4 ways to sound the same as everyone else Monday March 6, 2017

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When you read a business website or brochure, do you ever get the feeling you’ve read it before? Or perhaps you sometimes have a weird sense of déjà vu about a particular company’s marketing message… It’s amazing how often certain phrases come up in communications, turning potentially unique, interesting content into something more staid and over-familiar.

Here are just four of my copywriter’s bugbears, the words that just won’t go away. These may be phrases I’ve worked on replacing or renewing for clients over the years – or simply words I’d like to see the back of. Being a copywriter, I see it as my job to create a strong message with fresh content. Because who wants to sound the same as everyone else?

1) “Small enough to care, big enough to do the job.”

…or variations on this theme. Over the years, this is one that has made me turn several times from copywriter to chief negotiator. It’s an important message with a great deal of value for many different companies. But why risk sounding the same as thousands of other businesses out there? As a copywriter, can I suggest finding a fresh way to communicate this important message so that people recognise what you have to offer – and distinguish you from other businesses in your market? So your business is flexible and able to offer a great service? Great. There are ways to communicate that message without using the same familiar words. As a copywriter, I see it as my job to find alternatives to the stock phrases.

2) “Your local…”

Your local shop, your local business – you know the drill. This is another one that has transformed me from copywriter to negotiator over the years. Yes, it’s a big selling point (if your market is truly local), but it’s another example of copy in uniform. It’s a message that pops up in all sorts of places. You’ll probably see it sometime this week. But what does it actually mean? I understand why some of my clients have wanted to use it. But after discussion, we’ve come to an agreement that there are other ways to get across the value of being close nearby – ways that can be more helpful and more focused than ‘your local’. I’ve applied my copywriter’s perspective to help companies find a more special way to say they’re close by.

3) “In the comfort of your own home”

Thankfully, this is one I don’t come across very often. But I can’t help noticing it’s still very popular on TV adverts. (You know, the ones with the lovely arm chairs and the instructions to ‘pay no money now’). The reason that this one gets to me, aside from my professional angle as a copywriter, is the obviousness of the statement (of course I’m going to enjoy the armchair in the comfort of my own home! Where else would I enjoy it? In the comfort of my own garden? In the comfort of my nearest supermarket?). Rantings aside, my copywriter’s-eye view sees this phrase as a classic example of copywriting in uniform. It’s boil in the bag wording that makes the product or service sound the same as all the rest. Yes, it delivers an obvious message, but it doesn’t say anything new and fresh about the product.

4) “We’re passionate about…”

Passionate is great. But we know you’re passionate about your particular service or product. Why else would you be doing what you do? It’s a key sentiment to share, but why share it so obviously? And why state it when you can show it? As a copywriter, I look at ways to express that passion through the underlying messages of the copy and the points I make about a business. Then people can sense the passion – and why they should respond to it. Being a copywriter doesn’t simply mean I want to sum things up in words. I look for new ways to get across important messages. I could say I’m passionate about it, but I won’t. Hopefully that’s come across already.

Why recycle?
So there they are. Just a few of my least favourite things (copy-wise, anyway). When there’s so much potential to say something distinctive, why recycle the words everyone else uses? But I’m speaking from my copywriter’s soapbox on this. What’s your view? Agree? Totally disagree? Have I trampled over one of your all-time favourite phrases? Let me know.

By Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, March 2017

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