Marketing professionals use too many empty words.

empty chair in empty space

If you’ve ever listened to advice on losing weight, you’re probably familiar with the term “empty calories”.

It simply means the food you’re eating – like a candy bar – is full of calories, but has negligible nutritional value.

The same can happen in writing.

Lots of words, negligible meaning.

And perhaps surprisingly, some of the biggest offenders are digital ad agencies.

You’d think marketing professionals would know better. But apparently not.

Here’s an example of what I mean…

“We deliver a personalized customer experience. You are not just a number to us; you’re a partner. We work with “the best of the best” — companies at the top of their game who need just a little more guidance to reach and exceed their goals. If your company is truly exceptional, why hire a lackluster marketing company. Your enterprise deserves excellence.”

Nothing wrong with the words or the structure of the sentences. Heck, they even used a semi-colon.

But go back, read it again, and tell me what you learned.

What have they just communicated?

Maybe they’re just trying to say, “We work with smart companies and do good work.” But their version in way too long.

Besides which, it’s an incredibly ordinary, boring and generic message.

Empty words and empty sentences… devoid of meaning or promise, and giving me no reason to hire them.

Now let’s look at an example of some writing that works much harder…

“We create video, white-papers, and case studies for SaaS companies who see customers as friends rather than users.”

Oh my. Not an empty word in sight.

After just 19 words I know exactly what these people do, and who they do it for.

And more.

Because there’s some promise and intrigue there at the end. “…companies who see customers as friends rather than users.”

That piques my interest. I’d better dig in and find out more.

That’s what happens when you work harder on your message.

It’s what happens when you write to communicate with clarity, instead of trying to look good by hiding behind fancy-pants blah blah blah.

BTW – I took that last sample from the Pederson Arts website.

Take a look at the first screen of their homepage.

(This is a little off topic, but I love what they’ve done.)

Their homepage is SO wrong… because the first thing people see on the site is the “team photo”.

SO wrong again… because the photographer clearly forgot to tell them it wasn’t casual Friday. And the location is obviously NOT the 7th floor conference room. (Friends, anyone?)

And yet… SOOO right… Because these guys stand out from the crowd in such a powerful and unexpected way.

Lesson learned…

Stop trying to hide behind language, design and conventions that just make you sound like all your competitors, in a vague and unsatisfying way.

Go through your site and cut out every empty word, sentence and paragraph. Dump the empty images too.

Be clear about what you’re trying to say.

Find a way to share your message that isn’t just one more marketing cliché.

And make every word count.

Get started with this FREE Guide to Conversational Copywriting PLUS 3 Instructional Videos.

If you’re new to conversational copywriting, and all it can do for you as a marketer or copywriter, this is the perfect place to start.

  • The FREE Guide shows you 5 simple ways to make your marketing messages more conversational.
  • The 3 Videos explain why conversational copywriting works so well, and how to find and develop your conversational voice.

Sign up, confirm your subscription, and we'll get you started.

11 thoughts on “Marketing professionals use too many empty words.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Can I just say, THANK YOU! As a ‘recovering lawyer’ I work with lawyers/law firms since about 2010 when I jumped the law tracks and opened my own marketing agency. Nope, law school taught us nothing about running a business or marketing. Yep, was a steep learning trajectory.

    Back then, my challenge (and immense passion) is positioning lawyers and their firms online in a way that tells a story – hence my purchase of your “Selling with Stories.” It used to be frustrating attempting to convince time-starved lawyers how important it is to show you, the person(ality) behind the stereo-type stuffy facade of legal accolades, experience and expertise. 99% get lost in what I’ve come to call a vast sea of sameness.

    Now, I simply ask, “is this your legacy at the end of the day?” An attention grabber that comes from my passion and a very genuine place. I’m pretty sure they feel it too.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU Nick for highlighting the sadness and doldrums of empty words, giving me yet additional tools to engage and connect with my audience of lawyers. Helping one lawyer at a time to be bold, and leave a meaningful legacy. 🙂

  2. What makes this Web site even more brilliant is that they are sitting on the set of ‘Friends’, the long running American TV show. I was pitching with David a while back and laughed out loud the minute I opened his Web site. The image instantly resonated with me and then echoed in the tagline “companies who see customers as friends rather than users.” Brilliant! Good pick, Nick.

    • I’m so glad it made you laugh. And you remembered! That is a goal well achieved. And likely why I enjoy working with you and Gordon!

      Cheers – oh wait – wrong show.

  3. As a bit of a quirky type myself, I love the front page of the website you featured; I’d feel immediately comfortable and at home with these folks!

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I just read your comment. Thank you!

      I’m so glad it created a feeling of home. That is exactly our intention. We like working with friends and we look for others who feel the same way.

      Maybe we’ll have coffee one day. (Guess we’ll have to check out the Coffee Detective for that!)

      David Pederson

      • Hi David,

        Being that coffee is my spirit animal, you had me at the “c”. Hopefully someday we can collaborate over a virtual cup of your choice!

        Jennifer “Just make me an honorary Pederson” Wenzel

  4. Perfect examples, Nick, that really make you think. I get very tired of the same ol’, same ol’ marketing speak.

    BTW, there’s a typo here – It simply means the food you’re eating – like a candy bar – if full of calories, but has negligible nutritional value. (if / is)

  5. Thank you Nick. I really enjoyed reading how marketing professionals use too many empty words. I appreciate understanding on how less words can pique interest and provide clarity in the message. My lesson from you is to review my website and get rid of the empty words, sentences, etc. Thank You.