How to rid B2B copy of its cliché addiction

Birds do it. Bees do it. And imaginary peas do it. Probably. We all use clichés as an everyday shorthand. But copywriters must learn to have a little more discipline – or risk having their writing written off.

How to rid B2B copy of its cliché addiction

Simply the best?

Most B2B tech copy is riddled with clichés. Sometimes they’re just the standard, tried and trusted phrases (like “tried and trusted”, for example) that we all fall back on involuntarily. But enterprise tech content has an addiction to a particularly dangerous type of cliché: meaningless hyperbole.

Get yourself a random piece of enterprise tech copy and have a quick game of Clichéd Marketing Hyperbole Bingo!

marketing-cliche-bingo-v2

Like all the best clichés, these phrases are now so widely used that they’ve lost all meaning. Any impact they might once have had has vanished. Their last remaining function is to let readers know it’s time to click “Delete”. They’re also indicative of the classic product-first mindset still prevalent in much of tech marketing.

So your product is new? Big whoop. Show me what it can do for me that I couldn’t get before.

It’s innovative, you say? You must be very proud. But I’ll happily take “old-hat’ over ‘innovative’ if it’ll help me sleep better at night.

It’s the best of its kind on the market? What does “best” even mean? Is it the best for me? How’s it going to make my life easier/job simpler/ bottom line beefier?

Tired, but not emotional

In enterprise tech copy, scalability is always “seamless”. Insights are always “actionable”. ‘Today’s markets” are always more “volatile” than any market has ever been. And the “right message” is always delivered to the “right people at the right time”.

Used sparingly and appropriately, these types of sector-specific clichés can still have an impact, but most of the time it’s better to change up these stock phrases for something a little less stale. Otherwise, the reader’s experience will end up something like this:

READER: Oh look, another email from a global tech company – how thoughtful of them to contact me, and just as I was about to consider a major technology purchase! The joyous serendipity of this happenstance urges me to open their missive forthwith.

*Click*

EMAIL: “In today’s volatile market conditions, it’s essential to have actionable insights…”

READER: Kill me now.

Use clichés, but use them wisely. Sometimes a cliché will actually help get the emotional response you’re looking for, forming an instant rapport between you and your audience. At other times, clichés will drain your copy of any humanity and make it impossible to build a connection with your reader.

Trust me, I’m a copywriter

If you’re sick as a zebra of hackneyed truisms and dried-out husks of cliché, here are a few tips to help you freshen things up:

  • Show, don’t tell – this is Copywriting 101. If your product’s really innovative/game-changing/the best on the market, you should be able to show people why – and, much more importantly, what that actually means for your reader.
  • If you’ve read the same phrase a thousand times before, so has your audience. Ditch it and try something new.
  • Everyone has clichéd phrases they fall back on without even realising it. These phrases will sneak in to your drafts all the time, so learn to recognise them and edit them out.
  • For copywriters, creativity is a means, not an end. If a cliché will help encourage readers to take action, then use it (although not if that action is to hunt you down and throttle you).

Oh, and any time you start a sentence with the words “In today’s [overused adjective] [boring noun]…” DELETE IT! With the cliché gone, your copy will instantly create a much bigger impact.

And if you’re still unsure of what you should and shouldn’t use, check your word choice against our periodic table of B2B marketing clichés.

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Header image adapted from Cliche by Tom Newby, under a Creative Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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