Weak conversions?
  • Low sales?

Then rather than tinker with your new fancy pants software, look at how you’re talking to the people you’re trying to serve.

  • Do you use the same language they use?
  • Do you understand the REAL problem they’re looking to solve?
  • Does your solution really do what they want it to?
  • Are you credible enough?
  • Are you believable?

If you only look at numbers on face value alone, you risk dehumanising your customers.

If allowed, this will slowly drip through into the culture of your company and the attitude of your staff. Let it go too far and like many ‘big businesses’ you leave your customer with the impression that not only do you value yourself over them, they actually feel that your business has a real dislike of them.

These are your customers!

The very people ones your company was set up to serve!

Just because they’re not behaving as you think they ‘should’, or they’re not ‘clicking’ enough or ‘following’ your new product page, is not a reflection on their ‘stupidity’. It’s yours.

Don’t believe me? Fine, I’m not picking a fight. Just consider mass off-shore call centres with long waiting times, or decentralised operations.

Great for operational cost cutting.

Terrible for the customer.

Look, using a buzzword isn’t ultimately the worst thing in the world. Just make sure you understand what’s behind them from the point of view of serving your customers or clients and adding value.


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Adam King

Adam King is Captain of Think Like a Fish, host of The Client Catching Podcast. Today, Adam’s passion is helping service businesses, Advisors & Experts to build their own “Client Catching Ecosystem” that removes you from up to 90% of your marketing and sales process, instantly boosts your authority, while at the same time increases the quality of leads, appointments and clients that you attract and catch… All without spending a penny on advertising or adding more hours to your week!