The core of marketing is communication, so anything that begins to degrade your communications by increasing noise and decreasing signal should be avoided. One of the biggest challenges in this regard is the fact that marketing communications start out with a handicap because people by default expect to have to engage the baloney filter. To the degree that you can avoid the baloney factor altogether, you can find that direct and honest communications can be disarming in an age of overblown hype.
One area where I have seen linguisitc inflation taking hold is in the creation and sharing of content marketing material. People are creating their blog posts, whitepapers, etc, and with everyone vying for attention online, it has become increasingly common to engage in over-cranked rhetoric in order to get an audience to look.
The overcranked rhetoric I mention often manifests as the overuse of superlative promissory statements. If you spend any time on social media, I’m sure you’ve seen them:
There’s a little extra jalapeño on these examples - inspired by some of the most dramatic examples I've seen - in order to make the point, but you get the idea. Let’s step back for a moment, and look at what we’re really talking about here. Played out across all of the blogs, feeds, and emails that are using these… is each piece of content actually some sort of earth-shattering moment in human achievement that warrants such glorious, breathless description? Ummm no. So what’s going on?
I’ve noted before that because of its complex, ever-changing and technological nature, the web can be a swirling vortex of herd behavior. In this case, it’s like a room full of people broken up into groups and having several conversations at once. As the ambient noise level rises, those speaking get louder to overcome it. Pretty soon, everyone is practically shouting. The problem is, that in our communications, people want to stand out by adding emphasis through making things punchier.
BUT WHEN EVERYTHING IS GIVEN STRONG EMPHASIS, THE END RESULT IS NOTHING HAS EMPHASIS, AND THE NON-EMPHASIZING EMPHASIS IS JUST FATIGUING. KIND OF LIKE SETTING YOUR WEBSITE’S COPY IN ALL CAPS. MAN, I HAVE A HEADACHE ALREADY.
If you think you need to keep up with the Joneses by ratcheting up your rhetoric, resist the urge because it has a negative effect on your marketing’s signal-to-noise ratio. Since your every move doesn’t necessarily warrant a trumpet blast and choirs of angels, packaging it as if it does in an effort to break through the crowd does two negative things for you:
The net effect is that of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. People just stop believing you, and then when you actually have something truly remarkable to say, there’s no room to move to make it stand out. Your emphasis is already at the max.
Put down the megaphone and engage in a way that engenders trust by focusing your communications, while using appropriate levels of emphasis. What people want is value and relevance. If you can unplug the hype and just target what they need to hear, you’ll be surprised at how the urge to get “louder” is progressively overcome. And don’t forget that in doing this, you reduce the filtering your audience has to do, and you free them up to listen more closely. Do this, and the net effect is that you increase the value of your marketing currency.