My favorite silly thing that happens in tech marketing is when the same overconfidence I see making up for inexperience in comments and forums creeps into official advertising.
I enjoyed the marketing roll-out for the original SteelSeries Arctis gaming headset lineup in 2017.
It had a whole series of slick videos explaining why their headsets would be different from the norm, and most of those claims turned out to be true.
That’s cool. It doesn’t always go that way.
But the campaign also features one of my biggest headphone terminology pet peeves.
The star of the slickly-produced videos is DeadPoolyPlays, a Twitch game streamer who now goes by Voxton. He’s generally knowledgeable about games and is an affable host for the videos.
However, in one of the promo pieces, he refers to the ear pads / cushions that surround your ears as “ear cuffs” repeatedly.
This is a common terminology mistake I’ve seen happen all over the internet. People refer to ear pads as cuffs or muffs , and it flips an angry switch in my brain when I hear the wrong term pop out like that.
Suddenly I understand the deep instincts of horrible internet haters that want to come tell me I’m wrong all the time, and I have to suppress them.
I think that our instinct to correct everyone all the time comes in part from the way the school system works, but I’m off track.
Here’s the short video in question if you want to see it.
A mistake like this signals a lack of experience, and implies a lack of authority. It immediately robs the marketing of some validity.
The worst part here is that SteelSeries left this in the videos. They didn’t pause and say, “Hey man can we do that again they’re actually called ear pads.” The other guy he’s talking to lead design on the product, and he doesn’t even blink an eye when this happens.
It’s always okay to shoot a second take.
Although SteelSeries still launched a good headset, leaving this mistake in means they’re marketing didn’t speak with as much authority to me, a big fan in the space.
In the desolate land of online technology fandom where anyone can weigh in on anything, it’s important to know where you stand, know what the terminology is, and have true confidence in what you’re saying.
This is true whether you’re trying to express a personal opinion, or sell a product to someone.
Not everyone online is an expert. Far from it. But if you’re trying to sell me an expensive thing, you’d better come off like you have at least as much knowledge as I do.
I’ve been in the online headphone reviewing game for about four years now. I already had a personal interest in consumer audio and years of professional experience in sound editing before I started publishing reviews in the space.
In spite of my expertise, every week someone tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about or I must be paid off because I don’t agree with them. I’ve learned to ignore these people, but it’s a rough world out here.
The bar for marketing is even higher.
No one is perfect. Experts and marketing consultants are people too. I get that.
But you have to do your best when you’re putting something out into the public space that’s supposed to separate people from their money.
The internet is one of the most open forms of media ever created, but we all have a tendency to treat it like our private suburban living room on a Saturday night. Marketing can’t be that way.
Don’t get caught saying inaccurate info in your advertising. The internet won’t give you an inch.