At one point in history, a clever soul used the word optimize in a sentence and the world’s collective mind was blown. We learned at that point that things were no longer just done better, they were optimized. And on that day, there was an unspoken agreement made among all writers of words – optimize shall be in every sentence ever written from thenceforth.
Things can only be different once. Describe two things with the same word and the effectiveness of that word is cut in half, not doubled.
This process – fresh use of a new word; blown minds; followed by incessant use of that word – has been adopted by marketers and business writers with open arms.
Each new buzzword comes with a feeling of conquest and discovery. We have made something new because we have called it something different. Just small note of caution here – things can only be different once. Describe two things with the same word and the effectiveness of that word is cut in half, not doubled.
So if you create a new product, don’t cut the legs out from under it by calling it innovative. Innovative is now the least innovative word there is. Your new product is now the same thing as every other product, strategy, tactic, car, mattress, coffee filter, garden-watering technique, ballpoint pen technology, and any other person, place or thing that’s done something with any semblance of newness.
It’s time to go back to the basics.
How Not to Talk like a Marketer
Don’t Tell People What to Think, Allow Them Think It on Their Own
As marketers, we want to sound fancy. We want are stuff to sound fancy. We rain down fanciness on everything we touch like salt on pre-seasoned steaks. But customers don’t want to hear us call something fancy. They want to be the deciders of fanciness for themselves. Our jobs is to break fancy down into identifiable bits and pieces so that when a customer reads it or sees it, it’s fancy that comes to mind and it’s they who say it, not some marketer.
Know What Your Are Trying to Say, and Then Say It Once
What exactly does optimize even mean? It has this boujeeness about it that if writing it is wrong, we just don’t want to be right. As it turns out, like many words, it has a definition. “To make as effective as possible.” That’s it. That’s all optimize means.
So why don’t we just say this thing or that thing does whatever it does as effectively as possible? Well, chances are we already did say that – a couple times within the first two sentences and now we’re on sentence three and want to say it again but need to do it a little differently lest our readers feel that we are being redundant.
Here’s the thing. Marketing words – marketese – exists because we’ve said everything before, and there is some voice within us that says, “Say it again just in case.” “Are you sure they understand?” “What if they don’t know that optimize means its goes faster, too. Maybe throw accelerate in there too just to make sure.”
This leads perfectly into the third point.
Be Confident in Your Writing Ability
If we know what we want to say, we say it. If we don’t, we say everything.
Learn to trust that you can write something well enough that readers will understand it. And then move on. The key is to move on.
It’s not these words in particular that need to put down, but more our marketing insecurities. Marketers not only have to sell something, we have to prove to others – those they work with, bosses, friends, family, LinkedIn connections – that they way we are going about it is the best it can be. That usually leads to trying to cover all the bases in service of people who are never going to read our content, at least not from the perspective of a buyer.
Learn to trust that you can write something well enough that readers will understand it. And then move on. The key is to move on. As soon as we allow ourselves to write another word, or another line, we lower the standards we place on our writing. Each sentence no longer has to be perfect; it just has to be fine since we’ll write nine more to make sure we caught everything.
Remember, marketers are wordsmiths, not thesauruses. A wordsmith knits words together in a way to make a point as quickly and effectively as possible. Writers don’t write words, they translate ideas. As soon as those ideas are transferred to the reader, each additional word becomes a stumbling block.
Take a look at the list below and let me know what needs to be added.
The Marketing Word Kill List
What words need to be added?