It may be pervasive among among industry analysts, keynote speakers and best-selling business book authors, but 32 per cent B2B marketers say the use of jargon like “disruption” could make them question or doubt a vendor.
The survey of approximately 1,000 U.S. B2B marketers, which was conducted by Propeller Insights for San Francisco-based tech PR firm Bospar, was conducted earlier this Fall. Overall, 88 per cent of those surveyed said jargon was a problem in the kind of marketing messages they receive.
Disruption’s path to becoming a staple of business jargon is generally attributed to management therorist and Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, who used “disruptive innovation” in books like The Innovator’s Dilemma about why some established firms fail to recognize new competitors and technologies. Three years ago, however, Christenson admitted in the Harvard Business Review that disruption was applied by the startup community and others in ways he never intended.
The Bospar research showed disruption was not that far ahead of other well-known terms and jargon that can be read in countless B2B marketing materials. This includes “bleeding edge,” which was cited by 30 per cent and is still sometimes applied to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. “Best in class” and “industry leading,” which are often applied near-universally by many B2B martech vendors, were called out by 29 and 26 per cent respectively.
Bospar, which used the research to highlight the need for PR services, is not alone in warning B2B marketers against jargon, of course. A blog post published last month by B2B marketing consultancy New North in Frederick, MD, for instance, said arcane terminology shouldn’t even be used when customers are as sophisticated as those working in managed service provider companies.
“Don’t hope to impress customers with language they won’t understand. Instead, impress them with how much you understand them,” the post said. “The reality is that jargon varies so much from organization to organization – and even from department to department inside of an organization – that it’s always better to speak in plain terms than to risk fanciful obscurity.”
While jargon may be better expected in certain assets such as white papers or data sheets, the Bospar study also showed that B2B marketers are prioritizing channels that tend to be less formal and more conversational in nature. Four out of 10 respondents, for instance, or 39 per cent, said social media would be the biggest driver of their corporate communications strategy in the next five years.