Business Cliches Ride Again…and Again…and…

Business ClichesBusiness cliches never die. We first published a contractors version of business cliches as “Quicksand Words & Phrases”.

Seth Godin points out they’re used primarily to talk and say nothing. Take a look at his Encyclopedia of Business Cliches , which he’s setup to capture an ever expanding list.

If we’re talking and saying nothing (business cliches) amongst ourselves, how harmful is that to customers?

In case you missed our contractors version, I’ve reposted our take on industry cliches below. Feel free to add yours in the comments section at the end of this post. (Marketing Tip: blogs have the advantage of two-way communication over traditional outbound messages). Enjoy.

“Exceeding expectations”

Defining expectations is tough enough – let alone meeting them. Remember they’re services; intangible, changeable, invisible.

So customers are to believe contractors define expectations explicitly? Then go beyond meeting them, but exceed them?

I seriously doubt it. So do most customers. They see this claim, and you’re lined up and shot. Alongside everyone else selling kitchen knives that never need sharpening.

“Our service is second to none”

What can I say? Sounds right out of the 1950s doesn’t it? No matter how you dress it up, it’s still a plaid-jacketed used car salesman. Deadly at all costs.


“No, we’re not customer-focused! We work hard to upset anyone gullible enough to be our customer.”

Sarcastic obviously, but “customer-focused” is quicksand. Avoid it. Even though it may be true. Customers step into it and vanish from sight.

“High quality”

Who doesn’t say this? How many contractors say they provide mediocre or low quality? High quality is a great internal business strategy. But quicksand as a marketing term. Step around it.

“People are our most important asset”

Over use washes out meaning, along with past experiences that don’t live up to promises. Together, they make “people = important asset” quicksand.

And that’s unfortunate for contractors who live this credo with employees. Because it’s admirable. And it’s an excellent business strategy. Don’t say it – just do it. Customers will know.

“Solutions provider”

I’m guilty – I use this one. Too bad too. Real solutions are what customers buy. Again, over usage and failure to deliver has made “solutions provider” a message sink hole. “Mam, please step away from the solutions provider”.

It’s Not Just Us

Cliches aren’t just used by contractors. MBA freaks and technology geeks are infected too. Check out Dilbert’s Mission Statement Generator. Or, try playing Buzzword Bingo.

What Cliches are in your Marketing Messages?


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