The business world is responsible for – or guilty of – generating a constant stream of new terminology, buzzwords and jargon. I have been tracking such exoticisms for more than a decade in my Bizword column in British Airways Business Life magazine…
After decades of analysing the qualities associated with the various styles of leadership, management theory has given us a new buzzword-by-analogy. Originating in 1988 and trending in business schools 20 years later, the term is entering everyday corporate jargon. The concept of followership, we are told, is not just looking at hierarchy relationships from a new angle but reinterpreting group dynamics so that subordinates can learn how best to follow while leaders learn exactly how to cultivate them. There is, of course, a danger in focusing on following rather than leading: the role sounds less heroic or proactive. But newly identified types of empowered follower not only practise the key skills of taking or ignoring instruction, identifying expectations and goals, ego-management and performing as team players, but can exert coercive push, manipulating their bosses and enabling the wider organisation to excel.
Digital marketing is a nonstop – and seemingly unstoppable – generator of new terminology, so agencies must help novices to keep up by posting glossaries of the latest buzzwords. Turning prospects into leads into actual customers involves, in the jargon, directing traffic to your landing page (ideally frictionless) or welcome gate, which is likely to feature a lead-magnet, aka opt-in bribe, a benefit such as a free consultation, free trial, discount offer, or a content-upgrade such as a toolkit or guide to induce the visitor to give you their contact details. That is a conversion, the start of a relationship with the site visitor who should then go on to register with you, follow you on social media and/or purchase something. (Measure success by your conversion rate, failure by your bounce-rate). The series of steps you use to draw in the customer, from ads via webpages through interactions all the way to payment is known as the funnel.
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