Glossary of Marketing & Advertising Terms


Since the 1960s, most marketing and advertising has been plagued with a debilitating tactic known as “the platitude”. These are words or phrases that are drearily commonplace and predictable; They lack power to evoke interest through overuse and repetition, but are nevertheless stated as though they were original or significant. Includes trite phrases like “highest quality” and “best service.” Also known as “puffery.”

plat•i•tude n. A trite or banal
remark or statement, especially
one expressed as if it
were original or significant.

You can easily protect yourself from this advertising scourge by looking at your own ads, website, etc. and asking yourself these two very important test questions:

“Who else can say that?”

Does it make you want to say Well I would hope so!”?

If your ad or website or brochure or whatever makes the prospect want to say, “Well I would hope so!”, then you’ve got platitudes. And if you can scratch out your name, and write in your competitor’s name, and the ad or brochure is still accurate, then you really haven’t said anything unique, have you? Chances are, you’ve spoken in platitudes. (They show up in almost every industry.) Here are some common platitudes that you’ve probably seen before:

  • “Reliable”
  • “Professional”
  • “Customer Service”
  • “Where Quality is a Tradition”
  • “Dedicated to Satisfying Your Needs”
  • “We Go the Extra Mile for Our Clients”

Remember—just because you say it in your ad or on your website doesn’t mean anyone is going to believe you. (And it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean it’s true!)


An “elevator pitch” is a succinct and compelling statement about you and your company, normally delivered in 60 seconds or less. While it should be scripted right done to the very last word, it should roll of the tongue of every employee and executive as naturally as can be.

Customers don’t know what to expect or how to evaluate a product or service until they can place it in some sort of comparative context. You’ve got about 30-60 seconds, about the time of an average elevator ride, to define your position to your targeted segment and explain how what you do benefits them. The actual words that you learn to use when you deliver your elevator speech will become the most profitable 30-60 seconds you may ever use.

Here’s an example:

“Hi, I’m a swimming pool designer with Champagne Pools. We’re one of the oldest pool builders in Central Florida, and the ONLY builder who’s a member of Aquatech.

“Now you’ve probably never heard of Aquatech, celebrity explain. It’s an exclusive society of top notch pool builders. In fact, of the more than ten thousand pool builders in North America, less than 200 of these have been invited to join Aquatech. There are only 7 Aquatech builders in all of Florida, and in the Orlando area, we are it.

“Since 1978, our little company has delighted more than 4000 homeowners, with brand new pools and renovations. But we do things a little differently. We specialize in beautiful pools that are easy to maintain. With our oversized pumps, our passive solar heating, and a few other cutting-edge tricks, our pools practically take care of themselves.

“Hey – If you know anyone who’s thinking about a swimming pool, let us give you one of our Free DVD’s. They’re loaded with ideas and advice, and lots of gorgeous pools. It will also tell you how a great-looking pool is supposed to be built. Just give me your card, and I’ll mail one you to right away. Or go to our website – Champagne Pool And Spa dot com.”

You should test your employees and their elevator pitches on a “spot check” basis. If someone;s late for a meeting, make them give their elevator pitch. A well-rehearsed elevator pitch is good advertising, and it’s FREE.

Strategic Marketing: Put simply, “strategic marketing” has to do with what you say, how you say it, and who you say it to. Strategic marketing determines your marketing message, and the overall strategy of how you’re going to get that message to fall on the appropriate ears (your prospects).

Tactical Marketing: Tactical Marketing is the implementation/execution of your strategic marketing plan. Specifically, we’re talking about generating leads, placing media, creating brochures and other marketing tools, and implementing a follow up system. Basically, it’s the medium your message is delivered in: print, online, direct mail, trade show, face-to-face, etc.

Activator: An Activator is anything that snaps a person out of Alpha Mode and into Beta. Any time something familiar, unusual, or problematic enters the Reticular Activator, the brain becomes “activated,” hence the name.

Alpha Mode: Alpha Mode is state of consciousness where you automatically run patterns that allow your brain to habitually perform tasks without any conscious effort. An example would be driving to work and realizing when you got there you hadn’t consciously seen anything along the way. You can talk on the cell phone, listen to the radio, shave, and put on makeup, whatever. But meanwhile, your brain can drive you to work without any conscious thought. Think of Alpha Mode as “Sleep Mode.”

Beta Mode: Beta Mode is the brain’s state of active engagement. An example would be driving to work in a heavy thunderstorm with your hands firmly gripped to the steering wheel. Your eyes are wide open and you’re sensitive to everything. You’re in Beta Mode when you’re watching a movie and the music is building to a crescendo in anticipation of something scary happening. The music puts you on the edge of your seat. Think of Beta Mode as “Alert Mode.”

