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“You won’t believe our revolutionary abdominal exerciser until you’ve tried it!” “Come see our revolutionary stationery!” “Our revolutionary shower liner….”

A revolutionary shower liner? Yep. Those are all real-world examples of marketers using – misusing – the term “revolutionary.” It took me 10 seconds to find those three.

I’ve seen businesses in every industry I can think of use this type of puffed-up, superficial marketing language to give the impression they’re larger, more established or more popular with customers than they are. I’m sure you’ve seen it, too.

Problem is, today’s customer is extremely sophisticated and jaded, so this tactic often backfires. Unless you want to signal to prospects that you’re a fledgling company with nothing concrete to say about itself, don’t use these empty words and phrases in your marketing literature.

1. Leading

“XYZ Company is the leading provider of brass plumbing fixtures for hotels and casinos.”

What does that mean? Is XYZ Company the top seller of brass fixtures for hotels and casinos? Are they saying they’re the most popular with buyers at hotels and casinos? Do they have the highest-rated brass fixtures?

No. When they use “leading,” XYZ Company isn’t actually saying anything. And today’s highly sophisticated customer knows this.

Instead of a vague and meaningless term like “leading,” find a quantifiable phrase that will positively position your company in your prospects’ minds. Some examples:

– “The largest brass fixture manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.”

– “The most widely used brass fixtures on the Las Vegas strip.”

– “The brass fixtures of choice for five-star hotel chains on both coasts.”

2. Premier

“We’re the premier software training company.”


Like leading, “premier” is a vague term that leaves your heard-it-all, read-it-all prospect wondering if your company actually has any real accomplishments to its credit. And those accomplishments are important, because they make your prospects comfortable spending their money on your products or services.

Your reader will know intuitively your company chose such a squishy term as “premier” because you couldn’t use quantifiable terms like “largest” or “rated number one by….” That means your company’s competitors must be outperforming you in every metric worth writing about.

Find a claim your company can legitimately make, even if it’s small.

A good rule: If you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it, don’t write it. Effective marketing copy is conversational. If you met a prospect on a plane, you’d tell her your company is the largest in the Pacific Northwest. That would sound natural in a conversation. But would you tell her yours was “the premier maker of brass fixtures?” “The leading software training company?”

3. State-of-the-art

Your prospect knows enough about your industry to want specifics as to why your product is the one worth buying. So using a term like “state-of-the-art” will leave that prospect completely unsatisfied – and suspicious.

Suppose you sell a network device that uses the newer 802.11n standard and can handle 8Mbps of data, while your competitors use an older wireless protocol that can transmit only 6Mbps. In this case, your product is state-of-the-art.

But how much more interested will your prospect be to read the specifics – the latest wireless protocol, 33% higher data rate – than merely to be told yours is “state-of-the-art?”

The flipside is also true. Imagine your prospect reads your brochure or press release and finds your company is touting a new, state-of-the-art wireless device. If you don’t clearly state why your product is state-of-the-art, won’t they wonder if it really is?

4. Revolutionary

“We make a revolutionary soap substitute….” (Yep, that one’s real, too.)

With all of the supposed “revolutions” marketers want you to believe are taking place, shouldn’t everyone be dead already?

I mocked the comical overuse of the term “revolutionary” in this article’s opening because 1) it’s usually a meaningless, wasted term, 2) it’s almost always completely untrue, and 3) your prospects will know it’s untrue.

I can think of very few products and services are that truly revolutionary. There’s television, the telephone, the automobile, air travel and the Internet, for example. But soap substitutes, no matter how wonderful, don’t quality.

If your solution is even a slight improvement over the existing offerings on the market… or even slightly less expensive… or offers even a relatively small benefit that customers can’t get elsewhere… those can still be of tremendous value to your prospects. So state those benefits in your literature – clearly and honestly.