Marketing is all about building your brand and building trust with your audience. However, marketers often make a big mistake when they're trying to achieve those goals: overusing buzzwords and jargon.

This language ends up having the opposite effect of the one you're going for. Buzzwords obscure what your company is capable of -- one flashy word is just not enough to tell your customers what they need to know -- and customers are put off by complicated (and often meaningless) jargon.

If you want to build your brand and truly educate audiences about your industry, you're better off enlisting the help of your marketing team to create thought leadership content.

Making this a consistent part of your content strategy allows your company's leaders to combine their industry expertise with their individual voice and personal stories -- and that results in content that's more engaging, natural, and educational than content that's full of empty jargon and buzzwords.

At the end of the day, your audience is made up of humans. Communicating with them like they're real people does so much more to build your brand and make genuine connections than any buzzword-filled message you could deliver.

To help you avoid those empty messages, here are 10 words you might be using right now that don't actually communicate much to your customers:

1. Innovative

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the word "innovative" from a marketer, I'd be a much richer man. The fact is, most companies just aren't that innovative. They don't completely revolutionize their industry or change the world as we know it. Most offer slight alternatives to more traditional solutions, and that's fine. We should all be talking about what we do differently and why it matters -- but let's stop calling everything we do "innovative."

2. Visionary

"Visionary" gives the impression that you know what you're doing all the time and that you control the future of your industry. You might use this to portray confidence, but to your audience, it probably seems more conceited. If you want to look like a visionary, share your ideas (and then maybe let someone else call you a visionary if those ideas add up).

3. Streamlined

Customers are often more interested in what you do and what it means for them than they are in the specifics of exactly how you do it. Talk about efficiency, show how your process differs from those of your competitors, and communicate how that helps your customer. But don't water it down by simply calling your processes "streamlined."

4. Data-driven

Maybe 10 years ago you could call yourself "data-driven" and really knock the socks off your audience members. But now, a lot of savvy consumers expect you to make decisions based on actual data and information, so saying you're data-driven isn't that much of a differentiator anymore. If you've got access to amazing data that no one else does, talk about that and how you use it to bring value to your customers -- but don't just leave it at "data-driven."

5. Essential

Prospects have gotten along without you thus far, so how "essential" can you really be? Of course, don't hesitate to tell potential customers how you can make their lives better, but avoid telling them they can't live without you when, in reality, it's you who can't live without them.

6. Holistic

No product your company offers can ever be truly holistic. You may solve multiple problems, but you can't solve them all. Instead, be specific. Identify problems that your customers often face, and offer solutions that will work for them.

7. World-class

Have you ever been to a restaurant that touted itself or one of its dishes as "world-famous," but it wasn't actually all that great? That's the image that "world-class" gives. This term is too broad and too vague to be truly valuable to a potential customer.

8. User-centric

This one has been proliferating in the tech world over the past few years, but I'm not a fan. I think the phrase most people are looking for is "easy to use." Because, as with "data-driven," a lot of consumers now expect companies' platforms and brand experiences to be tailored to them -- or, at least, intuitive. If your tech isn't user-centric, then you're probably already in trouble.

9. Dynamic

It's a good thing to adapt to changes in your industry, sure, but if being "dynamic" is the defining trait of your company, I'd be a little concerned. Will I have to constantly change my processes to work with you? Will I have to update software? What if a pivot takes you to a place where you can't help me anymore?

10. Synergistic

I don't even know what this word means. Don't use it.

I'm not writing this article as an attempt to belittle anyone for using these words; I'm sure we're all guilty of using them at one time or another. And while none of us trots them out in an effort to alienate audiences, that's often what ends up happening.

Rather than using complicated words and phrases to share your expertise or talk about what your company does, don't be afraid to speak with your audience members like they're human. You may not sound as "smart," but you'll definitely be much more valuable to your current and future customers.

Published on: May 20, 2018