MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Clean Up Your Language with Allen Weiss

Want to become a better leader in your organization?

Stop offering “value” and “quality” to your customers. 

Those terms don’t mean anything, says MarketingProfs founder and CEO Allen Weiss.

Allen isn’t suggesting you lower the quality or value of your offer, of course—but that your team rallies around better words.

For Allen’s insights on creating a marketing team with a unified vision, watch the video clip or read the transcript below.

This was just one session on leadership from B2B Forum 2023. The world’s most actionable marketing conference returns this November to Boston. With more than 50 sessions on marketing leadership, AI, social media, content, and more, it’s an info-dense conference that will give you the knowledge and skills to grow your career. Tickets are limited. Get yours here.


Marketing doesn’t have any principles. 

It does have morals. But it doesn’t have principles. Okay?

And again, everything I’m saying, if you think about it, part of the problem has stemmed from the fact that there’s a lot of marketing books that are out there. And the marketing books that you read all have different definitions of things, okay?

So again, it’s not you who’s creating this, but it’s being created. It’s being created by just all the people. They’re writing books, all the websites that you go to. Everybody has their own language, their own deal.

I remember once I was doing a presentation for MarketingProfs…

(By the way, I’m the CEO, I’m the founder of MarketingProf. So when I say I was doing a presentation, it’s not that big of a deal for me to do a presentation…)

But somebody asked me about vertical marketing. I had no idea what it was. I just didn’t know what vertical marketing was.

So I went online and I found somebody and they gave a definition of vertical marketing. And then I went to another site and they gave me a different definition of vertical marketing.

Again, you start talking about, okay, “vertical marketing.”

So now I’m talking with you about vertical marketing.

You have one way of thinking about it.

I’ve got another way of thinking about it.

And all of a sudden you’ve got this difficulty of really having the same language. Okay?

It comes because marketing doesn’t have any principles, but it does have morals.

So how do you avoid these problems? How do you just avoid this problem?

Well, first of all, stop using words like “value,” “quality,” and “reputation.” Okay? Just pick your favorite ambiguous words that have ambiguous meanings for people in your team and in your company. Just stop using those.

I mean, I hear the word “value” and “quality” out of marketing people more than just about any word.

And the first thing I say to them when they say “value,” I say, “what do you mean by that?”

And sometimes they don’t know what they mean by it because they just use it.

And the same thing goes for “quality.”

I was doing a presentation on strategy the other day. On Wednesday. I did the strategy workshop.

And a lot of times, when I’d go around and I’d say, “okay, so what are customers looking for in your company?”

And they said, “quality.”

And I go, “what do you mean by quality?”

And they couldn’t answer me.

They just said, “it’s just quality. It’s good stuff. It’s, like, good stuff.”

Well, what do you mean by “good stuff?” Does that mean it’s reliable? Does it mean that it’s always working for you and it’s never breaking down? Is that what you’re talking about?

So you’re talking about something else. You’re really talking about reliability?

So then, instead of using “quality,” why don’t you just use “reliability?”

People have an understanding, I think of a lot of you, of when something is reliable, it just doesn’t break down.

But when you use the word “quality,” it just gets kind of mushed up.

And then again, words like “reputation.”

I say, “oh, that person has a great reputation.”

A great reputation for what?

Great reputation for being a human being, great reputation for being a good singer, a great reputation for being a good cook?

What exactly is the reputation for?

And so, when you stop using these words, and then you dig down and you say, okay, it’s a reputation for… what? Quality means… what? Value means… what?

You start having less ambiguous ideas that are going on in your team and in your company.

And then start using words that are interpreted the same way amongst people on your team. Okay?

So how do you do that?

Well, how to get started is pretty simple.

Gather your marketing team together. List the marketing words that you use every day. Then arrive at agreed upon definitions. 

And you can get the definitions by going to reasonable sites like the A.M.A, I know they have this. I know that Marketing Science Institute, they have a dictionary there, et cetera

And you can use reliable sources like that, and then use the words as agreed upon.

And so this is a way to kind of get started, and there’s a reason for this.

Why should you care about anything that I’ve said?

Well, first of all, creating a common language introduces efficiency in your marketing meetings.

You don’t realize this, but if you think about when I’m talking about one thing and you’re listening to another thing, we might all nod our heads. But we’re creating friction in the process.

And so you want to eliminate as much friction as possible.

And the way you can do that is by using a common marking language with agreed upon definitions.

And this will introduce efficiency in your meetings.

And you also, as I say here, you’ll generate coherent marking strategies that everyone can understand and execute as intended.


Published April 3, 2024

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

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