7 Terrible Marketing Terms To Avoid

Posted on April 15, 2011

The information age is one of high definition, instant access, multimedia and infographics. But there’s one undisputed axiom of marketing that still holds true. Words sell.

The words you choose ultimately determine your marketing success. Whether those words are written, spoken or displayed graphically, choosing words carefully will determine the ultimate success of any marketing campaign.

7 Terrible Marketing Terms Copywriters Should Avoid

Marketers fall into traps of using the same old words and catch phrases to describe everything. The hottest words are usually the ones you should avoid. My best sales campaigns are the ones that convey a complex idea in simple language. Some marketers take this too far. Simple language becomes useless language when your words are ambiguous or generic.



As seen on Forbes, Mashable,

Here are some terrible marketing words and phrases that you’ve probably used in the past:

Amazing, Ultimate, Awesome etc.

These words have lost meaning lately because of overuse. When was the last time you were actually amazed by a product? I remember the first time I saw a Macintosh computer. It was amazing, but that was in 1984. The iPod and Kindle amazed me when they debuted. Being awestruck thrice in three decades means you need to say more than “Amazing” to convince me. Finally, I have no idea what “ultimate” means anymore. A product is only “ultimate” for a couple of months in today’s market.


Everyone claims to have a solution, even if they haven’t bothered to identify the problem. If you’re going to talk about a solution, first described the problem it solves, then the solution in detail. In business-to-business sales companies don’t want solutions as much as they want systems, processes, expertise, and access to information. Ultimately these things lead to a real solution.


Getting results is great, but get specific. “Our sales strategies get results” is a softball phrase, while “using our sales techniques you can expect to boost sales 10 to 30%” is a firm statement. Better yet, “our customers averaged 17.8% increased sales within six months.”

Top Quality

Everyone touts their quality. There isn’t a website on the planet that says “our product is mediocre, but cheap” but this might be refreshing. Quality is important, don’t get me wrong, but today’s consumers are discerning. If you’re going to talk about quality make sure you can demonstrate it. Focus on quantifiable measurement. Think of the “quality” automobiles on the market today. How many safety stars? How many awards? How much resale value? Generally people know what makes a car good quality but successful marketing today requires quantifiable quality.


Companies offer to satisfy our needs every day, but they seldom identify what needs they satisfy. According to Maslow, there are only five basic categories of need: basic survival, safety and security, love and belongingness, respect and admiration, and self-actualization. Demonstrate how your product fills one of those five needs. Remember, those needs are hierarchical, so your target audience must be at the specific need level to react.


There can only be one #1, yet it seems like every company claims to be #1. It’s great to be the best at what you do, but again, focus on objectively explaining why you’re the best. A competitor in my industry prints a newsletter monthly. They have 700 subscribers, but print 25,000 copies to give away at trade shows. My newsletter, a biweekly e-mail newsletter, has 9500 opt-in subscribers, and 1800 of them open it within 24 hours. So which newsletter would you call #1?


We are past the days where we want turnkey solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer appealing. Systems, processes, and customization are far more in demand even in direct-to-consumer products.

Copywriters have a tendency to use words that sound good, but don’t really sell anything. Your customers are skeptical. When you use over-the-top words in your marketing copy, it can increase skepticism.

Your customer base is getting more intelligent daily. They can handle the truth. They don’t need to be amazed, they simply need clear information about your products and services. Describe customer needs, demonstrate your benefits, or prove results and you will sell anything you put in front of the right audience.

What are some other marketing terms to avoid?

33 Replies to "7 Terrible Marketing Terms To Avoid"

  • Samuel
    April 15, 2011 (12:43 pm)

    “focus on objectively explaining why you’re the best” you’re right about this bro. That’s just the fact! Thanks so much for sharing! You rock 🙂

  • Jonathan Vaudreuil
    April 15, 2011 (12:59 pm)

    “Adds value/value-add” or anything along those lines kills me. If you have to tell me it’s an added value then it’s not REALLY an added value, I’m actually paying for it. Going beyond what I’m paying for? That’s adding value.

    Most marketing copy focuses on the wrong things. It’s all about safe words and comfortable ideas. I agree about the “amazing” thing, yet if you do something amazing how me how amazing it is! Right? Don’t tell me, show me.

    Great post!

