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Don’t Use These 20 Buzzwords in Your Marketing

For years I’ve been railing against using business jargon and buzzwords in your marketing. As it turns out, journalists can’t stand them either. In fact, it might get your pitch for a story immediately thrown in the trash.

 

According to this new report from Cision, journalists cringe when they read the 20 buzzwords outlined below. I do, too. (Hat tip to my friend Anna Davalos at Alejo Media for sharing the report on LinkedIn.)

 

Why you shouldn’t use business jargon and buzzwords

 

Business jargon and buzzwords are big turnoffs for many reasons. Most of them are overused, so you end up sounding like everyone else rather than you. Overuse also ends up diluting their meaning and impact.

 

And then there’s the fact that jargon and buzzwords tend to be hyperbolic and complex. It’s like pairing a string of words that are more at home in a law journal or SAT exam with exclamation points. It’s! Just! Too! Much!

 

Finally, jargon and buzzwords aren’t part of our everyday vocabulary. Imagine telling your kids you bought a “unique” cereal that will “disrupt” their breakfast routine, “transform” their morning experience and lead to an “unprecedented” increase in their happiness.

 

Exactly. You wouldn’t. (And here are some other marketing rules you shouldn’t break.)

 

Don’t use these 20 words in your marketing

 

Before we get in the offenders, I’d like to point out that synergy is nowhere to be seen. Some buzzwords die a natural death, thankfully.

 

Best of breed

 

I’m sorry, are we talking about the winner at a dog show? No? Then my god, don’t use this term. Journalists hate it so much, it’s their number one offender.

 

Use instead: Statistics, data, testimonials or a client list to demonstrate that Your Thing (product, service, whatever) is, indeed, the best.

 

World-class

 

As compared to what? Garbage? Economy class with zero legroom and a broken seatback?

 

World-class is just another way to state Your Thing is high quality. There are better ways to state that.

 

Use instead: Tell the story of how you developed The Thing and what makes it different. That’s what your customers care about.

 

Unprecedented

 

The definition of unprecedented is “never done or known before.” Does this accurately describe Your Thing? Didn’t think so.

 

Use instead: Just tell us how it’s different, like, “It’s the only cereal on the market that includes whole vegetables!”

 

Unique

 

Similar to unprecedented, unique implies nothing like it exists. Human beings are unique (even identical twins are). So, no, your thing isn’t unique.

 

Use instead: I like distinctive, special and noteworthy. They’re not overused! Yet.

 

Cutting-edge

 

This poor buzzword has been around a long time, and it shows no sign of abating. If you have to tell us that Your Thing is cutting-edge, it might not be.

 

Use instead: Like I suggested for best in breed, don’t tell us. Demonstrate with statistics or data.

 

Thrilled

 

I used to love and use this word, and then everyone started using it. Poor thrilled. It is a great word, and it’ll come back again one day.

 

Use instead: I like delighted or even good old happy. “We are delighted you like our vegetable cereal!”

 

Exciting

 

I think exciting gets overused because it’s an easy word, like using “have” or “be” instead of a more interesting verb. I’m sure you use this word all the time in your everyday life – I do! But for marketing, we need something else with more zing.

 

Use instead: Thrilling. (Just kidding.) This is one of those instances where you might want to drop the adjective and let your verb do the heavy lifting. “Our vegetable cereal is satisfying hungry tummies around the world.” (I removed “exciting” from in front of vegetable cereal.)

 

Leading

 

Your Thing could be a “leading” product if it’s ranked 99 out of a 100 Things. Hey – it’s still ahead of number 100!

 

Use instead: This is where usage statistics come in handy. How many companies use Your Thing? How many end users? How many hours or dollars do you save them? What’s the impact on society?

 

Disruptive/disruption

 

This was a very cool buzzword around 10 years ago when new technologies were absolutely disrupting large industries. Uber disrupted taxis. AirBnB disrupted hotels. Tesla disrupted luxury cars AND electric vehicles.

 

Unless Your Thing is literally upending an established industry and having a widespread impact on society, it’s not disruptive.

 

Use instead: Nothing. Just don’t say it.

 

Award-winning

 

The abuse of award-winning makes me sad, because it’s such a nice way to say you have received outside validation of how great you are.

 

Use instead: In the footer of your website and all digital and print materials, include the top three or five awards you have won. People will see it.

 

Innovative

 

Truly innovative products and services no longer stand out when they use this term, which stinks. It’s a good word.

 

Use instead: Like “best of breed” and “world-class,” just demonstrate through stats, data, differentiators or testimonials.

 

ROI

 

There really is no substitute for return on investment, or ROI. With that said, don’t use it in your pitch to journalists!

 

Use instead: A stat that shows the average ROI your customers enjoy. Again, show, don’t tell!

 

Dynamic

 

“Dynamic” for copywriters is the equivalent of “pop” for graphic designers. It is devoid of meaning. The actual definition of dynamic is, “(a process or system) characterized by constant change, activity, or progress.”

 

Use instead: Those words – constant change, activity or progress.

 

Transform

 

Everything out there is supposed to transform your life! A mattress! An heirloom tomato! Yoga!

 

Do they? Maybe.

 

Use instead: Customer testimonials in which real people share how Your Thing transformed their lives.

 

Leverage

 

Of all the words on this list, I hate leverage most of all. It’s been overused for so long. Can’t it die of natural causes like synergy?

 

Use instead: Use or influence. Both perfectly good words.

 

Seamless

 

Confession: This used to be one of my favorite words. It’s just such a simple and elegant way to describe bringing two things or experiences together. I hope I can use it again one day.

 

Use instead: Easy, perfect, smooth, continuous.

 

Largest

 

Poor largest! This surprised me, so I’m wondering if it’s used too liberally to describe an event or space, like “largest music festival” or “largest water park.”

 

Use instead: State the number of attendees, vendors, musical acts, square feet, gallons of water, feet of water slides – anything that is quantifiable.

 

User-friendly

 

User-friendly and our next term, easy-to-use, are both legit terms. I use them when appropriate.

 

Use instead: Well, I’m going to buck my advice. Use them – sparingly!

 

Easy-to-use

 

See above!

 

Extensive

 

Extensive implies that Your Thing offers a laundry list of benefits or features. It doesn’t. Nothing does. The list ends eventually.

 

Use instead: Substantial or considerable. Don’t use comprehensive, though! That word is abused (and I’m really surprised it didn’t make this list!).

 

What jargon or buzzwords do you loathe?

 

This is a great list, but I’m sure you have your own words to add. What other words suffer from overuse?

 

Photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash

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