Why those trendy terms aren’t saying as much as you think they are.
Business to business writing can be full of challenges to navigate. Whether it’s finding the right archetype and voice for your brand or figuring out who you’re targeting and why, there are a lot of considerations to be made. One that often gets overlooked is the impact certain words have on how your audience perceives your brand.
While these terms may have meant something when first introduced, overuse strips them of any association with their original meaning. Instead of sounding provocative or authentic, they come off as vague or generic.
Luckily, we have compiled a little list of words to avoid in your B2B writing and some alternatives to use instead.
We know, we know. How can being innovative be a bad thing? Truthfully, it’s not. The issue is that there are so many companies using “innovative” to describe things from razor blade technology to block chain that the word no longer packs the same punch. It doesn’t tell your audience how you’re innovating or what differentiates your brand.
Alternative: Show, don’t tell. What exactly is innovative about the product or process you’re describing? Perhaps in an industry known for its pragmatic business strategy, your company takes a more inventive, freewheeling approach. Maybe, you’ve embraced a more circular business model. Terms like these better differentiate your brand because they capture the “how” of innovation.
2. Thought Leader(ship)
Thought leader(ship) is another term that gets thrown around by brands. But just what is a thought leader? In short, it’s someone who’s an expert in their field and has been recognized by their peers as such. They wield influence and are inspirational. The problem with this term is that everyone is calling themselves a thought leader these days. And while being described by industry peers this way is one thing, self-promoting as one actually diminishes the accomplishments behind the expertise.
Alternative: Be humble. Depending on your brand personality, the authoritative tone that characterizes “thought leader” might be something you want to avoid. But even if your goal is to convey authority, it is best to convey that through accomplishments, experience, and insights offered while still maintaining an approachable tone with your writing.
This one is right up there with innovative in terms of not saying much about your brand. Remember, when something is truly revolutionary, it’s pretty evident. This being the case, it’s good to focus on how your brand is changing the status quo and let your audience draw their own conclusions.
Alternative: Depending on the impression you are trying to make, adding a bit of edge by substituting a term like insurgent might make sense. For brands that embody more of an everyman vibe, softening those edges by leaning into the connotations of “individualism” is another strategy. But above all, demonstrating how you are insurgent or individual or—dare we say—revolutionary, is key.
4. Utilize, Enablement, and Anything Too Analytical
While these terms are okay for scope-of-work documents or detailed briefings, they can come off as mechanical when your goal is to connect with your audience. Regardless of your brand’s personality, B2B writing should be approachable. Coming off as too academic is a surefire way to alienate readers. General rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t use the term in a casual conversation, steer clear of it in your writing.
Alternative: Make it conversational with natural-sounding language. Instead of utilize, say use; instead of enable, say allow, and so on.
At its heart, B2B writing is all about solving a problem. In this light, the term solution comes across as a natural way to position your brand’s value, right? The problem is that, owing to the tech boom and the explosion of SaaS in the last couple of years, the term comes across as more of a buzzword than a descriptor.
Alternative: Whether your company provides a service or its focus centers around software; state it plainly. Describe the problem that is being solved, and your audience will make the “solution” connection themselves.
Stay Simple, Keep It Specific
As you’ve probably noticed, most of these terms follow a pattern. They are either too vague or too technical. Remember, B2B writing should be informative, but never become a chore to read.
Embracing a simple style, but adding in specifics is key to earning your readers’ trust and, eventually, their business.