“Push the Envelope…Give 110 %”

As a copywriter and a former reporter, I’m always on the lookout for clichés in copy.

A journalism professor drove this home for me many years ago by sharing his least favourite cliché:

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

Because really, how does someone else know what my worst nightmare as a parent is?

I was reminded of this by a recent article in The Australian that made the social media rounds about the worst clichés in journalism. At the end of the story, one source noted, “I get more annoyed by corporate speak because it is not descriptive and often is designed to hide the real meaning.”

And clichéd corporate speak has permeated online B2B marketing.

A SALESWORKS client recently requested that we ensure none of their online copy includes the descriptors state-of-the-art or top-of-the-line because they’re overused and no longer resonate with the client’s audience.

Why avoid clichés? They are:

  • Lazy. And readers know it. Find a unique way to say what you want to.
  • Too general. They don’t differentiate your product or why you’re the best company to implement the solution they’re seeking.
  • Overused. People tend to glaze over or quit reading altogether when they’re faced with drab, overused text they have read over and over again. And it sounds insincere to boot.

Out of curiosity, I searched ‘state-of-the-art software’ and got 151,000,000 hits.

I started creating my own list of clichés to avoid when I found The Encyclopedia of Business Clichés by business author Seth Godin. His top-10 has been enhanced by Squidoo.com readers who, at the last point I checked, had boosted his list to 384.

Seth Godin’s Top-10 Business Clichés:

1. Win-win situation

2. Thinking outside the box

3. Giving 110%

4. Best practices

5. Synergy

6. Paradigm shift

7. At the end of the day…

8. Low-hanging fruit

9. Going forward

10. Push the envelope

What are the clichés that irk you?


– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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Insight written by Leokadia Rucinski

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  • Great post! My favorite is: “Don’t Step in Poop”.