A Common Marketing Language

A major problem in marketing is that one often has only a general idea of what another marketer is speaking about. “Unfortunately, marketing still does not have that commonality of terminology” (Farris, Reibstein, and Scheller, 2016, page 46).

A marketer will talk of loyalty and we know that this is a good thing but what precisely they mean is often unclear. Do they mean repeat purchases? (These may be driven largely by availability). Do they mean a positive attitude towards the brand? (Which may have no observable effect). Or even willingness to recommend? (The recommendations may never be listened to).

What marketing lacks is a shared language. We may all be sharing interesting points but if the listener isn’t sure what exactly is being said it is hard for learning to take place. This leads to the conclusion that marketing needs is a common language. A dictionary where you can look up the definition of terms. You may not agree with a marketing colleague, but if they use a common language you at least know what they mean.

MASB have taken on the Common Marketing Language Dictionary project to supply a shared resource of definitions. They are providing definitions to common marketing terms, having started with relatively uncontroversial ones a few years back they are now progressing onto more challenging tasks. They are concentrating on operational definitions and not concepts or constructs. The operational definitions are at a more concrete level, they can be measured, whereas constructs are more general ideas at a higher level. Thus, loyalty will not have an operational definition but repeat purchase rate can have. When a marketer talks of loyalty one can ask, how do you plan to measure it? If they say repurchase rate, you will know what they mean.

To my mind this is critical work. MASB still have to “convince editors and reviewers of academic journals and business publications to refer to these dictionaries” (Farris, Reibstein, and Scheller, 2016). When I review I plan to argue for commonly used definitions.

Read: “Marketing’s Search For A Common Language” by Paul Farris, David J. Reibstein, and Karen Scheller, in Accountable Marketing: Linking Marketing Actions to Financial Performance, 2016, Routledge, MASB