Words and Phrases to Avoid in Marketing

Do you work for a BtoB company or BtoC? What about PtoP?  It’s easy to forget that behind every “C” and “B” is a real person. We are just People talking to People.

We do our best job as marketers when we truly believe in our product or service and we genuinely think it will benefit another person. That authenticity is lost when instead of seeing our audience as people we think of them as a business, consumer, prospect, audience or worst of all, target.

Consider this conversation starter:

“Hi Sue, you know I have a proven track record of choosing world-class restaurants and I’ve discovered a new one. I propose that we take a collaborative approach to our evening – we’ll work synergistically to select our food. It will be a real win-win. What do you say?”

You’d never speak to a real person that way so why allow the language to invade your marketing? Somehow it just happens. Try as I might, the fluff creeps into our marketing pieces too. I’ll continue to edit and we’ve added a list of phrases/words to avoid to our brand style guide. It’s important that all people who speak for your brand know where you stand. As a PtoP company, we stand for people.

Here’s a list of words to avoid by Jeff Haden. He provides words to avoid in email and on websites, but they apply to all marketing communication. His reactions gave me a good laugh.

  1. Innovative: Everyone claims to be innovative. How do you set yourself apart? By not using the word. If you’re truly innovative, show me.  Describe products you developed and give me something real — then I’ll know you’re innovative.
  2. Service provider: Everyone who meets a need is a service provider.  When I fill up my car, the gas station is a service provider.  If you’re an Internet Service Provider, fine — otherwise, use plain language and tell me what you really do.
  3. Proven track record: Every company has a track record and it may be good or bad, but it’s proven. Give me facts and figures instead.  Let your track record be proven by your achievements.  Don’t have any achievements yet?  No problem, you don’t have a track record either.
  4. Unique blend of: If you’re KFC , your recipe may be a unique blend of herbs and spices.  Otherwise, someone, somewhere, is also doing what you do. You may do it a little better, but you aren’t unique.  Describe why you’re better.
  5. World-class: Usain Bolt: world-class sprinter. Lindsey Vonn: world-class skier.  That makes sense, but what is a world-class company? The fact that you provide services to a global customer base doesn’t make you world-class.
  6. Collaborative approach: You won’t just decide what’s right for me and force me to buy it?  Wow, impressive!  If your process is designed to take my input and feedback, tell me how it works.  Describe that process to show me how we’ll work together.
  7. Outstanding customer experiences: The problem with this term is it describes a general phenomenon. How will my experience be outstanding? Tell me what I can expect.
  8. Dynamic: If you’re “vigorously active and forceful,” I’m scared.
  9. Myriad solutions: This phrase is everywhere. I think the intent is to say, “Boy, we do a lot of stuff.” To me it comes across as, “We’ll do anything you’re willing to pay us to do.” Break your solutions down into categories and describe them. Solve my problem, but don’t use meaningless buzz words.
  10. Results oriented: Really? I will get what I pay for. I assumed you would focus on something more important than results.

Adjectives are great, but only when they’re specific, descriptive and applicable to what you do. Be authentic, Be PtoP!

Do you have any words or phrases to add? Share them on our Facebook wall with our fans!

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