An analysis of Gobbledygook
This article has been inspired by David Meerman Scott’s excellent book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR which we recently read, and strongly recommend.
Do the words scalable, world-class, robust, easy to use, flexible and next generation sound familiar to you? Have you ever gotten bored of these redundant and extremely standardized phrases? If so, it’s hardly surprising as these adjectives are likely to be found on most marketing websites nowadays.
David Meerman, with the help of Factivia (from Dow Jones), conducted an analysis on approximately 388,000 news releases in a nine-month period and found that over a fifth of them contained at least one of these words; the winner being ‘next generation’ which had been used 9,895 times!
Meerman used the term gobbledygook for these overused words. According to the OED, gobbledygook (or gobbledegook) is “language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of technical terms”.
How did we get to such poor writing?
To Meerman, it can be summed up in a few words: “marketers don’t understand buyers, the problems buyers face or how their product helps solve these problems. That’s where the gobbledygook happens.”
By not using a closer approach to the buyer, these companies deprive themselves of the opportunity to convince people that their product is the right thing to buy. Also, it doesn’t make any of them stand out from the crowd.
The phrases above denote the vocabulary used by a certain kind of business; but, the lesson is for all types of companies.
“Avoid the insular jargon of your company and your industry. Instead, write for your buyers”, Meerman declared.