Professionals who tout "outside-the-box" or "synergistic" thinking and promise to deliver "the big idea" to increase "ROI" may want to rethink their word choice this year. While these terms might have resonated with audiences in the past, they were listed among the most annoying industry buzzwords by advertising and marketing executives in a recent survey by The Creative Group staffing firm.


The national poll includes responses from 250 advertising and senior marketing executives.


Participants of the survey were asked, "In your opinion, what is the most annoying or overused buzzword in the creative/marketing industry today?"


The top responses included:


  • "Outside-the-box"

  • "Synergy"

  • "The big idea"

  • "ROI" (return on investment)

  • "Paradigm shift"

  • "Strategy"

  • "Integrated solution"

  • "CRM" (customer relationship management)

  • "Customer-centric"

  • "Voice of the customer"

  • "Critical mass"

  • "Buzz"

  • "Make it pop"

  • "Break through the clutter"

  • "Take it to the next level"

  • "Innovation"

  • "Free value"

  • "Organic growth"

  • "Low-hanging fruit"

  • "It is what it is"

Dave Willmer, executive director of The Creative Group, says he’s not surprised buzzwords have become so common place in the workforce.

"Because buzzwords are so prevalent, it’s easy for people to incorporate them into their vocabularies," says Willmer. "When words or phrases become overused, however, they can lose their impact and appear clichéd."

Willmer notes that the strongest communicators keep the message simple.

"Direct, concrete statements typically are the most powerful and persuasive. When professionals find their communications laden with buzzwords, they should consider how they might convey their thoughts more clearly."