4 Words You Should Never Use in Your Marketing Content

November 13, 2018


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’m guilty of it too.

Marketing jargon is like a mirage in the desert.

You think it’ll quench a customer’s thirst for impressive-sounding products and services, when all it does is leave them yearning for something real.

So let’s get our ducks in a row already, because we’ve all got a lot of balls in the air. And at the end of the day, when it comes to finding especially annoying examples of jargon, there’s plenty of low hanging fruit.

See what I mean?

I have a particular dislike for 4 words that I beg you not to use in your marketing content.

1. Synergy

A throwback to the management consulting heydays of the early ’90s, “synergy” grew popular as a fancy way of saying, “work well together.”

Well, these days it sounds passé and pretentious. Evasive even. It can cause customers to wonder if there’s any “there” there.

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

  • partnership
  • teamwork
  • a joint effort
  • working together

You get the idea.

2. Leverage (used as a verb)

Unless you’re talking about investing, please don’t use leverage. Find a simpler word to convey your meaning.

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

Instead, write: “Use our 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”.

Simple is better when it comes to business writing.

Did you know that the most effective content reads at an 8th grade level or less? Making your writing less complex won’t make you any less credible.

Still tempted to tell customers how they can “leverage” your product? Consider these alternatives instead:

  • use
  • apply
  • enjoy
  • take advantage of
  • benefit from
  • make the best of

3. Best-of-breed or Best-in-class

If your products or services really are the best, tell customers why. What awards or accolades prove your claim?

Explain what makes your products and services better than the competition’s. Give prospects and customers a specific and detailed reason to be wowed by you and to want to engage.

4. Impactful

Yikes. Please stop! Yes, impactful is a legitimate word. And many, many people that I respect a lot use it at least once a week.

It’s also a word that can make people’s eyes roll.

I’m a big fan of being as specific as you can be with language, and there are lots of DIFFERENT ways something can have an impact.

Consider these more specific alternatives:

  • effective
  • efficient
  • useful
  • valuable
  • revenue-yielding
  • moving
  • transformative
  • life-changing
  • inspirational
  • soul-quenching

(Again, over 228,000 words in the English language!)

The Best Advice? Make Friends With Your Thesaurus

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

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

I promise that banning “business speak” from your website and content won’t diminish your value in the eyes of customers—it will only increase it!

People will be able to get your meaning more readily. They’ll have more reasons to trust you, when they don’t have to work too hard just to figure out what you’re really bringing to the table.

So there you have my top four marketing misfits.

Now, what are yours?

Need jargon-free marketing content to fuel your campaigns? Get in touch!