    • Jason Tweed
      April 15, 2011 (2:07 pm)

      That’s another good one, Jonathan. Thanks for adding value to the post. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      You’re absolutely right about comfortable and safe words.

  • Sajib
    April 15, 2011 (1:03 pm)

    Nice read. Those are really some overused words. Awesome, amazing and so on. I didn’t notice it earlier but I can see it’s true. 🙂

    Do you suggest some new way for catchy headlines? 😀

    • Jason Tweed
      April 15, 2011 (2:15 pm)

      Copywriters sometimes have a pocket full of generic marketing words they pull out, regardless of the product. Copywriting is not for the lazy. Dig deep and come up with something insightful for each product.

      I like to use journalism questions; who, what, where, when and how.

      I also like to use the basic senses; touch, taste, smell, see and hear.

      If you can describe things in these terms, it’s difficult to make any product generic. You’re bound to come up with something catchy.

      That’s a definitely a post for another day. 🙂

  • Adesoji Adegbulu
    April 15, 2011 (1:58 pm)

    Great stuff. I really hate the word Turnkey. What key are we turning? 🙂

    Adesoji Adegbulu

    • Jason Tweed
      April 15, 2011 (2:10 pm)

      Yes, Turnkey has become the catchphrase for “easy to use”. Why don’t they just say, “easy-to-use”. It also is used to indicate a process with which you can instantly earn a profit. That’s rarely the case.

  • Extreme John
    April 15, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    It’s funny seeing you bring up some of these terms. Every year we do a “Throwback/Oldschool” product buy back series and we use words like those because many of the products marketed back than were marketed using those types of terms.

    “Amazing Face”, etc.

    • Jason Tweed
      April 15, 2011 (3:54 pm)

      That’s funny coming from Extreme John. “Extreme” was one of the big words a couple years ago, but it was written “Xtreme” or “XXXtreme” if it was extremely extremely extreme!

  • Paul Salmon
    April 15, 2011 (9:07 pm)

    It seems someone comes up with a catchy phrase and then others copy it. Pretty soon most are using it to the point where the phrase is either annoying, or it has lost all meaning.

    Dang it, if they want to sell me something, tell me the facts and I’ll make up my own mind. I don’t need a bunch of catchphrases that make no sense to me.

  • Hector Avellaneda
    April 16, 2011 (2:21 am)


    Great post man! I’ve said this before in one of my blog posts I titled “Internet Entrepreneur Sales – Remove The Sleaze Factor”- today peoples BS meters are at an all time high. They have more information and options readily available that they can now be pickier about the product or services they chose to buy.

    It’s somewhat sad to say but I believe that the words you mentioned above have been so overused that unfortunately, most people discredit products or services that include any of iteration of those words – I know I do.

    When I find an online product that reads, for example “#1 Turn Key Solution that generates Amazing Results” (notice I used about 4 or 5 of the words you mentioned above) I usually stop right there and dont continue reading.

    It’s over hyped and I know that products that are over hyped usually under deliver. Using or being able to identify those types of words in ad copy has become somewhat of a deterrence for me, and a lot of other people as well.

  • Stephen Perkins
    April 16, 2011 (1:26 pm)

    Hi Jason,
    Thanks for this post. I had never thought about the solutions part but now that I think about it, there are allot of companies that offer “solutions”, especially in the B2B arena.

    Great information.

    • Jason Tweed
      April 17, 2011 (9:16 am)

      People do want solutions, but they want solutions to problems they already have. Too often, marketers offer solutions targeting a problem. We see this a lot with get-rich-quick schemes. Their so-called solution apparently solves every problem you could ever encounter in business.

  • Kalen
    April 16, 2011 (6:55 pm)

    You are right that these are not generally good words to use. However, you really need to think about your customer base. One of my clients is in the music industry and terms that may not be appropriate for other clients are essential for his branding strategy.

    • Jason Tweed
      April 17, 2011 (9:18 am)

      Absolutely. Many of my clients are in the healthcare industry. Their marketing people talk about how much they “care”. The problem is, everyone in healthcare “cares”. It’s overused and doesn’t differentiate you from the competition. Each industry has overused words.

  • David Guzman
    April 17, 2011 (9:10 am)

    Welcome to the tribe, Jason! Great post!

