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15 Marketing Buzzwords to Stop Using Immediately

by Verónica Jarski  |  
February 20, 2013

What words do you come across in marketing that make you grab your head and screech in agony? You know what I'm talking about... Are you driven crazy by the phrase "thinking outside the box"? How about "paradigm shift"?

We put the question to the MarketingProfs Facebook group, and the answers were fun and entertaining. We also found ourselves nodding at each suggestion.

Unfortunately, marketers do reach for the most-used words... and they do so without thinking about the meaning of the words. It's easy to just automatically add a dash of "thought leadership" or "the journey" ... and not take the time to think of bright and shining new expressions. But laziness in writing leads to laziness in the reader. Who hasn't abandoned an article or presentation strewn with exhausted phrases?

To help you pluck worn phrases from your own writing, I created the slide show below. Some Facebook comments lend themselves more to a visual than others or just made us laugh, and so I reached for my Sharpies and colored pencils to draw up a slideshow.

Enjoy the slideshow below of buzzwords that we need to put on the "Do Not Use Anymore!" list.

If you'd like to add some of your own most-hated buzzwords, please chime in the comments box.

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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  • by Angela Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog


  • by Greg Marshall Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    We have all been outside the box for so long that the box has gotten really lonely. The box is reinventing himself and...well... thinking outside...the box and will be better soon. :)

  • by John P. Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    I agree with all of these - except ROI. That's a standard industry term that, for the most part, is used in context by marketers.

  • by Carter Mandrik Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Many of these are spot on, but some are ... well, epic failures. ROI? Really? Sure lets all stop using that word; lets all stop even thinking about it! And "in the future" isn't the same as "going forward", as it seems to imply an ill-defined yet possibly static time orientation somewhere off in the nebulous future; where "going forward" implies an immediacy and a dynamic, process orientation. And although I also dislike the word "marketeer" -- sounds too much like "musketeer" or worse "Mouseketeer" -- it's been my experience that the word is used mostly in countries where English is not the native language, so it's forgivable.

    The word I hate most: "glocalization" (or any of its permutations).

  • by Laura Brodniak Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    "Take it to the next level". Ugh.

  • by Ken Wilson Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Nice work, Veronica! I would add these:

    "Actionable" - Misused term that really means grounds for a lawsuit.

    "At the end of the day" - Unless you end this phrase with "it gets dark" or "I go to sleep," I just want to scream, "Ultimately! The word you're struggling to find is 'ultimately!"

    Thanks, it feels nice to vent. :)

  • by Naomi Shapiro Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog


  • by kd Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Low-hanging fruit is always the one that makes my mind wander.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Maybe if the box had chocolates, it would feel better. Just thinking aloud here...

    : )

    Thanks for commenting!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Agreed... I think, however, that the person who suggested it means that the term gets tossed around a lot by folks who don't even understand ROI or what they are specifically wanting from their efforts.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog


    That one does get overused, too!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    See my note above regarding the ROI comment.

    I once worked somewhere (in the U.S.) where "marketeer" was used a LOT, and you know what? I always did picture a hat with ears like a Mouseketeer wears. ;)

    Glocalization made me shudder. LOL

    Thanks for the input!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Oh. Argh. My eyes hurt at reading that term.


    That truly is an awful term.

    Thanks, Laura!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog


    Thanks! Glad you like the slide show.

    HAHAHAHA! Your "at the end of the day" comment made me laugh aloud. Like, for reals. (Wait... Should "for reals" be added? Hm.)

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  • by Lyn Meany Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Can we please put a ban on "icon" and all of its permutations? These days, everyone is an icon and everything is iconic. I am sick, sick, sick of it!

  • by MarketAgent 007 Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Ha ha! This post was entertaining!

    It bugs me when people refer to web banner ads as "Display Advertising."

