Do you know anybody who pronounces the “d” in Wednesday? You might hear it used on the TV or radio once in a while by somebody trying to sound smart, but mostly it just makes people sound like weirdos. The word itself almost certainly started as “Woden’s Day” (something about Norse mythology, I hear), wherein the “d” would be very distinct, but somewhere along the way humans started taking shortcuts with hump day, and now almost all of us call it “Wenz-day.” Standing on top of a hill and shouting, “You people are all saying it wrong!” won’t change anything. You’ll just sound like a grammar snob or one of those old folks that start every sentence with “I remember when…”
For marketing professionals, the same thing can happen with the Internet and mobile technology (are they even different things anymore?). I still end up in meetings now and then where somebody in the room says something like “I hate how kids are on their phones all the time.” Saying that you hate something doesn’t change whether it is true or not. I hate those unauthorized minions posts on social media that try to convey some deep philosophical meaning. Yet thousands (maybe millions?) of people seem to love them and share them constantly.
Here’s my point – just because I think those posts are annoying doesn’t mean I should ignore their potential. You can either bawl out young (and old) people for being glued to their phones, or you can recognize the incredible opportunity of having an entire audience glued to a message delivery device that you have access to. Why do old-school ad types pine for the halcyon days of network TV (ahh Nielsen, thanks for giving it your best guess for all these years) when new media can actually prove to us who we have connected with? People used to watch a couple of hours of TV at night after work, but now we can reach them almost all day? As marketing professionals, isn’t that better?
When I was in the TV business, there was a group of on-air personalities who would chuckle anytime someone mispronounced a word. I remember when somebody said the word “etcetera” as “excetera” like so many people do. The grammar snobs went crazy trying to sound smart but only succeeded in sounding hopelessly out of touch. Like it or not, when the majority of the people in your audience use a word in a certain way, it eventually becomes the new correct way of saying it. Look up the pronunciation for Wednesday in the dictionary if you don’t believe me.
As marketers, there is a lesson here. If we want to sound like the vox populi, then we better adapt to our audience. They are, after all, the only ones who matter.