7 phrases that make marketers look outdated

Now that almost everyone has a smartphone, builds relationships online, and markets digitally, certain utterances are giveaways that you’re not the cyber hepcat you think you are.

Ever feel like the old guy at the bar? It inevitably happens to you post-college if you continue to frequent the same pubs.

My advice: Embrace it. Be the old guy at the bar. Not caring can be empowering.

Being the old guy at the watering hole of marketing is decidedly not cool, though. “Outdated” is the direct predecessor to “unemployed” in our industry. My advice: Don’t embrace that. Fight it. Learn to recognize the warning signs that your old way of thinking is—well—old.

A lot of these warning signs can be found in your everyday language—little phrases that signify beliefs or attitudes that just aren’t keeping pace.

Here are some that make me cringe almost daily:

‘Sent from my iPhone.’

I’m starting with the one that’s going to spark the most protest, I imagine. We all see this little tag on countless emails throughout the day, to the point where it’s become almost as ubiquitous as email signatures themselves.

There are many variations, of course, but the thrust behind them all is the same: “Hey, please pardon my brevity or typos. I’m tech-savvy enough to be working on the go, and I think you are important enough to receive a reply before I get back to my computer.”

The “Sent from my mobile device” tag once served its purpose. Frankly, that purpose has expired. The idea that working from a mobile device is an excuse to be sloppy or a sign that you’re on the cutting edge of technology is no longer valid.

Today’s devices, if you’re buying the right ones and using them correctly, enable our offices to travel in our pockets. Working on the go is not an excuse; you have no excuse not to work on the go.

If you can’t figure out how to turn off that default “Sent from my iPhone” tag, then you have even bigger problems related to being outdated.

‘Pleased to e-meet you.’

I know this might seem like nitpicking, but if you’re emailing phrases like this to newly introduced contacts, you’d better reframe your thinking.

You don’t “e-meet” someone; you just “meet” them. It’s a digital world, and just because you don’t shake hands with someone doesn’t mean you don’t have a real relationship with them. They’re not “virtual.” There’s a real person at the end of that email, and some of your closest business partners might never see your face.

I’m not saying it’s not valuable to have face time with people. It absolutely is. Picking up the phone or setting up a Google Hangout is also a great idea from time to time. My point is that you shouldn’t sell the relationship short just because it wasn’t forged in person.

‘We’re one of the fastest-growing [fill in the blank]s.’

If you use phrases like the above when describing your company, obviously you think “fastest-growing” is a good thing. It probably feels like it is. Growth is good, right? More money, more power. But as Biggie taught us, it also means more (mo’) problems.

If this industry—with its many ups and downs—has taught us anything, it’s that “fastest-growing” doesn’t always win the race. The best companies in this industry are strategic and cautious in their growth. Grabbing at every dollar within reach can result in unsustainable businesses—ones that eventually disappoint clients and have to lay off a lot of previously optimistic and qualified employees.

A more impressive claim would be, “We’re one of the most fiscally sound [fill-in-the-blank]s.” At least then we know you’ll be here tomorrow.

‘We just want the link.’

I’m not saying links are bad. Now that search marketing has become a given, most marketers understand that links from reputable sites or publications can be great for your SEO strategy.

If you’re still spending a lot of your time cruising the Web and asking for backlinks wherever you think you can get them—or worse, using shady tactics to score those links—you should pause a moment and come to terms with the reality of 2014.

Links aren’t as valuable as they once were. Value is valuable. Google and the other search engines (whatever those are) aren’t fooled by the linking strategy you employed way back in 2011. So you’re going to have to start working for those SEO boosts, and that’s likely going to require some significant investment in content marketing.

‘Any press is good press.’

Argue with me on this one all you want. The notion that even bad publicity is good for a brand has been up for debate since publicity was invented.

Plenty of marketers will still point to sales boosts that occur following even a tarnishing incident in the press. But if you think CEO scandals, social media slipups, and the occasional “accidental” nip slip are the way to get your brand the attention it deserves these days, you have to get with the times.

It’s the era of corporate responsibility, Jack. The Internet has a memory like you wouldn’t believe, and consumers these days are giving their long-term dollars to the brands that make them feel good about themselves and the world they live in.

‘We have [insert insanely large number] of followers on [insert social network of choice].’

Amassing fans is the easy part. Keeping them engaged and turning them into loyalists is the hard part—but that’s ultimately what matters.

So don’t tell me how many followers you have. Tell me about what you’re doing with those followers.

‘I’m in digital marketing.’

No, you’re not. You’re just in “marketing” now. The “digital” part is implied at this point. Even if you’re making TV commercials or a spectacular fashion ad spread for the next issue of Vogue, you should be thinking about how that effort plays online and via mobile.

If you’re still calling yourself a “digital marketer,” don’t feel bad. Just drop that first word and be happy. You’re playing with the big boys now, and you should command respect. There’s no reason to pigeonhole yourself. You always knew your skillset was the future of marketing—and that future is here.

Have any outdated phrases to add?

Drew Hubbard is a social media and content marketing strategist and owner of Foodie Content Studios. A version of this article first appeared at iMediaConnection.


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