Irish Tech News guest blog: Words to avoid

This article appeared on Irish Tech News on 4 July 2017.

View all posts by Aisling Foley here.

Irish Tech News Words to avoidA previous post provided some tips on How to write for the internet.  This time, I’d like to dedicate some time to some of the terrible expressions I see in daily use by B2B technology companies. It is apparent that whoever is writing the product brochures or internet content (frequently an employee rather than a copywriter) looks at competing websites and picks what they think are the best expressions. Except that those sites probably didn’t use a copywriter either. And so the circle begins.

The most important thing to remember when writing is to keep it simple. You know your industry inside out, but perhaps whoever is shopping for your product or service doesn’t. Avoid TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). If you must use them, provide an explanation after the first use. Don’t use industry jargon either. Use a language your audience will understand and remember that not all are English language natives.

My recommondations of words to avoid when writing

  • Is designed to. This one is loved by software companies around the world. Except that “is designed to” doesn’t actually say that the product will do whatever it’s supposed to do. Instead it implies that it’s supposed to do something, but in fact maybe it will or maybe it won’t.

Use “will” instead.  The product “will” or the product “does”.  This makes a much stronger sentence.

  • Leverage. Oh my biggest pet-hate. Unless you are talking about the exertion of force by means of a lever what you really mean is “use”.  Sometime in the 90’s, this came across from the USA and is now dotted all over websites and brochures.

Say what you really mean and use “use” instead.

  • Going forward. Well let’s face it, can you go backward when it comes to planning the future?

Don’t use anything – just leave it out.

  • Utilise (or even worse when not targeting USA – “utilize“). Why try to be fancy?

Again, what’s wrong with “use”?

In April 2014 a question was posted on the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community about the most annoying buzzwords. The discussion went on for 6 months! We know what expressions annoy us, because we see them in use all the time. But it’s not the copywriters using them.

Here’s a few of my favourite words to avoid from the LinkedIn discussion:

  1. Thought leadership
  2. Cloud
  3. Synergy
  4. Scaleable
  5. Best in class
  6. Mission critical
  7. Ecosystem
  8. Low hanging fruit
  9. Growth hacking

Don’t fall into the posh tap trap and try to be too clever. Even Dilbert is trying to save people from “The Jargon Matrix” ….

10 April 2017

11 April 2017

See the entire article on Irish Tech News 4 July 2017.


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