    "At the end of the day" it's still a web banner. Sorry, Veronica Maria Jarski. I'm just teasing you. I had to throw that in there. :)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    YES, please. I'll sign the petition to ban that one, for sure.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    Niiiiice reference to "at the end of the day" there... That was an epic moment. ;)

  • by Eric Eisenberg Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Fun article, thanks Veronica. There are 2 phrases I want legally banned - both of which are staples of modern-day phone meetings:

    * "I'll be out of pocket tomorrow" (You mean "unavailable", right?)
    * "Let's take this offline." (i.e. either, "I'm about to look stupid in front of others", or, "This topic is an egregious waste of everyone's time")

  • by betsy Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Unfortunately depending upon who you are speaking to you have to use these words because that is all they "get" initially...then once you get them "on board", you broaden their horizons...oops I may have just thrown in a few more overused terms...;-)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog



    LOL. Love those suggestions. Are you getting a petition going to ban those phrases? "Let's take this offline" is just one of the worst. (Your parenthetical comments made me laugh.)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    I've mentally highlighted the epic terms in your iconic comment. ;)

    Thanks for the fun, Betsy.

  • by Lloyd Lemons Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Some good suggestions. I especially agree with "Content Provider". I'm changing my profile right now. I've been a writer for years, and I will be a WRITER again! Here are a few more words that need to go. Ecosystem--everything does not have an ecosystem. Deliverables--aren't those super heros? Spot-on--uh no!

  • by Thomas Hetherington Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    VMJ, you have "hit the nail on the head" and reminded us of what we look like"outside of the box" when we have tried "pull the wool over their eyes" with meaningless but cleaver linguistics created for self edification. Power to the People and many thanks for your great article. Thomas

  • by Jill Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Nice work Veronica! Here's another to add to your list: "Above the line" and "Below the line" - Aaargh I wish people would stop using these terms! There is no line any more. Social media well and truly eradicated "the line".

  • by Gina Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Pretty cool to see my name in the slideshow. It made the whole journey worthwhile.

    Here's another overused conference call phrase: "hard stop". It always makes me think of train wrecks...which I suppose some conference calls turn into.

  • by Sarah Wed Feb 20, 2013 via blog

    Thank you so much for this Veronica. I can't add to the brilliance of previous posters or your slideshare but it does make me feel better to know I'm not alone in abhoring these catch phrases. Phrases that are going out of their way to say what they want to say without saying it. Especially deliverables. And content marketer. I was just getting ready to become one because, somehow, being a writer doesn't carry cache. Well, maybe the time has come to call a thing a thing. :)

  • by Andy Gibson Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog

    There's so many buzzwords that I absolutely detest, you hit the nail on the head with the slide show. Others I can't stand are:

    Blue Sky Thinking

    And finally, and for me probably the worst: Solution - AARRRGGGGHHHHHH!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog


    Thanks so much for the inspiration for slide #11. Journey indeed.... And love your comment.


  • by janet sellers Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog

    Well, at long last real writership will prevail instead of linguisms that have been concocted to sound clever. Just as the Darwinian terms for evolutionary ideas that once gained acceptance have lost their place to plain language terms, so too shall the attempts to create Dickinsian style everyday language with buzzwords go the way of the Dodo... then again, people are still googling for answers....

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog


    Well, a writer writes, right?

    Content itself refers to more than writing. It's the "stuff that dreams are made of," to quote Bogart. Content can be podcasts, videos, drawings, etc. So, sometimes, the term does apply... but there's nothing wrong with being a writer. It's a good term for folks who write! : )

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog

    Wow, that's a cringe-worthy comment! Nice work with all the buzzwords. :D

    And thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog


    Thanks! Oh, good ones to add to the list...

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog


    No, you're not alone. And you know what's awful? Once you start developing a pet peeve against a word (like how I loathe the misuse of the word "epic"), you end up hearing the term everywhere!

    And, yes, it's time to call a thing a thing. Let's bring back "writer"... ! :)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog


    Nice list! Thanks for sharing it... and for the Charlie Brown "ARRRRGH." I agree with that reaction...

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog

    Thanks for the additions!

  • by janet sellers Thu Feb 21, 2013 via blog

    ps. try using "whom" after "a thought that leads"....
    "voice of the customer" = just plain listening or paying attention..

