There are shocking words and phrases that show up in a tremendous amount of advertising. They might not be shocking to you. In fact, you see them so often that you’ve become immune to them. Seeing them is like listening to a sleep-tape. You tune right out, ignoring the rest of the message. That’s why they are shocking to me. Advertisers spend a lot of money to get in front of you and grab your attention. Then they use these words that subconsciously force you to ignore them.
So here it is. The words and phrases you are no longer allowed to use. Nope. Uh-uh. Not even “just this once.”
- Superlatives – Best. Fastest. Friendliest. Most efficient. You cannot guarantee that you are the best, and even if you are, no one is going to believe you.
- “All Under One Roof” – We’ve heard it before. Too much. We’re tuning it out now. Besides, it implies that you are a jack of all trades, master of none.
- “One-Stop-Shop” – We’re sick of that one too. Same reasons.
- Anything about “Customer Service” – Are you Nordstrom? Can you beat that level of customer service? Then don’t even mention it. Of course you have good customer service. If you didn’t you shouldn’t be open. Besides, telling people you have good customer service makes people wonder why you have to tell them this. Is it because you don’t? This one can actually backfire on you.
- “For all your _________ needs” – What we need is to stop hearing that line.
- “Satisfaction Guaranteed” – It better be or I’m not buying from you ever again, and neither is anyone I know. Another example of something you shouldn’t say because you shouldn’t need to say it.
- “The Only Source for…” – Nope. You’re not. Don’t try to kid me. Unless you are literally the only one in the world that sells your product or service.
- Product Features – No one cares about what your product can do. They care what it can do for them. There is a big difference between those two things.
- Clichés – Please, just don’t.
- “We” – Every time you use this word, you push your customers a little farther away. (Hint: Every time you use the word “You” they get pulled a little closer in.)
- Best Prices (AKA: Cheapest) – Never compete on price. If your price is fair for what your customers get, then it’s no longer part of the equation. Let it go.
- “Expect the Unexpected” – Then it won’t be unexpected, will it? I want an ad to set me up with realistic expectations that will be met. This is a cop-out.
- “We Think Outside the Box” – Do it, yes. Say it, no.
- “A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity” – Your competitor is having an even better sale. Tomorrow. So only use this if you have ordered a hit on your customers, because that’s the only way you can guarantee it.
- “We’re Different” – Don’t say it. Show it. Prove it.
So there you have it. Now, look at the picture at the top of this post again. Once you have eliminated all the phrases you can no longer say, what’s left? Not much. And that’s what the ad says. A whole lot of not much.
Are there any other cardinal sins you know of? List them in the comments below.
Have you been using these phrases in your advertising? You might have a case of Over-Inflated Hyperbolic Assertion. Fortunately, we know all about it and how to cure it!