Words a copywriter would never use

WordsThere are certain words a copywriter would never use.

‘Solutions’ is one of them.

One reason is because ‘solution’ returns 642,000,000 results when searched on Google. Wow. If there are that many solutions available, yours is highly unlikely to stand out.

I realise that people use the word to suggest they solve problems. But it doesn’t work. It’s clunky and pointless.

To demonstrate what nonsense it is, here’s what @DaveTrott tweeted yesterday:

Just had a nutrition solution, so I might go outside for some garden solution, or down the pub for some leisure solution, then the telly for some entertainment solution, and off to bed for some relaxation solution. Then tomorrow morning up and catch the travel solution to work.

A copywriter would never write: ‘An internet marketing firm specialising in e-commerce solutions’.

We’d write: ‘An internet marketing firm specialising in e-commerce’.

Or, even better, something that is more customer-focused: ‘We help improve the performance of your e-commerce website’.

The only time a copywriter would use ‘solution’ is when writing about chemistry e.g. ‘A solution of ammonia in water’.

Copywriters are anti-passionate

‘Passionate’ is another word that copywriters never use (161,000,000 Google results).

Here’s why:

I use this video when training recruiters how to write better job ads (a course I run regularly with recruitment polemicist, Mitch Sullivan), because research shows that up to 1/3 job ads include ‘passion’ as a requirement.

It’s become a cliché. A cliché is a word that is so over-used that it’s become meaningless. And using clichés is a sign of lazy writing.

Clichéd words are tired. They need a little lie down. So good copywriters give them a rest. When no-one uses them any more, maybe we can start using them again.

If you want to write ‘passionate’, find another word instead. ‘Enthusiastic’ might work. Better still, demonstrate passion and enthusiasm in everything you do, and you won’t have to use the word at all.

Copywriting and psychology

Copywriting and psychology are closely linked, because we’re trying to use words to influence, persuade and change behaviour. As you may know, my multi-disciplinary degree included the study of human psychology. I’ve also studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to further understand the power of words.

In my past career as a senior manager in corporate life, I was introduced to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (you might know it too).

Maslow

(A recent meme has updated the diagram to include ‘wifi’ and ‘battery’ at the bottom of the pyramid.)

We can only experience self-actualisation for brief moments before a more basic ‘need’ kicks in.

And it explains another reason why ‘passionate’ is inappropriate to use in your copy.

As a word, ‘passion’ relates to humanity’s basic physiological needs. So it’s OK to use it in conjunction with, say, food. But odd to apply it to sofas.

By the way, this thought came out of my own brain. It’s original. I didn’t read it anywhere.

So does that make me a ‘thought leader’?

Maybe.

But I wouldn’t claim it, because:

  • You can’t claim thought leadership of yourself; it’s just silly.
  • It’s fast becoming another cliché, and copywriters don’t use those. We’re more creative than that.

One Response to Words a copywriter would never use

  1. Janice Gordon March 14, 2018 at 5:36 pm #

    A good demonstration of how to think first before releasing copy on the world. It is easy to get lazy and not release the power of words to engage (probably a cliche word) and inspire (possibly not a cliche word). Thank you, Jackie, for sharing the inspiring (did not mean to use this word again) thought.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.