Words and Phrases that Should Be Taboo for Marketing Writers

Marketing materials can sadly yet frequently incorporate dozens of overused, noncreative phrases that are more effective at putting the reader to sleep than making him or her excited about a product. Don’t be that writer. One strategy for figuring out what to do when you’re writing for clients or content writer services is to take a grand gander at what not to. Your overall list can start with making certain words and phrases taboo.

Empty, subjective adjectives

Your marketing writing will never be the best, or even better than the rest, if you pepper it with subjective terms that don’t mean squat. Best, better, cool, coolest, neatest, keenest and ultimate all fall into this grand chasm of empty, meaningless phrases.

For starters, each of these terms is totally subjective, making it unclear exactly who is doing all this “best” and “better” ratings. Secondly, “the best” doesn’t tell you anything specific about a particular product or service.

It’s the best bike on the road.

What makes it the best? Is it the fastest, the most lightweight, the one with the most gadgets or the biggest wheels? And who’s to say a particular person wouldn’t argue that the bike with the biggest wheels would be the worst bike on the road since the person happens to have a fetish for small wheels?

You get the idea.

Tired terms and even sleepier clichés

Marketing materials often sadly incorporate dozens of overused, noncreative phrases that are more effective at putting the reader to sleep than making him or her excited about a product. The worst of them fall into the cliché category, such as “It’s the best thing since sliced bread!”

Others suffer from such overuse and abuse that any power they used to have has long since been deflated. Readers automatically tune them out and gloss over them when they see these weak words coming. Examples include terms like innovative, state-of-the-art, and cutting-edge. And never, please never, but never refer to something as “new and improved!” New and improved has become so old and worn-out that its only potential function would be that of a joke.

Anything you heard as part of an existing slogan or jingle

Stealing chunks of other people’s slogans or jingles is not only lazy, but it could technically double as plagiarism. “Got milk?” is a prime example of a campaign that may have once been clever but has by now gone horribly wrong. Everyone from stone carvers to window washers with beer trucks in between. You could compound the agony by coupling the milk campaign with another popular slogan that has lived well past its heyday.

“Got beer? You don’t need Calgon to take you away when you have the best tasting brew.”

Buzzwords and more buzzwords

Buzzwords can be more annoying than the most tenacious gnat, although a gnat’s life may have more meaning. West Valley College does a good job explaining what it calls “fashionable buzzwords.”

Because buzzwords sound impressive and convey no precise meaning, they are very useful in business and military management, politics, and educational administration.

Examples from the WVC website include team, process, empowerment, interactive, competency, customer satisfaction, leverage, paradigm, validate, maximize, support and strategic. Those words were a hit back in 2005, and chances are some writers are still churning them out. Jump to 2012 and Imedicaconnection.com offers a modern slate of buzzwords that include showrooming, cloudsourcing, and gamification.

As technology advances, new buzzwords crop up with it, but that doesn’t mean you need to incorporate them. Relying on creative writing rather than empty terms helps your writing stay fresh longer and gives folks a welcome break from all the annoying buzz.

Ryn G is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


Small army of writers. Big platform in the cloud.

WriterAccess is the fastest-growing content sourcing platform that makes it easy to find writers, place orders and manage the workflow, all powered by advanced tools that become your GPS for content marketing. Sign up for a risk-free offer here.

Click here to request a demonstration of our platform.
You can also call 617-227-8800 or email info@writeraccess.com

Click here to become a writer for WriterAccess.

  • Categories