Let’s face it: We’re drowning in market jargon. You know what we’re talking about – those fluffy, sometimes nonsensical buzzwords and phrases used as a sort of shorthand that make us marketers feel “in the know.”

If you have even a vague sense of what it means to “leverage your campaign strategies with key messaging in order to yield optimal ROI,” then you understand the concept.

But how effective is this market jargon? Is it necessary because it enables people who share a common profession to communicate more quickly and efficiently? Or are we entering a dangerous new territory where our words are losing all meaning? Where up is down, black is white, and Hello Kitty is no longer a feline?

We think it’s time to end this assault on effective communication and at the very least limit, if not throw away altogether, the lazy use of market jargon. By replacing buzzwords with real words, you’ll learn that your audience (and even your peers) will understand what you’re saying rather than be impressed by what you say (and they probably aren’t anyway). When we are taught persuasive writing, we are taught to respect our readers. How many times have we been told to omit clichés from our copy because they represent empty language? Clichés have quickly morphed into the white noise of language that we now call market jargon.

Below we offer commentary on some of the chief offenders of market jargon:

Low-hanging fruit

What it means: Easily accessible opportunities for your product or service. How it sounds: Dumb. This has become of the most overused and obnoxious metaphors in all business-speak, not just marketing. It’s time to let the low-hanging fruit rot where it falls.


Refers to the amount of time and resources needed for a project. Can’t we just say “resources?”


Used as a verb to describe assessing the facts of a particular situation. Language isn’t a file we’re downloading; “Assess” is much clearer.

Brain dump

This means providingall of the information; typically given when someone is handing over an initiative or preparing a successor. A simple life lesson: avoid using the word “dump” to describe anything related to marketing, or anything at all, really. Just provide the information. Easy-peasy. Or if you must, fall back on the classic “brainstorm.”

Thinking outside the box

The mother of all buzzwords. This is the one that birthed a million other buzzwords. If you have to use this phrase, or your superior tells you to think outside the box, then both of you actually aren’t. Say something new, inventive and creative. Forget the box. Just think.

Let’s take this offline

Taking anything offline makes it sound like a computer has shutdown and we need to meet on the moon to discuss something important. Can’t you just say this is a topic we should talk about later, in private?

Is this a value add?

I’m not sure, but your question certainly isn’t. Obviously your marketing should tell your customers what the value of your product or service is for them. If you don’t think it does, then address those concerns directly.


This overused buzzword suggests a product or service with a virtually endless capacity to perform. A rich, bold cup of coffee is robust. Soldiers on the frontline are robust. A computer program could, begrudgingly, be called robust. A marketing plan is not.


Used incessantly to indicate that strategy “X” can be used to achieve “Y.” There is no need to misuse the original noun and transform it to mean – simply – “use.”


The quality of something achieved without financial support. Organic is the new black. EVERYTHING is organic! Drop the word.


Also known as “return on investment”—another buzzword! How much you got for the amount of effort or money you put in. Guess what? Not everyone in your audience will know what ROI means. So just say it.

Best practices

This refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared to other methods and techniques. It is also perhaps the single most pompous way of saying we’re doing the job right.

Take it to the next level

Well, apparently nobody has taken it to the next level, so why do we keep repeating this? If there’s an obvious “next level,” we would already be there.

So we ask for a CTA (that’s “call to action,” for those in the know): Let us know your thoughts on market jargon. Does it have a place in the world of marketing? We realize this is only the beginning and that more perpetrators will likely appear at the scene of the crime. When that happens, just know that we will be out of pocket, er, unreachable for comment.