The Rod Jones Guide to

A Guide for Newcomers to the Wonderful World of Marketing and Business who thought that they only needed English to get by..

(C) Rod Jones - All Rights Reserved

- with added Art Pretentiousness, Menu Twaddle and PR speak

As a retired member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with a long career in Sales and Marketing behind me, I have set out to give something back to newcomers to management with this essential guide to Business Speak.

Since its introduction in 2002, it has shot to the top of the Google Search Engine and has been very favourably received by many Marketing professionals who have e-mailed me with the latest examples of top expressions used by their peers to demonstrate a leading edge understanding of management speak.


As in "its about empowerment" - "Its about downsizing" .This is really media speak which sometimes creeps into meetings. It's about making the double quotes sign with the first two fingers of each hand as you say profound things, its about knowing what it's about and letting everyone know that you know. (What it's about)

Ball park

American stadium.To be in the ballpark means to be in the rough area in terms of an estimated price or assumption. Using US Business Speak demonstrates that you are a true trans-national player.

Barriers to Entry

Something which Business Analysts like to evaluate, barriers to entry are the ways in which a company can stop competition flooding the market with me-too products or services.

Drug dealers favour Uzzis, Lawyers have Bar exams, Marketing people have Business speak and the Financial Times likes the more feeble-minded management wannabe to think that not reading the FT will prevent him from saying something pithy and wise to the Chairman in the lift :- "No FT - No Comment".If this slogan had any grain of truth, taxi cabs the length and breadth of the country would be awash with copies of the FT.

"No FT - No Comment".

If this slogan had any grain of truth, taxi cabs the length and breadth of the country would be awash with copies of the FT

Bench marking

Any improvement needs a basis for comparison. A weight watcher uses the weight at which the diet was started as a Bench Mark.

A bench mark is actually an arrow carved into a stone to show the height of a view point above sea level. They are used by the Ordnance Survey for the purposes of making maps and can be seen at viewpoints such as the Worcestershire beacon.

A bench mark is not to be confused with a skid mark which is a phenomenon frequently found in the laundry business.

Best practice

Something to which a procedure should conform .

What is always unclear is who defines what is best practice?

Answer: The person defending the shoddy performance of his company or government department.

Bottom Line

As in "it goes straight to the bottom line". It's the bottom line of the profit and loss account.

Things that go to the bottom line add to the company's profit.

Things that come out of the bottom line are unbudgetted expenses which detract from profitability.

Not to be confused with things that come out of the bottom (See skid mark.)


Lovely techy phrase meaning "time". e.g. "I'm sorry, Alistair, but I don't have the bandwidth on this one".

In reality, users of this term find something too difficult, trivial or expensive.Implying that it requires something as technical and complicated as "bandwidth" helps to get them off the hook.


Frequently diguised as a project review, this is an impromptu gathering to try and establish who or what is to blame for the project going pearshaped.

Business Model

You need to achieve convincing mastery of this MBA-speak term if you are to hold your own in discussions with the Chairman in the lift or washroom.

In the bad old days before Business Speak, people didn't have business models, they only had Lego or Airfix and just created vast business empires without models.

- Now everyone has a business model.

Even the oldest profession has business models according to an interesting debate I heard on the subject of licensing of brothels where one of the speakers used the concept of business models to describe whether the girls were "sole traders", "cooperatives" or "managed assets".

Sometimes business models are a great source of admiration - until they go wrong.

Northern Rock managed to build up a huge book of mortgages and were universally admired by the financial press for the efficient way in which they did it. Suddenly their depositors panicked and the business model was denounced as being deeply flawed by the same business pundits and share tipsters who had only the previous week rated Northern Rock shares as a "Buy".

Call Centre

A fabulous concept in CRM (qv) designed to extract the maximum revenue from disgruntled customers.

Many call centres exact a premium charge and, as a result, spin out the menu of options to ridiculous lengths so that callers then have to listen to the menu a second time at 1 minute.

They will then treat you to several minutes of truly inspiring music like Vivaldi's Four Seasons with frequent interruptions to tell you that they really value your call (At 1 minute, this comes as no surprise)

Incidentally, there is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the Samaritans are contemplating opening a call centre along similar lines although recent research has shown conclusively that more than 80 percent of "valued customers" ringing call centres lose the will to live.

If a company really cared about its customers, they would have machinery that would record callers' numbers if they had to wait more than 2 minutes and would then call them back.

Now that's what I call Customer Relations Management!

Many call centres are "devoted" to cold calling and are a source of serious irritation to the public at large. Overseas-based call centres show up as "International" on the caller id in the UK and are increasingly ignored as a result. 08450 numbers on the caller id can also be ignored since these are inevitably silent calls or utility companies trying to get you to switch to them. More on Cold Calls here

Can of worms

Can you imagine a can full of worms. Well there you are - you have grasped the essential meaning of this powerful analogy.

They are all tangled up, twisting and writhing horribly and are completely repulsive (except to fishermen who go to great lengths to get them.)

Cash Cow

MBA-speak for a product which brings in the lions share of the revenue.

Still popular despite the ravages of BSE and foot and mouth.

Using this says "Look at me everybody, I'm one of the Big Boys."


This is the up-to-date replacement for the tired old "obviously" which was debased by being used extensively by union leaders and people who seemed to rely over-heavily on cliches.

Obviously "Clearly" is free from such a taint and can be used extensively for stating the blindingly obvious.

