There Are No New Ideas, Just New Buzzwords

// // April 05th 2011 // Marketing

“There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” – Audre Lorde

Okay, there might be some new ideas, but very few of them. Far fewer than marketers would have you believe. But that’s their job right? They come up with ways to make you feel different about an old idea.


The easiest way for marketers to do this is through buzzwords. Oddly, I think marketers are often more susceptible to buzzwords. They create them and in many instances they wind up believing in their own creations. They become certain that the hot new buzzword is an entirely new and groundbreaking idea.

But it’s not. That’s not to say that it isn’t a good idea, it’s just not new. Here are a two recent examples.

Social Proof

The way some folks talk about it, you’d think social proof was the love child of Twitter and Facebook. Social proof, persuasion and crowd psychology have been around for a long time, even before Cialdini made it popular.

If you see more people liking something, or someone you trust liking something you’re more likely to like that too.

social proof

McDonald’s figured this out a long time ago. We’re bombarded with ‘number of satisfied users’ claims. You always remove at least one if not two strips when posting a tear off flyer. And people have been using these things called testimonials, often from celebrities, for quite a while.

Social proof works, it has offline and it will online too. But lets not go crazy making it into something new.


I remember going to Hershey Park as a kid and being asked to describe my perfect candy bar. It was just a guy holding a clip board, scribbling down the ideas of all the kids coming into the amusement park that day.

In 1981 the Chicago White Sox held a uniform design contest. Anyone could enter and the fans could vote on the finalists. To this day, I swear someone stole my design.


Clearly new technologies have enabled businesses to collect more information and to collaborate with others on a larger scale, but the idea of canvassing and engaging with your customers is not new.

Beyond Buzzwords

no lemmings

Just because it’s hot and trendy doesn’t automatically mean it’s right for your business. Look beyond the buzz. Break it down into the fundamentals.

Remember, buzzwords are a new way of feeling about an old idea. It’s rarely as complicated (or expensive) as it seems. Heck, you might be doing it already and not even know it.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

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