Editorial

Buzzword Buzzkill: 10 Terms to Banish from Content Marketing

Snackable? Ideate? Can we all agree it’s time to retire these and 8 others?


Words—every one of them—matter in content marketing as much as anywhere. At Imprint, we’ve long advocated for the need to keep communications clear, concise and jargon-free. After all, when it comes to business communications, buzzwords can be more of a buzzkill. They often cloud, not clarify, your message. 

How do you know when you’re allowing this type of language to escape into the wilds of communications intended for actual humans? There’s an easy way, according to Imprint Editorial Director Dan Davenport. 

“If we simply read aloud anything we’re preparing for real people and make sure that every word is something we would use to talk to a parent, a spouse, a neighbor—all our work will be clearer and more easily understood,” he says. “Which, after all, should always be the goal.”

So, “lean in” to this post. Actually, don’t. We don’t need you to “unpack” or “drill down” to get our message. Just focus for two minutes to find out 10 terms that make us cringe. And let us know the jargon you love to hate by pinging us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

“New normal”

A key casualty of the pandemic. Like so many overused expressions before it, this one has been trotted out so excessively as to render it meaningless. — Dan Davenport, Editorial Director

“Deep dive/drill down”

Actual humans would say they’re going to take a closer look, give it a careful study or one of 100 other phrases. If you’re not going under water or looking for oil, don’t use these. — Dan Davenport, Editorial Director

“Snackable”

It’s the buzzword for short-form content that can be quickly read, viewed or listened to and/or shared—not eaten. It’s popped up in plenty of places, from industry blogs to client meetings. It’s more effective to talk about this type of content in context of the format or how we want to use it—for example, a 15-second video that will be used primarily on Instagram. — Kimberly Papa Amadeo, Editorial Director

“Ideate”

It’s one of those overused words that I would be happy not to hear again. It’s a fancy way of saying “brainstorm.” — Kimberly Papa Amadeo, Editorial Director

“Holistic”

Unless it is in the context of health and wellness, use “comprehensive” instead. Many word-use studies show that readers also hate the term “holistic.” It’s beyond me why marketers keep using it. — Meg Staknis, Managing Director

“Lean in”

Overexposure has drained this term of meaning. “Focus on” is more direct. — Meg Staknis, Managing Director

“Unpack”

We are continually being asked to stop and “unpack” concepts. Whether it be in business, politics or social news, it’s assumed concepts and ideas are so complex that we can’t comprehend them and need to have each element explained to us. I vote we “ideate” another term and “socialize” it until it’s “blessed.” — Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

“Incentivize”

I wish I were in the conference room when the word “incentivize” was created. I imagine there was someone from marketing, sales and finance, and no one from editorial. Next door was the group who came up with “strategize.” — Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

“Solve for”

It just means we need to find or provide an answer or solution—for example, “a function of a product that can solve for a potential buyer’s need.” — Duncan Milne, Managing Director

“Cascade”

“Please cascade this with internal stakeholders.” That’s just another way of saying make sure everyone who needs to know about this does. So, just say that. — Duncan Milne, Managing Director


What jargon did we leave out that really makes your skin crawl? Let us know at imprint@imprintcontent.com — you just may be featured in our next installment!

Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
ErrorHere