There are some terrible expressions in daily use in the business world. It seems to me that whoever is writing content for companies (generally an employee rather than a professional copywriter) looks at a few similar websites and then picks out what they think are the best expressions. But those sites probably didn’t use a copywriter either. And so the circle begins.
Now that you’ve set up your new business, you are probably in the process of creating your website and writing for Requests For Proposals (RFPs), documentation or brochures. Like a lot of things happening right now, this is something you probably haven’t done too much of before. Be careful not to use all those buzzwords you see around. They may sound great, but more often than not, they mean absolutely nothing.
The most important thing to remember when writing is to keep it simple. You know your industry inside out, but it’s possible that whoever is shopping for your product or service doesn’t. Avoid TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). If you must use them, provide an explanation after the first use. Don’t use industry jargon either. Use a language your audience will understand and remember that not all your clients are English language natives.
Expressions to avoid when writing copy for your business
“Is designed to”
This one is loved by software companies around the world. The problem is that “is designed to” doesn’t actually mean that the product will do whatever it’s supposed to do. Instead it implies that it’s supposed to do something, but in fact maybe it will or maybe it won’t.
SOLUTION: Use “will” instead. Say “the product will…” or “the product does…” This creates a much stronger and positive sentence.
Unless you are talking about the exertion of force by means of a lever what you really mean is “use”. This expression came across from the USA years ago and is now dotted all over Irish websites and brochures.
SOLUTION: Say what you really mean and use “use” instead.
Well let’s face it, can you go backward when it comes to planning the future?
SOLUTION: Don’t use anything – just leave it out!
“Utilise” (or, even worse when not targeting the USA, “utilize”)
Why try to be fancy? “Utilise” isn’t simply a variation on “use”, it means to find a practical use for something.
SOLUTION: Again, what’s wrong with “use”?
Remember, more words and big words don’t mean better content. The fewer words you use, the easier it is for people to understand what you’re saying.
In April 2014, a question was posted on the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community about the most annoying buzzwords. The discussion went on for six months! As marketers, we know what expressions annoy us because we see them in use all the time. But, I can assure you, it’s not us using them!
Here are few of my favourite words to avoid, taken from that LinkedIn discussion:
- Thought leadership
- Best in class
- Mission critical
- Low-hanging fruit
- Growth hacking
It’s easy to fall into the “posh tap trap” and try to be different and clever. But really, keeping things simple is the best thing to do, for you and your customers.
About the author
Aisling Foley is a marketing consultant and a mentor with Enterprise Ireland. With nearly three decades of marketing experience, Aisling now works mainly with startups and small- to medium-sized software companies… [Read Aisling’s profile]