I’ll admit it, I’m guilty. I find myself searching for the right word to use and then it comes spilling out of my mouth, a buzzword. A word I have heard too often through school and in blog posts from marketing “experts” that sneaks into my vocabulary from time to time. It’s not that these words don’t have meaning, they do. It’s just the overuse and lack of real depth or true description leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a vague description of what I’m trying to say.

There are certain things that people in the marketing industry say that don’t really mean much of anything. These words and phrases stop carrying weight and are just used as filler for conversations that we could just as easily have with words that clients will understand. 

Buzzword: an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen. Here’s my list of the words that I find to be the most overused and unnecessary.

1. Best Practice: A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means.

This is one of my favorites. I’ve always had a bone to pick with the imaginative, and arrogant, person to coin this phrase. The best practice? The thing about marketing is there is no one, perfected way of doing things. People are fickle, especially when it comes to consuming goods, services and content. There are some methods that are proven to be more successful, but saying one way of doing things is the best is just absurd. Things change and so do “best practices” and throwing around this word and ignoring other possible strategies won’t get you very far.

2. Synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

Okay, this is kind of a freebie. We all know this word and it’s been used so often it’s come to be the poster child of buzzwords. We can just as easily talk about groups of people working together cohesively or as a coordinated group. It has no place in marketing and could be confusing to clients or people outside of the marketing industry.

3. Thinking Outside the Box: a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective.

This phrase is commonly used in interviews and on entirely too many resumes. It’s called creativity people. Instead of using a word that doesn’t explain anything, describe your ideas with some detail. When people use this phrase it makes me feel like they have no idea what “the box” even is. Be succinct and clear, tell clients or prospective employers what you’re doing that pushes boundaries and makes your idea unique.

To be fair, these are all valid concepts but the overuse and “marketese” nature is cheesy. You’re better off avoiding these words altogether, use words and descriptions your clients understand and that mean something to them. Say what you mean and leave the buzzwords out. A great way to help people understand what you are doing through marketing efforts is to tell them in a straightforward and detailed way. An even better way to get your point across is to show them. Avoid the buzzwords and use case studies to show clients how your work gets results.