“Spring into style with new sandals,” “’Tis the season for gifting,” “Let freedom ring with our 4th of July sale!” No matter what time of year it is, marketers consistently put out advertisements full of lazy clichés we’ve seen a hundred times over. In an attempt to be clever, they often forget that when it comes to marketing, it’s much more important to be clear. Still, while we’d love to see an end to meaningless statements in advertising, there are nine other egregious marketing clichés we’d love banished even more. Read on to see which ones they are and why it’s time to for them to go.
Hassle Free (and Other Superfluous Expressions)
In Elements of Style Strunk and White tell us to “avoid fancy words.” They say, “Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there’s a ten-center handy, ready and able.” Their advice pertains to everything from literary prose to ad copy. Words that are short and clear are easier to quickly comprehend, so eliminate the fluff and keep it simple. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “Setting up my new TV was completely hassle free!” No, you’d say, “Wow. Setting up my new TV was super easy.” If there’s a less complicated word you can use—use it.
Rockstar & Ninja
If you’re describing Mick Jagger or a mutant turtle in his adolescence, then by all means, use these words. But if you’re describing yourself or your employee, we must ask you to refrain because when it comes to job descriptions and resumes, rockstar and ninja are totally overused and, therefore, totally meaningless. Plus, be real: While a computer programmer may be amazing at his job, unless he’s also got crazy guitar skills, gorgeous hair, and insane stage presence, he’s simply NOT a rockstar. He’s a gifted computer programmer who likely very much deserves to be hired, but probably isn’t selling out stadiums across the country.
Think Outside the Box
When you say you’re “thinking outside the box,” what you’re doing is using a cliché to describe “being creative.” And there’s nothing very creative about using a cliché to describe the creative way in which you think. Plus, it’s unnecessary. No one expects or wants people to think inside the metaphorical box, so there’s no need to point out that you aren’t.
Best in Class (and Other Vague Guarantees)
There’s no point in a brand calling out their attention to detail, reliability, dedication, excellence, integrity, or honesty because those are all things that clients and customers expect. Instead, provide tangible examples, like what exactly you’re promising and the pledge behind it, exactly how you pay attention to detail, how long you’ve been in business, etc.
Viral marketing is a real catch phrase these days, and we appreciate the idea of creating a marketing message that is voluntarily shared on social media by hundreds of thousands of people. However, the thing about going viral is that you can’t actually plan for it. You can maximize your chances by doing certain things, but ultimately, it’s completely out of a marketer’s control. It’ll either happen… or it won’t. Plus, as much as we try, it just reminds us of that time of year when the entire office gets the flu.
Content Is King
While it’s true that content that engages an audience and gets a reaction can be an effective marketing strategy, it’s also true that the phrase “content is king” is overused and stale. Plus, it seems to imply that any content, as long as there’s a lot of it, is better. It’s not just about creating large amounts of content though; rather, it’s about finding a way to tell a compelling story that reaches your target audience in a way that will mean something to them and inspire them to interact and engage.
Friendly, Knowledgeable Staff
As compared to rude employees who are lazy and know nothing? Again, there’s no need to say things that people expect anyway. It’s a waste of space and time that could actually be put towards giving customers valuable information they want and need.
Authenticity is important. Goodness knows we talk about its importance a ton when it comes to standing out on social or telling your story. But it will always be more authentic to just do authenticity without talking about how authentic you’re being.
Culture and Gender Stereotyping
The stay-at-home mom who cooks and cleans, the jealous girlfriend, the incompetent male, the little girl wearing pink and playing with dolls… Advertising has not only the ability to mirror culture, but to mold it. Lots of brands are starting to show us more than these silly, outdated stereotypes, but the truth is, we still have a long way to go.