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How Defense Contractors Can Avoid Marketing Gobbledygook

Defense contractors who avoid marketing gobbledygook can quickly differentiate themselves, increase demand for their products and services, and get more ink from journalists.

Marketing gobbledygook is prevalent in the defense sector. Especially in defense industry marketing.

To ridicule the industry's love of jargon, defense contractor MAV6 (in its Edgefighter blog) offered an ad template for defense contractors:

“Rogue nations, failed states, terrorists, the Democratic Party

The threats confronting our nation are real, and they demand real solutions.

At <insert company name>, we develop mission-focused capabilities to help our Warfighters project power to the edge and achieve full spectrum dominance on land, at sea, and in the air.

<insert company name>’s integrated <insert product or technology name> systems deliver dominant battlespace awareness and provide a decisive advantage in the detection, identification, and mitigation of the most lethal threats – protecting those who protect us.

At <insert company name>, even if we do forget who we are working for, we never forget who’s paying the bills…”

In "The Gobbledygook Manifesto" ebook, marketing guru and author David Meerman Scott (along with Factiva, a division of Dow Jones) analyzed 388,000 news releases to find the prevalence of gobbledygook phrases (as suggested by leading journalists, PR professionals and Scott).

Approximately 20% of the releases included gobbledygook phrases.  The most popular gobbledygook phrase was "next generation."

Other high-scoring gobbledygook phrases included:

  • World class
  • Cutting edge
  • Mission critical
  • Groundbreaking
  • Best of breed
  • Interoperable

Meerman explains that Gobbledygook happens because writers are more familiar with the product than with how the product solves a problem.

Because these writers don’t understand how their products solve customer problems, they cover by explaining how the product works and pepper this blather with industry jargon.

Instead, companies should write with the buyer in mind.

Your buyers (and the media that cover your company) want to know what specific problems your product solves, and they want proof that it works—in plain language. Your marketing and PR is meant to be the beginning of a relationship with buyers and to drive action (such as generating sales leads), which requires a focus on buyer problems. Your buyers want to hear this in their own words.

Below is a SlideShare version of "The Gobbledygook Manifesto" (or click here for a PDF version).

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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