The Copywriter’s Crucible Puts Clichéd Copywriting on Trial

Cliched copywriting on trial

Sooo, the new website is up and running, after a few minor technical hitches.

On the home page you’ll see I’ve followed through with the idea/threat of switching to promoting myself as an agency. Along with the elevated sense of self importance, I’m hoping it will push me up higher into the big leagues as a serious outfit, one that’s ready to take on all the business world’s copywriting projects, both big and small.

But with transparency and being honest with clients high on the agenda, I’ve made it clear that it’s still me behind the curtain pulling the levers. Otherwise, I’ll be on thin ice when clients start wondering why it’s only me that ever picks up the phone.

My USP – Cliché free B2B copywriting

Google’s search results are a crowded place.

So to try and stand out I thought I’d give myself the USP of offering corporate BS free copywriting. You won’t find any ‘bleeding edges’ or ‘best of breeds’ being poured out from this melting pot.

But I’m starting to have second thoughts.

Am I at risk of scaring off the entire B2B crowd with my high mindedness? Are endless superlatives and grandiose claims how they expect copywriting to sound?

If so, will they pay my invoice?

So to help me decide, I thought I’d put clichéd copywriting on trial.

First up, the defence for the ‘blue sky thinking’ style of copywriting that’s sat (looking rather smug in a pinstriped suit, might I add) in the dock…

The Defence РClich̩s build rapport and familiarity

Buzzwords might make us copywriters wince. But customers are different. They don’t spend all day reading through marketing material like we do.

Words and phrases that sound like clichés to us are common expressions that help people get your point. They immediately know what you mean.

After all, isn’t it our job to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible? Creative wordplay should be left for novelists. Otherwise, for the sake of sounding unique and clever, you risk writing long winded phrases that are inaccessible to readers.

And terms like ‘synergy’ and ‘one stop shop’ sound professional. It’s the way business people talk. If you’re a serious company with a serious product, you don’t want to sound like someone flogging watches in a bar or how you’d chat to a neighbour over the fence.

Keep your ‘conversational’ copy for those that want to hear it – teenagers and bloggers.

Well, after that ballsy defence, clichéd copywriting is looking more pleased with itself than ever, even giving the court typist a sly wink.

Will the prosecution be able to knock it off its perch? Let’s find out…

The Prosecution РClich̩s are lazy, meaningless and send customers to sleep

When you read copywriting packed with clich̩s it can sound as though the copywriter has been writing on autopilot Рhammering out one hackneyed superlative after another, with one eye on Game of Thrones.

Clichés are so overused that they’ve become vacuous phrases without any real meaning.

Everybody is so far outside the box we don’t even know what the box is anymore. And can anybody remember a world where everything wasn’t already ‘turnkey’ and ‘off the shelf’? Supposedly, we all had to assemble everything ourselves, like an Airfix model without any glue.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not as though there’s a shortage of words to choose from for expressing an idea or concept.

And customers don’t want to listen to a business droning on about how it’s the fastest/cheapest/market leading/ etc. They want real information they can use.

Focus on what the customer wants

Copywrting should be focused on them – on their problems, hopes and desires. It should show empathy for their predicament, and explain how your product can solve it in real tangible benefits. Not with sugar coated features.

And beneath the power suit and reassuringly thick business cards, a B2B customer is still a living, breathing human being. You’re not writing to a fax machine.

Writing that’s more conversational, and mirrors how people talk, comes across as more trustworthy. And as any salesman will tell you, trust is invaluable when trying to sell something.

So rather than use lazy, meaningless clichés, copywriting should be fresh, tight and brimming with personality. It should arouse a customer’s curiosity, keep them reading until the last full stop and then send them rushing to place an order.

Copywriting won’t achieve this if it’s reeling off the same old tired sales patter customers have read a million times before.

The verdict – Guilty!

And with that, as the writer and self appointed judge, I’ve decided that clichéd copywriting needs to be locked away – permanently.

 Guards!

Not looking so smug now, are you?

But I fear clichéd copywriting will only serve a minimal sentence. I’ll be forced to release it soon. It’s far too entrenched in the B2B world’s vernacular to be removed from polluting the marketing world forever.

After all, I’ve got bills to pay and clients to keep happy. But at least I’ve made a small stand for fresh, cliché free copywriters everywhere.

Now, time to rewrite my home page…

2 Comments. Leave new

Paul Eveleigh
August 3, 2011 8:09 am

Thanks, Matt, for highlighting the dilemma of when to use or avoid jargon and buzzwords.

He who pays the piper calls the tune. If the person paying you insists you use jargon and buzzwords, why not?

You can convince your client the copy is more effective without jargon? Go for it.

Life is full of compromise.

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