I had the pleasure of contributing some informal research to David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of PR and Marketing back in 2007. Since then, it has become a business-book bestseller, and now a revised and updated 2nd edition is being sold on-line and by major book retailers such as Borders. Some colleges are using it as a textbook – it is a comprehensive overview of the tactics available to reach buyers directly with useful information as opposed to hype.

David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott's business bestseller

My research, summarized in Chapter 12 (see pages 156-157), has to do with over-used words and phrases that have lost any meaning; clichés that are spewed daily in news releases and other content in the BtoB world. I surveyed publication editors to gage their complaints.

I have talked plenty about the ubiquitous word “solutions”  (see “Guess What, We Make Products”).   There’s plenty of new lists and sources, including Seth Godin’s amusing Encylopedia of Business Cliches on Squidoo, where you can vote for your favorites. “Synergy” and “paradigm shift” are both in the top 10.

The indictment of business cliches has moved from deeming the practice of using them as mere laziness of the writer, to slamming it as intentional subterfuge.  I think it’s a mixture.  Another factor is ignorance of the news-release writer due to lack of experience within the industry discussed.

My suggestion for freshening up your business vocabulary:  read Business Week, Wired, Discover, Scientific American or other technology-trends publications.  Borrow an appropriate term, give it a new context, and make it your own.

3 thoughts on “ Exposing Business Cliche Over-Exposure ”

  1. Dave,
    I wasn’t aware you contributed to this book. It’s a staple for every businessperson using social media for marketing. Kudos to you!

    “Solutions” has been overused for years in nearly every segment. Every market segment has its own list of overused terms. I have banned “world of information” at the publishing company I work for, and a couple of other throwaway phrases. And I recognize that I’m immune to many others.

    On a similar note, I’m considering introducing a drinking game at my place of business–to be enacted whenever anyone uses the phrase “from a _____ perspective” (“marketing,” “sales,” “customer,” whatever) in a meeting. Except that we’d all be useless by 9:30 a.m. 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder to keep our language fresh.

  2. Thanks for the kudos, and the input. Agreed, “world of information” is lame, generic. I always thought that publication titles that end in “World” (i.e. Computer World) sounded hokey. But you find them in every BtoB vertical niche. Glad you’re being the cliche cop.

  3. Hey Dave,

    I really appreciate your contribution to my book (and also you writing about it here). Your stuff made the Gobbledygook analysis more credible. Thank you.

    Sadly, I still see gobbledygook everywhere. It seems everyone is an innovative, company creating mission-critical solutions using cutting-edge technology. Ugh!


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