Sunday, July 20, 2008

Eight Awesomely Bad Marketing Words

Words sell. Even in today's age of high definition, instant delivery, and high-speed access, sales are still made, or lost, using words. Whether your words are written or spoken, the words you choose will determine your success.

Here are some terrible marketing words and phrases that you probably have used or are using now.

Solutions -- Everyone claims to have a solution for your exact problem, even if they haven't bothered to identify the problem. If you're going to talk about a solution, first described the problem it solves, then the solution in detail. In business-to-business sales companies don't want solutions as much as they want systems, processes, expertise, and access to information. Ultimately these things lead to a real solution.

Top Quality -- Everyone touts their quality. There isn't a website on the planet that says "our product is mediocre, but it's cheap" but this might be refreshing. Quality is important, don't get me wrong, but today's consumers are discerning. If you're going to talk about quality make sure you can demonstrate it. Focus on quantifiable measurement. Think of the "quality" automobiles on the market today. How many safety stars? How many awards? How much resale value? Even in a physical product that everyone understands, such as your car, must use quantifiable measurement to demonstrate quality.

#1 -- There can only be one #1, yet it seems like every company claims to be #1. It's great to be the best at what you do, but again the focus on objectively explaining why you're the best.

Amazing, Ultimate, Awesome etc. -- These words have lost a lot of meaning lately because of overuse. When was the last time you were actually amazed by a product. I remember the first time I saw a Macintosh computer. It was amazing, but that was in 1984. I've watched the evolution of the tech industry and have yet to be truly amazed since then. I haven't been awestruck very many times in my life at all. And I have no idea what "ultimate" means anymore. A product is only "ultimate" for a couple of months in today's market.

Turnkey -- We are past the days where we want turnkey solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer appealing. Systems, processes, and customization are far more in demand even in direct-to-consumer products.

Needs -- Companies offer to satisfy our needs every day, but they don't identify what needs they satisfy. According to Maslow, there are only five basic categories of need: basic survival, safety and security, love and belongingness, respect and admiration, and self-actualization. Your company offers a product or service that probably fits one of these needs, so you get more specific.

Results -- Getting results is great, but get specific. "Our sales strategies get results" is a softball phrase, while "using our sales techniques you can expect to boost sales 10 to 30%" is a firm statement. Better yet, "our customers averaged 17.8% increased sales within six months".

We Care -- I write for the healthcare industry frequently, and they are the biggest offenders. Caring about your customers isn't bad, but everyone does it. Your marketing copy should differentiate you. Unless you are an industry that is notorious for non-caring providers, this won't differentiate you.

When writing strong website sales copy writers have a tendency to use words that sound good, but don't really sell anything. Your customers are skeptical. While people and businesses today do billions of dollars of online purchasing, there is still some residual effects of a time when we were afraid to put our credit card numbers into the computer.

When you use over-the-top marketing words in your marketing copy, it can increase skepticism. Generally speaking, your customers are intelligent people. They can handle the truth. They don't need to be amazed, they simply need information about your products and services.
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