If you work for a solar power company, you need to know the ten new terms on Greentech Media’s “Top Cleantech Buzzwords and Phrases from 2014.” These words and phrases are truly useful to understand a fast-changing industry. But there’s other business jargon that you’re better off without.
Buzzwords you need
Let’s start with “grid defection.”
Imagine, for example, that you’re in a meeting with an executive of the local electric utility. Then you’ll definitely want to know about “grid defection,” because it’s certain to be on that executive’s mind. This term, which may describe a business opportunity for a solar developer will sound like his company’s worst nightmare to that utility exec.
Though “grid defection has never been a real worry for utilities,” says Greentech’s Stephen Lacey, it could be in the future. “A February report from the Rocky Mountain Institute analyzing the economics of grid defection showed that, in theory, millions of consumers around the country could soon disconnect from their utility using commercially available distributed resources.”
Also on Greentech’s list:
- YieldCos — Short for “yield companies,” investment pools that provide financing for a group of solar power or other renewable energy projects
- Giga factory — A plant to pump out gigawatts worth of solar PV panels and batteries to rapidly increase future solar capacity that may be coming in the near future
- Utility 2.0 — Inspired by Web 2.0, it’s supposed to be a new-and-improved business model for electric utilities that will allow them to play nicer with distributed clean energy generation
Buzzwords you should dump
In the fast changing world of solar marketing, keeping up with terms like these that describe new developments is just a basic part of maintaining your energy literacy.
But some jargon — especially lingo common in a tech or B2B company — will hurt rather than help your solar marketing campaign to reach potential customers and other important audiences like the news media.
Just think of how the boneheaded bosses talk in “Dilbert” or the movie Office Space.
- Next Generation
- Cutting edge
- Ground breaking
- Best of breed
- Mission critical
Executives may think lingo like this makes them sound smart, or at least makes them fit in better to a macho corporate culture that can often come off as bragging. But business jargon is now so overused as to be nearly meaningless. At best, your audience will roll their eyes. At worst, they may think you’re trying to bluff your way out of giving a real answer to a difficult question.
Consider your audience
Empty business jargon is bad enough in conversation. But in writing, especially on a website, buzzwords can lose you traffic and cost your company sales.
In solar web design, it’s more important than in many industries to be as clear as possible. PV panels, solar thermal, battery storage and energy efficiency are already complicated enough even for business audiences, not to mention consumers. Don’t use lingo unless it adds clarity, as do the truly helpful terms on Greentech’s list. And even then, consider your audience.
As to plain old B2B business jargon, it’s gotten so tired that it’s not really appropriate for any audience anymore.
“Come to Jesus Meeting”? “Onboarding”? “Punch a puppy”?
Please, just say no. You’ll be glad you did.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group