63 Empty Business Writing Cliches to Avoid
Contrary to popular belief, using business cliches in your writing isn’t always a bad thing. The definition of a cliche is “a trite or overused expression or idea,” but sometimes those terms and sayings are overused for a reason: because they work. Advertising works best when it’s able to transmit a wealth of information and meaning with a single phrase, even if that phrase happens to be a bit cliched. Saying a lot with a little is important in business writing, and cliches are one tool that can help you do that.
They become a problem, however, when they’re so overused that they end up losing all meaning. Once you hear something so many times, it starts to become empty white noise; certain words and phrases simply stop showing up on your mental radar. Avoiding the worst of the worst cliches helps your marketing to stay fresh, contemporary and meaningful. With that in mind, here are some examples of the most troublesome offenders.
The worst of the worst business cliches
The business world is chock full of self-proclaimed “rock stars” right now: marketing rock stars, graphic design rock stars, maybe even one or two financial advising rock stars. But we can’t all be rock stars, or else none of us are. This is the copywriting equivalent of that middle-aged guy who still wears his high school varsity jacket. It makes you sound more desperate than cool, and it’s just plain overused.
“One stop shop”
Whether your business is a “one stop shop,” a “one stop service” or even offers multiple resources “under one roof,” these cliches make your company sound unspecialized and unremarkable. If your company is versatile, agile and multifaceted, there are much more creative ways of saying that than “one stop shop.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a business buzzword from time to time. If your business offers “solutions,” it’s perfectly fine to use that word. But once you start stringing multiple buzzwords together (“Our paradigm offers integrated solutions to boost your ROI”), it just starts to sound like meaningless jargon.
Synergy is a meaningful and useful concept in business, but it’s been overused so much in the corporate world that it’s practically a punchline. It may have been relevant once, but nowadays, it’s the sort of word you hear used in comedy films or TV shows by caricatures of self-important, out-of-touch business managers. Use the cliche carelessly, and your audience is unlikely to take you very seriously.
Perfection is a pretty bold claim to make, and one that you’re not likely to live up to. Few potential customers will believe that you actually are the “perfect real estate agency” or the “perfect pet shop.” In fact, audiences are far more likely to simply tune these business cliches out.
“Highest quality” or “lowest price”
There’s no shame in showing off your best selling point, and for many companies, that’s the quality of their products or the prices they offer. But it often seems like everyone says they’ve got the “highest” or “lowest” of something, and that’s just not mathematically possible. Avoid broad generalizations and be specific about your product or service’s value by using numbers and hard evidence.
What does the “next level” look like? How do you know when you’ve reached it? The average person doesn’t think of their day-to-day life in terms of “levels,” so advertising that a company will take you to the “next level” is awfully ambiguous.
“Once in a lifetime”
Few things actually do happen “once in a lifetime,” and your discount or offer probably isn’t one of them. More to the point, this isn’t a provable statement; or rather, to prove it, your audience would first have to live out the rest of their life, making this a rather empty claim.
That’s an awfully big assumption, especially if you don’t necessarily know where the audience lives or works. Don’t make your customers Google this information themselves, and if you’re going to give any indication of where you’re located, don’t use phrases like “right around the corner.” Instead, be specific and let people judge for themselves whether or not it’s “convenient” for them.
“The future of _____” or “Tomorrow’s _____, today”
Unless you’re actually a trusted futurist or a psychic, you probably can’t actually predict things that haven’t happened yet. This phrase is so overused that it’s hemorrhaged most of its meaning. “The future of estate planning” or “Tomorrow’s media, today” won’t convince many people that what you’re providing is actually futuristic.
“Best service” or “full service”
“Best service” is a pretty vague thing to say. What exactly is it about your company’s service that makes it the best? “Full service,” meanwhile, just seems needlessly redundant and doesn’t make you sound especially unique. It’s not like there are many places out there who can only do half of the things asked of them. Instead, be specific about what your business does and offer evidence that shows why you do it best.
This kind of goes without saying, doesn’t it? Why would anyone even bother with you if you weren’t concerned with results? People often use this phrase to describe themselves, but it usually just makes them sound like they have no unique qualities to speak of.
More advertising cliches to avoid
There’s nothing wrong with using a phrase that’s been proven to get results, even if it’s a phrase that’s been used before. When you do use business writing cliches, make sure you’re using them because they’re the best possible way to communicate with your audience—not because you’re being lazy.
Can you think of more common business cliches that need to be laid to rest? Please leave your ideas and other thoughts in the comments below!
Posted in Copywriting