Marketing-Speak: A Primer for NPO Marketers and Professional Story-Tellers

Board Blog Number 5 • February 2019 • By Michael Willmann, NPDC President and CEO of WMSH Marketing Communications


If you’ve ever asked yourself “What language are those guys speaking?” when you’re working with in the field of marketing communications, here’s a simple little glossary of terms to help you translate.

We’ve cobbled it together from a number of sources, so if you don’t like a particular definition, assume that we got it from somebody else.

It is definitely not inclusive. And, in some cases not even up to date…because things in the world of social media, for example, are changing daily! But we have tried to combine a nice mix of often-used (but seldom defined) terms with the truly arcane and esoteric. We do the latter just to show off.

In our hearts, we know that offering you this primer on Marketing-Speak will never excuse us from resorting to industry jargon.But we are hopeful that it will help you understand what we’re trying so hard to convey.


Ideally, an organization’s brand represents a bundle of benefits that respond to either the needs or wants of the brand’s customers and do so in such an effective way that the customers value the benefits so much that they ascribe them to the brand. It is often idealized as a unique and emotional connection between customer and organization.

SWOT Analysis
“Strengths” and “weaknesses” are factors that are internal to an enterprise. “Opportunities” and “threats” reflect the impact of external forces on the organization. A well-done SWOT analysis allows an enterprise to “weed out” the factors that it cannot control or impact, and focus on what those that it can.


PDF: Portable Document Format (and Printer Description File)
A proprietary format developed by Adobe Systems for the transfer of designs across multiple computer platforms. Used for proofing; cannot be edited.

EPS: Encapsulated PostScript
A vector based, computer graphics file format developed by Adobe Systems. EPS is the preferred format for many computer illustrations‚ because of its efficient use of memory and fine color control. The artwork description is “plotted” by the computer.

JPEG: Joint Photographic Electronic Group
A common standard for compressing image data.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol
FTP allows you to copy or send files (HTML-documents‚ graphic images‚ spreadsheets) from one computer to another via the Internet.


The study and process of typefaces—how to select‚ size‚ arrange‚ and use them in general. In modern terms‚ typography includes computer display and output. There are between 40,000 and 100,000 different type fonts (depending on the source you prefer)—that can be italicized, condensed, extended and made heavier (i.e., bold) and in point sizes ranging from “mouse type” (6 pt. or less) to unfathomably huge.

A unit of measurement in typography and printing. Twelve points equals one pica and there are six picas to an inch. So one inch equals 72 points, i.e., a printed letter that is one inch high is also 72 points high.

Adjustment of the lateral space between letters.

The space‚ measured in points‚ between consecutive lines of type. (Original name derived from the strips of lead placed between lines of hot type in the early 1900’s.)

Shorthand for “comprehensive” layout. Typically describes an intermediate step between a “concept” and a final, finished, and approved design. Note: Looks like the real thing, i.e., a finished product, but it’s NOT!

Shorthand for “speculative” creative work. Not done at the request of a client, but rather to illustrate how a concept might be executed. Often used as a synonym for “free” or “no charge” (unless you like it and decide to buy it).

As opposed to “original” photography or illustration…existing artwork that is available either for a set total fee that permits unlimited use (“royalty free”) or for a variable fee (“royalty”) that is calculated based on the proposed use (length of time, geography, etc.).

Bugs (Indicia)
Small icons that typically are mandated to be included in printed materials either by statute or convention. Examples include FDIC and EOL indicia and union symbols (which are often mandated on jobs printed by union printers).


Identity Package
Sometimes (erroneously, we believe) referred to as a “brand” or “branding.” Comprises the typographic execution of a name of an organization, product or service…usually in conjunction with an icon and often with a positioning line (i.e., “slogan”).

Use of an image or other graphic to reinforce the memorability of a name or concept (e. g., the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike “swoosh,” the Target “bulls eye,” etc.).

Positioning Line
A synoptic description of an organization, product or service, often but not always used in conjunction with the name and icon. Can be descriptive, geographic, aspirational, etc. Sometimes referred to as a theme line or slogan (Gaelic for “battle cry”).


