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A Winner Or A “Binner”? 5 Bits Of Marketing Jargon We Love… Or Hate

Business man speaks in marketing jargon while others look confused.

Business-speak. We’ve all heard it. We’ve laughed or cringed at it and perhaps used it. But whether or not we have personally leveraged data or reached out to colleagues across the pond to drill down and identify the low-hanging fruit in a project, most of us are probably familiar with a lot of general business jargon.

Every business discipline has its own, more specific set of buzzwords, however. In this post we’ll take a look at a few bits of marketing jargon you might not have heard before. We’ll explain their meaning. And we’ll give our opinion on whether they should have been heard by anyone… ever.

  1. Thumb-stopping – This is truly a term for our age of hand-held digital devices. It describes great content which catches the eye and stops the viewer from simply scrolling past. It’s a good, descriptive term which sums up an effect perfectly. We all want our content to be thumb-stopping. This one gets the green light from us.
Woman views "thumb-stopping" good web content on her phone.
  1. Humaning – Though with any luck you haven’t heard it before, this term came to fame in 2020, when Mondelez International announced that “humaning” was its new marketing strategy. It was not well-received. Mondelez described it as “when storytelling becomes storydoing”. However Marketing Week described it as “a new entry into the marketing bullshit top 10”. And social media rose up in a storm of derision. This bit of marketing jargon was intended to mean putting the human connection back into marketing. But the human experience is what good marketing is about in the first place, isn’t it?

The New York Times said that “Humaning is not a word meant to be used by real people in real conversations”. In our view it shouldn’t ever have been used by anyone in any conversation. We’ve seen the term updated to “Humanised Marketing”, which is a great improvement.

  1. Snackable Content – We quite like this one. It describes content which is quickly consumed and easily digested without requiring much effort by the consumer. An image, a short video or a concise bit of text could all be described as “snackable”. It’s a neat little term to describe the concept. Thumbs up.
  2. Gamification – This term describes the use of gaming-style tactics in marketing. McDonalds Monopoly is a good example. By collecting “game pieces” from food packs, consumers can either win an instant prize or collect towards a set which could win them a high value prize. It’s a clever way of engaging customers and encouraging them to eat more McDonalds food. Though the term itself is rather ugly, it is descriptive and it allows a single word to replace several so it’s going to get the okay from us.
MacDonalds' use of a Monopoly game increases customer engagement and sales.
  1. Phygital – This very ugly word-meld refers to the combination of the physical and digital world as a marketing entity. Companies aim to seamlessly integrate their physical presence, e.g. stores, with their online one to optimise customer experience. We can’t find fault with the goal but the term leaves a lot to be desired. It really screams “jargon” and we can’t help thinking that existing terms such as multichannel would better replace it. It’s the bin for this one.

Final Thoughts

The word “jargon” is often used pejoratively. It can describe obscure gobbledegook thought up by those who want to impress or befuddle us. And often it is used where plain english would be much better. But it’s not all bad. The Oxford Dictionary describes jargon simply as “words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group of people”. Some jargon aids communication between specialist groups. It can describe new ideas in our changing world and express complex concepts in a single word or phrase. It follows that as business moves forward, so must its jargon.

Even our small sample of terms includes some star items and a couple of stinkers. We just need to hope that the useful ones live on while the duds sink without trace.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Why not leave us a comment telling us your best-loved or most hated bit of jargon? Or take a look at our other posts.

If there’s anything you’d like to discuss with us don’t hesitate to get in touch. An initial chat is free and without obligation.


Like it or loath it, humaning may be here to stay – LinkedIn

‘Thumb-Stopping,’ ‘Humaning,’ ‘B4H’: The Strange Language of Modern Marketing – New York Times

Gamification: McDonalds Marketing Monopoly – RGC Media & Marketing

‘Humaning’ and the greatest marketing bullshit of all time

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