4 Words You Should Never Use in Marketing Content

August 13, 2009

wood-1007665_1920Did you know there are roughly 228,000 words in the English language?
Yet, we use the same ones over and over again in our marketing content.
I’m no saint. I, too, have been guilty of using jargon in the past.

But marketing jargon is like a mirage in the desert.
You think it will quench your customers’ thirst for impressive-sounding products and services, when really it leaves them desperate for something real.

Out of respect for our customers, let’s pledge never again to use these words in our marketing content:

1. Synergy
A throwback to the management consulting heydays of the early ’90s, ‘synergy’ became a fancier way of saying, “We play well with others.”

Today, it sounds pretentious and even evasive. It could cause customers to wonder if there is any ‘there’ there.

People appreciate transparency. They want straight talk. If you’re talking about a partnership with a customer or business partner, call it what it is:

  • partnership
  • collaboration
  • teamwork
  • a joint effort
  • working together

You get the idea.

2. Leverage (used as a verb)
Unless you’re talking about investing, don’t use leverage. Find a simpler word to convey your meaning.

For example, please don’t write:
Leverage our best-in-class solution to optimize your supply chain.

Instead, write:
Use our procurement software to source the highest quality materials at the lowest prices.

I think people are fond of ‘leverage’ because it sounds more sophisticated than the word ‘use’. But it’s almost always better to err on the side of simplicity in business writing.

The next time you’re tempted to suggest customers ‘leverage’ your product or service, consider these alternatives instead: use, utilize, take advantage of, make the best of, employ, etc.

3. Best-of-breed or Best-in-class
If your products or services really are the best, tell customers why. What awards or accolades have you won? Everyone says their products and services are ‘best-in-class’, but few have legitimate claim to the title.

Dig deeper. Explain precisely what makes your products and services better than the competition’s. Give prospects and customers a more tangible reason to engage.

4. Impactful
Yikes. Powerpoint presenters…please stop! Impactful is not a word. (And impact, when used as a verb, is questionable.)

Your products or services are not impactful. They may be effective, useful, helpful, beneficial, valuable, powerful, and even transformative; but they are not impactful.

Make friends with your thesaurus
Next time you’re tempted to use impactful jargon to explain how customers can leverage your best-of-breed solutions, try creating synergy with a thesaurus.

A thesaurus is a marketing writer’s best friend. I never write without one. It can help you find smarter, shorter substitutes for marketing jargon.

Banning ‘consultant-speak’ or ‘marketing fluff’ from your website, brochures and sales letters won’t diminish your value to customers. It will increase it.

Suddenly, customers will be able to absorb your meaning more readily. They’ll have more reason to trust you, when they don’t have to read between the lines of your marketing content just to figure out what you really bring to the table.

So, there you have my top four marketing misfits. What are yours? Let me know by replying below.

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