One thing I love about language is the flexible power of words. In different contexts and in different orders, words can take on drastically different meanings. Throw them into a completely unexpected environment and you can achieve intrigue, interest, and excitement.
Innuendo does just that. It allows you to tumble into different situations with a certain shock value and cause double take. It achieves humor, lightheartedness, even surprise, which can make your assertion a bit stickier.
For that reason alone, you would think I’d be making the argument for more innuendo in your marketing… But I’m not. In fact, I have __ reasons why you should tone down or turn off the innuendo entirely.
1) It’s overdone. It’s become a type of female entrepreneur jargon. Rarely does a day go by when my inbox isn’t met with an email that employs this technique and frankly it’s lost any unique value, if it ever had it. I don’t want you to sound like everyone else in any of your marketing so certainly I don’t want you to sound like every other female entrepreneur out there.
2) It’s devaluing you. Alright, if you disagree with my premise, here’s where you’ll find your main argument against it. Let me address that. Yes, I know all the big names that do use innuendo in the names of their classes, their products, their systems and their programs. Yes, I know they are making thousands, millions. But they are making that because they have good ideas and their programs work… And occasionally they have the right connections. They are not making millions because of racy names and taglines.
I posit that it’s devaluing for two reasons. One, the shock value. You know the term shock jocks. They outdo one another with their extreme pushing of the limits… Not with quality content or offerings. Shock doesn’t equal value. And second, if those big names are using those, your using them makes you look like you’re copying them, which immediately devalues you. Don’t be a cheap knock off. Be you!
3) It debases us all. I’m not a prude. I get that that side of our femininity is important and of value, but as I’m fond of saying “Our feminist sisters didn’t fight for this!” No matter where you stand politically, it’s hard to deny that we’ve worked individually and corporately to prove that we are on equal standing intellectually, academically, professionally, and personally with men. Every time I see one of my entrepreneurial colleagues use flashy and alluring language so out of context it’s actually confusing, I feel a bit defeated. I’m proud of my education. Of my career in a formerly male dominated field (as most were.) I’m proud of every sales call and professional, and personal, conversation where my opinion is requested and appreciated. And a Marilyn Monroe giggle and less than modest dress isn’t necessary. Let’s prove our value as women, not objects.
4) It’s just not all that creative. It’s like a “that’s what she said” joke. We get it. It’s done. When you’re putting together your marketing, whether it’s a blog post or weekly email, or a long term campaign, I want your brand to shine. I want a pun or play on words that really showcases your value as a company. I want succinct, powerful language that speaks directly to the customer. I don’t want just another cheap joke.
But it SELLS, you say. And that’s true, but does it sell everything? If you’re in fashion or other industries where people are choosing your product over others FOR that factor, then by all means get creative and use some innuendo. But too often I see people selling things that just don’t need that saucy factor with enough innuendo I couldn’t share it with my mother in law.
As female entrepreneurs, we are strong, we are creative, and often we are working alongside or even against men. Let’s use our female nature… Our creativity, our adaptability, our multitasking skills, our tendencies toward nurture and relationships… To make a positive, profitable impact. And not return to the days when our looks and appeal trumped our capabilities and competency.