SAY WHAT YOU MEAN

A handy guide to decoding the jargon.

Jordan Delapoer
Partner & Director, Brand Strategy
NORTH

If you work in marketing, your job is to communicate your brand and product effectively to consumers, or as they’re commonly called - people. You live and die by the insightfulness, intelligence, cleverness, emotion, relevance, and usefulness of your communications. Whether you’re the client or an agency person, PR or advertising, it’s the same. Your success, and that of your organization, directly correlates to your ability to create effective communications.

Ironically, when it comes to internal communication, sometimes we neglect to practice what we preach. Instead of saying exactly what we mean, we get mired in the jargon of our own making. Thing is, we’re not doctors or scientists. With a few exceptions, our day to day communication isn’t so technical, so complex, so specialized that it needs its own terminology.

At its best, marketing jargon is a subconscious trap in which we unwittingly get caught. At it’s worst, it’s an implement to forcibly demonstrate our intellect over others. In all cases, it gets in the way of what we mean to say.

I’m fortunate enough to work at an agency, and among clients, who have developed a strong jargon allergy. But for those of you drowning in a pool of linguistic ambiguity, I’ve created this handy marketing translation guide. With these twelve translations in your back pocket, you’ll be ready to go toe to toe with even the worst offenders.


Jargon: After a comprehensive audit of the various stakeholder POVs, we’ve reached a workable consensus.

Translation: Everyone agrees.

Jargon: The research suggests that leveraging our brand’s unique value set allows us to occupy a distinct and ownable space within the category.

Translation: Tell the truth.

Jargon: After convening with the client, it’s clear that we’ve found some synergies, but we’re continuing to engage around opportunities to refine the work.

Translation: There’s feedback.

Jargon: I’ll send you an invite to circle back EOW to review progress.

Translation: Talk Friday.

Jargon: We think there’s an opportunity to have an interim tissue session with the client in advance of a formalized presentation to gut check the thinking.

Translation: The work’s not ready.

Jargon: I posted a conference report but we should meet live to discuss the nuance of the feedback, recalibrate, and determine next steps.

Translation: The work’s dead.

Jargon: Deliverables are TBD pending confirmation, but based on the work-back we should start concepting big ideas now.

Translation: I don’t know what we’re doing.

Jargon: There’s definite potential in that idea, and I wonder if it might benefit from a working session to do a bit of fine tuning.

Translation: You’re way off.

Jargon: There may be value in informally polling the target to judge relevance and refine our thinking.

Translation: This won’t work.

Jargon: To efficiently drive the target through the funnel, we need to develop an integrated omni-channel comms strategy and messaging framework that leverages paid content to drive engagement across earned and owned.

Translation: Be consistent.

Jargon: I’d like an internal regroup on the deck ASAP to make sure everybody’s aligned before the presentation.

Translation: What are you doing?

Jargon: We have a signed SOW to develop the AOP, based on the NPD calendar, which should include a GTM strategy that incorporates key F&Bs as our USP.

Translation: We can start working.

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