Man with tape over his mouthWe talked about importance of language when discussing Alan Weiss’ persuasion pyramid applied to Lead Nurturing. Today we prepared for you a list of 8 words or rather bad language habits to avoid in marketing communication. They might seem harmless, but really can ruin carefully built message. Do you like writing in passive voice? Do you overuse word “problem”, prone “our” or negations? We’ll help you fix that.

Unconscious power of words

Language is not exactly question of our deliberate choice. Very often unconscious beliefs or emotions rest there, waiting to be revealed by random pick of words. That’s why sometimes we say “He told me to do so” and on the other occasion “He asked me to”. Once we call our husband “sweetie”, the other “that dude”. Picking up the word happens faster than rational thinking. Do you know the feeling when you first say something and then deliberate: why did I say so? What was that supposed to mean actually?”. The same goes for receiving a message. “Calculator doesn’t cause any troubles” and “Calculator is easy in use” don’t bring the same emotions, no matter whether recipient realizes the process of being emotionally or unconsciously affected by given phrasing.

Forbidden words

Your marketing vocabulary should be adjusted to your customers, not to some abstract rules. What works perfectly for one group can discourage or annoy another (e.g. language of competition). It’s better to test. However there is a bunch of words and phrasing that will most probably hurt your business. We present them below.

1. Problem

Some websites are full of references to problems.

  • “In the case of problems, we are at your disposal”, consultants write.
  • “It doesn,t cause any problems”, leaflet says.
  • “It will solve all your problems!”, banner shouts.


Too much of that word – no matter the context – builds an association between your product and problems. Try to avoid it and replace your “problems” with positive phrasing:

  • “Is easy and intuitive”
  • “Our team willingly shares knowledge and answers all questions”
  • “Product improves that specific area of life”

2. Probability and beliefs

When shopping customers want to feel that s/he made a rational decision based on solid premises. It’s not a good time for speculation or sharing intuition. You aim at convincing customer that there are strong reasons for buying from you (although purchase process isn’t always rational, we must make it look that way). Hence you should avoid words like:

  • Think
  • Believe
  • Probably
  • Possibly
  • Rather

Replace them with data, facts and analysis.

3. Fillers

In school we used to write essays that have given amount of words, what taught us to blow up text, so it achieves the right volume. The rest of our lives – if our work involves writing – we try to set ourselves free from that habit. It’s about overusing words without actual meaning, like:

  • Sort of
  • Slightly
  • Basically
  • Essentially
  • In other words
  • Well…

It also applies to piling up synonyms. Fillers pose a threat to your marketing, because important information you want to communicate get lost among them . Also, too long texts with little data discourage users from further reading. Don’t be scared of removing words!

4. Passive voice

When possible, try to convert it into active. Compare:

  • “George” pasta is told to be the best in the country. (Passive)
  • 8,000 customers say that “George” pasta is the best in the country. (Active)
  • Thousands of apps can be replaced with one program. (Passive)
  • One Programm replaces thousands of apps (Active).

There are 2 reasons for using passive voice:

– to make text sound more formal

– when agent (a person responsible or performing given action, subject) is unknown.

When we write “Our product was told to be the best”, nobody knows WHO said so. Passive voice allows to build sentences without specifics, full of false gravity, but lacking substantial content. It also makes sentences longer, static and harder to read.

5. We, our… what’s wrong with your possessive pronouns?

You read and come across one of these all the tome:

  • Our product
  • Our solution
  • Our system
  • Our idea…

OK, guys, we got it, it’s totally yours, nobody’s going to take your concepts away! Identifying with your product sounds great, but don’t overdo it. Too much of “ours” makes communication focused on producer, while it should be more about customer. Use some “You’s”!

6. Truth and honesty

We are talking about phrases like:

– To be honest

– Honestly speaking

– To tell the truth

Remove them! They just provoke question: “Hey, if NOW you’re telling the truth, what about things you said/wrote before? Was it just marketing mumbo jumbo?”. And they act just like fillers we discussed above.

7. Negation

If I told you “Don’t think about an elephant”, what would happen? (Seriously, I can see you thinking about that elephant now). Exactly. Brains grasp negation slowly. Negations are great for ironic campaign based on “Don’t look at it!”, “Don’t read it!”, “Don’t click it” concept. But take a look at your informative text. Aren’t they overloaded with:

– Don’t throw money down the drain!

– Rain won’t surprise you ever again!

– You don’t have to buy paper towels again!

– It can’t fail you?

Negation overload can overwhelm the reader with pessimism, reluctance and suspicion, it prolongs sentences and builds unwanted associations.

8. Waiting

Customers are spoiled. They want everything right now. Therefore you should check your communication for references to waiting, which could be easily replaced with dynamic phrases. Go for present tense! Instead of:

– Wait

– Wait while we…

– It will take just a moment…


– We’re sending…

– Order is going…

– Right now –

Just Avoiding these 8 mistakes will boost your text’s clarity, readability and persuasive power. What other bad writing habits could you add to our listt?