The Cliche

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word Cliche means:  a phrase or an idea that has been used so often that it no longer has much meaning and is not interesting.

Using cliches within advertising copy and web content is more likely to put people off your products and services rather than encourage customers to buy them. Using cliches shows a lack of imagination and they should be avoided at all costs.

There is a simple test for bad cliched copy. Swap your company’s name within the copy for one of your competitors. If the copy still reads true… it’s cliched.

Good copy

Good copy should:

  • Relate to your brand and your brand alone.
  • Reflect your values
  • Be targeted at your audience
  • Be specific and not use generalisations
  • Highlight the benefits of purchasing your products and services. 
  • State the reasons why customers should buy from you and not elsewhere.
  • Make clear the reasons why your brand is different from any other in the market.

Cliches we’d like to get rid of

Below are some of the cliches we dislike the most in advertising copy and website content. They are in no particular order and should be avoided wherever possible.

“Simply the best” – We can all thank Tina Turner for giving us the phrase that simply shouldn’t be used unless qualified. UK broadcast and non-broadcast advertising codes state that all claims have to be substantiated. Despite this, ‘Simply the best’, can be seen all over the web and in print.

“That’s right” – I’ve just told you something and then, because I arrogantly assume that you haven’t believed what I’ve just told you, I’m going to tell you again. Normally stressing every word. That’s right! Don’t use this phrase ever again. 

“Why not” – Why not come to our sale? Why not pick up the phone and call us? Why not try our tempting menu. By using ‘Why not’ we are inviting the customer to think of reasons not to do something. It makes far more sense to be direct and tell prospects what you would actually want them to do: come to our sale, pick up the phone; or try our tempting menu.

“No obligation quotation” – The phrase is unnecessary. There may be the odd exceptions, but generally there are no obligations when seeking a quotation for goods and services.

“Good food” – I’m not sure why every pub in the country, and most restaurants, need to tell us that they sell good food. Unless they of course they want to distinguish themselves from all the eateries that advertise their diabolical food.

“Quality” – The word ‘quality’ on its own is meaningless. It only takes on a meaning when associated with an adjective such as ‘fantastic’, ‘premium’ or ‘assured’. And yet retailers insist on selling quality cars, beds, experiences etc.

“Open seven days a week” – There are still retailers who use this. Since the Sunday Trading Act of 1994, being open seven days a week is the norm. The assumption is that you are open unless you specifically say that you are closed weekends or Sundays.

Wide selection/massive choice” – Rather than stating there is a wide selection, it is far more powerful to state how big that selection is. For example, over 100 cars in stock or 90 beds to choose from

“Massive savings/discounts” – Massive savings can lead to massive disappointment on behalf of the customer. What may seem massive to the advertiser, may not be as big as the consumer is expecting. Customers know that if a retailer is offering heavily discounted items without a good reason, then the prices must have been overinflated in the first place.

“Best kept secret” – A secret implies some kind of conspiracy. There are only two reasons that a business is unknown. Lack of advertising and lack of recommendation.

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – If only I had more lifetimes to take advantage of all the once in a lifetime opportunities that I’ve never had the opportunity to take. The truth is, there is no such thing as a once in a lifetime opportunity so why pretend there is.

“Thinking outside the box/Blue sky thinking” – If only copywriters would do this when they want to describe thinking differently.

“Less is more” – If only this was true.

“The one stop shop/Everything under one roof/ For all your XXXXX needs” – The chances of one store have everything you could possibly want in the style you require at a price you are prepared to pay… is slim.

“We won’t be beaten on price” – Unfortunately there is always someone who will sell a product or service cheaper than you.

For advertising copy and web content that’s low on cliche and high in search terms and keywords, email us here at Fiora: