In every industry, in every generation, there are words and phrases that come and go. For instance, in my grandfather’s generation (“The Greatest Generation”), it actually used to be an insult to one’s mother if you called a guy a “son of a bitch.” Back then, they took it literally. If I called you a son of a bitch back in the 1930s and 1940s, that would actually mean that I was calling your mother a bitch – it really wasn’t a direct insult toward you, per se… it was considered even worse since I would have been insulting your mother instead of you. Back then, being called a son of a bitch definitely would have led to a fist-fight, but now it’s virtually meaningless. These days, it’s merely an expression of frustration – something we say in passing when we stub our toe or can’t find our keys.
In our world of content marketing, there are certain marketing words and phrases that make us cringe. They’re the content writer’s equivalent to when a graphic designer sees text laid out in Papyrus or Comic Sans… you just cringed, too, didn’t you?
While we plan on developing a solid list of dead buzzwords for you to avoid, we’d like to start with the number-one, pet-peeve, useless marketing buzzword that is as dead as yesterday. What is it? See below…
That’s right. Sorry – this one might hurt a lot of you who still have the word “solutions” littered all over your website and marketing materials. Just trust us – we’re giving you the tough love you need to hear.
Back in the dot-com days, the marketing buzzword “Solutions” showed up on everyone’s marketing collateral as a primary description for products and services offered by a company (because the word “services” was just too boring and low-tech in the dot-com days). As modern, kickass content marketers, we’re here to tell you that if you run across any of your old marketing collateral that calls your products or services, “Solutions,” you need to run it through the shredder and delete every instance of it on your website. “Solutions” is a dead marketing buzzword and no one believes it any more, whether you truly solve things or not.
The word “Solutions” even went so far as to take over business names, not just the services within the business. For instance, I remember seeing a billboard in California for a business called, “Alternative Solutions.” That business owner thought he was so smart, but you tell me: what is that business about? What do they sell? What do they do? Alternative Solutions to what, exactly? Although I don’t know for certain, I can all but guarantee that business is no more, all thanks to the error right out of the gates of leaning on the word “solutions” right there in the business name. A giant billboard on a busy street in a big city, and no one – not a single person could tell you what it was about.
What to say instead of “Solutions”
Believe it or not, “services” is perfectly fine to use. It’s not bullshit, it’s not misleading – it’s exactly what it says it is. You’re not trying to hide anything. It’s a service; it’s a product; it’s something you have that the rest of the world should know about. Believe it or not, it’ll help you in Google, too… at least a little bit. Think about it: in our business, when people are looking for help with content marketing or website content, they don’t typically search for “content marketing solutions,” they search for “content marketing services.” Same goes for your business or service, therefore, ditch the “solutions” on your website and marketing collateral (and God forbid the word “Solutions” is in your business name). Don’t try to sound smarter than you are because, 1) it won’t work, and 2) you’re already smart enough, otherwise you wouldn’t have launched your business in the first place.