A Way with Words: Marketing Speak Before and After the Rona

By Len Scrogan
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It’s no doubt been a pretty tough season for most of us. Lots of things have changed during these unrivaled times. For one, we’ve become fatigued with daily doomscrolling and the unrelenting tsunami of negative news. And who among us these days haven’t found ourselves completely oysgezoomt, or “zoomed out”, as the Yiddish word describes? The passing of time has also been surrealistically altered, resulting in the strangely covidian phenomenon of blursday as every day.

One of the things that has also morphed a lot during the Rona has been the language used by marketers from the display technology arena who are trying to reach out to educational customers. Let me explain. Before the pandemic, product websites, advertisements and sale literature aimed at the ed market were replete with formulaic words and oft-repeated expressions like:

engagement, ecosystems, connections, leverage, digital age, digital content, distance learning

Today, there’s no need to shout out poggers! when marketers seem to have made major shifts in their mercantile language. Certainly, folks in the display industry are an agile sort, adapting as needed. During these churning months, a close review of the “sales speak” of the day reveals a new and fresh lexicon emerging. Flashier and more resonating phrases are now springing up in education marketing circles, including:

active learning
shift
equity
hybrid
blended
remote
in-home learning
borderless classroom
teach without borders
anywhere learning
digital learning
virtual learning
future of learning
at-home learning
human connection
learning loss
connection-based education
adapt and pivot

adapt and scale

In the rush of events, even our emojis have changed:?. But here are some concerns I wonder out loud about: does your sales approach find that “you’re muted” to the shifts now occurring in the education market due to covid? Do you understand what each of the above terms means in their educational context? Are you using these terms in your own sales outreach to the educational community? Or are you still tethered to an older language for your value proposition?

I hope you will appreciate the inherent playfulness of today’s article, which stealthily features ten words-of-the-year for 2020, as determined annually by various famously bookish organizations. These WOTY are italicized (some are linked) throughout this piece. Although the sheer amount of coronacoinages has been, at the same time, refreshing and tiresome, today’s peculiar effort has been (at minimum) mentally therapeutic. More importantly, I pray you take these language changes to heart, and strive to better understand how the education market is coping with today’s unprecedented challenges. – Len Scrogan