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When Buzzwords Don't Create Buzz

  |  May 12, 2000   |  Comments

Have you ever had a pet project or name or theme that you really, really liked and, for whatever reason, nobody else quite got it? It happened to us here at ClickZ recently. Andy is a little embarrassed to talk about it. But hey, you might be in the same place right now. Maybe you can learn from our missteps in naming our forthcoming conference. We did and we put those lessons learned into action. Results? Lots of sign-ups for ClickZ Marketing Strategies: Integrating Online and Offline Advertising Strategies.

Have you ever had a pet project or name or theme that you really, really liked and, for whatever reason, nobody else quite got it?

It happened to us here at ClickZ recently...

Ever since Seth Godin coined "permission marketing," there have been a zillion permutations of "this marketing" and "that marketing," and I'll confess, we got caught up in the coinage frenzy too.

We have a conference coming up in June that will focus on integrating your online and offline marketing strategies so that in all your messaging you are consistent: You've got a cohesive approach to your marketing regardless of the medium and you can choose the best capability of each medium and avoid its weaknesses...

So as we planned this conference, we were calling it "surround-sound marketing" for purposes of internal discussions and early disclosures to potential attendees and sponsors. After a while, we got feedback that this sounded a bit like an audio or MP3 conference.

So we struggled and struggled to find a term that would convey the idea.

Ultimately, we came up with "immersion marketing."

Well, we got a whole bunch of phone calls from folks who were interested, but a bit confused. We ended up having to explain what "immersion marketing" was over and over and over again.

So outside of our select circle, nobody knew what the heck we were talking about until we explained it. It's not like we have a book and a major movement like "permission marketing" does to promote the idea behind the name. Hey, we may have been advocating drowning or frequent baptisms for all anyone knew, right?

This was getting to be a bit high-maintenance, so we finally decided that we needed to be straightforward in our naming and not be so cutesy.

So we renamed the conference... ClickZ Marketing Strategies: Integrating Online and Offline Advertising Strategies.

Nothing fancy, but it says exactly what we'll be talking about in New York next month.

And we followed this up with a mailing to our readers explaining what the conference was about.

Result? Lots and lots of sign-ups. No more questions. People get it.

I feel a little embarrassed talking about a mistake, to be honest with you... but hey, you might be in the same situation right now. Maybe you can learn from our missteps.

What lessons could you learn from this? I'll try to summarize:

  1. Don't get too attached to any particular idea or project. Have the courage to change it if you need to.

  2. The beauty of being online is that you can do so very quickly and at very little cost.

  3. Don't try to be too cute or to coin a new buzzword. Unless you've got a zillion in the bank stashed away to fund a worldwide branding campaign for your new buzzword, you may find trying to do so is a waste of energy and resources.

  4. When you make a mistake, admit it and correct it. Your audience will most likely appreciate you for it.

  5. Once you've done so, you will find you have vast stores of energy available to move forward with drive and purpose.

One last thing: Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself! It's only business...

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Andy Bourland

Andy Bourland was cofounder and former publisher and CEO of ClickZ. He and Ann Handley launched the site in 1997 and sold it three years later to INT Media Group. In columns he wrote for ClickZ from 1998 to 2002, Andy provided practical advice to online marketers and publishers alike, frequently weaving in takeaways from real-life on- and offline experiences. Andy launched his own blog, Bourland.com, in 2005, continuing to write about online marketing up until his disclosure that he was facing a terminal illness. He died Feb. 16, 2009, at the age of 53.

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