Branding / Brand Building: Starting in 1948 television changed marketing and advertising forever. Ads shrank from 1 to 2 minutes down to 30 seconds. Ad prices went up dramatically. Only the largest companies could compete. Slogans became the most cost-effective way to communicate. Creativity & Repetition (C&R) became the de facto advertising standard. In the “Era of the Brand Builders” Inside Reality and Outside Perception didn’t have to match because relatively few companies could afford to play the game and they won by FORFEIT.

Confidence Gap: The new paradigm of selling, in opposition to the Days of Simple Selling. The Confidence Gap represents a marketplace where the buyer can’t distinguish whether any of the businesses, any of the products or any of the services are any BETTER, any DIFFERENT, or any WORSE than any of the others. Everything appears to be the same, so the customer stalls and shops based on price. In this scenario, the buyer has the power.

Days Of Simple Selling: Any time 5 to 25+ years ago when it was easier to sell because there were fewer options for consumers. Fewer competitors, less access to information, and less resistance to the selling process all made it easier to sell. It can be said that the seller had the power.

Educational Spectrum: Sometimes known as the “buying cycle,” the Educational Spectrum is a way to describe where a prospect is at in the buying process. “Off Spectrum” prospects are not currently considering buying what you sell. Once they get “on the spectrum” they begin to think about it and gather information. These are considered “investigators” or “future buyers.” Once prospects become ready to buy, they become “now buyers” and will be open to vendor selection information.

Institutional Ads: Advertisements utilized mostly by most big companies (but emulated by small ones) that attempt to tie a feeling to a product or service instead of selling the merits. Much of what is churned out of Madison Avenue agencies is Institutional by nature.

False Beta: When the reticular activator is interrupted by an activator, only to discover upon further inspection that the activator is NOT also important and relevant (ie, not a hot button). Stated plainly, if the person is interrupted but not engaged, that’s a False Beta. An example would be when you’re in a crowded airport and hear a voice from behind you call out your name. Your name is an activator (familiar), so you turn to gather additional, clarifying information. Upon turning, you realize that the persona was actually calling to someone else who apparently has your same name. Obviously, you would not still engage that person in conversation. In this case you are interrupted but not engaged – a False Beta.

Hot Button: When your reticular activator detects and activates, it immediately and subconsciously searches for additional, clarifying information, then gauges the importance and relevance of said activator. If important/relevant: Conscious bandwidth will be allocated and the brain will become Engaged. This means the Activator is also a Hot Button.

Information Offer: An offer that gives prospects an opportunity to get more information, usually in the form of a printed report, online information, or a DVD. Information offers give future buyers (investigators) a reason to take action now even though they may not be ready to buy now which gives you their valuable contact information so you can proactively market to them.

Incentive Offer: An offer that gives “now buyers” an incentive to act now, such as a discount or bonus.

Inside Reality: Your Inside Reality is the actual value you bring to the marketplace. This is based on your products or services, your quality, your people, your systems, your service, etc. A good Inside Reality can be developed by anticipating customer wants and needs and developing your business to meet them.Interrupt: Getting qualified prospects to pay attention to your marketing. Accomplished by identifying and hitting your prospects’ hot buttons.

Engage: The state when your brain determines that the activator is also a hot button. To properly engage, you should give the reader the promise that information is forthcoming that will facilitate their decision-making process.

Educate: Identify the important and relevant issues prospects need to be aware of, and then demonstrate how you stack up against those issues. Build a case for your business. Show evidence where appropriate.

Offer: Give prospects a low-risk way to take the next step in the buying process. Put more information in their hands and allow them to feel in total control of the decision.

Menu-Board Style Ads: Ads that read like a restaurant menu. “Here’s our name and here’s a list of stuff we have for sale.” Utilized by many small businesses. Commonly found in yellow pages, newspaper, magazines. even radio & TV. Basic offer: “Come buy from us for no justifiable, rational reason besides we have it.”

Marketing Equation: A formula for marketing success that hinges on people’s desire to make the best decision possible when buying something. The formula includes four parts: interrupt, engage, educate, and offer. Used properly, the marketing equation can more accurately predict success or failure in a marketing campaign.

Outside Perception: Your Outside Perception is the way your company is viewed by prospects and customers. This is based on any communication you have with them, including advertising, marketing, and sales efforts.

Reticular Activator: The Reticular Activator is the part of the brain that functions like a radar on the lookout 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for things that are 1) familiar, 2) unusual, or 3) problematic. When your brain detects any of these things on a subconscious level, it sends a message to the conscious side of the brain that says, “Hey, wake up! There’s something you need to pay attention to!” If you’ve ever bought a new car only to realize afterward that everyone in town seems to have the exact make, model, and color — that’s your reticular activator picking that car out of the crowd.


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