Marketing Rule No. 1: Don’t Annoy Your Audience

November 01, 2016   /   by  Diane Callihan

Are You Irritating Your Prospects?

There’s a sponsored ad I keep seeing on Linkedin. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all except that I’ve seen how people are responding to it.

It says:

“(Brand name’s) data includes highly actionable declared and inferred signifiers that lend to hundreds of targetable consumer personas.”

Some of the comments have been as follows:

  • What a load of goobledegook!
  • I read it five times and I’m convinced they are baffling with bullshit.
  • Oh my.

I don’t mean to pick on this company (that’s why I’ve removed their name), but I was delighted to see people standing up against this ad.

I feel like I am seeing this technique—the attempt to impress people with jargon—more and more in marketing circles, which does nothing more than alienate and confound your audience.

I suppose the idea behind it is that people will read this ad and think, “Wow, this company is so smart and techy – I have no idea what they’re talking about. Let’s hire them!”

I’m pretty sure that is not a sound strategy.

I come from a background of being a newspaper reporter. We were taught the importance of writing clear, short sentences. Avoiding big fancy words when short, simple words would do. Tell a story.

The intent of this was not to talk down to anyone, but to make the news accessible to everyone.

Think of some of the most successful ads or slogans ever. Coke is it. Where’s the beef? Just do it. Got milk?

Two or three simple words. A concept. Boom.

I have a feeling that “highly actionable declared and inferred signifiers” is not going to make this list. But I’ll leave it for history to judge.

Don’t Do This Either

This issue is not confined to ads. I’ve met with some sales people in my time that actually talk like this. This can not only come off as arrogant, it can also be kinda creepy.

One sales guy signed off an email by saying, “Let’s explore mutual synergies.”

Um. No. Just no.

First - promise to punch me in the face if I ever use that phrase or the word “synergies” for any reason. Secondly, no one is exploring my synergies – not even if they buy me drinks first. And don’t even get me started on interfacing.

So anyway, just a friendly reminder. Keep it simple. Be real.

And if you want some help, we’re here for you. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.