In the words of one of my favorite Chicago Tribune columnists, Buzzwords are Evil and Must Be Stopped (PS they will make you pay to read this, unless you subscribe to the Trib).
The article reminded me of all the buzzwords that I never, ever, want to use, so I’m providing a list of my favorites. I also give you permission to never, ever use these words.
- Best in class (unless you’re a car)
- Best in breed (unless you’re a dog)
- Core competency
- Leading edge
- Bleeding edge
- Game changing
The problem with buzzwords
Bizspeak may seem like a convenient shorthand, but it suggests to readers that you’re on autopilot, thoughtlessly using boilerplate phrases that they’ve heard over and over. Brief, readable documents, by contrast, show care and thought — and earn people’s attention.
I agree. But worse than buzzwords suggesting that your company’s on autopilot, these words also cause potential customers to pass you by. Your webpage or presentation makes people’s eyes glaze over. Think about it: if you’re shopping for a B2B service and look at three competitive websites, two of which use the same old buzzwords and one of which explains their business proposition in clear, specific language, which one would you choose?
Fixing the buzzword problem
It’s not easy to eliminate buzzwords or bizspeak or marketing speak. These words have become popular because they’re a convenient shorthand, and sometimes using buzzwords makes you look like you’re in the know. The problem is that they they tend to gloss over what you and your company actually do and how you can help solve customer business issues, so it’s best to get rid of as many as possible.
Go through your marketing materials. Pinpoint these non-words and think of ways to replace them. Use a thesaurus liberally. Have fun playing with the voice and tone of your business writing, and maybe make it less serious. Get to the heart of why your customers need your product.
Do you need to get rid of buzzwords?
Which ones do you hate the most?