Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10 Words and Phrases That Have to Go

Like most web copywriters I spend more time in the 2-D world than in the 3-D world, aka The Matrix. So I see a ton of horrible (and I mean horrible) writing posted on big and small websites.

Now, I’m not a member of the grammar police and chills don’t run down my spine when a sentence ends with a preposition. But, folks, there are some words and phrases that are like fingernails on a blackboard.

So, my top 10 copywriters’ crutches that should never, ever be used again.

10. FOR FREE!!!! It’s not the word. There are two problems. First is the use of the word ‘FOR’. It’s not FOR FREE. It’s just FREE!!! The second problem is the formatting. Copywriters generate enthusiasm through the use of exclamation points – the more the better!!!!!!!! (Do you feel more excited?)

9. Absolutely Free. A variation on the above. It’s either free or it’s not. Absolutely free is akin to ‘somewhat pregnant’. You either are or you’re not.

8. As we speak. This annoying phrase began to pick up steam with mainstream media during ’07 and now is in common usage. Couldn’t you just say ‘now’.

7. Leading edge and variants: cutting edge, bleeding edge, ahead of the curve, et al. Come on, everything can’t be leading edge.

6. Amazing, which can be tied to any number of words: Amazing Product, Amazing Results, Amazing, SECRET Formula. Ummm, I don’t care how good it is, hand cream is NOT amazing. World peace would be amazing.

5. Discover, which is grossly overused by web writers because it sounds better than ‘learn’. What would you rather do? Learn the Secrets of Investing Success or Discover the Secrets of Investing Success. Discover has the whiff of adventure.

4. Best Business Practices. This utterly meaningless phrase appears on a lot of coaching and consultant websites. What the hell are best business practices? Same for ‘Reputation Management’, ‘C-Level’ and ‘outside the box’. Biz babble.

3. Completely Unique. Please see #9 above. It’s either unique or it’s not. This one is everywhere and it’s usually FOR FREE!!!!!

2. “Who Else Wants To Make A Million Bucks Before Supper!!!!! The bane of every copywriter’s existence – the long form, Dan Kennedy sales letter. Page after page of endless hype, changing type fonts and “testimonials” from Delores M., Los Angeles. Yeah, try to track down Delores to verify the veracity of her endorsement. Good luck, suckers.

And finally, the absolute must-delete phrase is:

1. At this point in time. It’s either “at this point” or “at this time.” Redundantly redundant and intended to, somehow convey importance. All it conveys to me is smiles at some other hack using this brain-piercing, ear-poking phrase.

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