5 Marketing Terms to Avoid

by Mistina Picciano on April 11, 2012

Image for Marketing Cliches PostIf you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve likely heard the instructor rail against clichés.

Why is that? If everyone is familiar with a phrase, then using this tried-and-true language will ensure we communicate our point.

Except it doesn’t work that way.

Using clichés tells your reader that you didn’t want to take the time to express yourself in an original way, so you took a shortcut.

Marketing clichés are just as bad. Pepper your marketing materials with them, and you sound like everyone else. If you’re like everyone else, why should someone work with you?

No doubt, your company excels at its core business, and you’re a really swell person. To help convey that information, strike the following words (or variations) from your website and marketing pieces and emphasize what makes you stand out

  • Industry leader. Really? According to whom? If J.D. Power and Associates or some other recognized authority attests to your excellence, then share those props. If you’re saying it because it sounds good and no one can confirm otherwise, drop it.
  • Value added. What does this mean? You’re delivering value in exchange for your customers’ patronage? Duh. Isn’t some value implied in a commercial transaction? Perhaps you mean that you provide greater value than the competition, which brings us to…
  • Exceeding expectations. Uh huh. I don’t know about you, but my personal expectations tend to be high. Delivering what you said you would when you said you would doesn’t exceed expectations; it fulfills the minimum requirements of acceptability. If you truly exceed expectations, prove it.
  • Unique. Yes, we all like to think that we’re special, that we, like a certain rose to a tiny prince, are one of a kind. But our products and services probably aren’t radical enough to qualify as unique. If, however, you do have a proprietary process or some other secret formula, let the world know. Be specific.
  • Next level. Who else is sick of hearing entrepreneurs, athletes, you name it, talking about attaining the next level? What, pray tell, does that level look like? Most people don’t bother visualizing that level of success, which is why they rarely reach it. And marketers have seized this generic catchphrase and beaten it past resurrection. Enough.

Sure. These are a few of my personal pet peeves. But see how many you find the next time you’re forced to read someone’s collateral material, and then purge them from your own.

Excuse me. I’d better take another look at our marketing messages.

Don’t see your favorite marketing cliché in this list? Please share with us – both the cliché and the reason it irritates you.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacob Stoller April 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I find “competitive advantage” particularly annoying because it is usually used to support a very presumptuous claim.

“Frankly” bugs me too. I’ve found that people who use it are often not telling the truth.

Mistina Picciano April 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Ooh. “Competitive advantage” is an excellent one. That’s another one we’ll add to our list of words to avoid.

And you bring up an excellent point with “frankly.” It goes along with “to be honest” and “to tell you the truth.” Whenever someone says that, it typically precedes a lie. (Heck, the words literally imply that the speaker wasn’t being honest before.)

Bob Makofsky April 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

My all time favorite is “interoperability”. It was huge during the dot com boom. Back then it was the buzz word of buzz words. Now everything is interoperable. Verizon now offers a smartphone app that lets you watch home security cameras and turn on lights.

Mistina Picciano April 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

An excellent one, indeed. In fact, the tech industry alone deserves a list of 20 or so buzzwords that mean zilch to the average prospect.

Um, you don’t actually use that smartphone app, do you?

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