It’s Time for Some New Cliches

If you read just about any book on how to write well it will tell you to avoid cliches. Unfortunately most website owners haven’t read those books.

Two of my all time most hated, worn out web cliches are “innovative” and “solutions”. Trouble is, sometimes clients actually ask me to include these words in their copy. One client even described them as “power words”!

Just saying you’re “innovative” doesn’t make it so. It also violates another rule for good writing: show don’t tell. If you really are innovative, prove it to me by describing the innovations you’ve come up with or the innovative ways you conduct your business.

“Solution” is so vague as to be meaningless. If you absolutely must use it, please explain what your solution acutally encompasses.

An excellent reference for cliches to avoid (and a funny read to boot) is Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Management Jargon by Don Watson.

Watson lists “innovation” and “solution” amongst his weasel words. He says: “There is a universal instinct to use weasel words, jargon and cliches as… vapour to blind or repel anyone sniffing out the truth about us… we parrot them without thinking.”

If you want your website to get results you have to reveal the truth about your business. Be explicit about what features and benefits you offer, what problems you solve for your clients and what makes you different from your competitors. If you take the time and effort to make these messages clear it will pay off in spades.

What good marketers know

It never ceases to amaze me the number of marketing managers I meet that know next to nothing about marketing.

Having completed a marketing degree I know how poorly university prepares students for the realities of marketing products and businesses. I’ve learnt a lot more about marketing from reading books by the gurus than three years of tutorials and lectures.

One person who knows a hell of a lot about marketing and is not afraid to share his wisdom is Seth Godin. Check out his one-page list of powerful marketing truths.