Content Marketing

21 Marketing Terms to Impress/Annoy Your Colleagues

snobI was sitting at home catching up on some reading tonight. I’m a pretty simple guy so whenever I hit some new terminology, I often click over to Wikipedia to figure out what the heck I’m reading. I’m also getting up there in years… so after I read what it is, I roll my eyes and go back to reading.

The reason I roll my eyes is that authors (especially marketing authors) always feel compelled to have to invent new words for us to learn and to replace the old, boring words. I suppose it makes them feel smarter while we retreat to inadequacy.

Here are some of those terms:

  1. Paid Media – We used to call this advertising.
  2. Earned Media – We used to call this word-of-mouth.
  3. Owned Media – We used to call this public relations.
  4. Traffic – We used to call this circulation or viewership.
  5. Gamification – We used to call this reward, loyalty, badge or point systems. Boy Scout badges are circa 1930, this isn’t new folks.
  6. Engagement – We used to call this reading, listening, or viewing (and later… commenting)
  7. Content Marketing – We used to call this writing.
  8. Call-to-Action – we used to call this a banner ad. Just because it was on our own site, didn’t mean we needed a new name.
  9. Acceleration – we used to call this promotion.
  10. Graph – (eg. Social Graph) we used to just explain this as relationships.
  11. Authority – we used to call that popularity.
  12. Optimize – we used to call this improving.
  13. Curation – we used to call this organizing.
  14. Scorecards – we used to call these dashboards.
  15. Analytics – we used to call these reports.
  16. Updated: Personas – we used to call these segments based on behavioral or demographic profiles that data providers developed.
  17. Infographics – we used to call these pictographs, sometimes data illustrations, or posters. We’d hang the cool ones in our cubicles (er.. workstations).
  18. Verbiage – we used to call those words.
  19. Whitepaper – we just called those papers. They only came in white.
  20. Humanization – we didn’t used to call that anything.. we used to have to answer the phone or the door in person.
  21. Added: Context Marketing – We used to call this dynamic or targeted content.

There are some other great words, too… hybrid, fusion, velocity, democratization, cross-channel, templatize, aggregation, syndication, acceleration…

These guys need to back off the Google+, get some sleep, and dumbify it down to the 8th grade vocabulary we actually remember. Why is there this need by humans to always change? Perhaps calling it by something new means that we’ve somehow evolved? (I don’t buy it, do you?).

I think most companies still struggle with simple branding or graduating from a crappy website, never mind a hybrid accelerated earned media campaign whose velocity is amplified by humanized engagement.

In all honesty, I suppose I’m guilty, too. I have a new media agency, not a marketing firm. It’s truly more of an inbound marketing agency… but I gambled that there will always be new media, but inbound might be replaced by some stupid new term like acute.

You know, as opposed to obtuse.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

Related Articles


  1. Except I thought “content marketing” was “selling writing.” Or more specifically “selling stuff that was already written.”

    I hate to admit it, but I have used at least 7 of these 1) without thinking about it or 2) with a completely straight face.

  2. THis article made me smile, been using some of these terms for years and some not at all… yet! Segmentation and market segments has always been a marketing term surely.. certainly one that I’ve been using for the past 20 years anyway!

    1. Hi Paula!

      I remember when behavioral types were invented and we simply did “queries” and customized the campaigns to those ‘types’. I can’t remember calling it segmentation back then – although it may have been around! Then later we called them “personas”… maybe that would have been a better one to list!


      1. Thanks Douglas, my fave in the new list has to be Authority replacing Popularity, just gives a whole new meaning of depth of knowledge, which may or may not be the case of course, but sounds great! 🙂

  3. Job hunting is viewed as a marketing campaign, not applying for a job. I didn’t see “personal branding” which used to be called “qualifications” when referring to a prospective job candidate. Everyone today has a “brand” which used to be their “identity” or “key skills” or “top strengths.” Oh, another one is “marketing documents” formerly called a resume or a bio now also referred to as an “[online] profile.” A “job” is an “opportunity” and a “problem” is a “challenge.” “Personnel” morphed into “human resources” that transformed into “talent acquisition.” And so it goes…..

  4. I was meeting with an agent yesterday who has an interest in blogging and online marketing. She told me I talk just like the people who set up her blog site. Go me to thinking about where my real passion is……marketing. I guess after reading so much info on marketing related topics, you just pick up the vocabulary without noticing it.

  5. Great article and so true about people thinking things ‘need’ to evolve. It seems that it’s in people’s nature to relate innovation with everything being new and improved – apparently this includes vocabulary. Another good one listed by an article from socialmediatoday was “synergy” now replacing “teamwork.” (

  6. Hey Doug,
    One blowhard consultant I cross paths with likes to use the word ‘bifurcation’ in every third sentence. Can’t just say ‘then we split them into two groups.’ I guess you can charge more when people don’t understand you.
    I would take issue with ‘call to action.’ I have copywriting books from the 1920’s that have chapters dedicated to crafting compelling calls to action. Anyone who is using it as synonymous to ‘banner ad’ lacks a serious marketing background.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.