Make the complicated simple – Cutting through jargon in Pharmaceutical marketing with Digital straight talk.

Pulse Issue 6 2023

"Make the complicated simple – Cutting through jargon in Pharmaceutical marketing with Digital straight talk."

The pharmaceutical sector, marketing profession, and digital disciplines are awash with jargon and buzzwords.  It’s high time for ‘digital straight talk’ to be implemented.

Jargon overload is leading to our key stakeholders and practitioners become particularly prone to confusing their customers and patients,  when they use buzzwords and digital waffles to make a sale.

As an industry, we need to make the complicated simple. In this article, we identify the major ‘jargon culprits’  and offer some simple advice on how to get to the bottom of what we are really saying.

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/referral?

>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’.)

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 greater numbers of 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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

When it comes to marketing pharmaceuticals, it’s tempting to use impressive buzzwords. However, this approach can cause confusion and undermine trust among stakeholders and customers. It’s crucial to communicate objectives, scope, and timelines in a clear and straightforward manner. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and fosters productive partnerships that deliver tangible results.


 Simon Davies
M: 0402 425 545

 Bruce Williams
M: 0407 359 582



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.