What is the most important work book you have ever bought? Mine was Newton’s Telecom Dictionary.
I was right at the beginning of my career and working in telecoms, where people spoke in acronyms. I would take the weighty Dictionary to meetings so I could understand what was being said.
I realised quickly that most industries speak acronym. And acronym speakers love speaking in acronym. It demonstrates their expertise and increases their credibility. It can also shortcut what could otherwise be very long conversations.
I barely used them. It slowed down my understanding of what was being said. I always unpacked acronyms whenever I heard them, and still do.
In fact, I thought I hated acronyms, but then I went to work in marketing. There, I learned about marketing speak.
My reaction was similar to reading a detailed menu in a restaurant; I’d understand all the components but would struggle to immediately understand the combination. Jargon can become so distant from its original meaning that it actually makes understanding harder.
Which is when I started asking “could you say that again but using different words?”
I’ve thought a lot about how ‘tribal’ language is and how it alienates people.
Today, I avoid marketing jargon and acronyms for a few reasons. Firstly, I can’t remember what all the terms mean and I’m more interested in the idea than the name. But primarily, when I meet with colleagues who aren’t marketers, too much marketing jargon makes them either stop listening or fake an understanding.
It may take fewer minutes to say something using marketing speak and acronyms but it will take a very long time to win back that audience.
If anyone has a marketing dictionary, do send it my way.