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Web marketing, image,  jargon & slang

It seems that many of the new words introduced into the English language as a direct result of new technology and the commercialization of the Internet have made their way into web marketing... unfortunately.  This phenomenon isn't just occurring between programmers and web marketers but in the way that they carry out promotion of their clients  and companies to others.

Here's a slightly exaggerated example, altered to prevent a law suit being taken out against me..:

"through an inverted dynamic and proactive CRM process,  we are a best of breed online company - a goal-directed, innovative digital firm which fast tracks cyber stickiness through turnkey solutions that guarantee targeted eyeballs using multiple streaming channels and viral e-services, providing the best ROI on your media spend"

huh? Translation:

We are good and we know how to assemble impressive words into a paragraph that serves to inflate our own egos and of other pretentious clients while alienating everyone else. Oh yeah, did we mention that we can send you visitors who would be interested in your web site, real cheap?

Ok, so this example is somewhat extreme, but I have  seen this style of marketing copy used.

Facade, marketing and balance

The web is all about facade. Many of the companies you see online may appear to have legions of employees working in high rise offices decked out in chrome and glass, but very often they are a bit like me - sitting here in my home office, dressed in a state not fit to be seen in public, dribble stains down the side of my coffee cup with an overflowing ashtray by my side and a cigarette hanging from my lips as I tap away.  Sound impressive? Oh come on, admit it, I'm sure a few of you reading this can identify ;0). I do occasionally don a jacket and tie when venturing outside my fortress (just thought I better save myself a bit).

A professional facade (image), while in effect is a lie or at the very least a twisting of the truth, is considered quite acceptable in business - consumers expect it, it reassures them - but it is so easy to go over the top when it comes to marketing that side of your business.

While web related jargon is necessary to explain our companies and products and to attract the attention of search engines, it should be used at a minimum where possible. People like simple, positive and motivational English that actually has a point and gives more of the nuts and bolts about your company than just hyper technical hype. Where technical terms are used, they need to be explained - especially when pitching to a broad audience.

Be careful with localized slang & sayings..

As the web is still very much driven by the US market, I find myself increasingly using North American terminology. Once upon a time I would have been ashamed of myself, but American English is (for the time being) now International English. 

I was very much reminded of this the other day in a conversation with one of my American colleagues. I said to him that I was "flat out" - which as it turns out appears to be an Australian saying. It's short for "flat out like a lizard drinking" - very busy. The conversation stopped dead - this term meant something very different in the USA.  The term "flat out" is used often here in promoting products off-line, but is probably best not used when marketing on the web!  

The rule of thumb to follow is, if it's highly technical, pretentious, slang terminology or even a popular saying, it's probably best to leave it out of marketing copy - as it may confuse or even offend.

Further learning resources:

Web marketing/advertising terminology & definitions

Creating effective marketing copy

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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