Why Keep Jargon Out of Marketing Messaging?

Business LOVES jargon. Who among us hasn’t used buzzwords like ”synergy,” “paradigm shift,” or “iterative”? Tech companies are especially fond of buzzwords and jargon. Do a Google search for “tech business jargon,” and you’ll find article after article listing annoying industry buzzwords, like “bandwidth,” “deep dive,” and “disruptive.”

Most often, these are heard in business meetings and conversations. Sometimes they show up in reports, proposals, or written communication. No matter where they’re found, buzzwords and acronyms discourage understanding and participation. 

Sometimes, it’s simply that leaders don’t grasp how far out front they are. Other times, meetings are exercises in people trying to prove they’re “in the know.” Also, there are those who use insider vocabulary to keep distance between themselves and their listeners to prevent honest and possibly challenging dialogue.

Regardless, while heads may be nodding in agreement during a meeting, many attendees will jot jargon words down and hold off on commenting. Then, once the meeting’s over, they scramble to decipher what they heard.

What’s really so bad about jargon? Isn’t it just a set of terms that a business uses? A kind of agreed-upon verbal shorthand? It can be, in certain contexts.  However, jargon that creeps into your marketing messaging can damage your business, and even tank a start-up.

How jargon can hurt your marketing messaging strategy

1. Jargon is exclusionary

Remember, jargon discourages understanding and participation. When jargon becomes part of a company’s messaging this effect can be multiplied. Yes, sometimes buzzwords and acronyms become standard industry terms and are useful for conveying the complex. But the overriding approach of marketing should be to engage and educate. It’s a mistake to assume everyone is up to speed on the latest jargon.

2. Simpler is better 

Marketing is interested in attracting a broad range of prospective customers, so marketing messaging needs to meet prospects where they are. Good communication is based on saying things clearly and succinctly. Even E. B. White (the famous author of The Elements of Style) advises, “Omit needless words” and ”Use definite, specific, concrete language.” Simple and straightforward language is better because it’s easier to understand.

3. Jargon stops the conversation

A B2B tech start-up’s brand messaging is its conversation-starter, and its marketing messaging strategy seeks to keep the conversation going. If the initial messaging is jargon-packed, some prospective customers may feel excluded or just won’t understand. Either way, they’ll be out of the conversation.

4. Jargon in marketing messaging comes off as stiff and self-important

Most start-ups want their brand messaging to be welcoming and informative. Jargon can tend to exclude people and make meaning murky. Even if someone understands the message, the use of jargon reads as lack of authenticity, which can be a big turn-off to prospective customers.


Interested in how we can help your company steer clear of jargon? Let’s talk!