The true meaning of content: marketing terms to know

Keep these buzzwords handy for your next pitch deck.

What’s strategic value-added performance marketing? Can it be optimized to drive greater engagement? On the other hand, will microinfluencer-focused lifestyle content drive more engagement than strategic value-added performance marketing?

If those sentences meant something to you, congratulations: you work in marketing.

Digital marketing, to be precise—but in 2019, calling desk work “digital” anything is as redundant as “ATM machine.”

In this industry (or “space,” as marketing professionals prefer), it can be fun to ruffle feathers by using clear and direct language instead of obfuscatory jargon. But keep your eyes on the prize: clients love buzzwords. They expect some jargon. Your competitors have filled their ears with these soothing phrases, and if they don’t hear the same terminology from you, they may become confused and suspicious.

A judicious sprinkling of these marketing terms—in your pitch decks, research, reporting, and as many emails as possible—will help you project expertise, fit in with your peers, and lull your clients into a state of blissful acceptance. Master this vocabulary, and you’ll have the power to communicate anything you want (or nothing at all).


Content means everything, so it means nothing. It’s more substantive when preceded by words like video, digital, written, branded, or user-generated. A video is “video content.” A magazine article is “written content.” The entire Internet, with its millions of terabytes of data, is “digital content.”

You can use content as a stand-in for “anything my agency will make or do,” especially if you haven’t yet decided what that will be.

Creative (as a noun)

It’s short for creative assets or creative deliverables. Like content, it encompasses a wide variety of categories, from “a graphic exploration of 6 social tiles,” to “final delivery of a three-minute animation plus all the Adobe files.”

When everyone knows what you mean, it’s jaunty and fun to say “Are you finished with that creative?” or “Do you have my creative?” or “The client is very unhappy with the creative” instead of specifying further.


All money spent on marketing is supposed to add value. If you’re performing a service that doesn’t add value, that’s called “stealing.” If you’re confident that your services are more valuable or cost-effective than average, come right out and say it.

Performance marketing

This just means marketing. If you’re not performing, you’ll be fired, unless you’ve signed a contract to provide “non-performance marketing.”


Is anyone going to pay for work that is not strategic? Strategic means, “we put at least some thought into it.” Try sharing at least some of the finer points of your supposedly genius strategy, or (best of all) showing off work that speaks for itself.

Business intelligence

Some bit of knowledge that only marketing expertise can unlock. Possibly value-added, definitely strategic.

Dream state

The ideal outcome of any given action or situation. Often used to express a longing, a sehnsucht, for something that may never happen, such as a client telling you their ideal outcome.


Attention or interaction lavished on a brand’s output by people.* Unless you define it further, it’s not useful: it can be a click, a like, a two-minute article skim, or a meaningful effort to learn about your brand and buy your products. Or (yikes) a three-second video view.

*Consumers. Users. Customers. Audiences. However you want to say it, you’re trying to reach real people out there…somewhere.

Pain point

Problem, concern, or challenge, but said in a way that makes you sound like a consulting genius.

Price point

Price, but said in a way that makes you sound like an economics genius. Two syllables for the price of one!


All right, this one’s pretty benign and doesn’t have a non-jargony analogue. It means any way, shape, or form by which your audience may be exposed to your brand/product. Often used in conjunction with the customer journey, which is a useful way to think about how people discover and buy products.

Lifestyle brand

Every brand is a lifestyle brand, unless you sell luxury coffins.

Lifestyle content

All content is lifestyle content, unless you’re the producers of “Red Asphalt.”


Someone who expects to get paid like LeBron James for posting lifestyle content that mentions your lifestyle brand. These come in micro form, which is handy when all the overhead storage space is taken. (A microinfluencer is someone with a sub-5-digit following on Instagram.)

Thought leader

An influencer, but on LinkedIn. Thought leaders write provocative essays (or really long posts) about issues and trends in commerce or culture. The International Thought Consortium uses a sophisticated but controversial ranking system (Brain Level-Adjusted Ranked Thoughtliness, or BLART) to determine the current thought champions in several key categories.


What this really means: a surprising, revealing, or profound truth derived from careful consideration of facts and research. Sadly, it’s most often used to dress up a surface-level observation or widely known fact as a rare gem of marketing wisdom.

Leverage (as a verb)

The act of deploying your expertise or tactics to achieve a positive outcome that far outstrips the effort or expense required. Unfortunately, it just means “use” now, because everyone is constantly leveraging everything to pull one over on any suckers who don’t use this noun as a verb.

We hope this written content has leveraged our thought leadership to deliver value-added strategy that drives engagement. If not, what were you expecting at this price point?