It’s time your business ditched lazy language and dangerous marketing

computer notebook marketing language

Source: Unsplash/Nick Morrison.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has stated many times since the election that “we can and we must do better”. While referencing the state of government and Australia’s future, his pledge is relevant to all sectors, including marketing and business communications. 

Each day we face a barrage of social media content, sales pitches, marketing and business messages, not to mention a relentless news cycle of crime, murders, famine, wars, mass shootings, domestic violence, death and destruction. To top it off, we have endured two years of COVID-19 during which mortality has been in our daily thoughts, alongside the real and devastating effects of the pandemic on every element of life.

A moratorium on the news cycle and tragedies is impossible, but businesses can do their bit to improve communications and reduce the overwhelm of gruesome narratives. 

The power of words

Words and phrases are powerful. They can both greatly inspire and discourage. Cheap marketing phrases, clickbait and headlines that are disparate and inappropriate simply do not cut it.

Phrases such as ‘business suicide’, ‘killer pitch’, ‘shooting the competition’, ‘career death’, ‘killer email’, ‘killing social media’, and ‘team death’ are lazy and thoughtless. 

There is generally no consideration of how those phrases may land to a reader who has or faced trauma. And from an artistic perspective, they are as banal as weak tea bags. 

Now I’m not a fan of current levels of politically correct demands and ‘woke’ discourse. The age of outrage has gone a little too far, and we cannot live in perpetual fear of upsetting at every turn.   

I’m a bit of a potty mouth, I call a spade a spade and I’m not a precious petal at all. But there is a long line between trivial and dangerous beliefs and words. 

Umbrage gone mad

It’s almost become a national sport (cue Twitter) to be take umbrage at every comment, misstep and belief, and outrage has become a keyboard default for many.

But that’s not the point. It’s not about being timid, crouching behind safe weasel words and being scared shitless to be bolder. It’s the reverse.

This is a call to be smarter, to be unique, and to communicate with strength, clarity and empathy.

And it’s a call and commitment to reduce the imagery of hurt and trauma in any way possible. The opportunity for marketing and communications here is vast.

What does better look like?

Across all social media posts, blogs, advertising, pitches and communications must take a higher ground of creativity and perspective.

It’s about falling in love with the thesaurus and using synonyms to find different and more appropriate words, and not following the social media copycat brigade in lazy marketing and headlines.

It’s about being creative, congruent to the topic and responsible in avoiding inappropriate language.

Ways to avoid incongruent and lazy marketing: 

  • If not about health, cancer and mortality don’t use ‘killer’;
  • If not about humans taking their own life don’t use ‘suicide’;
  • If not about war don’t use ‘kill’ or ‘guns’;
  • If not about mass murders don’t use ‘shooter’; and
  • If not about actual military combat don’t use ‘war’. 

There are far more interesting words and phrases to use to create compelling marketing messages and conversations.

Whether you give a damn or not about the impact or use of these phrases, I’m tipping you will give a damn about attracting more business and standing out from the competition.   

In a sea of content and marketing overwhelm, being creative, relevant and unique are sure-fire ways to differentiate your business and brand. We can do better.


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