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Obfuscation for idiots: jargon and the end game


There is a plague underlying our seemingly happy nation. A scourge that must be eliminated at all costs. We shall hunt them, from beach to mountain — we shall eradicate them from the earth!

The enemy shall be known by the name …


I don’t know whether it’s habit or whether they just don’t understand what they’re saying and have to hide it behind multi-syllabic pretend words. Don’t get me wrong, I heart pretend words. Inventing words that aren’t real but that make sense within grammatical context is a favourite pastime of mine. (Yes, I’m a word geek. Yes, I’m alright with that.)

So I’m surfing the net the other day, as I am wont to do… and I come across this website: http://www.mediakindle.com/productoverview.html

And my brain almost explodes.

“… for media neutral channel planning that explains and then predicts the interacting sales effects of owned, paid and organic media.”

I think that means it helps you plan and predict stuff.

“Its integration of response curve and customer journey theory within a virus infection framework permits precise longitudinal forecasting and optimisation.”

I think that means it tracks stuff so you can make better predictions.

“Even better, non programmers can generate campaign scenarios without external consultancy.”

No, I don’t think they can — because they’ll go crazy and eat their own hands off trying to understand what it is they’re doing, let alone how to do it.

Now, none of this is a reflection on the product — it could be the most amazing product in the world. But for a product that’s for marketing people, the copy here could use some work.

LinkedIn is another place you’ll run into this issue a lot. People can’t quite get their heads around whether LI is more like Facebook or a corporate intranet site, and behave according to said confusion. Thus we end up with a mix of very, very stuffy corporate speak and very, very relaxed social speak.

And here is the problem for most businesses: instead of trying to conform to corporate or social or peer or niche speak, why don’t you just develop your own voice? Then you can just talk the same all the time, no matter what, and everyone’s, like…

“Oh, don’t mind her. That’s just Leela.”

[But with your business name in place of mine.]

Stop making stuff more complicated than it needs to be.

It doesn’t make you look smarter. It just makes you look confusing (and confused). And gives me a headache. And if it’s giving me a headache, imagine what it’s doing to your clients.

Leela Cosgrove is Managing Director of Business Writers Anonymous, focused on sales, marketing and business development. She is also a firewalker, has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do, a penchant for tattoos, and enjoys bands such as Rammstein, Li Bach, Marilyn Manson, Pennywise and Bad Religion.