Advertising, while evolving into the world of audio and video, is still based on words. These words should stir emotions, persuade, bring evidence, and make people lust for a product. Talented copywriters of yesterday are now included in a hall of fame of their own. Their copy still stands the test of time, even though people’s lives and expectations have changed.

But aside from time tested and proven formulas and turns of phrase, advertising comes up once in a while with a hyped-up word or phrase which is overused until it outlives its usefulness and becomes an earworm. Earworms are usually annoying songs which you cannot get out of your head (didn’t you just hear the “Barbie Girl” chorus?). When it comes to words, earworms are just as annoying, but since “everyone uses them” it just slips naturally in your copy.

It shouldn’t. And you must do everything in your powers to avoid including earworms in your as copy. Here is why you should avoid some of the worst offending words in advertising:

  1. World-Class

This is a troubling self-inflating sense of worth. Are you really among the top global providers for your line of products? Do your sales live up to this description? Or at least the number of followers on the social media?

The problem with this compound word is that everyone uses it. Most dangerously, it can be found among the top adjectives on scamming websites. People have become suspicious of anything described as “world-class”, especially if they can’t even recognise the name of your business.

  1. Industry Standard

So, this specific product is an industry standard one. This means that the others are sub-standards? Or your competition sells sub-standard products? Even if no one will go this far with the reasoning, they will still wonder while you boast something which should be self-evident: that your products comply with all the standard requirements for quality and safety.

  1. Unique

Unless you are truly the only company manufacturing this specific product or supplying that specific service, it is not unique. It may stand out by quality or by the customer service you offer, but this does not make it unique.

And people are quite tired of this adjective, too. They are bombarded with it from all directions and have developed a critical resistance to it. Instead, talk about how your product is different and more useful than other products in its range. This is what a potential customer really wants to know.

  1. Honestly

Advertising, although designed to present products and services in their best image, should be truthful. When your ad copy becomes overly wordy by including “honestly” here and there, your prospects will start wondering whether there are some untruths here and there in your content.

Qualifying adverbs and adjectives should be used with care, otherwise your sentences become hard to read. Or, their entire meaning can be misinterpreted.

  1. Utilise

Do not try to be overly fancy in your choice of words. You are not competing for a tinsel badge, but trying to attract customers. They will use your product, not utilise it. On a similar note, the product will help them solve their problems, not facilitate the solution of their problems.

To avoid sounding too pretentious, always read your copy aloud and ask yourself: is this how you would talk to someone when describing your product?

  1. Furthermore/Therefore/Nonetheless

This host of transitional words have one core problem: they are too formal and pretentious (see above). You are not making an acceptance speech for a Nobel Prize, you are addressing regular people and you want to sound friendly and engage them. If you sound too pompous, they will not feel engaged at all. They will not feel that you know them at all if you are addressing them in this manner.

  1. Passive Income

Many entrepreneurs talk about ways to make a side income and sell various strategies or advice eBooks. And the term “passive income” is boldly featured in all of them. The problem with it? A lot of potential customers interpret it as “you make money doing nothing” and may feel cheated once they buy your system or strategy. As unlikely as it seems, you may even get sued.

Instead of this problematic phrase, use the terms “scalable income”, “leveraged income” or even “minimum-investment side business”.

Phil McGregor

Phil McGregor  

Phil has a strong reputation for being Australia's leading expert on Facebook Advertising. He has presented to thousands of business owners and marketers both nationally and internationally. Phil is passionate about sharing his firsthand knowledge of how to harness the true potential of Facebook Advertising via live-on-stage events, masterclasses and workshops. Phil started his career as an Intelligence Officer for the Australian Police Force, with an entrepreneurial spirit and clear passion for generating a strong return on investment, he made the leap into his own business in 2003.