Digital Straight Talk… How to make the complicated simple

Pulse Issue 8 2021

"Digital Straight Talk… How to make the complicated simple"

If there’s one thing the pharmaceutical sector, the marketing profession and the digital discipline have in common, it’s an excess of jargon. This means practitioners become particularly prone to confusing their customers when they use buzzwords and digital waffle to make a sale.

As an industry, we need to make the complicated simple.

We’ve all met countless people who have overused buzzwords just to make themselves seem knowledgeable. Don’t fall into that trap. Here are some tips to help.

1. Acronym Addict

Signature trait: TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)

You’ll hear: SEO (search engine optimisation), SEM (search engine marketing), CRM (customer relationship management), CRO (conversion rate optimisation)

They mean: Strategies to make customers find and engage with your brand and how much that engagement costs you.

Stage an intervention by asking questions that require direct and acronym-free answers. Try:

> What are the outcomes of this strategy/campaign?

> How has this affected awareness/sales/referrals?

> How would you describe our return on investment?

Directing the conversation this way encourages them to use words rather than letters – QED (quod erat demonstrandum, Latin for ‘thus it has been demonstrated’.)

2. The Futurist

Signature trait: Wants you to think they are tech savvy.

You’ll hear: AI/artificial intelligence, automation, algorithm, machine learning

They mean: Tools that can help put your brand in front of more, and more relevant, people.

The benefits of a lot of these tools are still emerging, so keep The Futurist on track by pinning the conversation to the functions of the new technology they are recommending. If they cannot explain it in a way you can understand, it usually means they don’t understand it themselves as it takes a true expert to simplify something complex. Do not under any circumstances ask them about specifications until you know and understand what the technology does.

3. The Strategist

Signature trait: Wants you to see them as intelligent and in tune with customers.

You’ll hear: IA (Information architecture), CX (Customer Experience), UX (User Experience), Omnichannel.

They mean: How people interact with your brand and its products and services.

Place the customer at the centre of your brand’s narrative. If the customer doesn’t know the jargon, The Strategist, if they are who they say they are, should be able to tell that story without using the buzzwords. It’s a trick to make them think like a customer, not a Strategist.

4. The Data Analyst

Signature trait: Loves assigning meaning to numbers.

You’ll hear: metrics, conversion, meta data, tracking code, analytics.

They mean: The way we measure digital engagement.

Incite an existential crisis by telling them that numbers are meaningless… without context. Have them explain the context before allowing that numbers may, in fact, have meaning after all.

5. The Creative

Signature trait: Tells rather than shows.

You’ll hear: wireframe, UI (User Interface), front end, parallax.

They mean: The structure on which digital elements are presented, how they look and interact.

Have them visually show you what they mean rather than getting lost in a buzzword forest.

6. The Developer

Signature trait: Cares more about what they can do than the business requirements.

You’ll hear: CSS, HTML5, PHP, MySQL, Python, AWS, IOS, server, database.

They mean: The programming languages and technology that controls the building of digital outputs.

Have them demonstrate functions and outputs rather than talk about what they think they can do. Do not start a debate about whether Ruby is better than Python because you won’t be talking about bejewelled snakes (fun, irrelevant, and potentially dangerous), you’ll be reigniting a flame war about programming languages (boring, irrelevant, and potentially dangerous).

In the know

As pharma marketing digitally advances and evolves, it’s tempting for marketers to latch onto and use buzzwords to impress colleagues and stakeholders. When it comes down to it, however, there’s a huge risk that you’re going to confuse them and make them feel lost, and lost stakeholders and customers do not feel confident.

Instead, digital straight talk clarifies the objectives, scope and timelines, bringing marketers and stakeholders into alignment so they can partner to drive results.


Simon Davies


Dan King

  • M: 0439 190 700

We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.