Cliches! Everybody’s Doin’ It!

The great thing about cliches is that they’re really easy to write. Someone’s already done the work, in some cases, many times over (Caution: Video contains some naughty words):

But the problem with cliches is that, by definition, they’re predictable and overused. So when you use them in your advertising, viewers and listeners tune out your message a lot faster, because they’ve already heard it. And the more times consumers hear these overused lines, the less meaning they have, the less impact they make, and the less weight they carry. Worst of all, this overused language gets tuned out by the listener/viewer. Think of some of the classic examples:

“Affordable dining in a comfortable atmosphere…”

“Service second to none…”

“Over _______ years experience…”

“Prices too low to mention here!” (I never understood this one. Why can’t you mention them?)

“It’s the ONE sale you DON’T want to miss!”

“Conveniently located…”

And so on. When you use this kind of language in your ad copy, the words mean absolutely nothing to the potential customer who might be hearing or seeing your ad.  Look at it this way: Can you really imagine someone coming into a store and saying, “Hey, I heard your ad! Is this the place with service second to none?” Not likely. When we write spots for our clients, we work hard with them to find those things about their business that are unique, that only they can deliver. We produced this commercial for a Bangor, Maine candy store a couple years ago:

And they ended up selling out of chocolate lobster dinners and “boxes of chocolate where the box IS chocolate.” The thing is, I’ve shopped there, and I can say, without prejudice, that Specialty Sweets does offer “service second to none.” But the thing is, you can’t qualify that claim. EVERY business can claim it, LOTS of businesses already DO say it in their ads, and none of them would be lying. So when used in an ad, the phrase means nothing. However, a specific, unique product or offer CAN be qualified: “Hey! I want one of those chocolate lobster dinners I saw on TV!”

So, before your next ad goes to air, review the copy. Does the language look familiar? Has it been said before? Have you heard it in another commercial? If so, change it, so people who see and hear your ads sit up and take notice. Surprise and delight your customers. Use your imagination, take some time, and use words that are unique to you and your business.

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