Everything you've ever wanted to know about marketing buzzwords (but were afraid to ask)

The Promotion Fix is a​n ​exclusive biweekly column for The Drum from Samuel Scott, a global keynote marketing speaker who is a former journalist, newspaper editor, and director of marketing and communications in the high-tech industry. Follow him @samueljscott.

The old marketing world is as dead as Steven Seagal’s acting career after he became a shill for Vladimir Putin. So much has changed that we might as well throw away our copies of Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing and ignore all of David Ogilvy’s advice.

To be successful the industry today, it is crucial to understand the following introductory concepts. Are you sitting comfortably? Pay attention: this will be on the final exam.

“4 Ps” /noun/ 1: The foundation of product marketing theory that is comprised of product, price, place, and promotion. 2. A paradigm based on a century of business, sociological, and psychological research that is now used only by those who are old enough to remember when MC Hammer was popular and women wore shoulder pads. 3: A model that became antiquated the very moment that Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Compare: 7 Ps of service marketing. Cf., Viagra, Rogaine.

“Brand Love” /noun/ 1: The fact that consumers are always thinking about their relationships with mustard, beer, and detergent. 2: A phrase that is used by marketers to show that people prefer certain brands not out of mere habit, convenience, or price but rather out of desire to take them out to drive-in movies and do mouth stuff. 3: A public act with an inanimate object that got a Leeds man sent to jail for a week in 1994. Compare: brand preference. Cf., He’s Just Not That Into You, objectophilia.

“Brand Purpose” /noun/ 1: The fact that people want their tires, vegetables, and soft drinks to take positions on political topics such as Brexit or abstract issues such as whether the Diana Ross or Steps version of Chain Reaction is better. 2: A good fallback tactic whenever advertisers cannot create a distinctive value proposition. 3. The easiest way to lose existing customers while not gaining new ones. Compare: brand sentiment. Cf., Pepsi and Kendall Jenner.

“Content” and “Content Marketing” /noun/ 1: The best word to refer to anything and everything that is published on or distributed over the internet because being precise and specific is overrated. 2: The practice of publishing informational material, usually online, to achieve an associated marketing goal. 3. The only marketing left, according to a Seth Godin in 2008 who must have never left his home that year. Compare: marketing communications, advertorial, publicity campaign. Cf., dictionary, thesaurus.

“Creative Campaigns” /noun/ 1: A completely unpretentious term for making ads. 2. The output of putting a bunch of well-paid and appreciated people in a room to think about how to make people excited about products that will change the world such as dish soap and vegemite. 3. What happens when future artists relish their current roles as salespeople and produce ads that are in no way really meant to win awards at Cannes Lions and Eurobest. Compare: brand advertising.Cf., sweatshop, starving artist.

“Engage” or “Engagement” /verb/ or /noun/ 1: When anyone interacts online with any marketing collateral in any way at any time. 2: The fact that “likes,” shares and retweets translate into long-term sales because people never forget most of what they see and do online. 3: A metric that is very important because altruistic ad networks and social media platforms never report bad data and always let independent companies audit their numbers. Compare: circulation audit, total average audience. Cf., vanity metrics.

“Growth Hacking” /noun/ 1: A term used mainly in the B2B and SaaS worlds to refer to the optimization of all points in the marketing funnel to obtain the greatest number of quality leads. 2: A phrase conjured up by high-tech hipsters with long beards and man buns to let everyone know they are in fact doing something completely new, cool, and different. 3. A buzzword that in no way uses “hack” to mean a quick, crap job that leaves underlying problems. Compare: product marketing.Cf., Sean Ellis, hustling.

“Influencer” /noun/ 1: A member of a group of select individuals who are recognized within an industry as having superior knowledge or ability. 2: A term that is immediately null and void whenever people use it to describe themselves. 3: People who are worthy of adoration because they post photos of themselves on Instagram half-naked while holding sponsored products and freezing their lips in duckface. Compare: tastemaker. Cf., Insta-escorts.

“Marketing Automation” /noun/ 1: Using software to generate materials such as e-mails and social media posts automatically for various purposes and at various times. 2: A practice that prioritizes the mass production of boring, cookie-cutter pieces of marketing collateral over a smaller number of ingenious and original ones. 3. A smart strategy for companies that aims to eliminate the jobs of expensive human beings because human beings never need money to buy the stuff that companies make. Compare: industrialization. Cf., spam, mass unemployment.

“Millennial” or “Generation Y” /noun/ 1: A person born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s onto whom older people project their own insecurities. 2: A subject of constant and deserved derision because anyone who does not remember Michael Jackson when he was black or Doctor Who when the show knew how to tell a story is automatically a bad person. 3: A topic of countless marketing articles written by people who do not understand that demographic segments are not marketing segments. Compare: marketing segment.Cf., hipster, scapegoat.

“On Fleek” /adjective/ 1: I have no idea what the fuck this means. Let’s move on.

Paid Campaigns” /noun/ 1: Online direct response campaigns on third-party ad networks such as Google AdWords and Facebook. 2: A term that is used to distinguish from all other types of marketing tactics, all of which are unpaid and cost nothing in terms of money or time. 3. The source of money that is funding Google's and Facebook’s efforts to take over the world and put all of us in Matrix-like pods. Compare: direct marketing.Cf., PPC Hero, conversion rate optimization.

“Promotion Mix” /noun/ 1: One of the 4 Ps that is then itself divided into the tactics of advertising, direct marketing, sales promotions, personal selling, and public relations. 2: A set of practices that collectively aim to achieve both short-term and long-term marketing goals. 3. See “4 Ps,” definition 3.

“Search engine optimization” or “SEO” /noun/ 1. The process of getting websites found in free listings in search engines for desired queries and topics. 2. Work that involved the manipulation of search engine algorithms until Google punished it and the industry was forced to change to ethical practices. 3. A tactic that will survive until Google completely fills search results with its own products, services, and partners. Compare: search engine marketing. Cf:, monopoly.

“Silo” /noun/ 1: A department that develops its own practices and culture but is viewed as not wanting to share them with others in the company. 2: Something that a business should avoid because people who know nothing about a topic should always have input into what the company is doing in that area. 3. A reality within the marketing world that is derided by utopian executives who want cheaper, flatter management structures and everyone to live in a hippie world of peace, love, and open offices. Compare: organizational structure.Cf., Dunning–Kruger effect.

“[Something] is Dead” /statement/ 1. A cheap and obvious marketing ploy that is typically cited by someone who has no evidence and is conveniently selling the replacement. 2. The last refuge of a marketer with no imagination. 3. The clichéd text of too many marketing columns. Compare: con artist. Cf., bullshit.

(Due credit: When I had the idea for this column, I asked people on Twitter to name their own favorite marketing buzzwords for me to define. Some terms in this article were suggested by Rouser CEO JP Hanson, Wellmark head of copy Ryan Wallman, and Seattle copywriter Dan Goldgeier, who has written his own satirical take on marketing terminology.)

The Promotion Fix is an exclusive biweekly column for The Drum contributed by global marketing speaker Samuel Scott, a former journalist, newspaper editor, and director of marketing and communications in the high-tech industry. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Scott is based out of Tel Aviv, Israel.

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