How to Improve Your Copywriting by Avoiding Buzzwords

Fads come and go.  This is true in any segment or industry, and it is perhaps even more true in marketing.

One of the many ways that fads show themselves in the marketing realm is through buzzwords.

A trendy word or expression slips into use, gains momentum, and within a short time it’s all over the websites, social networks and other media that we consume each day.  A buzzword is born.

Once the newness wears off, the charge that the word or expression may have initially carried begins to dissipate and its effectiveness dulls.  In fact, as it reaches the point of saturation, when people have heard it again and again, it can begin to mean next to nothing.

Don’t believe me?  Consider these words and phrases:

  • Robust (“We offer a robust solution.”)
  • Game-changer (“This solution is a real game-changer.”)
  • Incentivize (“We need to incentivize this solution.”)
  • And…*cringes*…synergy (“This is a solution that creates synergy.”)

Perhaps solution should have been first on that list.

In any event, here comes the big question: How can you avoid this useless language?


Just the concepts, man

It’s really quite easy:

(1)  Focus first on the CONCEPTS behind the topic that you’ve chosen to write about.

(2)  Tie words to the ideas that you have about these particular concepts.

(3)  Then address the result you wish to achieve or the benefit that you wish to advocate to the reader.


This approach will win every time.


Putting it into practice

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’ve been considering *again cringes* synergy as a topic for your next blog post or creative piece.  It’s on your mind constantly and you feel compelled to write about how it has influenced your work.  You LOVE the idea of shared goals and actions.

While some of us may become spastic at the mere mention of the word synergy, it is actually a great impetus for creating a helpful blog post.

Instead of focusing on synergy as inherent to the topic with a title like this:

10 Ways to Create Synergy in the Workplace

…consider dropping the buzzword and zeroing in on the concept behind it:

10 Ways to Encourage Workplace Collaboration for Shared Outcomes

This gives you the chance within your article to outline what you think truly comprises the idea of synergy, without ever referring to it as, well, synergy (yes, I’m still cringing from hearing that word).

Not only does this address the fact that synergy doesn’t really mean anything unless you provide a context for it, but you also create that context automatically by restructuring the topic to avoid the buzzword.

Pretty great, right?


Photo credit: Andrés Álvarez Iglesias

Ninjas are only cool in movies

Here’s another example:

5 Twitter Hacks to Turn You Into a Tweeting Ninja

Now, let me start by saying, the topic above is action-oriented and strong for capturing the reader’s attention.  I’m not arguing against that.

What I am, however, arguing against is the use of hacks, which, as a plural noun, is a buzzed-up stand-in for tips and grossly overused in the social and content marketing realm.  And ninja just indicates “someone who’s really good at”, offering little dimension on its own.

So, in terms of actual meaning conveyed, the example topic might as well read as follows:

5 Twitter Tips to Turn You Into Someone Who’s Really Good at Tweeting

I mean, we all want to be good at tweeting, but that doesn’t really give the reader much to go on.

Consider this instead:

5 Techniques to Master the Art of Tweeting

It’s simple, concise and even keeps in the same ninja vein by referring to mastering an art.  (Anyone ever studied martial arts?  Ninjas do!)


Time to weigh in

Which buzzwords and phrases do you believe are the most overused?

First comment that guesses one from this year’s top 20 wins a mystery prize!




Rob is Co-Owner of Cortica Creative Design and writes about graphic design for marketing and advertising. He loves fonts and typography, Bauhaus, Mirò, Max Beckmann, wine, anything with chocolate, and dabbling in various aspects of linguistics. Follow him on Twitter at @RobTDuvall or connect on

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