The Case for Buzzwords

The Case for Buzzwords
Kate Headen Waddell - Wed Sep 19, 2012 @ 12:10AM
Comments: 19

Buzzwords.jpgI have noticed a growing trend lately. There are some big stones being thrown around, and the single, defenseless target has been getting pretty bashed up. Yes, it’s true. Buzzwords have been getting a bum rep. In the marketing blogosphere, it seems everyone’s a critic, and buzzwords simply aren’t able to fight back for themselves. So thought I would take up the cause and make a case for buzzwords.

I agree that if I were writing a novel I would want to avoid phrases that most would consider cliché. They would mark me out as unoriginal and unimaginative.

But like much else in the B2B marketing copywriting world, to excel at marketing copy you should take the rules of non-fiction writing and turn them on their heads.

  • Start with the punch line.
  • Spell everything out for your reader.
  • Use buzzwords whenever possible.


Buzzwords make your writing clear and concise

There is a reason buzzwords graduated from the world of regular workaday words and started buzzing. They have resonance. They clearly and quickly impart a concept that would otherwise take your reader down a long path of modifiers, parenthetical expressions and adjectival clauses.

For example, I could say “the main strengths, primary activities or strategic advantages of your business.” Or I could say “core competency.” Which one more quickly gets my idea across? Yet “core competency” has been singled out lately as one of the worst offenders.

I could say “that mystical, ineffable je nesais quoi your company brings to the table that no one else can.” Or I could say “Unique Value Proposition.” Which one does a busy CEO want to read?

What about “streamline,” “Big Data,” “intellectual capital” and “consumerization”? You could figure out several different ways to say these, but doing so simply makes your reader have to stop and think about the words on the page rather than the product you are trying to showcase.

Unlike the author of the Great American Novel, we marketing copy writers are trying to take ourselves out of the spotlight so that our clients can shine. The reader needs to be thinking about solutions to problems, not what a clever turn of phrase you used instead of “Crowdsourcing.”

Of course, I am not advocating writing sentences and paragraphs that consist of long strings of buzzwords that sort of sound impressive but don’t really mean anything. Far from it. Your copy should be engaging, compelling and unique. But it should also be easy to read and understand. And that’s where a judicial use of the latest industry terms (Gotcha - buzzwords!) can really shine.

What’s your opinion on buzzwords?

Do you have any you love – or love to hate?

About the author: Kate Headen Waddell is a strategic copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, blogging and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at

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