Woman With Surprised LookConsider what turns you off when it comes to sales or marketing. Probably you have certain types of people that drive you crazy when they try to sell to you. For me, it’s that salesperson who is pushy, slick, and doesn’t listen. But what about words? Have you ever realized that there are certain words that are overdone and ineffective when it comes to marketing?

Here’s the “what NOT to say” list of words for your marketing campaign.

1. Guru – If you work on personally branding yourself, please avoid the word “guru” at all costs. There are simply too many gurus out there for anyone to believe that you are one. Even if in fact, you are one. There are other words to express that you’re an expert and well-informed in your field.

2.  #1 – I laugh when I see a certain buffet restaurant in town. Despite having caused numerous incidences of food poisoning, the building boasts a sign that says it was voted #1 for sushi in San Diego. But…by whom? If you have been awarded the title of the best by a real contest or organization, by all means, use it. But if it’s just your own opinion…keep it to yourself.

3. Leader – This is kind of like “guru.” What makes you a leader in your industry? We call Apple a leader. The company doesn’t call itself a leader. Doing so would seem conceited, and that turns customers off.

4. Unique – If everyone considers their brand unique, where does that put us? Use a thesaurus to come up with, well, a more unique adjective.

5. Value-Added – This is a popular buzzword in sales and marketing, but it’s really just filler. What does it mean? Really, nothing. I always strive to say what I want to say in as few words as possible, so using “value-added” won’t enhance my sales copy.

6. Unbelievable – There are a whole host of spammy sales words, the best (or rather, worst) of which is “unbelievable.” As in: unbelievable prices. Are they really unbelievable? Or just really low?

7. Free (in Certain Situations) – In general, there’s nothing wrong with using the word “free,” but be wary of doing so in an email, especially the title. Spam filters look for the word “free,” and often throw those emails in with the other junk. Try “complimentary” instead.

8. Money-Back Guarantee – This one might be controversial. I believe in guarantees, but I don’t think you need to blatantly use the term “money-back guarantee” in your marketing. Most companies will give a customer his money back if he doesn’t like the product. You should have your policy on this clearly outlined on your site. If you must brag about it, say your product is guaranteed, or that you guarantee satisfaction, rather than this annoying phrase.

9. Best in Class – See numbers 1, 2, and 3. Let your customers decide you’re the best!

10. Strategic – Another empty word that doesn’t add anything to your marketing copy.

It’s worth the effort to spend more time carefully crafting your marketing and sales copy. I use Thesaurus.com when I find myself using the same dried up words over and over.