    Novelty only seems to work for ... a short time and then the thought overload about novelty creates rejection. With so much available online, we still need thinkers who communicate and sort out important ideas. These thinkers are commonly called, "writers" but their main provision to society is... knowing how to think and communicate. Perhaps the new moniker will be "communicator"... nah. Writer will do for now... or... author.... or....

  • by Claire Ratushny Fri Feb 22, 2013 via blog

    Good post, Veronica. You've obviously hit a nerve! Here are additional over-used and abused marketing words--that continue to lose meaning because of it:

    Forget saying it. "Just do it" as Nike always advocated!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Fri Feb 22, 2013 via blog

    Hello, Claire!

    Thanks... Those words do get used a lot.

    I'm guilty of using "engagement" a lot because I like the visual for it. Sigh. Time to crank out the thesaurus. ;)

    Thanks for chiming in!

  • by Becky Fri Feb 22, 2013 via blog

    I was once told by a young person, they have been told to think outside the box so often, that they often miss the obvious.

  • by Meredith Blevins Fri Feb 22, 2013 via blog

    So many things cannot be awesome or they wouldn't be awesome.
    (Back in the day -- that one bugs me, too.)
    But not as much as awesome content, a few awesome facts, how to make your blog awesome, how to be the king of awesome-ness.

  • by Bonnie McDermid Sat Feb 23, 2013 via blog

    "Reaching out" has long been on my list of most-hated buzzwords, especially when hearing it from telephone solicitors. Thank you for removing it from the vocabulary of thoughtful Marketing Profs members.

    "Actionable" is another term to toss, because it's often used to describe items upon which action is to be taken. Far different than it's dictionary definition of "illegal, banned".

    Thanks for the opportunity to vote for clear language!

  • by David D. Sat Feb 23, 2013 via blog

    The most annoying buzzword-filled expression to me is: "I wanted to reach out to see if it made any sense for us to connect." Rrrrrgh. Seriously??

  • by Cynthia B Mon Feb 25, 2013 via blog

    Love, love, love this post! I just "have to share" that when I hear "out of pocket", I think of a hamster that's gone missing from the pocket of a kid who brought it to school.

  • by LRT Graphics Fri Mar 1, 2013 via blog

    Seeing that on the list surprised me too! There are only so many ways you can say return on investment lol.

  • by Melanie Kissell Sat Mar 2, 2013 via blog

    Love the topic of your Slideshare presentation, Veronica!

    "Killer" should be killed. Way overused. Let's help it find its way six feet under!

  • by Craig Badings Tue Mar 5, 2013 via blog

    Sorry have to take issue with you about thought leadership. It's a proven discipline not a buzz word. It's much like saying advertising or public relations is a buzz word.

  • by Barbara Fri Mar 8, 2013 via blog

    I'm surprised these three haven't been mentioned - will start with the number one annoyance (will shut my eyes while typing):

    ..."that being said" is the worst buzz phrase "EVER"! Actually there are three here in this sentence that just need to "go away". Can you find them?
    "Yikes" - please stop me.
    Kate Middleton "STUNS" in blue. Help - there's got to be one other word to use than this when this woman wears a dress.

  • by Susan Tue Mar 19, 2013 via blog

    My, you've hit the major offenders here. Glad to hear I haven't been cringing alone. Why dilute our language with phrases that mean nothing? It is what it is makes me nuts too.

  • by Terry Nugent Mon Apr 22, 2013 via blog

    200% agree. Awesome=tiresome as far as I am concerned. A select few things in life are awesome, and very few of them involve marketing communications, presentations, or anything else in business. Add any reference to rock star, or rocking. I know a rock star when I hear one, and they don't generally appear on Slideshare. While humility has gone out of style, I continue to hope that these particular specimens of hyperbole applied to the banal shall be consigned to the ash heap of marketing history soon.

  • by justaguy Sat Aug 22, 2015 via web

    Killer marketing, Killer headlines, Killer content...

    The pain, oh the pain - oh the loathing!

    Shall we ponder how our profession gets a bad wrap next?

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