A word that has no place in the marketplace.

Words make me laugh.  Double entendres are one of my favorite things on Earth. I love innuendo and the word play that Shakespeare thought was funny. I analyze the meaning of words like a lawyer. A really fun, 10-year-old lawyer. Last night my family and I watched a special on TV about the Voyager 1 & Voyager 2 spacecrafts.  Every time they mentioned Uranus, me and my boys (10 & 7) giggled like elementary school kids. Come on, how do you keep it together when the narrator says, ‘Scientists from around the world were on the edge of their seats, waiting to get their first good look at Uranus.’?

Marketing Speak

Here on Earth, I work in the marketing universe.  The language used in this space is hilarious. I am sensitive to all the silly words used every day in marketing that really make no sense.  They simply give us a fancy way to talk that makes us sound crafty and inventitive.

Professional marketers talk about things like ‘solutions’. Which is a ridiculous marketing term. Because everything you pay money for is a solution to something. Food is a solution to hunger. A house is a solution to homelessness. A bathrobe is a solution to nakedness.

The word we don’t need.

But the funny word that makes me laugh today is ‘marketplace’.  Sales and marketing people talk this up like it is a magical environment, like Alice’s Wonderland. Or Oz. Or Narnia. Or Vegas.

But the ‘marketplace’ is a fancy-sounding word that simply means reality.

‘We are performing well in the marketplace’ means ‘We are performing well.’

‘The product has not caught on in the marketplace’ means ‘The product has not caught on.’

‘I bought some fish in the marketplace’ means you bought some fish in the marketplace. Ok, this use is legit. But this is never what marketers mean.

I propose that we stop adding ‘in the marketplace’ to our language. It’s a verbositization that we could all do without. If you ever find a way to buy and sell things outside the marketplace (world of trade), let me know.  Because you, my friend, have done the impossible.

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Instantly sound more trustworthy by dropping these words.

I love words. I understand, value and utilize the power they each hold. As a professional creative, I prescribe words like a doctor prescribes medicine. People hire me to find the right words to make their brands, products and services sound as attractive as possible.

Just as words have the power to make people, places and things sound more attractive, they can also make them sound uglier. I know which words make me sound like me is dumb. And I know which words make you sound pervy.

In America, we constantly introduce new words and phrases into our banter to see what sticks. Some of these are interesting and innovative (Emoji, FOMO, Photobomb). Some of them are moronic  (Totes, Obvi). Either way, blame Kanye.

Today, there are two unfortunate phrases that are clinging to conversations like cockleburs on corduroy.  If they haven’t arrived in your neck of the cell tower yet, they are coming. I’m referring to the increased use of, “To be honest’ and her twin sister, ” To tell you the truth”.  I know deep down you know this, but when you tack these unnecessary qualifiers onto any other statement, you have told the person on the receiving end of the statement, “Usually I lie to you.’ Or ‘Most of the time I just make up shit without verifying.’

At The Perfect Agency Project we are especially concerned about removing these phrases from business. We don’t want your salespeople or customers support staff dropping, ‘If I’m being honest’ or ‘To be completely truthful’ on your customers and potential clients.  This undermines the trustworthiness bestowed upon your brand. And that will end up costing both you and I real money.

Please coach your team out of using these phrases. You can do that by sharing this post. Or you could do what I do when people drop these phrases on me. I respond immediately to the errant statement with, “Thank you for being honest with me.” The response I get is always very WTF-y. Because people are not thinking about what they are saying.  But I want you to. I want you to sound smart. And trustworthy. And professional. But, hey, It’s all good.*

*’It’s all good’ has been rated as the funniest cocklebur-phrase of all-time by The Perfect Agency Project. Because it is almost always used in instances where something, if not everything, is not good at all.

The most freakishly surprising sentence in the English language.

The primary roll of The Perfect Agency Project is to stimulate your thinking.  And stimulation comes in various forms. It could come from a contrarian point of view. Or a new technology and its resulting possibilities. Or it could come from a humorous video, like ‘Football To The Groin’.

Today the creative and intellectual stimulation comes in the form of a freakish sentence that is shocking in its grammatical correctness. So where did I find such an oddity? The Grammar Circus, next to the bearded sentence and the phrase with the serpent tongue?  No. I found it at Hanover High School in Hanover, New Hampshire. Where minds are blown everyday by chemistry experiments gone crisply wrong, moose on the field hockey field and the fact that I got sent to the principals office on the first day of freshman year. But I digress.

Back to the sideshow sentence that has stuck in my processor for decades.

With only a little further ado…

I present to you…

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

You’re probably thinking, “What The What!?!”  That’s not a sentence! But I assure you it is. And I will slowly reveal its meaning one element at a time.

First, it is not a chant you hear at a Bills game. Okay. So it actually is a chant you might hear at a Bills game. But that wouldn’t be a real sentence. It’s not a log entry from the American Bison Census from a household of four. And it’s not the top four answers to the Family Feud Question: Name Ted Turners four favorite animals.

The sentence breaks down like this: (scroll slowly to see if you can figure out the rest on your own).

The first Buffalo refers to the city in New York.

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

The second buffalo refers to the the animal, plural (a group of buffalo).

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

The third buffalo is the verb. It means to baffle. It could also mean to intimidate.

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

The fourth buffalo again refers to buffalo, plural (a group of buffalo).

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Got it?  If not, here’s a little more help. Written in a less intriguing style this sentence would say:

Buffalo from the city of Buffalo baffle (or intimidate) other buffalo.

If you still don’t understand, please comment below and I’ll try my best to clarify. For the rest of you I hope this has been a fun and freaky look at language. Share it. Tweet it. Like it. Break it out at parties. It’s a crowd pleaser. Especially if you run with a librarian crowd. Although if you do, don’t run with them through the library at Hanover High on the first day of school.