Is your product or service the most innovative, transformational, next-generation, best-in-class, cutting edge, synergistic, win-win, unprecedented, outside the box, game changing, insane, amazeballs thing to hit your industry, well, ever?
Great, but please, please stop using these words in your marketing content. Respect your audience and tell them why your product is so super instead of relying on worn out adjectives that everyone else is using.
Stephen King says in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.
King’s advice applies to clichés, adjectives, superlatives, stereotypes and other trolls of quality writing. It takes bravery and commitment to avoid these words in your marketing — you must be confident that your brand story and the benefits of your product will compel a customer to buy. I’ve seen the most self-assured leaders insist on sticking a last minute “market leading” or “state of the art” in an advertisement or press release, and I cringe every time.
Here are five tips to identifying and avoiding overused language to improve your marketing content.
Start with Why
Yes, I stole this from Simon Sinek, and it is a great concept to apply to your marketing copy. If your product is so darn innovative, say why it is innovative. So you came up with the best hair dryer? Why is it the best? Tell your audience what makes it the best. Does it dry hair in five minutes?
Anyone who uses a hair dryer will understand the implications of this. It means they save at least five minutes every day … or 1,750 minutes a year, which is nearly 30 hours or 1.2 days. That does make it the world’s best hair dryer.
Even better, you’re solving one of your customer’s major pain points. You can say it is the world’s best hair dryer, but you will elicit a more powerful reaction if you say your hair dryer dries hair in five minutes.
You’re an innovative entrepreneur, so apply innovation to your content. Scan copy for tired superlatives and clichés and then find a new way to say the same thing. While it takes time, your marketing content will be more powerful.
Read Aloud & Omit the Unnecessary
Read your content aloud. Are you stumbling over adjectives or adverbs that lack meaning or value? If removing an adjective does not change the meaning of a sentence, then omit it.
Show, Don’t Tell
This creative writing 101 concept is valuable to marketers, too. Incorporate a story into your content that shows why your product is so great vs. just telling your audience it is great. This will help you avoid boring language while connecting with your audience.
When your marketing copy makes your product sound to good to be true, you lose credibility and your customers will disregard you. Think about the headline, “The world’s most transformational hair dryer.” Not only does that sound ridiculous, you immediately think, “I doubt it.”
Writing quality marketing content is hard work even for the most experienced writers. When you take the time to write original, creative content, you will have more success connecting with your audience. As Ken Gordon says in his Harvard Business Review article You Can Talk About Innovation Without Resorting to Cliches, “language success is about freshness, not scale.”
Be strong, and take the time to weed out the dandelions. Your customers will thank you.