    Sometimes as marketers we don’t pay enough attention to language and instead opt for trite “catchphrases” as opposed to being in tune with the language that is used to convey the pain felt by the customer.

    I’ll be the first to admit, I definitely slip into this at times. Rethinking the title of my last post for EpicLaunch, I think I did that a bit then.

    Thanks for this great reminder of the close link between word choice and campaign success.

    Looking forward to more great posts,


  • Patricia
    April 17, 2011 (9:11 am)

    Hi Jason

    So glad you mentioned these terms to avoid. I agree that their overuse has mostly demeaned the true meaning of them.

    I try to focus on writing about problems and how they can be resolved. Usually with my lovely lavender products 😉

    Because they are truly “amazing” they sell themselves LOL

    Patricia Perth Australia

  • Ileane
    April 17, 2011 (11:37 am)

    Hi Jason, since Awesome is out, can I go back to using Fantastic now 🙂 LOL!! This post is really great. It nice for someone to tell me what “not” to say so I can keep up with the latest trends. Thanks!

    • Jason Tweed
      April 17, 2011 (11:40 pm)

      “Fantastic” is okay, because it’s not overused, just be sure to tell us why it’s fantastic. 🙂

  • Henway
    April 17, 2011 (12:41 pm)

    It’s not a marketing term, but I get annoyed when people say their product has the state of the art technology, and has over 1,000,000 users. I don’t really care for those things – I just want to know what benefits it can give me.

    • Jason Tweed
      April 17, 2011 (11:43 pm)

      I agree, Henway, “state-of-the-art” is definitely over used, especially considering that state-of-the-art only lasts about six weeks today.

      Free products are famous for telling how many users they have, or how many downloads. “17 billion downloads of our trial software” might mean that only three of them sold because it was crap.

  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide
    April 18, 2011 (1:14 am)

    Thanks for this post. I didn’t notice that I’m absolutely using it everyday. And good to know this problem have a solution. Thanks. Great job.

  • Wes Towers@Graphic Design Melbourne
    April 18, 2011 (4:56 am)

    Gasp! My latest ebook has an “Ultimate” in its title. Seems I am a bit outdated in my usage of terms. 🙁

    Thanks for this article, Jason. You opened my eyes to a number of things. One, that saying “ultimate” is not cool anymore and that saying “needs” in article should be made more specific, even if mentioned only in passing. 😉

    • Jason Tweed
      April 22, 2011 (1:53 am)

      “Ultimate” isn’t horrible in a title, but just make sure the sales page is more direct. You’re free to get in touch if you’d like me to give you a constructive critique on your landing page.

  • Ryan Biddulph
    April 20, 2011 (6:53 pm)

    Good examples here Jason. Some of these words work some of the time, but most are pretty darn tired.

    When you’ve seen something again and again, it becomes boring. It no longer moves you. Copy that doesn’t move people into action is basically…useless 😉

    Thanks for sharing Jason!


    • Jason Tweed
      April 22, 2011 (1:56 am)

      All of the words work sometimes, that’s why they became overused.

      I don’t have a problem with someone who claims to be “#1”, but tell me why. Maybe your product really is “Amazing”, so show me.

      Some definitely still work, but combine them with some solid evidence or benefits and people actually believe you when you say you’re awesome!

  • Desiree Frieson
    May 7, 2011 (1:05 am)

    This is a great post. I was guilty of using amazing and awesome. The problem is what we think is amazing or awesome in our minds eye does not translate to others. After social media and Apple products, where can you find the wow factor?

  • Christy
    May 10, 2011 (3:32 pm)

    I think the word “reinventing” is a horrible word to use. Example, “Reinventing Print Media” I worked for a company that was starting to offer QR code capabilities to clients and used that as a tagline. I gave my opinion about the use of that word just to have it fall on deaf ears.

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  • Ercan
    September 7, 2011 (7:11 am)

    Nice article.Many companies use the same words to impress their clients lol my favourite one is quality.
    Who doesn’t demand a quality product or service?So why do you use this word?And secondly what is quality for you and your clients?Does it mean the same thing?
    Marketing is changing so change your marketing communication strategies.You can not create differentiation with those boring methods.Look at your product what are the benefits?And then let the people know those benefits but do it in a creative way.
    Two thumbs up Jason

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