BEST PRACTICE

4 Phrases That Make Us Scream, and How to Rewrite Them

Jesse Webb By Jesse Webb, Director of Content & Chief Storyteller, Extra Mile Marketing

As a copywriter, the hardest thing about Covid was reading marketing copy. Okay, no, that wasn’t the hardest thing about a global pandemic for me, but it was up there. Every new commercial, digital ad, or think piece said the same things over and over—“we’re all in this together,” “We may be apart right now,” “we’ve been there for you through thick and thin,” “now more than ever” *queue somber piano music.

This kind of repetitive messaging is nothing new—especially in the B2B marketing space. When every company promises to “accelerate digital transformation,” how is anyone supposed to stand out?

Let’s flex our copywriting skills and convert some of the most exhausted phrases we’ve read this past year into messaging that’s fresh, effective, and doesn’t make us scream.

1. In these unprecedented times…

The 1918 influenza pandemic infected more than a third of the world’s population, and the Black Plague brought Eurasian civilization to a screeching halt in the 14th century. So, if Covid-19 isn’t actually unprecedented, how can we refer to this momentous event without triggering lockdown blues or repeating the same, tired phrases?

A positive spin should do the trick. Just as we advise clients to talk about the benefits of their products rather than the technical features, consider the effects of the pandemic when discussing its impetus for your message or effect on your audience.

For example, Covid-19 catalyzed:

• a global shift to remote work

• adoption of cloud technologies

• new ways to collaborate

• interviews conducted in sweatpants

• home improvement projects

• more time with the kids

• a greater appreciation for family

 

In that vein, you can refer to Covid as the “Work-from-home Era,” or the “Year of DIY.” You can write about distributed workforces, or the time laptops on kitchen tables turned into fully equipped home offices.

Evoke digital collaboration with a line about kids interrupting Teams calls or virtual event successes. Stay on the positive side, and omit what we all already know. If it’s not relevant, don’t mention it—we’ve all been inundated with so much covid messaging that most of us don’t want to rehash it all 2 years later (even if the pandemic is far from over).

2. Premium 24x7 white glove support

Have you ever purchased from a company that doesn’t gloat about their amazing support? And how many times do those promises fall through the cracks when you actually need a helping hand?

You may have the best customer success team this side of the Mississippi, but all your customers take away from your “24x7 service guarantee” is that you’ve probably got a phone line they can call with a robot on the other end of the line.

Get specific with your support messaging. Describe real-world experiences, and substantiate your claims. For example, mention any awards or outside recognition your organization has received. Rather than touting your “white glove support,” talk about the dedicated account representative available day and night to take a customer’s call and solve their problem. “Premium” means nothing, but “90% of customer issues resolved on the first call” says everything.

If you get stuck, just remember the cardinal rule of writing: show, don’t tell.

3. Virtual happy hour

Why does every vegan meal have to be a facsimile of the original dish? Aren’t vegetables delicious enough on their own to warrant their own recipe? I promise I have a point…

“Virtual happy hour” is kind of like a plant-based burger: does the trick, but not quite the same as the real thing. If you’re constantly comparing morale-boosting initiatives to the experiences we had before the work-from-home era, they just aren’t going to seem as fun.

Create new experiences that are digitally native and come up with a name to match! Call it “game night,” or “wine tasting” rather than the depressing umbrella term “virtual happy hour.”

At EMM, we quickly realized how much was lost when we couldn’t gab in the hall about a project or swoop into a coworker’s office to bug them about a great new idea. So, we created “daily huddles,” a half hour Teams meeting to sync up every day and touch base on a few work items.

But mostly, we use the time to talk about our lives and play fun games over a screen share. It’s a great way to break up the day and stay close with colleagues we don’t work alongside regularly.

If we scheduled these at the end of the day and tried to recreate those times when we would go putt-putt golfing together, all I’d be able to think about was hanging out in person.

4. The New Normal

Not to conjure images of battered equines, but if I hear this phrase one more time, I may start an animal hospital. It’s not that it’s a false notion—we all acclimated to a vastly different world in a matter of months. Rather, it’s the inherent pessimism in the phrase that makes me grind my teeth.

The world we live in changes drastically every day. Meanwhile, our commitment to relationships, to innovation, and to improving ourselves and our companies holds true through it all. Every new quarter, every new hire, and every new project brings an opportunity to grow and learn—so really, every day is a new normal.

Don’t get stagnant and accept the way things are always done. Search for the newer normal, and you’ll find that “normal” just keeps getting better.

 

Does your messaging need a refresh?

Have you found your own marketing messaging getting stale? Are your sales teams sick of using the same opening line in every cold call? It’s worth auditing your writing conventions every year to make sure you’re not making people scream, or worse—hang up.

We help clients create, update, and reinvigorate their messaging every day. Schedule a brainstorm with an EMM copywriter to find out how you can step out of these unprecedented times and into the newer normal.

STATS & FACTS

Get specific with your support messaging. “Premium” means nothing, but “90% of customer issues resolved on the first call” says everything.

 

“Virtual happy hour” is kind of like a plant-based burger: does the trick, but not quite the same as the real thing.

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