Marketing clichés are all around us.

no buzzwordsMarketing can be many things.  But marketing without originality isn’t much of anything.

That’s why there’s a desire among marketers to avoid clichés and buzz terminology in sales and marketing content whenever possible.

Still, it’s easy to fall into the cliché trap – and it happens to the best of us.

This is particularly true when the “next new thing” in business comes along every few months and people grasp for shorthand ways to communicate those concepts.

[There:  Perhaps “next new thing” qualifies as a marketing cliché itself!]

Brian Morrissey
Brian Morrissey

Recently, communications specialist and editor-in-chief of vertical media company Digiday, Brian Morrissey, came up with a list of 25 marketing clichés which he feels should be avoided if at all possible.

I’ve gone through Morrissey’s list and have selected ten that I think are particularly baneful – especially in the world of B-to-B marketing.  See if you agree:

Putting the customer at the center.  Isn’t it obvious that companies and brands would be committed to this?  And if not … where was the customer located before?

Having an “authentic” conversation with customers.  Inauthenticity isn’t cool.  Inauthenticity is also what we’ve been trying to avoid for years – or should have been.  There’s really no news in this statement, is there?

We fail fast.  Perhaps it comes from reading too many issues of Fast Company … but what companies do you know that want to slowly jettison a failed strategy?

Blue-sky thinking.  The “sky’s the limit” when it comes to “out-of-the-box thinking.”  Ugh.

Nab the low-hanging fruit.  This cliché has been around so long, there can’t be any low-hanging fruit left!

Dipping our toe in the water.  Trying to put a positive spin on a lack of depth or heft isn’t fooling anyone.

Open the kimono.  Any buzz phrase that conjures mental imageries of a flasher can’t be what we want to communicate.

Curated experiences.  A fancy way of admitting that content isn’t ours.  Besides, the term “curator” hardly sounds contemporary.  Instead, it connotes images of museums, galleries and other places that deal with the dusty past.

Surprising and delighting our customers.  Morrissey contends that this whopper makes brands come off like clowns … and that clowns are silly, scary or creepy – take your pick.

Tentpole idea.  Continuing with the clown analogy, no doubt … but whether it’s a circus or a tent revival, the mental imagery this elicits isn’t particularly apropos.

… And these are just ten terms on Morrissey’s list of 25 marketing clichés.

What about you?  Do you have any buzz phrases that you find particularly annoying – perhaps “thought leadership” or maybe “exceeding our customers’ expectations”?

Please share your nominations with other readers here.

3 thoughts on “Marketing clichés are all around us.

  1. interesting question with a number of factors

    As a translator of way-too-many years, I have always had the dubious pleasure of diagnosing BS when I had to translate it into another language (German-to-English or English-to-German).

    Sometimes the BS meter already zooms into the red when adapting English between cultural zones (US, UK, AUS).

    Aside from that, the amount of verbiage word-processed (one cannot really call it ‘written’) indicates how little readers and writers pay attention. It’s a little beyond “there’s one born every minute,” but most participants in the corporate hype do not want to know what they are reading. They have become like lawyers, literally cross-reading pages with an eye only for catch-words or -phrases or -numbers.

    Also, headings often contradict the content of a paragraph.

    So what’s the proverbial bottom line?

    As long as people complacently disconnect their BS detector, and produce as well as consume verbal yardage … WTF: Let them dumb themselves and their realms down to a quantity-drugged, pain-free zombie population.

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