I’m a big proponent of analyzing the words we use to describe our practices. This goes beyond simply marketing and business, but to almost every word we use. Etymology isn’t where this is headed though. The important thing about words, names, phrases and the way ideas are told is positioning. Seth hits it out of the park (big surprise) with his post on global warming.
On that same note, we can assume the words we use to describe marketing practices will have a lot to do with their acceptance. “Positioning” worked well. “Branding” worked well. There are hundreds of examples of slang we accepted as winners and thousands of examples that fell through the cracks, completely ignored. Then again, I think some things are simply more of a metaphor, not necessarily expected to hit critical mass. I’m somewhat ambivalent toward the subject as some words will undoubtedly catch my ire an then I’ll turn around and do it myself.
Yesterday I thought a lot about “traditional” and “interactive” or “new” marketing. Interactive makes sense, although it’s still not truly interactive by the definition of the word. Jaffe’s new book points out the fallacy that so many corporations are still communicating as sender and receiver. That’s bad news bears.
But what happens when interactive or new marketing becomes part of the traditional mix? What happens when print, billboards, TV or whatever falls out of favor to the information supernova? Does one become the other and the other become another? This thought makes me rethink my prior statement of doing too many new slangs, because these ones were all wrong. I used to listen to Green Day, Pearl Jam, REM and Nirvana. The Northwestern half got grunge (which is apt and memorable), but other bands like Green Day got “alternative.” What? “What music would you like?” “I’ll take alternative.” “Me? I’ll take mandatory.” Ugh.
Anything without a worthwhile name won’t be remembered well for it. Green Day and REM won’t be seen as alternative. They’ll be seen as Green Day and REM. Why? Alternative was a bad name.
So it’s our obligation to analyze and name marketing techniques well. Not necessarily so they are catchy, but so they serve a utility. Interactive works for me, because the connotation is well on its way to being true. New marketing does not, and it can only be a temporary moniker. I’m not trying to pick on that word specifically, just point out some reasoning. Traditional marketing doesn’t make sense either. What’s tradition? What’s been done the longest or what companies have spent money on the longest? Because the former would implicate word of mouth and the latter radio and television.
Word of mouth isn’t new. Companies trying to pay for it and give it a new (ahem) buzzword in order make it part of their mix is. Marketing is already looked down on for our endlessly jargon rich filibustering. My recommendation is to use words that have a utility to the user.