11 June, 2018 - 10:08 By Richard Taylor, Managing Director, Simpsons Creative

Don’t try to understand us – we’re a communications company!

Isn’t it ironic that an industry whose business is communications is so given to obfuscation?  I refer of course to the marketing profession, of which I am sometimes ashamed to be a member, in much the same way as a British holidaymaker abroad may be ashamed of his rowdier compatriots.

I suppose every trade has its private language designed to exclude and delude outsiders, but when communication is your business, there really is no excuse for it, and in sheer desperation I’m tempted to resort to a shame and tell exposé.

The following extract is from a lead article in a top advertising journal, reporting on a senior agency appointment.  To protect the guilty, some names have been changed, but they know they are!

Extract: ‘Agency X has created a new national leadership role to help deliver positive customer experiences and ‘return on experience’ for its clients’
Translation:  We’ve got a new manager. This will be good for our clients.
Extract: “This appointment will strengthen our national leadership team as we deliver on our strategy of client-obsessed value creation and ‘return on experience’
Translation:  This will strengthen our team. Which will also be good for our clients 
Extract: “He will apply his insight to closing the ‘expectation gap’ by satisfying the tension between what people want and what brands need to create – connected experiences that drive human and business outcomes.  The ‘return on experience framework will be a key indicator of success”
Translation: He will give clients what they want.  He’s quite good at this.

Top marks for not only trotting out the usual clichés but embellishing them: Agency X are not merely ‘client-oriented’ (frankly any company that isn’t shouldn’t be in business), but they are ‘client-obsessed’.  I shouldn’t be at all surprised if they stalked them. Actually, in a digital sense, they probably do of course!

They have also improved on the usual promise to ‘exceed customer expectations’ (a game of diminishing returns I should have thought) by offering to ‘close the expectation gap’.

But the best is yet to come.  Brand X has, I think, invented their own bit of gobbledegook with the expression ‘Return on Experience’ and they mention it a lot. They’ve even turned it into an acronym (ROE).  This is a twist, I suppose, on Return on Equity, and Return on Engagement (both terms people actually understand), if a rather feeble one. Why couldn’t they just say their customers would profit from their experience?

Well, I guess that would have run the risk of being understood. And once your clients’ think they’re as clever as you are, you really are on the slippery slope!


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