Is jargon really necessary?


I’ve gone back to school again. Getting a qualification in the subject I work in seemed imperative if I am to do justice to Chantal’s clients, so I’ve signed up to do the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)’s Professional Certificate of Marketing at Bracknell and Wokingham College.

After one lesson, what struck me most was the use of jargon. Marketing is absolutely stuffed full of it. Our tutor showed us a past paper of one of the exams we’ll have to do, and I could see my colleagues shifting uneasily in their seats and looking furtively at their neighbours to see if they understood the terminology. I smiled to myself, even though much of the phrases printed in front of me also seemed like gobbledigook. One of my ambitions during this course was to be able to interpret ‘marketing speak’ and relay it back in ordinary language.

So why do professions like marketing use jargon? Why is business, especially corporate, so insistent in the use of it? Why do these up and coming young bucks feel the need to spew forth volumes of the stuff in their reports – do they think it makes them look important and impressive towards their superiors?

Actually, I wonder if they themselves understand the correct meaning of this special language. Jargon can be something to hide behind, and if you’ve successfully let some fall in a board meeting, and it has been met with a favourable response by your peers, this may appear to be a boost towards your career, but did you truly understand what you actually said?

To clarify complete comprehension of your profession or industry’s language, could you describe it so that the man in the street could ‘get’ what you’re going about? Could you relay it in ‘layman’s terms’ so that your clients, who may not all be tuned in to your way of thinking, will be able to appreciate your discourse in a proper and productive manner, rather than have them think after the meeting “now what the hell did he mean?” !

Here at Appletree we pride ourselves in making great strides in explaining our marketing activities to our clients in the easiest possible way. Chantal is an expert in writing copy that succinctly describes a procedure, or delivers a concept in ordinary words that everyone can understand. There is no way we would want to alienate anybody – we want to be able to help all who come to us for advice.

I know this is difficult, as there are obvious words like ‘blogging’, ‘social networking’ and ‘Twittering’ that, to the uninitiated, can be intimidating, but it’s up to us to help these people to understand and then put them into practice to help their businesses.


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