It also suits the more distinguished speaker who can get an extra edge from it by pronouncing it "cleaahley" with a slightly withering lift of the eyebrows.

Comes for free

This is actually a useful concept for product managers and project leaders.

Producing an injection mould or writing a piece of code in software has a relatively high fixed price and it often costs nothing to make sure that you cater for any likely annoyances which might drive users crazy after a short period of time.

Choosing between having sharp edges which will rip clothing or having rounded edges which also give the product a nicer look and adds nothing to the cost is a typical example of something good that comes for free.

The more "comes for free" features that can be identified at an early stage in the project, the better the product is likely to be.

Core business

Its what the company does best.

Many companies run in cycles where, after years of "growing the business" by acquiring companies in related fields, they hit a rough patch and return to their core business by divesting all the dodgy acquisitions.

This is frequently followed by one of those mysterious renaming procedures whereby they change the name of the company from Bloggs Waste Recovery Holdings to a more fanciful name reminiscent of a Vauxhall SUV such as "Lectora", "Alludia" or "Vestigia" leaving customers, suppliers and shareholders wondering what the hell the new name has to do with waste recovery and what on earth was so smelly about the old name that it had to be changed at such great expense.

A criteria

If you hear this being used, deduct 10 points from the speaker's rating immediately.

There is no such thing in English as "a criteria". "Criteria" is the plural of "criterion" which is a standard against which something is judged.

Using "a criteria" is as grammatical as a reference to "a ducks" or "a lemons". The only acceptable use of a plural in this way is "a balls" but don't let my auntie know I said so.

As my taxidriver said to me the other day, "Funny things them criterias."

I think he was an FT reader.


Actually means "Customer Relations Management" but the term is open to a wide variety of interpretations.

Many software suppliers offer you solutions to allow you to be able to say that you have this important activity sewn up and, although many of them are end-to-end solutions,(see Solutions) they are mainly designed to enhance the profits of the software companies.

Drizzled (Lovingly)

Menuspeak. If your pancetta hasn't been "lovingly drizzled", you know you are in the wrong place. Just being "drizzled" won't cut it for some of the more discerning diners.

Menus which include the word "drizzled" should also describe funghi as "from the forest" or better still "from the forests of the Ardeche". Fish dishes should be described as "from the ocean" - unless of course they are "flown in daily from Loch Uist, panfried and served in a jus"

The trade term for such menus is "drivelled" and it adds at least another 10 to the bill.

Ducks in a row

"Getting all your ducks in a row" means that you have prepared well - all the ducks that you are going to shoot are in a nice row and you can shoot them very efficiently.

So someone who hasn't got all his ducks in a row is ill-prepared.

(Or his bath is too full of submarines and destroyers)


Essential management speak words. We want to empower all our employees.

In other words, we want our employees to be sufficiently competent to do their jobs.

This is a no brainer. (Or it should be)

Really radical managers will want to empower employees to take over their jobs.

This takes a special brand of confidence, foresight or foolishness depending on your point of view

(and the manager concerned)


Just another word for "Imagine" except that the thing imagined may be committed to a Powerpoint presentation or laid out as a proposal for the benefit of those with less imagination.

Too much of it leads to:


Whoa! The very thought of this gets my excitement levels hovering near "Critical". I am all agog as will be anyone exposed to this.

"What does an Envisioneer look like?" we ask ourselves. Do they think Deeper Thoughts than ordinary mortals? Can they Leap Tall Buildings at a Single Bound? Does a sign light up when they do it so that others can watch in awe?

Or are they just people who can produce Powerpoints without resorting to populating them with those horrible little stick men?

Anyone claiming to be one without blushing must be so far up themselves that their judgement should be open to serious doubt.


The reverse of Incremental.

Instead of mounting to new heights, sales levels are disappearing down the toilet.

Fast track

Short cut. Example: a fast track to promotion for a police officer is to go to University, get a degree and, after a very brief period on the beat, get promotion to Inspector with a clear route to be a Chief Constable by the age of 12.

A fast track for a rail commuter is any track that allows trains to arrive within 2 days of their scheduled arrival time.

Game plan

Sport-derived. Lots of business bullshit comes from the world of sport - particularly baseball and American Football. The game plan is just the overall strategy relating to a particular issue.

Going forward

A worthy successor to the dull and outdated "At this moment in time".

Use it in sentences such as "Where are we now, going forward?"

It doesn't mean anything but its skilful use in the hands of a master can be really very impressive provided it is only used once at any meeting.


Built-in. It used to be "in the woodwork" but hard -wired is much more high tec as a description of something that is built into the system (and can't easily be got out of it)

Typical usages are" Success is hard-wired into the organisation" or "We want to hardwire excellence into every team player going forward."


You may walk the walk but do you talk the talk? Should you talk the talk - find out here...

"Call Centre" to "CRM"

"Drizzled" to "Hard Wired"


If you are in Marketing, don't try and impress the general public with your grasp of marketing jargon by using it in interviews on the radio or TV - it doesn't really make you sound like an expert at all.

A spokesperson for the Cumbrian tourist board once informed Radio 4 Today listeners that it was a shame that an outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Barrow in Furness coupled with torrential rain had blighted the Blairs' holiday there because "Cumbria has got some wonderful brands".

"Er..Brands? What are those?" asked John Humphrys.

"Er... the Lake District and er... the Lake District". replied the spokesperson.

...Perhaps "places" would have been a better technical term for a Tourist Board spokesperson to use

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