The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Microsoft Business Media

Ten language uses marketers should shelve

By Adrian Cutler

July 29, 2019 | 8 min read

In this article I plan to challenge the language we use as a media industry but also, in business generally that we should just shelve. Even that concept of putting something on a metaphorical shelf as if it's now out of reach is absurd. If it is on a shelf, I can just reach up to my imaginary shelf and take it off at any given moment, if I tried really hard to put it out of reach and up on the highest shelf, I can just get my imaginary step ladder and get it down no problem.


Ten language uses we should shelve

We find ourselves 'teaching' new people this language and before you know it, it is the norm.

Reverse mentoring

Without a doubt the first and most important one. Does it by some connotation decide that because I have years of experience, or some illusion of seniority, that the only way I can learn something new from someone with less knowledge of the industry, experience or years on me is by reversing mentoring? Mentoring is mentoring, you have knowledge in something new or current that I do not have, I would like you to be my mentor and guide me as I learn, please.

Daily doers

Sometimes referred to those that are not C Suite, senior management or middle management. Does this mean that the only people doing things daily are those not in management or leaders? I have spent 20+ years managing teams and as a leader, I can tell you I still have to do a lot on a daily basis.


Used to describe those of CxO level in a company, CEO, CMO etc. Let's look at the definitions of Suite on

"A set of rooms designated for one person's or family's use or for a particular purpose."

"A suite of reception rooms"

"A set of coordinating furniture."

"There is plenty of space for a dining table and a three-piece suite"

"A set of instrumental compositions, originally in dance style, to be played in succession."

"A group of people in attendance on a monarch or other person of high rank."

"The Royal Saloon was built for the use of the Queen and her suite"

" A set of computer programs with a uniform design and the ability to share data."

"A group of minerals, rocks, or fossils occurring together and characteristic of a location or period."

"Potassic rock suites are a characteristic feature of the area"

What is wrong with just referring to the collection as CxO or senior / executive management?

CxO acronyms

Okay so most are fine with CEO and when writing things down, this seems fine but bear in mind those new to the industry or new to business may not be familiar with a CMO, CTO, CDO, CIO, COO, CFO, CSO, CPO. Let's just say the full title to avoid any confusion, chief digital officer, chief strategy officer (not chief security officer as someone asked me once), chief performance officer, it goes on.

Acronyms, generally

I have often worked with clients that give you a beautiful glossary of terms that they use. Thank you for making it double-sided and laminating, it looks really nice and I have zero chance of staining it with coffee but if I need to be trained on how you speak, write emails and will chat to me through Teams, how much time are we both wasting when I can just get stuck into knowing what your business really does and how I can help? Code is fine if you are in a country security team such as the CIA, MI5 or MI6 but in business, we should not have to translate every time we communicate.

Keep me honest

AHHHHHH! A personal gripe of mine used to denote the need for another in the room or on a call/chat with someone that is familiar with my topic, to check I am providing all the correct facts as I may not have confidence in all that I am saying. I still have a solid point to make or information that could be relevant to share. This is fine in principle, as we cannot remember everything about everything, we are human and that’s just fine but, does it mean that we really need someone to step in because I am generally speaking things that are not true? We should revert to, I may not have the full facts, keep me accountable. Much better!


Used to explain that I have a hang-up about something or that it is irritating to me. Okay, back to the search results. a cause of obsessive fear, anxiety, or irritation.

"The biggest villain is that adman's bugbear, saturated fat"

An imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them.

Just wow, right, moving on...

Static/steady state

Often referred to as the place after a restructure in business to allow everyone to adjust to the new way to do business. I mean, come on! What message are we sending to the people involved in the reshuffle, that we are okay with just staying still? A growth mindset is continuous growth, words have power and can set a culture in place that is the right fit for any culture, or not.

Over index

Now, this is a real great one, used to explain that you are leaning in more heavily or working harder on something to showcase a thing or, error correct for the opposite of what you are trying to achieve, with me? I will explain in a way that is just downright embarrassing. I found myself using the term to describe how a client was spending more than the market share because they saw the value. Now, this makes perfect sense, there is an index of expected client advertising spend based on the opportunity that exists. Here is the kicker, in talking to my father in law about how my toddler daughter would not always eat a full meal at every meal, Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I said "Jess will just over-index at a later one or even the next day if she hasn’t had much to eat". Blank stares ensued and he said, "I am pleased I have recently retired as I don’t think I could talk to anyone anymore in business". No Dad, I have thought about it and it's me, not you.

Those reading this that are detail-oriented would have noticed yet, I have only shared nine. This point had not escaped me, you are still in safe hands. Ten just seemed like a more round number than nine so let me finish off with a term that I hope always stays in the media industry and business generally.

Rhythm of business

A wonderful phrase put into practice to explain what the regular cadence is of meetings, reporting, and accountability. Just the phrase conjures up musical flowing poetry of a business, let's keep this one please, but not the acronym, ROB.

If you enjoyed reading this half as much as I enjoyed writing it and you have some to add that I have not included, please do reply. Let's make the media industry and business in general just easier for all and stop language being the blocker to communication, it was never intended for such, otherwise, we should just switch to only communicating with emoticons and emojis as our preferred language, it worked pretty well for Ancient Egypt after all.

Together we grow.

Adrian Cutler is director, global agency at Microsoft.

Microsoft Business Media

More from Microsoft

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +