5 Buzzwords Marketers Should Retire in 2018

January 3, 2018 Kathy Bryan

Marketers have been known to needlessly reinvent the wheel to ensure we’re at the bleeding edge of the growth hacking movement. Why? Perhaps because our virtual vacations are just not relaxing enough, and our storytellers did not provide the needed entertainment.



The English language is constantly evolving. In fact, according to Science magazine, “Some linguists think of language as a living thing: It grows and changes, and every time a child learns it, the language reproduces itself.”

Similar to biologic evolution, some English language adaptations survive from generation to generation while others come to a quick end. Buzzwords are often hasty to come and go, but the cycle is not always fast enough.

For our collective and successful launch into 2018, we’ve researched buzzwords the industry appears to dislike. This post includes four buzzwords others have flagged for retirement. We have also nominated a fifth word we believe should be removed from business communications. Even if we cannot eliminate these words from our marketing vocabulary, we propose a drastic reduction in their use will result in more concise and effective conversations. And isn’t that really the purpose for all this jargon?

#1 Buzzword to Retire in 2018: Storyteller

This year, Ad Age suggests marketers stop calling themselves “storytellers.” Though copywriters can be authors, the roles they play are very different. As Ad Age explains, “No matter how ‘authentic’ and ‘snackable’ your content, no matter how many Insta followers your influencers have, and no matter how robust your ‘learnings,’ it’s not a story. It’s an ad.”

#2 Buzzword to Retire in 2018: Growth Hacking

People seem to be hacking all things all of the time, but “growth hacking” might be the worst of the words that are working to break the rules in the name of success. “Growth hacking,” one of Inc. magazine’s 25 worst buzzwords of 2017, seems to imply a strategy that is smarter, better, cooler and newer than all others. But the buzzword provides no insight into what the strategy may be. Indeed, “growth hacking” seems to mean only, “come up with something that helps us beat the competition.” And there’s nothing new or insightful about that.

#3 Buzzword to Retire in 2018: Virtual Vacation

According to DMNews, a “virtual vacation” is needed “when you have been spending so much time in virtual reality that you need to take a break.” But here’s the thing. A virtual vacation isn’t a real vacation. It’s a separation from cyber space. And with only 23% of U.S. employees using all their vacation days, virtual vacations are also lame. Let’s sacrifice “virtual vacations” and start taking real vacations. I promise it will be good for everyone.

#4 Buzzword to Retire in 2018: Bleeding Edge

Forbes magazine hypothesized that the term “bleeding edge” was authored when “someone decided that his product or service was so cutting edge that a new term needed to be created.” Meanwhile, the definition of “cutting edge” is “the most advanced or innovative position.”

So if “cutting edge” is the most advanced and “bleeding edge” is even more advanced, perhaps it is yet to be invented?

#5 Buzzword to Retire in 2018: Reinvent the WheelBuzzword Cloud - Reinvent the Wheel

We are nominating “reinvent the wheel” as a buzzphrase marketers should stop using in 2018. Most commonly, we suggest people should not reinvent the wheel. However, many (most?) great inventions come from people who sought better ways to “build a better mousetrap.” (See what we did there?)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with buzzwords. One could argue they are a necessary evil in the business world. But not all buzzwords were created equally. Some buzzwords are exactly what you need to communicate your message. Others don’t mean much of anything and their use navigates your audience away from your point. So choose your buzzwords wisely.

Do you have a buzzword you’d like retired? Email marketing@thedmsgrp.com to let us know.

About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

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