Content Marketing and Copywriting Marketing Word Crimes: Are You Guilty?

Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Lisa Furgison

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Are You Guilty of These Marketing Word Crimes?

We’ve all done it. In an effort to craft a quick email, we commit a marketing word crime. You know what we’re talking about. From using trendy words like “epic” too often or writing redundant phrases like “extra bonus” – we’ve all innocently broken a marketing law or two.

This post was inspired by a song released by Weird Al Yankovic called “Word Crimes,” which pokes fun at the many grammatical errors we all commit. so we created a list of word crimes you should try to avoid. 

1. Check out these epic styles

Sound the alarms. We’re declaring the use of the word “epic” illegal. We know it’s trendy and all the lots of us are saying it, but there comes a time when a word can get over-used and played out. Have you noticed how “epic” everything is?

“Millions of un-epic things are now being described as epic,” says Peter Dawyot, managing director of Publicus Community, a marketing and advertising agency. Take this shoe sale, for example. Apparently, it’s epic.

Marketing Word Crimes: Are You Guilty?

The next time your fingers type this word, try another and let this word rest in epic peace.

2. Get a free gift
If you give a gift, would you expect the recipient to pay for it? Of course not. Gifts are free, so there is no need to say “free gift.” It’s redundant, Dawyot says.

Have you committed this word crime before? No worries. Plenty of big brands use it; just look at the example below:

Marketing Word Crimes: Are You Guilty?

3. Preview our new arrivals in advance
A lot of businesses try to build hype around a new product. We get it. You want people excited and ready to buy. There’s nothing wrong with sending an email to prime your recipients about something new, but before you break out the pom-poms and rev up the email band, make sure you don’t repeat yourself.

Refrain from saying “advanced preview” or “preview our new arrivals in advance.” A preview, by definition, takes place in advance of an event. Instead, say something like “Check out our new fall purses before they go on sale.”

4. Get a sneak peak of our summer sale
Can anyone spot the marketing crime in the statement above? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Peak is spelled wrong. A peak is a mountaintop, not a secret look at something. You want to use the phrase “sneak peek.” Don’t worry; if you’ve committed this crime, we won’t slap the handcuffs on you just yet, even veteran journalists sometimes get it wrong. 

Marketing Word Crimes: Are You Guilty?

5. Come to our 1st annual event
Here’s a question for you, how can you have a first annual event if it’s never happened before? Even though you plan to have this event annually, you can’t break out that term until the event has actually taken place.

“The phrase seems correct when you first read it, but it doesn’t make sense,” Dawyot says. Try using words like “inaugural” or “launch” in place of annual.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 1st annual list of epic marketing crimes. To those who read this article, please consider it our free gift to you. Next time we create a list of this nature, we’ll be sure to offer you a sneak peak or a preview in advance so you can contribute to our growing list of marketing crimes.

Ready to whip up your next email? Get started with VerticalResponse.

© 2014, Lisa Furgison. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Lisa Furgison

is a contributing author.



4 Responses to Are You Guilty of These Marketing Word Crimes?

  1. Doug Litwin says:

    There are several marketing phrases that really annoy me.

    “World Class”
    Way overused to the point of being meaningless. If something truly is world class, it’s up to the users to determine that, not the person or company selling the item.

    “Reimagined”
    Very trendy buzzword that’s just a version of “new.” It is very trite and most of the time, it is used inappropriately.

    “For what matters most”
    This has popped up in the past few years and is so overused that it comes across as very disingenuous. It’s not up to the marketer to determine what matters most to the consumer.

    Starting a sentence with “so”
    Virtually every time this is done, it adds nothing to the communication, yet this practice persists and keeps growing. It’s very annoying.

  2. Len Savage says:

    Here’s one that makes me cringe: Very unique.
    Unique is an absolute – like married or pregnant or dead.
    No one is any varying degree of married or pregnant or unique.
    You are or you are not. It is or it is not. Period.
    It belongs in a cartoon, like ‘to infinity and beyond”.
    I’m just a bit dead now, so I’ll sign off.

  3. Sarah says:

    Regarding “1st Annual,” I can see the point, but saying 1st Annual implies that there will be a 2nd Annual and so on. It creates interest in the annual event, whatever it may be, for the next year and the year after that. You wouldn’t say “1st Launch” – I hope you only have to launch once.

    I think that’s being a little bit too picky on wording.

  4. Sarah L says:

    Who peeks of something? Shouldn’t it be a “sneak peek at”?

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