Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where are my learnings?

Depending upon who you are, the subject of this post is either an all too regular question asked of you, or an incorrect answer on a seventh grader’s grammar test. Alas, “learnings” is not a real word, but yet an accepted, and highly utilized component of the marketing lexicon. As a result, I added the word to my Microsoft office spell check dictionary ages ago, as I grew weary of the red squiggly line that would show up in all my program reports.

I’m often curious as to how this word came to be part of marketing speak. Was it not enough share everything we learned from a campaign? Did someone at some point have so many things go wrong with a campaign, that their seriously upset client chided them with something like:

“This thing was so fouled up, you’d better not have just learned, you’d better have had learn-INGS. Lots of learn-INGS. This program was so bad that we need to make plural something that can’t be pluralized, so that you can truly appreciate how messed up this was. I feel like I ran into a school of fish that was so unexpectedly and overwhelmingly HUGE, that I had to yell – 'Holy crap – look at all of those fish-ES!!!!'”

Like a diamond forged in the depths of a fiery volcano, it must have taken a extraordinary event, followed by massive client explosion to bring this phrase to be.

Regardless, I think the word is here to stay, and destined to remain a part of the marketing world as long as it exists.

So you all know, if you try to look up “learnings” in the dictionary, you will not find it. In all likelihood, you will find “learning” and see the following definition (among a few others)

1. knowledge acquired by systematic study in any field of scholarly application.
2. the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.
3. Psychology. the modification of behavior through practice, training, or experience.

In marketing, it’s really the first definition that we are focused on; that is, if you are willing to believe marketing is a “scholarly application.” At SoHo we are obsessed with learnings; aiming to improve every minor detail or every event we create. Our goal, of course, is to pay attention to details, ensure that clients know we are on top of our events, accountable for what has occurred, and thinking about how to make things better. We think about learnings all the time; but every time I say it or write it, I laugh quietly to myself because it isn’t a real word.

In researching today’s blog, I stumbled on to a funny website,; a site designed to kill corporate buzz words. I had no idea that “learnings” was just the one of many corporate catch phrases that make people shudder just a little when they say or hear them.

Check out to enjoy some fun with overused and/or ridiculous corporate phrases. My personal favorites are:

• Low Hanging Fruit
• Hit the ground running
• 30,000 foot view, aka helicopter view
• Net-Net
• Listenership
• Final Final

Until next time, enjoy learning people what you’ve read here.



  1. Hahaha love it! That one bugs me all the time. Two others we use all the time but don't really exist:


    and also the unspellable "graphiced"...or is it "graphicked" or "graphic'd"

  2. good stuff Rick!

    my most hated catchphrase is "going forward". As in - "Going forward, we should tweak this program"

    Of course we are going forward... I mean, do you have a time machine in your office? Doing occasional time travel on the weekend? How hard is it to say - in the future?

  3. Here's the one I hate: "Do due diligence..." Ummmm..., do you actually "DO" due diligence? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that you "exercise" due diligence?

    Oh, and it was bad enough that the phrase "metrics" was overused for some time, but I actually had a board member who liked to say "metrices" as often as possible.

  4. Wow - I've never heard graphicked before, that's awesome!

    And yes Joe, whenever I hear DO DO, or DO due together, I totally revert to my Beavis and Butthead mentality and laugh.

    KMART - I'm calling Doc Brown and getting the time machine all fueled up.