Over the years, I've reviewed and critiqued hundreds of marketing messages as part of my free weekly newsletter. I've also examined hundreds of websites and other marketing materials.

It never ceases to astound me that companies continue to spew the same tired phrases that everyone has heard thousands of times.  Don't they realize that, with sales and marketing messages, same-old-same-old is the kiss of death?

Here are the nine phrases that keep popping up in marketing messages and materials, even from companies that actually do have something unique to sell:

1. "We have the highest quality..."

Since every company claims to have the highest quality, customers know that 99% of the time the claim must be utter BS. Why would customer think your claim, and your claim alone, is part of the 1% that isn't BS?  Even then, what exactly does "highest quality" mean?  And compared to what? And using what metric?  

2. "We have the best service..."

Similarly, every company claims to have the best service.  But, again, customers know it can't be true for every company.  In addition, experience says that companies that claim to have great service usually don't.  It's the law of inverse relevancy: "the more you don't plan on doing something, the more you must talk about it."

3. "We are an industry-leading..."

This phrase is trotted out so frequently that it fades into the woodwork. Boring! Even then, what does "industry-leading" mean? That you do everything better than everyone else? That competitors are amazed at your total awesomeness? It's obviously and egregiously biz-blabby BS.

4. "We are customer-focused..."

You mean, as opposed to companies that accidentally find customers while doing something else? In any case, if you're focused on customers, does that mean you're not focused your products, your investors and your employees? Why would a customer want to do business with somebody that clueless?

5. "Our product is state-of-the-art..."

Insofar as this milquetoast message means anything at all, doesn't it actually mean "mediocre?"  I mean, really, if a technology (aka "art") has achieved a certain state, doesn't that mean everyone has it?  When was the last time you actually saw a product leapfrog beyond the competition? The iPhone?  That was 10 years ago.

6. "Our product is next-generation..."

The same objection applies here. When technology moves forward, it's usually with several different companies in lock-step. The term "generation" implies a multitude. If there's a "next generation" product then it only follows that everyone else has got the "next generation" product, too.  

7. "We are a recognized thought leader..."

What, is there some kind of cosmic mind-reader that's deciding whose thoughts are generating other people's thoughts? Even the most charitable interpretation--that you have the good ideas first--implies that other people are using the same idea. So what's supposed to be so special about a "thought leader?" It's a dumb concept. 

8. "Our experienced team of professionals..."

A quick way to assess the absurdity of a marketing message is to state its opposite, which in this case would be "Our inexperienced team of amateurs."  Unless that's the marketing message that your competitors are using, then making this claim both meaningless and dead boring.

9. "You will be delighted by..."

Uh.., no I won't. Nobody is every delighted by anything that requires itself to be pre-positioned as "delightful."  It's like somebody starting a joke with the statement "This is a really funny joke." You immediately know that joke is going to about as funny as a crutch in a coffin.

Tomorrow, I'll give you an example of how to change a ho-hum marketing message into one that gets customers to pick up the phone (or at least hit REPLY to your email).  Stay tuned.

Published on: Jun 8, 2016
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