Cluttering up your copy with jargon and trite phrases weakens your message.
Effective content means your message is heard loud and clear. Overused jargon and big words cloud your message and “corporate speak” — writing that throws around important sounding phrases with little or no meaning.
Below are seven examples of phrases and words that decrease your content’s value — are you guilty of using these?
Why it’s weak: Saying “we are the best” doesn’t do a lot of convincing. It is lazy writing that says nothing.
Instead: Don’t brag about your company, actually show people why it is the best (see also: Write Wisely: Word Choice and Impact). For example, turn “We are the dry cleaning company” to “Our dry cleaning service removes 49 percent more stains than our competitors does.”
Why it’s weak: Telling potential customers you have a “solid track record” doesn’t mean anything. It’s totally subjective — no better than saying “we are the best.”
Instead: Don’t advertise your “solid track record, ” show people your company’s success by specifying your companies’ benefits, like, “companies that have used our product have increased sales by 93 percent.”
Why it’s weak: Valuable content is concise and easy to read (see also: 8 Key Qualities of Excellent Web Copy). Adding complexity for the sake of sounding professional makes people have to read twice to understand you. And that’s assuming they’ll have the patience to read clunky text a second time. Phrases like “due to the fact” and “whether or not” uses a lot of words to say “because” or “whether,” respectively.
Instead: Simplify. It’s way easier to understand “because every product goes through rigorous testing” than “due to the fact that every product goes through rigorous testing.”
Why it’s weak: Written words and words in writing shouldn’t be redundant. Oh wait, was that sentence redundant?
Yes it was.
You wouldn’t say the same thing twice in a sentence? Most do this without realizing it. Take “each and every” together for example.
Instead: Cut out the redundancy and say either “each” or “every,” but not both.
Why it’s weak: Cliches like “think outside the box” are so common and unremarkable that they’ll pass through your readers’ minds without making an impact. What box are you even thinking outside of anyway? Why is thinking outside the box an inherently good thing?
Instead: Don’t tell your audience to “think outside the box,” show them how your company is different.
Why it’s weak: It’s another useless cliche. People are immune to overused jargon — they know instantly it’s meaningless. Instead of building trust, “win-win” makes people think of a dishonest salesperson.
Instead: Clearly describe what your product or service offers, enabling readers to come to their own conclusion.
Take a look at your content. Does it communicate meaning, or does it sound too familiar? Get rid of useless terms, unnecessary words and overused phrases. Replace that with clear wording that tells your target reader what your company, product or service is really about.
Photo: icouldbreathe’ from Flickr.
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