Dare I admit it? I once used “for all your needs” in an ad.
Stop building that scaffold and put away the noose. I was a brand-new copywriter. Lost on me was the fact that the phrase is meaningless.
Not that the inexperienced are the only ones who fall prey to platitudes masquerading as real claims. Copy cop-outs, as I like to call them, can take even seasoned writers unawares. It takes a vigilant, skeptical eye to spot them, skill to fix them and discipline to excise the ones that are beyond repair.
10 marketing copy phrases you should ditch
Here are 10 of my favorite (by which I mean most-loathed) copy cop-outs, along with recommendations for dealing with them:
1. “A tradition of.” If you think that tradition is a compelling copy point, you don’t know the fate of most fruitcakes given away each holiday season. The best way to improve this copy cop-out is to omit it.
2. “Experience the difference.” It’s better to show the difference. By promoting a no-questions-asked refund policy that included return-shipping charges, a mail-order retailer set itself apart without once using the “D” word.
3. “People serving people.” The people thing may work if your competition is known for hiring, say, feral cats. (Or, I suppose, if your market is cannibals.) Otherwise, delete this one, along with derivatives like “it’s our people” and “our people make the difference.”
4. “Simply the best” / “Best on the planet” / “Finest quality.” “Best” is hard to prove — and equally hard to swallow. But when you’re danged good, you can demonstrate it. If you apply three coats of paint and the standard is one coat, say so. If you use steel and the standard is plastic, say so. If your chef visits the market each morning to handpick tomatoes for that day’s pizza sauce instead of opening a can, say so.
5. “At a price you’re going to love.” Is that so? Then put the price in the ad and let people fall in love with it. Otherwise, don’t bring it up.
6. “Proud of.” With the possible exception of your parents, no one cares what you’re proud of. Instead, tell your customers what you’ll do for them.
7. “Professionals.” For doctors and lawyers, the claim is redundant. For teens in a lube pit, the claim is unbelievable. To inspire confidence, try something like this: “All employees receive a solid month of training and must pass a rigorous exam before we turn them loose under your car.”
8. “Friendly service.” A claim everyone ignores except when you blow it, at which time they will recall and mock it.
9. “Our name says it all.” Then stick only your name in the ad and be done with it. Very few advertisers do exactly that and prosper. I don’t recommend it.
10. “For all your needs.” I cannot close without offering a fix for my above-referenced youthful indiscretion. I suggest specifics. For instance, instead of “For all your foreign car part needs,” you might try “More than 100,000 hard-to-find foreign car parts in stock.”
We haven’t even gotten to “we mean business,” “let’s face it” and “excellence,” to name a few more. So many copy cop-outs, so little space.