Amazing, Incredible Marketese: 10 Over-Used Terms to Banish from Your Marketing Vocabulary

What you’re reading right now could be the most important, ultra-super-wonderful article ever produced in the history of written human communication.

Only it really isn’t. In fact, it’s simply a collection of tips aimed at helping you make better-informed decisions about your marketing efforts. That’s likely the reason you’re reading, and that’s definitely the need I’m addressing.

Somewhere along the line, old marketing began making promises it couldn’t keep. And along with those promises came “Marketese” – hollow, generically positive words and phrases that soon lost all sense of meaning and became about as impactful as radio static.

Today’s consumers are jaded to hype. In the new marketing dynamic, there aren’t enough adjectives in the world to sell your products for you. The name of the game is show, don’t tell. You need real results, proven performance and genuine word-of-mouth to build credibility in what you do.

With that in mind, here are 10 types of trust-busting terms that you’d be wise to avoid in your communication with potential customers.

1. “Fantastic”, “astonishing”

And a dozen more like them. It seems that every product or service ever created is uniquely fabulous in some way. Oh, wait a minute: these positively ordinary adjectives and phrases won’t make your brand stand out. You’ll just blend in with all the others using them.

2. “Life-changing”

That new app might make finding a restaurant a little easier. Those socks are quite comfortable, and the fabric breathes well. But as things go, these niceties do not rank up there with actual life-changing events like, you know, marriage and childbirth.

3. “Awesome”, “off-the-hook”, “swaggy”

Yes, “swaggy” is a thing now. But it won’t be in five minutes. Because a person over the age of 22 (i.e., me) just used these terms in a marketing article, so they’ve all instantly become epic-fail stale.

Youth culture is a highly sought-after market segment, so it might seem like a keen, groovy idea to incorporate their latest lingo into your marketing repertoire. But in doing so, you risk alienating other audiences as well as missing the mark with your efforts to appeal to a constantly moving target. So unless your core market is primarily made up of tweens and teens – and unless your marketing changes as fast as the acceptable height of blue jeans on behinds – lay off the hip-speak.

4.“Cutting-edge” (and its hype-on-top-of-hype mutation, “bleeding-edge”)

The first page of a Google search for “cutting-edge products” reveals that this phrase is used to peddle everything from stun guns to farming supplies to puffy coats for pets, and of course a long list of tech offerings. Talk about death by a thousand tiny cuts – this phrase bled out any impact it may have had long ago.

5. “Vital”, “crucial”

There are certainly products and services out there that fit this category of descriptor: pacemakers, fire extinguishers, accurate accounting software and the like.

Is your product comparable to air, water or shelter within your industry? If not, then take the rhetoric down a notch.

6. “Biggest”, “fastest”, “mostest”

Unless you can legitimately prove that your product or service consistently out-performs the very best your industry has to offer in every measurable way, for every customer, every time…you get the idea.

7. “Revolutionary”

Are customers flooding the streets in celebration of your services? Marching on stores demanding more shelf space for your product? Or, more realistically, does your offering bring a truly new perspective to your field?

An improvement is not a revolution just because you proclaim it to be. It’s simply a few degrees better than what was previously available – and that alone is enough to make a difference to your customers.

8. “Sea change”, “paradigm shift”

What would business conference presenters do without these (dead) workhorse phrases?

If you want to lose the attention of your captive audience to other pressing matters such as checking email, mulling over lunch options and challenging their high score in Angry Birds, by all means sprinkle your speech with these empty terms.

9. “Extraordinary”, “elegant”, “high-end”

Yes, your products are very fancy. One-percenters can’t wait to show off your latest offering when they attend the next big art auction fundraiser at the Uptown Snootatorium.

But here’s a case where showing is so much better than telling. Find ways in your marketing to demonstrate excellence rather than merely claiming it, and you’ll make a much more compelling case with your customers.

10. “Rough”, “tough”, “rugged”

Durability is a legitimate selling point for many products. But this kind of language has been co-opted and drained of much of its power by products like paper towels (hint – it’s not “tough” if half a sippy cup of juice ends its usefulness), cologne (man perfume has little metaphorical connection to mountain peaks or snow tire treads) and children’s toys (which so often break or wear out before their first batteries run down).

Write outside the box (yep – there's another one!)

Undoubtedly, there are many more repeat-offenders like these that could easily be added to this list. And with so many phraseological pitfalls lurking out there, it’s a real challenge to keep your marketing copy fresh.

But there are better ways to say what you want to say than just falling back on the familiar. Remember: winning new customers always starts with building trust first, and to build trust, you must shed the mask of Marketese hype and get real about what you’ve done to deserve their hard-earned dollars.