It’s your business: Buzzwords change but the goal remains intact

By Joe Smith

Special to The Record

While reaching out to customers is the primary focus of today’s marketing strategies, there is another issue that can often be a challenge. Failure to keep up with ever-changing industry buzzwords can put you at a disadvantage.

For example, TOFU is not something vegans or vegetarians eat but rather stands for Top of Funnel Marketing. Along with its partner BOFU … Bottom of funnel … it refers to the tactics marketers use to appeal to consumers at different phases during the buyer’s journey.

UGC is not an expression of disgust but an anachronism for User Generated Content. Basically, this is the modern term for getting customers to provide you with testimonials.

Growth hacking has nothing to do with a medical procedure to remove a skin tag. A few years ago we called it guerilla marketing, which was the preferred method of marketing for companies with small or no budgets. This was the process of using inexpensive or free media and events to get out the message.

Deep dive has nothing to do with jumping over the side of a boat to discover fascinating marine life. In essence, this is the process of getting a bunch of people together to do some brainstorming.

While we are in the ocean, ping is not something that is generated by sonar to search out submarines. In some circles, it has emerged as the best way to describe sending a message by one of our tech devices.

Bandwidth does not necessarily mean the amount of data that can be sent along an electronic corridor. In today’s communication vernacular, it can also symbolize the amount of time and resources that are needed to complete a project.

Fake news is the rage these days but there is another word that has been around for a few years that has a bad reputation in marketing circles … clickbait. It even sounds bad. Primarily they are headlines that promise one thing but lead the consumer to something else or promise more than they can deliver.

Hyper-local has nothing to do with hyperactivity. Basically, it is the tactic of using GPS to target consumers geographically and provide location based advertising most often through the use of smartphones.

Here’s one new phrase you really don’t want to hear. “We’re eating our own dog food.” This means that when a company starts using its own products it ultimately realizes there really is a reason why consumers hate their products.

The list of marketing terminology is endless but one word of old that comes to mind is bafflegab. A word that hit the newspapers in 1952 when Milton Smith (no relation) of the US Chamber of Commerce tried to define government jargon when he said “… bafflegab is multi-eloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, incognizability and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly used for promulgations …” He actually got an award for coining the word.

If there is any lesson here it is the fact that while we may change words and come up with fancy phrases the goal has always remained the same and that is to communicate effectively in order to achieve a positive result.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at

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