It's a good thing I ended up in credit union marketing.

The Marketspeak Menace

–As an advertising copy writer, I’m a failure. I’m incapable of  writing fluff, and I’m not much of a spin doctor. I doubt I’ll ever get rich writing gushy catalog copy or political doubletalk.

In short, I just can’t spew marketspeak worth a hoot.

It’s a good thing I ended up in credit union marketing. At the bottom of it all, we’re working with simple, positive, and powerful truths. Once you get those across in a believable way, the rest is almost easy. Credit unions don’t need marketspeak.

Here’s an example of anonymous marketspeak blather from the home page of a real business web site. Does this paragraph give you any idea what this company actually does (or why, or how)?

“BlahBiz is a client-centered enterprise consistently providing quality services and products to our customers by maintaining unquestionable levels of integrity and honesty in all business, company, and community interactions. Team members contribute significantly to BlahBiz’s creativity and through their efforts, BlahBiz is able to gain synergistic advantages towards customer satisfaction. Continued company growth is attained through pursuit of opportunities, dedication to its employees and commitment to a diversified workforce from the local community.”

Still awake? Or worse, did it give you flashbacks from your credit union’s last Annual Report? Has marketspeak infested your web site? Do you have a mission or vision statement written by a committee that sounds exactly like that?

Be honest — have you ever used the word “synergistic” in a non-mocking manner?

The real danger of marketspeak is simple – it looks like you’re lying.

It’s shifty. Marketspeak is sometimes a way to avoid telling the truth, or a stretch to make it sound more important, but it’s usually just an admission the writer (or, quite often, the committee writing a piece) doesn’t clearly know what their organization is trying to do or say.

Marketspeak is also a way to avoid taking responsibility.

Which is why it inevitably pops up when you have a committee working on writing or editing — it seems so much safer and easier to take the bland, sanitized way out, a little at a time. In large organizations, the call of marketspeak is nearly impossible to ignore.

Now contemplate this semi-random excerpt from a credit union’s web site. They’re not an iDiz client and I didn’t write this, but it’s a great example of how much more believable and powerful it is to just plainly tell the truth. Use simple, real words, and explain what the heck you’re up to:

 “…everyone has lots of other things they would rather be doing instead of banking. For this reason, ________ Credit Union is committed to keeping it simple for you. Consequently, we have chosen “Keeping It Simple” as part of our credit union logo. We know that you want your banking to be simple and convenient, and you want to be treated special at a place that is comfortable and secure. Great products and services just aren’t enough to entice you to change financial institutions. However, excellent service and keeping your financial tasks simple are. Our promise to you, as a member of________ Credit Union, is to keep your banking simple.”

Personally, I’d tweak a few things in this paragraph, but never mind that — it’s still a great example of explaining something unique about this credit union in clear, simple terms.

Marketspeak simply doesn’t work with credit unions.

You have real benefits to talk about, and a real and important story to tell. Just tell it.

Brian Wringer

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