When you write content for your business or nonprofit, you may be focusing on professionalism and accurate information to build and retain credibility. But what if you’re unintentionally turning off customers with your copy?

A recent study from Bospar (a PR firm in San Francisco) revealed that marketing clichés repel—not attract—constituents and customers and that simple, straightforward communication is the most effective way to build trust and meaningful dialog between parties.

The vast majority of B2B decision makers (88%) feel that marketing clichés are detrimental to a company’s credibility and are turned off by them. Oh-oh.

Time to take notes and avoid these terms “like the plague.” (Another overused cliché.)

  • “Bleeding-edge”
  • “World-class”
  • “Best-in-class”
  • “Cutting-edge”
  • “Industry-leading”

This finding motivated me to search for other words and phrases that can have negative marketing results. In a FreelancersUnion post, Mark Concannon provides a list of some words NOT to say when promoting your business/organization. Here’s a sampling:

try

“You never ‘try’ to do anything. You never ‘try’ to provide superior customer service, you PROVIDE superior customer service.”

I think

“’I think we have the highest quality software.’ No, you HAVE the highest quality software.”

some of the

“’Our employees are some of the best in the business.’ Okay, can you tell me which ones aren’t some of the best? I don’t want them working on my project. Be definitive. ‘Our employees are the best in the business.’”

Here are some phrases and words to avoid, posted by Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers:

customer-focused

“Shouldn’t your marketing efforts always be focused on the customer? Instead, tell the customer why you go above and beyond your competitors. Highlight your brand in a way that says you’re customer-focused without being so obvious about it.”

best in class

“First, who defines your class? And who decided you were the best in it? You truly may be that remarkable but prove it by describing your accomplishments, awards, etc. Remember, customers don’t necessarily need best in class, they need what’s best for them.”

expert

“The old adage says that if you have to say you are, then you’re probably not. Show your expertise to customers and let them evaluate if it’s enough to suit their needs.”

Red Canoe Media offers these words to avoid:

cheap

“Word choice is crucial, and you should eliminate the word ‘cheap’ from your vocabulary; at least when you are referring to your own products and services. You don’t want to market your business as cheap for several reasons. First off, it makes you sound undervalued, as though what you’re offering isn’t of a respectable quality. Secondly, it makes you sound like a used car salesman.”

one stop shop

“The phrase has been horribly overused and now has been inducted into the cliché hall of fame. Believe it or not, this term is almost a century old, and has fallen out favor long ago.”

RingPartner suggests avoiding these words:

cutting edge

“This phrase is absolutely done. Anytime this is used it just sounds like drivel. Leads will look over this and their eyes will literally glaze over.”

groundbreaking

“Unless your product is up to par with the iPhone or sliced bread, this label isn’t really applicable. Very few products are actually groundbreaking. Don’t claim to be this when you know that’s really not the case.”

revolutionary

“This term isn’t only overused, it’s inappropriate. Unless your product or service has resulted in starting a revolution, you shouldn’t be adding this to your list of marketing adjectives.”

Can you add any cringe-worthy words or phrases that marketers should avoid in their content writing?

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