Opening Acts: Double-clicking on the premise of words in IT Marketing

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I think the Opening Acts panels that we’ve hosted for the last few years as the daytime part of the VMunderground event might have become my favorite part of the day. One of the fun things we get to do with the community is decide the topics that we are going to host, and as usual, this year there were lots of great suggestions and lots of lively internal debate on which to choose.

One that stood out for me, for a number of reasons we’ll discuss, had to do with language, and specifically how marketing teams can use language in all sort of ways, both for good and for evil.

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In my experience, there are two kinds of ways that people get pedantic about language in our industry. First, there are the people who constantly correct people on the use of there/their/they’re (@millardjk), the people who lament the lack of an edit button on Twitter, and the people who freak out about the improper use of words whose spellings are close but whose meanings are completely different, like premise and premises (@ucs_dave).

The second kind of person, of which I admit to being one of, sees how the definitions of words and phrases can be deliberately and systematically changed over time. For me, this is a far worse offense, because it’s designed to deceive. Back in the day I wrote an entire blog post about this phenomena, and while it’s a much more devious use of language, it doesn’t seem to get the same level of scrutiny and scorn as the poor person who dares to use “premise” incorrectly.

In either case, language is a powerful thing, and how it’s used, where it’s used, and the patterns we create and reinforce can have a significant impact on perceptions and buying habits. If you are interested more in this idea, there’s a lot of great academic articles out there, but here’s one of my favorites.

Join us at Opening Acts to talk about language, buzzwords, bullshit, marketing and the power of words. This should be fun!

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