Close your eyes and picture this scenario. You are sitting at your desk trying to do your work and you overhear the following:
Colleague 1: Hey, glad I caught you after the meeting, coz we needed to take our convo offline. Do you have 5?
Colleague 2: Sure, but can we GSD I have a hard-stop at 3pm
Colleague 1: Thinking outside the paradigm, I think we need to green-field that role STAT!
Colleague 2: Word. We need to action that pronto. I’ll buzz HR
If you’re not bleeding from the ears after hearing that, then you’re clearly made of strong stuff. The overuse of tech jargon isn’t just annoying, but it achieves the opposite of a good communication. It confuses, it isolates and if you’re really over-doing things, it makes people deeply weary of being in your vicinity, let alone doing business with you. And while the above example portrays some fairly hackneyed corporate speak, every industry is guilty of indulging in it.
In tech circles, it can become difficult because a lot of the products and their processes have very tech-specific jargon. Yet chances are it’s not only Mensa-certified wizards who are using your software. At its best, great technology should make life better, simpler and more enjoyable for your ideal customer. Technology can feel intimidating for the layman, so it’s your job to clearly communicate:
- How easy it is for them to use your product
- What benefit they will get from your product
The problem is that many tech companies fail at the very first hurdle: their preliminary communications. When customers undertake their research, many times they don’t get the above questions answered for them, rather they get an impenetrable number of standard product features and no discussions on the benefits that are relevant to that prospect.
For example, on a tech website, many elements are important, but the way you talk about your product is vital to attract and convert leads. A key part of this is really considering your choice of words. If you know who your ideal customer is, then you need to think about whether your choice of words will connect with them. (Here’s a hint, in many instances jargon will not connect with them.)
While there are many examples of unappealing jargon and eye-twitch inducing acronyms, today we’ve narrowed it down to 9 examples. If you’ve got them on your website or you're using them in any of your correspondence, be it client meetings, emails, social media or blog content, you need to sit yourself down and have a long, hard think about things.
1. Acronyms or Acro-sins?
Ok, this one isn’t a word, but it still manages to grind our gears. Acronyms are abbreviating words to the first letter of each word in the phrase. And yes shortening words to the handy acronyms can be useful and fluid, especially when an acronym is very well known. No-one wants to write Customer Relationship Management every single time, when CRM is perfectly adequate if you are writing for a marketing-savvy audience. If you are unsure whether your customer would know whether your customer get the acronym, err on the side of caution. Accepted wisdom suggests that you spell it out first. For example:
- Business Intelligence Systems (BIS)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Marketing Automation (MA)
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Domain Name System (DNS)
Also be careful not to overuse acronyms, because they can make a sentence feel vague, jargon-y and impenetrable. If in doubt, go back to your ideal customer and think about what they need to best understand what you are trying to say.
The term unicorn (referring to a start-up company that is valued at over $1 billion), has been over-used so much in start-up circles, that it needs to be sent to the glue factory. Using it now makes you feel derivative, routine and reactionary. Hardly the stuff of legend and magic. Free yourself from the herd and stop using it.
3. Bleeding edge
When something is so new it’s not just ‘leading edge.’ Ironically, using it now sounds rusty and hackneyed. Cut it from your communications - pronto.
In tech speak this means to change the direction of your business. If you are using pivot, maybe you should be thinking about the direction of your communications instead. It’s vague, euphemistic and as TechWired reports, Hired.com CEO Matt Mickiewicz defines pivot as, ‘A lame way of saying 'our original hypothesis proved incorrect, and we're going to try something else before we run out of money.’ Bingo.
There’s a reason this word sounds so much like ‘sin’. Technically it is when the sum of the whole is greater than the parts, it smacks of over-used, saccharine corporate speak.
It looks like the monstrous love-child of ideas and create, which is the what the word is trying to achieve. Ideas. Create. Great. This word is the verbal equivalent of the meat-pie pizza, or that other culinary monstrosity - the cronut. It’s just needless and overly self-indulgent language. Let two amazing things remain proudly autonomous. If you need a word that does the trick, ‘dream’ is a damn fine substitute.
7. Blue-sky thinking
If you can dream, surely you can dream of something better than a phrase that looks like it was poached from a luminous eighties inspirational poster. All that’s missing is a baffled kitten and a Rocky montage.
Keeping with the sky analogies, sunsetting is when blue-sky thinking hasn’t worked the way you want it to and a product or service is being discontinued. Supremely euphemistic, it feels like putting glitter on a turkey. Instead, be honest with your customers and own your failures. No business is perfect, and instead of burying something that didn’t work, use it as an opportunity to talk about the lessons you learnt and what will positively change as a result of your experience.
It sounds grammatically dodgy and made-up. You don’t sound learned, it sounds like you need to go back to primary school English and find a better word.
If you’ve managed to make it through this article without feeling sick, congratulations. We know that you probably don’t use the above, but we still hope this article has inspired you to have a think about how you communicate and whether you could be doing it in a clearer, more comprehensive way. If you would like more great inspiration on marketing trends, you need to check out The quick-start guide to inbound marketing for technology companies today.