Buzzwords are words that you don't understand the meaning of that are entering the popular lexicon, forcing you to either learn them or appear uninformed.
We latch on to buzzwords to feel cool. It's adult peer pressure. It's all about the universal desire to appear intelligent in front of others.
Where Do Buzzwords Come From?
Smart marketers recognize the power of buzzwords. In fact, in many cases, tech buzzwords are created by companies to help them with PR and marketing campaigns.
For example, maybe I own a consulting company that helps companies with software user interface design. I might coin the phrase "Mirrorization" to refer to computer software that dynamically changes its user interface based on the usage patterns of end users. I don't even have had to implement the idea. I just have to have the idea, turn it into a buzzword, and stake my claim to the buzzword.
By branding my process as an emerging buzzword, I set myself up to say down the road that "we were pioneers in mirrorization." I can put out a few PR pitches on mirrorization and be quoted in some articles. Next thing you know, I'm appearing at industry conferences and leading a panel on "The Benefits of Mirrorization."
Seriously, that's how it works. These buzzwords don't simply materialize from the ether. Every one of them is man-made….usually marketer-made to be precise.
Some buzzwords are actually new ideas. Many buzzwords, the vast majority of them I'd say, are simply repackaging of old concepts, designed to jumpstart new momentum on old ideas.
What Can Marketers Do With Buzzwords?
Bad marketers ignore buzzwords altogether. They don't even make an effort to keep current on the buzzwords that are starting to dominate conversations everywhere.
Good marketers track buzzwords and try to leverage current buzzwords for their own gain.
So, for example, they might try to establish their companies and their executives as being thought leaders in "cloud computing," a buzzword that is gaining momentum these days. By making that assertion, they suddenly become relevant to journalists who are tracking that buzzword and to prospective customers, who are eager to talk to experts who truly understand the value of the latest buzzword. In the land of buzzwords, the one-eyed man is definitely king.
Another good trick for a good marketer is to extend a buzzword. So maybe you take a trend like "virtualization" and you coin the phrase "virtualization optimization expert" or "VOE" for short. You position your tech consulting firm as the market leaders in VOE, and before you know it prospective customers are beating down your door.
But the truly GREAT marketers are the ones who coin the buzzwords in the first place. They know that if you own the phrase, you own the market -- or at least you increase your chance of being a success in the new market. The great marketers invent the buzzword and then expertly get the buzzword into the popular lexicon.
How do you promote a buzzword once you've conceived it? That's an article for another day.