Recently, I got one of those emailed questions from a LinkedIn group I’m a member of.
The person posting the question wanted to know the marketing words or terms people found most annoying or overused. I had a pleasant little exchange with a gentleman from the UK who’s not too jazzed about “quality.” The point he makes—a good one, I think—is that most products these days are pretty reasonable quality. “Quality” gets a company out the gate, and trumpeting it doesn’t add much to a marketing message.
I’m not too crazy about the word “utilize,” which I see frequently in marketing collateral, because it’s got that fussy, over-elaborated feel. (Engineers seem to love it, though.) I also find myself annoyed by “business driver,” “proactive,” “solution,” and “value-add.”
Last Friday, my colleague Dale Riehart and I talked about marketing lingo over a great lunch at La Corneta in downtown Burlingame. Dale’s approach is to ask if a specific term is one his client’s prospects and customers use. If it is, he uses it. That’s the smart and reasonable way to do things. As copywriters, we need meet to the market where it is—though I believe our job is also to suggest better-sounding alternatives.
Now then, which overused and annoying marketing expressions get your vote?