Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants

Achieving business strategy alignment starts with a common language

My friend and colleague Clement Toulemonde recently shared a list of phrases commonly used in English language that are often misinterpreted by the listener.

I suddenly realised that this happens often in meetings between marketers and their agencies. The cause is often the two parties are often working at cross purposes: the marketer is trying to provide feedback, direction or criticism without causing offence to the agency and the agency is trying to achieve agreement to their recommendation or point of view coming from an often unrealistic but optimistic perspective.

In the process, two groups of communication professionals completely miscommunicate their intentions and fail to align to the business strategy. So here it is, “what marketers say, what they mean and what the agency hears”.

What marketers say

What marketers mean

What agencies hear

I hear what you say

I disagree and do not want to discuss it further

They accept our point of view

With the greatest respect…

I think you are an idiot

They are listening to us

That’s not bad

That’s good

That’s poor

That is a very brave idea

You are insane

They think we have courage

Quite good

A bit disappointing

Quite good

I would suggest…

Do it or be prepared to justify yourself

Think about it and do what we like

Oh, incidentally / By the way

The primary purpose of this discussion is…

That is not very important

I was a bit disappointed that…

I am really annoyed that…

It doesn’t really matter

Very interesting

That is clearly nonsense

They are impressed

I’ll bear it in mind

I’ve forgotten it already

They will probably do it

I’m sure it’s my fault

It’s your fault

Why do they think it is their fault?

I almost agree

I don’t agree at all

They are not far from agreement

I only have a few minor comments

Please re-write completely

They have found a few typos

Could we consider some other options

I do not like your ideas

They have not yet decided


I was reading through these in a meeting and discovered three more happening before my very eyes:

What marketers say

What marketers mean

What agencies hear

You’ve given us plenty to think about

I don’t understand a word you have said

We really nailed it

You’ve obviously done a lot of work here

You’ve completed wasted your time and my money

We’ve impressed you with our creativity

The CEO is right on-board with this

Right up until he changes his mind

The CEO is behind this

We would welcome you challenging our conventions

Apart from the product name, logo, colours…

Great, blank canvas.

There must be many more where these come from, so please feel free to provide any suggestions below.

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email:

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