Commercial Clichés Taken Into Custody


All marketing efforts are subject to one universal law – restricted time. This fact reminded me of when I sat down to watch a movie which had many notable headliners. As the first scene got underway, one of the main characters (so I thought) was abruptly killed off and the film continued on with no further reference to this character played by a major actor. I was dumbfounded; what was the point of that? He really didn’t contribute to the plot or storyline development.

Movie-night gone awry serves as a reminder for small business marketing. The lesson is simple - avoid introducing verbiage that serves no real purpose. And never load up your marketing efforts up with clichés; they simply waste precious time (of which you’re paying a premium).

Have your ads fallen victim to empty words and clichés? Let’s interview some of the alleged offenders:

“Our friendly, courteous, knowledgeable staff will…”

While it’s imperative to maintain a topnotch staff, it’s not necessary to state that fact directly. Why? This phrase represents one of the most highly-used, cut-and-paste, commercial lines out there. Due to its overuse, the impact is virtually nonexistent and will eat away at precious ad time. Try instead to use testimonials or recount real stories that speak to the greatness of your personnel.

“We’ve been around since…”

In most cases, touting the years in business has no real relevance to the consumer. Not convinced? Ask the next customer at the register about the top three things which led them to your doorstep. If you envision them saying, “Hey, you’re a family-owned business that’s been around since 1960!” then go for it. However, if you hear things like price, value, selection—then why insist on inserting a low-priority factoid such as years in business?

“Several convenient locations to serve you…”

When presenting company locations, is the word “convenient” really necessary? The contention is this word and others like it are just filler.  Unfortunately, these kinds of phrases have become accepted-practice – formulaic text used for cranking out bland ads. Try removing this word from your ads. You’ll most likely discover that your message has not been affected.  Moreover, you’ll open up space to repeat relevant information – a phone number, web address, an offer and more.

“Prices too low to advertise”

Avoid this statement at all costs. It’s probably the most egregious offender. Not only does this phrase occupy precious space, it also has the ability to damage your reputation. Imagine convincing a potential consumer to hop off the couch and mosey on down to your store. What’s that? The savings are underwhelming? You’ve just increased the odds of losing a customer or worse – the creation of a disgruntled social-media-blogging enemy. In short, skip clichés that overstate your offers.

There are many more ad-killing clichés hiding in the shadows; find them before they do more damage.  Avoid cutesy, meaningless wordplay and shift your focus to communicating points needed to encourage consumers to take the next step.

Walter Dailey is a former ad agency partner and experienced marketing professional. He is the lead consultant and executive producer at Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in developing commercials, jingles and marketing campaigns for small businesses throughout North America.  Ask Walter your questions