16 Marketing Terms to Ban in 2011


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A good friend, Paul Dunay, who writes the popular blog Buzz Marketing for Technology once told me that B2B marketers are in an “Arms Race around Content.” This means that companies are one-upping each other on content.

One of the keys to great content is to make it engaging for your reader. This means to use terms readers use – not terms your industry uses. But what words are the worst?

The great book, Content Rules, had a superb list of words used in BtoB marketing that need to go away. The use of these words is egregious in technology. I share this list below.

  1. Impactful
    nonsense word. Try influential or powerful instead.
  2. Leverage
    a noun morphed into a verb. Try influence, enhance, rely on or just use.
  3. Learnings
    a word for an idea that somehow became plural. Makes no sense.
  4. Synergy
    A snazzy word that means nothing. Try cooperation, or help, or join.
  5. Revolutionary
    A stairway to the Moon. Overkill. Kill it.
  6. E-mail Blasts
    Are you a spammer? Only spammers blast prospective customers. (Unfortunately, the marketing automation software we use has a menu titled “Email Blasts.” I cringe every time I see it.)
  7. Proactive
    The opposite of reactive. It’s pompous and should not be used. Try active, anticipate, forestall or foresee.
  8. Drill down
    A sin of software firms. Try in-depth or detailed.
  9. 30,000 Feet
    A high level overview. Doesn’t that sound better?
  10. Incenting/incentising
    This smelly one belongs to sales. Try encourage.
  11. Almost any word that ends in -ize
    monetize, socialize, etc. As the book says, it sounds like it comes from a robot.
  12. Solution
    This is the word used when you cannot explain your product.
  13. Users
    Dehumanizing word that strips people of their identity. Why not people, customers, friends?
  14. Any word applied to technology, such as
    ping for follow-up
    bandwidth for capacity
    Offline for not working
    Use words that describe what people do
  15. Overused words
  16. Mashed together words

Her’s a bonus for you English majors. Common writing mistake from GlobalCopyWrite. Contact Sarah Michell at http://www.globalcopywriting.com

Public Service Announcement
As a service to anyone interested in evading the ire attached to the usage of these words, I’m providing a list. Use them at your peril. The overriding sentiment about non-word usage is it demonstrates lack of intelligence, education or attention to detail. If these words are appearing in your normal business communications and marketing collateral, my advice is to get rid of them and do it quickly.

The Top Offenders
Two words were submitted repeatedly. Obliterate them from your vocabulary.

Other non-words peeving the pets
In no particular order:

  • supposably
  • ideation
  • positivity
  • onboarding
  • de-train
  • de-plane
  • onforward
  • verbally facilitate
  • unpacking (as in “unpacking the issues”)
  • disaggregations
  • misunderestimated
  • conversating
  • embiggened
  • learnings
  • irregardless
  • anonymize
  • operationalize
  • Westralia

Errors in Usage
Plenty of people complained about real words being used at the wrong time or in the wrong context.

  • enormousness vs. enormity
  • thankyou vs. thank you
  • round vs. around
  • penultimate vs. ultimate
  • hone vs. home
  • momentary vs. momentarily
  • phenomena vs. phenomenon

The evergreens in this category:

  • lose vs. loose
  • chose vs. choose
  • there vs. they’re vs. their
  • its vs. it’s

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeff Ogden
Jeff Ogden (http://jeff-ogden.brandyourself.com) is President of the Tampa based Find New Customers demand generation agency. http://www.findnewcustomers.com .


  1. Solutions? Products? Services? Sometime our clients ask us to add “Solutions” to their “Product” dropdown navigation. How’s that for a transparent user experience? (not sure I can use “people experience” yet, need to warm up to that one)

    Thanks for the post.

    CEO and Founder, PeakTwo

  2. Great posting…. it certainly passes muster with me. While typing this, a woman walked by and asked her friend if she had posted on a thread “on accident.” Add muster and that one to your group of pets.

  3. Great post! Some of these words clang like sour notes. But embiggened? Somebody says that? Sheesh. I’ll add ‘adverse’ vs ‘averse’ in “I’m not adverse to that.” You got ‘proactive,’ but how could you leave off ’empowered?’

  4. Thanks for your note, Andrew. I’m sure there’s no end to the possibilities, but “empowered” would make a good addition.


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