“New! Fresh! Original! Like! Share!”
How many times have you seen an advertisement that claimed it was the “#1 brand in the nation” or prompted you to “Buy now and get a second set free”?
These words and phrases are among the top used in buzzword marketing today, always pulling for the attention of whatever user happens to fit the target market. Alongside words such as “Creative, unique, authentic, innovative, rare, game-changer, and trending,” the language of marketing today has taken a turn for the trite. Every website and social platform has some sort of advertisement platform using these words to try and trap consumers into clicking on their ads. Though most of the general public has been desensitized to the jargon-filled language of marketing, most people have been fooled at some point in their lives. Why has this type of empty language been used for so many years?
Buzzwords got their start in the 1950’s when advertisers started to incorporate words like “new,” “hot,” and “fresh” into their advertising to drive business. Looking back with a 21st century marketing perspective, it is obvious that these tactics would no longer work today. Filled with false and empty claims similar to the ones pictured below, it’s a wonder that we haven’t learned that these words do nothing to help engage consumers today. Everyone has something “new,” every brand can skew their data so that they’re the “#1 brand”; these trends no longer have the same impact they had back in the days of unregulated, copy-heavy marketing.
So why don’t these buzzwords and jargon heavy ads work anymore? For one, the transition from a small number of traditional media sources into a landscape of seemingly endless digital sources of content has bombarded consumers with the same notions of “newer, fresher, and better!” for going on 70 years. No wonder a thousand different touch points of the same message aren’t driving sales like it used to. Imagine that instead of just seeing one awful jargon-filled ad like these each day in a magazine, the entire feed is filled with brands, ads, and even people fighting it out to get a morsel of your attention. In the oversaturated market of all online content, buzz words are supposed to catch your attention, but only end up looking like every other piece of content being pelted toward consumers.
Each industry has its own set of buzzwords. From politics to marketing, there is a list of words that consumers instantly groan at when they see. What was originally intended to make people pay attention is now doing the opposite. Seeing the headline of an article titled, “These 5 secrets to growth hack your social presence” or “Why you need these five products for summer” not only gives the reader a sense of distrust (because they now recognize it as clickbait), but also can turn off viewers to the actual content. Adding words such as “like, share, new, hot, trendy, rare, game changer, and hack” does not help differentiate your content from the next ad saying the exact same thing.
The shining light throughout the downfall of buzzwords and clickbait is that consumers today are smarter and more cunning than ever before. They’re tired of being dragged along by companies through mindless advertising. They can see through it for what it is: empty. By being fed hollow content for so long, young consumers crave brands to connect with them on a personal level. By bringing consumers into the business through effective storytelling and authenticity, companies have the opportunity to form real and honest relationship with their customer base. A company that fails but is honest about working to be better will always resonate more than a company that tries to cover up its faults. After all, consumers know that the people behind the brand are human too.
What has caused this shift of valuing authenticity over professionalism? Consumers have grown tired of working so hard to avoid the onslaught of untrustworthy brands and content looking to lead they astray. From fake news to fake people (i.e. bots), consumers have lost trust in the digital world as a place to depend on for reliable sources of information. This has prompted the rise of influencer marketing. What better way to connect with your customers on a personal level than to seek out a public figure they already admire and promote your brand through that positive channel? This helps humanize the brand by bringing it down to a personal level: by hyper-targeting your audience into direct connections with influencers they already know and follow, it capitalizes on that sense of trust formed between the influencers and their devoted followers. How ironic that the most effective way to connect with the digital consumers is through word of mouth (word of screen?) marketing.
Today’s consumers are too smart to fall for frivolous marketing that doesn’t attempt to connect with them on a personal level. Using buzzwords and clickbait that are void of any tangible meaning is a tired practice that doesn’t do much more than annoy consumers into ignoring your content. The real challenge comes when learning to connect with consumers on a deeper level that goes beyond the “fresh media-speak phraseology” and into a more personal, user-focused sphere of selling. Being open and honest with your consumers is the best way to develop trust and brand loyalty that will stand the test of time through corporate mistakes and mishaps alike. Because after all, the people behind the brand are human too.