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Kill these 10 Words from your Copy to Improve Marketing Performance

Words. Often it's the little things that turn visitors off after arriving at your Website, reading your copy in a brochure or sales letter, or suffering through a bad PowerPoint presentation.

The technology business is rife with words in Website, whitepaper copy and bad PowerPoint presentations, that I call "product-speak".

Write from your Best Customer's Point of View

When people read your copy, visit your Website or sit through your presentation, they are doing so because they have pressing issues or problems that they need to solve. When you write - start from the point of view of your buyer's needs, not your "ground-breaking" product, unless you want to sound just like your competition.gobbledygook

David Meerman Scott calls these words Gobbledygook and he wrote a brilliant E-Book that you can download instantly called The Gobbledygook Manifesto.

You can even run your copy through a content analysis tool called Gobbledygook Grader, to identifygobbledygook.grader text that could be improved.
You might find David's blog "The Four P's of Marketing" that topples one of the pillars of marketing literature worth a read...and a laugh!

If you need help in translating your "product speak" into something that your visitors will want to read, then we can help.

In our work with technology companies in creating website messaging and whiteboard stories, we see the following words or phrases frequently.

My Top 10 "Product-Speak" words.

1. Revolutionary

I think not. Technology evolves slowly and every innovation is built on prior innovations. According to W.Brian Arthur in The Nature of Technology, it's a process of combinatorial evolution.

2. Unique

If your product is truly unique, no-one would know about it. You as a human being are unique, because there is only one of you. In reality no matter how smart you are, or how cool your idea/product is, you'll find someone else has already made it or is building something very similar, right now.

3. Leverage

I don't know when this word made it into the technology lexicon. I had never heard of it until I joined the technology industry and since then I hear it every day.

4. Key

I have a key that I use to get in the door of my house and one to operate my car. There are plenty of words you could use instead of key to describe something; how about important, main, big, central, priority.

5. Next Generation

This is a play on words if you are talking about an existing product; if it was truly next-generation it wouldn't be available yet.

6. World Class

This is interesting. Being an Australian, where for many years we had a cultural cringe or global inferiority complex, it was important for our entertainers, artists, writers, sports-people and anything that the left our shores to be "World-class". I get the feeling that when someone brags about being World-class, it probably isn't.

7. Leading Edge (see also Cutting Edge)


8. Ground Breakingground breaking

I have included a visual for clarity.

9. Best-of-Breed


10. Award Winning

Yawn, and yes please delete page 3, listing your awards from your corporate PowerPoint presentation. No-one cares how many awards you've won....except you and maybe your Mom and your investors.

Late Entries just in.

11. Game-changing

Please feel free to contribute to the list, will list the top 20...based on your comments.


  1. Nobody cares about your products except you and people in your company. People care a great deal and are receptive to messages about solving problems and achieving goals and products they can use to help them get their needs met.
  2. If you see any words in the above list in your Website copy, promotional literature or your PowerPoint presentations, I recommend that you download David's Manifesto, read it and get started on rewriting your copy.
  3. Until you have thought long and hard about the ideal customer for your product or service and created buyer-persona's, around which to write your copy, your message will miss its intended target.



At your next presentation, ask your audience to rate the clarity of your value proposition in addressing their needs on a scale of 1-10.
If you are not getting 8-10/10 consistently, you probably need to think about rewriting your presentation from the buyer's perspective....or we could help translate into a Whiteboard story that is more compelling to the buyer.


I am said to say I have wasted my time reading this... "Unique" is one of the first things they teach you in marketing, how to separate your self from the competition. Also not putting up awards? How else are you to know you are being recognized in your industry? I have seen everyone use this tactic and the more awards from trusted industry leaders the better. Your way off base with this article in my opinion.
Posted @ Monday, July 25, 2011 9:47 AM by Chris Labbate
Mark, thanks for this post. You've listed some of the business buzz words I've coached many colleagues to learn to live without -- especially in their marketing tactics. Although I am guilty of "leveraging" resources all too often in my verbal conversations. The one word I like, however, because it's short and easy to get is "key." Not sure I'm ready to give that one up. But let's hope folks will think before writing world class, cutting edge and game changing ever again.
Posted @ Monday, July 25, 2011 1:08 PM by Carole
Thanks for your comments Chris. 
Did you ever read Meerman Scotts E-Book? Ive been in the tech business for 30 years and it runs on these buzzwords, which when everyone uses them, makes everyone sound the same. 
Making people sit through PowerPoint which is all about you and your products and how great you are is no longer a good way to engage interested parties. It may have been pre-Internet when sales-people were conduits for information, but not any more. 
We will have to disagree on this one....but I really appreciate your comment and recommend all of Meerman Scotts free EBooks.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 9:14 AM by Mark Gibson
Thanks for your positive comments. A friend of mine in the UK and I played a game where we were not allowed to use cliche in any of our conversations. It's extraordinary how much use cliche and gobbldygook in our daily communication, most people are largely unaware of it.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 9:18 AM by Mark Gibson
I am a big fan of David Meerman Scott, Seth Godin and others and like you am also a Hubspot partner and certified for inbound marketing and don't like seeing the regurgitation of buzz words across the board. However uniqueness is a great quality to have in a product and awards let you know sometimes that you have done well. No one likes in your face "were number one" type mindsets, but I see nothing wrong with showing why your product is unique or what recognition you have received in the respective industry. Hubspot says its unique and posts information about what magazines are currently buzzing about their brand. I think it is the name of the game. Social is sharing not selling, I get that. But on your own website how are you going to sell your business with out these sorts of things?
Posted @ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:36 AM by Chris Labbate
Please can I add "solution" into the prohibited lexicon. 100% of the technology companies I have worked or consulted for has provided some form of component for their customers, sometimes simple, sometimes complex, but always just part of what the customer is creating. And 100% of those companies has been determined to call their components a "solution".
Posted @ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 5:09 PM by Chris Boyce
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