Many marketers suck their readers into the bog of humdrum with over-used words and industry jargon, hoping no one will notice they’re just coasting on properly spelled words and grammatical sentences. It’s a sign of writing laziness to trot out the same old phrases and buzzwords, using them just one more time, in the hopes of getting out of yet another copywriting jam.
These words aren’t even buzzwords anymore. They’ve had the buzz driven right out of them. They’re words that every good copywriter must stop using if they want to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
- Check Teacher’s Pet for all your back to school needs.
- Steve’s Auto Parts has all your automotive repair needs.
- Visit Cackling Larry’s for all your old-timey gold prospecting needs!
This is the cardinal sin of copywriting. Never, ever say “needs” in your marketing copy. If you have to, torpedo the entire paragraph and rewrite it. If you can’t think of another word, switch careers.
“Solutions” fill “needs.”
Need I say more?
“Storytelling” took off soon after the phrase “content marketing” did. And as the content marketing industry has become populated by the creative writing set, the word has become overused, even if the method has not.
I won’t go into the problem of blog posts written by “storytellers” that look less like stories and more like school papers or technical manuals, except to say this: if you call yourself a storyteller, tell stories. That’s different from Articlewriting, Blogposting, and Instructionexplaining.
Content marketers, stop saying you’re doing storytelling. Not everything is a story. You’re a writer, so write things. That’s a timeless, all-encompassing word that’s not in danger of becoming trendy overused jargon.
You’re not a storyteller unless you go to festivals wearing a black turtleneck and tell stories in that funny poetry-reading voice.
Content-rich, visually-rich, keyword-rich. It used to be an effective word, but it’s been so overused, it’s eye-rolling-rich. We say it when we should just say “full of” or “better.” But I’m even starting to see it to mean “meets the barest definition of.” As in “this book is word-rich.”
Why not say heavy, appealing, replete, full, packed, stocked, gorged, or my personal favorite, chockablock.
If I can get anyone to use the phrase “keyword-chockablock,” I will have lived a complete life.
The phrase “_____ is king” is as ubiquitous as those damn Keep Calm and blah blah something clever blah t-shirts. Someone’s going to say it, then thousands of people are going to repeat it, to be followed by many more thousands going, “nuh-uh, the thing I said was king is still king.”
Nothing is really king. It’s important, it’s crucial, it’s essential, it’s even critical. But it’s not “king.” The only King is Elvis. Also, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
And please, for the love of God, do not replace “is king” with mission-critical.
The world is filled — FILLED! — with overused jargony phrases that make me want to tear an Oxford English Dictionary in two. But these are the five I think we should do away with immediately. If we can start here, we can improve content marketing for everyone, making the world a bright and happy place.
(While we’re on the subject, I’m not real wild about “content” either.)
Photo credit: Itzok Alf Kurnik (Flickr, Creative Commons)