September 24, 2012

Speaking So As Not To Be Understood

Throughout history the purpose of speaking and writing has been to be make oneself understood. Not any more. There is a new way of speaking and writing in the world of marketing, the purpose of which is to sound like you're saying something without actually saying anything at all.

Welcome to The Golden Age of Bullshit.

Now writers, pundits and industry bigwigs write and speak so as to be misunderstood. They write in ways that intentionally misuse language, and they speak in riddles to hide their vacuity. They hide behind buzzwords and cliches which they throw around willy nilly regardless of context.

The practice of creating a simple declarative sentence that means what it says is outmoded. Today's marketing pundit, in order to be taken seriously, must speak in tongues.

So we get nonsense like this:
"I have a deep love and appreciation of the different roles of product pricing, go-to-market, competitive differentiation, etc that make up the marketing value chain. I’m not discounting the strategic parts of making sure there’s a business model, but I’m focusing on the part that the vast majority of people think of as “marketing”. You and I might know this is more about promotions than the full range of marketing but most people don’t recognize this distinction."
Now you might think that the paragraph above was written by a not-very-bright junior college marketing student. But it wasn't. It was written by a person who claims to be a Stanford lecturer and a Harvard Business Review author.

Then we get this from the incoming Chairman of the 4As:
"Branded content was an interim expression. To me now, saying branded content is like saying advertising, because it’s all about content and how we insert the brands into that message to add true utility for the customer."

Here's a simple way to figure out who's full of shit and who isn't. If someone is saying something you don't understand, and it's not about quantum theory or special relativity, more likely than not he's full of shit.

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