Advertising Marketing

A bun with nothing on it

It was a warm Canadian summer day, just perfect for a family picnic in the park. It was so perfect that there was a light breeze, birds chirping and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn. We set up under the shade of a maple tree and pulled out our meal to eat. Our oldest, 8 at the time, wasn’t feeling well, and for lunch, he asked for a bun with nothing on it.

I gave him all kinds of options: ham, cheese, butter, mayo. His reply: A bun with nothing on it.

Just the way he said it was almost rhythmic. Now, in an effort to cheer him up, I started making outlandish suggestions that turned into meme-style over-the-top call and response.

Tomato? Elephant? Fingernail? Just a bun with nothing on it.

Next, because he was starting to giggle, it became:

What would you like for your birthday? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What about Thanksgiving? Bun with nothing on it, too.

What would you like for Easter? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What would you like for Christmas? (He jumped in) ‘Turkey! Just kidding. Bun with nothing on it.”

I’m pretty sure the entire park heard me roaring. It was such a great quip, totally out of the pattern and then right back in. It was a moment of fatherhood pride that, even while feeling unwell, he was right on his game to make someone laugh.

Now, whenever someone says “Just kidding” inevitably one of my boys will tag on “bun with nothing on it.” I’ve found myself explaining “A bun with nothing on it” to teachers, neighbors, and my parents when my boys bring it up because one of the most awkward feelings is being on the outside of an inside joke.

This got me thinking about what it feels like when someone interacts with our business, and we use terms, phrases, or acronyms (or ‘inside knowledge’) they don’t have any context for:

Why don’t your current CAC (customer acquisition cost) and your ROAS (return on ad spend) line up? It’s a WYSIWYG editor (what-you-see-is-what-you-get).

Sometimes our acronyms aren’t even specific to our business, but just general terms we think others will know or terms we use internally.

What’s your ETA (Estimated time of Arrival)? Is it too late to repond to the RFP? (Request for proposal).

Not only is the listener feeling the awkwardness of being on the outside of inside information, but we often assume everyone gets that acronym and we don’t take time to explain it.

So what can we do? Evaluate everything you’re going to communicate in a scenario where someone outside of your business may hear or read it: Social Media, your email newsletter, or your sales call, and view it through the eyes of someone who has never heard of a bun with nothing on it.

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By Adam McLaughlin

Adam loves helping churches and businesses discover marketing ideas that are consistent with their values, loves coke slurpees from 7-11 and would love to speak at your conference or event!

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