There’s a reason why half of Americans say they don’t trust advertisements and 60% have a negative opinion of marketing. The usual suspects are exaggeration, hype or flat-out misinformation and lies. Or it could be on account of confusion and frustration from trying to decipher vague, meaningless language. We’re all guilty of that charge. Just think of how many times you’ve talked or written about (or seen others refer to) marketing efforts.
To this end, I’m putting a moratorium on the word “efforts.” Or, even better, a full-scale ban. I want you to try something: Pay close attention to the next handful of marketing communication pieces you read. Count the number of times the word “efforts” is used in reference to “your marketing efforts.” In other words, the things you do as a marketer. This scourge has infected the world, and nobody is immune. Even great sources of marketing wisdom I respect (no names, please) are guilty of this sin against language.
The word ‘effort(s)’ appears in almost every item of marketing communication I read or edit on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times. Simply put, it is overused by everybody in the marketing industry. Please stop using this word when writing about marketing activities. 99% of the time, the way we marketers use it conveys no meaning and makes us look unimaginative. And the last thing a marketer wants to be is unimaginative or unclear.
What could we say instead? Try leaving well enough alone: Often ‘marketing’ itself suffices. Sometimes less is more. Although if you really need to emphasize a marketing process or the course of doing things, you could try referring to marketing ‘activities,’ ‘endeavors,’ or ‘tools’— describing the thing itself without saying ‘efforts’ works, too, e.g:
Fathom’s sales and marketing
[efforts] are strong because the department has worked hard to create efficiency and accountability for shared goals among the staff.
We don’t need to say ‘efforts’ in the preceding sentence, even though everybody else in this business does. If you want to be clearer in your communication, distinguish your writing, and impress your boss, stop using the word “efforts” in relation to marketing activities. It’s a weak word, one that’s not appropriate for the strong marketers that I know the people in this audience to be.
Marketers of the world, unite and stand up strong! Together we can make the effort to be economical with our language.