Words and Meaning: The Power of Alignment

Suzanne Lowe from Expertise Marketing has a great piece in her June newsletter on the importance of developing a common lexicon for marketing and business development in professional service firms.

Pointing to common misunderstandings between business leaders and partners, on the one hand, and marketers and business developers on the other, about such basic terms as "return on investment," Lowe suggests that PS firms would be well served by investing some time in building common understanding.

Most important, she says, is defining marketing and business development "up" to a more expansive and strategic view:

For example, why should the term "marketing only connote the limited activities of, let's say, "building awareness," or "sales support?" Shouldn't the term "marketing be understood to also include targeting and segmentation? Pricing? Client loyalty? In many professional firms, marketing does not mean these latter terms, only the former.

To which I can only say, Amen.

It's not just professional service firms, of course. Many of the technology firms we work with suffer from the same problems: confusion over key terms and meanings, and a general defining "down" of what marketing is all about. And now that we're all trying to sort out the tangled terms of Web 2.0/social media/social networking/social web/marketing 2.0, the language problem is only getting worse.

But all is not lost, and Lowe is right to suggest that lexiconical alignment (if there is such a phrase!) can be a powerful force.

Just consider the confusion around the word "solutions." If marketing is often misunderstood, the "S" word is subject to near-universal confusion. For companies that have taken the time to work through a solutions lexicon and taxonomy, however, the benefits have been substantial.

As it has been with solutions, so it can be with "marketing." In Lowe's own words, "New understandings of terms will foster practitioners' ability to grow the 'right' revenues, gain meaningful market share, and optimally serve clients."

What do you think?

Photo credit: greebile

Note: Cross-posted with Reputation to Revenue

Comments (1)

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