Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Buzzwords and the Bull***t Generator

The buzzwords are getting to me.  Previous B-to-B Blog posts have addressed this same topic, but lately I’ve got buzzword fatigue.

In meetings, I’m hearing phrases like: “Dial it back”, “Let's get on the same page”,  “Let’s table this”, “Circle back”, “leverage”, “disconnect”, “synergize”. Are these words supposed to streamline communication and boost work camaraderie?

They seem to be having the absolute opposite affect.

Much of marketing-speak is the same way. Why make it difficult for prospects?  Why put a high falutin name to a product to make it so much more complicated then it is, which only serves to confuse?

Example:  why call something a “manual scribing implement” when it is simply just a “pen”? 

Please Hold the Fluff
A fast look at high-tech marketing materials reveal a plethora of meaningless marketing words including:

  • Leverage
  • Empower
  • Best-of-breed
  • Functionalities
  • Integration
  • Mindshare
  • Synergistic (ergh!)

The Bullshit Generator
Today’s exercise of wading through volumes of buzzword-laden documents reminded me of a funny website I recently stumbled upon called “The Bullshit Generator”

The online calculator randomly generates phrases like:

  • streamline innovative methodologies
  • enable dynamic communities
  • reintermediate user-centric networks

Just hit “enter” and you’ll get gems like: “Seize mission-critical convergence” Wow!  What fun!

Less is More
Corpspeak, buzzwords, lingo and marketing-speak can drive me crazy.  It drives readers crazy, too.  Fluff adds no value.

And I’m guilty of generating these terms myself.

The trick is to make copy concise, clear, and actionable.

Keyword: Usability
I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several “Writing for the Web” workshops as part of Nielsen Norman Group Usability Week Conferences.  

When writing for the web, or in any marketing communications,  experts  remind us: that “people read very little on Web pages. They tell us “marketing communications folks not to waste word count on generic, feel-good material. It's not going to make prospects feel good anyway. They care only about getting their problems solved as quickly as possible so they can leave your site.”

Amen to that!

Enough Said
I just visited the Bullshit Generator again and it randomly spewed this phrase: deliver cross-media schemas.  There are a few clients I know who would love that phrase, but what the heck does it mean?

Please, hold the fluff!  


  1. From my colleague Colleen Sullivan Leh: "Here's a site to de-bull the fluff" http://www.fightthebull.com/putinthering.asp

    Thanks, Colleen, I will use this myself!

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