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Avoid These 7 Overused Marketing and PR Words

Want to make your marketing and PR pop? Avoid these words.
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Is something true just because you say it is?

That's an age-old debate, and one we won't answer here. Yet for some reason, it's also the approach many people use when they send emails and create a marketing message. You say something is "best" and hope no one starts to question why that would be. You describe a product as "superior" without bothering to back up the claim.

When describing a product or service, it's better to use specific, descriptive words--explain how the leather material is made and why it's superior. Include the specifications for a new gadget or a mobile app that make it unique. And then drop the flowery language. It slows down your marketing prose. Here are a few candidates for expulsion.

1. Golden

Ever hear someone tell you something is golden? The overused term doesn't belong in an email or in your marketing lit. For one, it's not a descriptive word, it's just an expression. The word sounds dated and suggests perfection (when that's not possible). Worse yet, it doesn't really convey any meaning--it's just an ornamental word.

2. Lush

The grass in front of your house might be lush. Is that new iPad cover your company is selling really made of a lush leather? Remember that the word is reserved for describing vegetation, but it can also mean something that provides great sensory pleasure. It's better to describe materials using more accurate terms, such as Italian leather or stitched upholstery.

3. Über

The word über has now been commandeered by the car rental company. It was never a good choice anyway--what does über even mean? In most cases, it's supposed to be the supreme example--an über-techie, for example. It's better to pick something more descriptive. And besides--it's likely you can't claim a product is the supreme example.

4. Halo

In the car industry, there's always a halo car--the one the company is pushing the most. Using this word in marketing lit and by email has now become commonplace--you might be tempted to call your new iPhone case or USB thumb drive the halo product on the market. Don't do it. Not everyone knows how car companies use the term.

5. Pristine

When someone says his or her car on Craigslist is in pristine condition, that's helpful. Maybe it really is spotless. If you use the word to describe the sound quality of your new Bluetooth earbuds for business users, be careful. You are suggesting the sound quality is perfect and second to none, which is highly debatable. Better to stick to the specs and features.

6. Primo

Here's another word that has lasted way beyond its original usage...in the '70s. Sure, it means you offer something that is of the highest quality, and that's a good assertion when you include the proof. But primo will give your customers the impression that you can't think of a more descriptive word. It's lazy jargon because, instead of explaining why the quality is superior, you just use a filler word.

7. Ultra

Superheroes use the word ultra to describe their powers, but there are better words to help explain the quality and unique features of your new network router or a fancy new jacket. For starters, the word has nothing to do with being the best--it means the "extreme" example. There's also something really dated about saying your new mobile app or flower delivery business is ultra anything.

Last updated: Jun 20, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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