Bitmap Image (bmp)
A graphic image stored as a specific arrangement of screen dots‚ or pixels; a graphic which is defined by specifying the colors of dots or pixels which make up the picture. Generally, this format is used for onscreen display.

Vector graphics are drawn in paths. This allows the designer to resize images freely without getting pixilated (i.e., “ragged”) edges as is the case with bitmapped images. Generally, the vector format is used for printing.


Stands for the colors Cyan‚ Magenta‚ Yellow and Black. In print design, colors are defined as a percentage of each of these 4 colors. Sometime written as “4-C” or “four color process.”

PMS: Pantone Matching System
Universally used system for specifying and blending match colors. It provides designers with swatches of more than 700 colors and gives printers the recipes for making those colors. Analogous to books of paint chips at the hardware store.

Spot Color
Use of one, two or three individual colors. See “Printing.”


Spot Color
Refers to a method of specifying and printing colors in which each color is printed with its own ink. In contrast‚ process color printing uses four inks (cyan‚ magenta‚ yellow and black) to produce all other colors.

A coating printed on top of a printed sheet to protect it‚ add a finish‚ and/or add a hint of color. An entire sheet may be varnished‚ or certain areas‚ like photos‚ may be spot varnished to add emphasis and appeal.

A book binding process in which pages are stapled together through the spine of the book. Traditionally performed on a V-shaped saddle. Many magazines are saddle stitched or stapled.

Perfect Bound
A book binding process where pages are glued together and directly to the cover of the book. The appearance is of a flat spine on the end of the book (e.g., paperback book).


Typically a survey by mail, phone, online, or in person that includes a large enough pool of respondents to allow the researcher to extrapolate the findings to suggest how an entire targeted population would respond to similar inquiries.

Typically, focus groups or individual in-depth interviews (IDIs) that target small numbers of respondents and look for directional responses. Sample size does NOT allow extrapolation.

Top Line Report
Highlights (usually limited to actionable items) extracted from a full report of research findings with only limited supporting detail.

Margin of Error and Degree of Confidence
Arithmetic calculations of the reliability and “extrapolatability” of quantitative research findings.


Newspapers (daily, weekly, monthly) and magazines

Broadcast and cable television and radio


Billboards, transit, point-of-purchase (e.g., floor decals)

Percentage of the target audience exposed to a message one or more times during a designated period (typically four weeks).

Average number of times within a designated period that the people reached are exposed to the message.

Rating Point
One percent of the target audience universe.

GRPs: Gross Rating Points
A measure of the total advertising weight delivered…the sum of the ratings for individual ads.


A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are written in
chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.
“Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; others function as more personal online diaries.

A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers.The term, like “radio”, can refer either to the content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also termed podcasting. The term “podcast” is a portmanteau of the words “iPod” and “broadcast”, the Apple iPod being the brand of portable media player for which the first podcasting scripts were developed.An alternative folk etymology suggest that the term is an acronym for “portable on demand.”Though podcasters’ web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of the content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS.

A webinar is a type of web conference, although the direction of the presentation more often than not is primarily one way from the presenter to the audience as in a Webcast—which is transmission of information in one direction only, like watching a concert on the Internet. A webinar, however, can be designed to be interactive between the presenter and audience. A webinar is ‘live’ in the sense that information is conveyed according to an agenda, with a starting and ending time. In most cases, the presenter may speak over a standard telephone line, pointing out information being presented on screen, and the audience can respond over their own telephones, preferably a speakerphone.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
Afamily of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”, contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually. RSS content can be read using software called a “feed reader” or an “aggregator.” The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

Web 2.0 and 3.0, et al

When used in the context of analysis and promotion of web-technology, refers to a perceived second and third generation of web-based communities and hosted services—such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies …which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to Web technical specifications, but, rather, to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the web as a platform.

Predates Internet…Multiple origins, e.g. MIT Mailbox 1965…2 billion e-mails sent daily…1.3 billion e-mail users worldwide…Average size of an e-mail is 75 kb…74% of spam sites are hosted in China20% of spam originates in U.S. Estimated cost of unsolicited e-mails to businesses is $100 billion+7% of e-mails are spam…1 in every 131 e-mails carries some type of malware.

A wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. They are being installed by businesses to provide affordable and effective Intranets and for Knowledge Management. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, originally described. One of the best known wikis is Wikipedia. Wiki Wiki is a reduplication of wiki, a Hawaiian word for “fast.” In English, “wiki” is an abbreviation of it. A wiki enables documents to be written collaboratively, in a simple markup language using a web browser. A single page in a wiki is referred to as a “wiki page”, while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is “the wiki”. A wiki is essentially a database for creating, browsing, and searching through information. A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted. Many wikis are open to alteration by the general public without requiring them to register user accounts. Sometimes logging in for a session is recommended, to create a “wiki-signature” cookie for signing edits automatically. Many edits, however, can be made in real-time and appear almost instantly online. This can facilitate abuse of the system.

Folksonomy (also known as collaborative tagging, social classification, social indexing, social tagging, and other names) is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content. In contrast to traditional subject indexing, metadata is not only generated by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary. Typically, folksonomies are Internet-based, although they are also used in other contexts. Folksonomic tagging is intended to make a body of information increasingly easy to search, discover, and navigate over time. A well-developed folksonomy is ideally accessible as a shared vocabulary that is both originated by, and familiar to, its primary users. Two widely cited examples of websites using folksonomic tagging are Flickr and


550 BC to 2018:
Postal service…Telegraph…Radio…ARPANET…CompuServ…Listservs…Six Degrees…AOL IM…The Donald…79% of US consumers own at least one smart device.75% of Americans online use Social Media…70% of consumers use Social Media to make purchasing decisions…80% of Americans believe that Social Media impacts public policy decisions

Online adults:
• Instagram: 32%
• Pinterest: 31%
• LinkedIn: 29%
• Twitter: 24%

One of the earliest social networking websites offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos internationally. MySpace was once the world’s sixth most popular English-language website and the sixth most popular website in any language, and the third most popular website in the United States. Now it is considered a dinosaur.

YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. YouTube was created by three former PayPal employees. The service displays a wide variety of video content, including movie clips, TV clips and music videos, as well as amateur content such as videoblogging and short original videos. Unregistered users can watch most videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos. Some videos are available only to users of age 18 or older (e.g. videos containing potentially offensive content). Related videos, determined by title and tags, appear onscreen to the right of a given video.

Created February 14, 2005…Owned by Google since 2006…76 languages…60 hours of new video uploaded each minute…1 billion users in 88 countries …800 million unique users per month…Three-quarters of material come from outside U.S.

Estimated 1.13 billion daily users…178 million on mobile… “third largest nation.” Average American: TV – 4 hours…SM – 9 hours. Average American Child (8 to 12): 6 hours a day looking at a screen. Phone: Cell-50.8%…Landline- 45.9%Facebook.  is a social networking website that was initially restricted to students of Harvard College. It was subsequently expanded to MIT, Boston University, Boston College, and all Ivy League schools within two months. Many individual universities were added in rapid succession over the next year. Eventually, people with a university (e.g. .edu,, etc.) email address from institutions across the globe were eligible to join. Networks were then initiated for high schools on February 27, 2006 and some large companies.

Since September 11, 2006, anyone 13 or older may join. Users can select to join one or more participating networks. The name of the site refers to the paper facebooks depicting members of the campus community that some U.S. colleges and preparatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff as a way to get to know other people on campus.
Created February 4, 2004…1.15 billion users…70 languages…604 million mobile users.Removes 20,000 profiles daily. Second most accessed website in U.S….Can be used in Australia to serve court notices

Initial release October 6, 2010…25 languages…Acquired by Facebook in 2012…1billion + total photos uploaded…58 photos and one new user added each second.

Launched July 15, 2006…200 million monthly active users…500 million tweets per day…Hashtag (# + words)…Original maximum was 140 characters


NOTE:This Glossary has been cobbled together by the folks at WMSH Marketing Communications, LLC…with both acknowledgments and apologies to:
American Association of Advertising Agencies, 20nine Design, and Wikipedia, among many others.