While cliches can seem like a meaningful way to get your point across, overuse can actually turn readers off. We all know that our digital content shouldn’t be boring, so why would we want to use tired, old, jargonised expressions?

Here are some cliches to avoid and some suggested alternatives: remember, the more original your prose, the more you, and your products and your services, will stand out.

Once in a lifetime sounds too good to be true, and most of the time, it is. If there’s something so special about an offer that people won’t want to miss it, explain why in detail and create a real sense of urgency. While expressions like this sound great in theory, unless they’re backed up by something concrete they tend to just sound like marketing-speak.

Synergy and synergised are useful concepts but the words have become overused to the point of parody. Like many jargony cliches, you shouldn’t abandon these words entirely — they can be persuasive to the right audience — but make sure you mean to use them and don’t just throw them around for the sake of it.

Thinking outside the box, ironically, is one of the least creative ways to express this important idea. The box was thrown out years ago, and this cliche should have gone with it. Instead, inspire people with your own creative thought. Don’t just tell people to think and work differently; model that commitment to originality in your writing.

Utilise is a word that we see all too often today, particularly when “use” is a perfectly serviceable, and much less pretentious, option. This is equally true for action, leverage; don’t sap the strength of your sentences by trying to sound cleverer than you need to.

Win-win is an attractive proposition, but it’s essentially meaningless in most customer-oriented business situations. Once it may have sounded more genuine, but given that any good customer interaction should be win-win anyway, it sounds more like a cheap trick than a selling point.
Don’t just take my word for it though. There are lots of good reasons not to use cliches, including one proven by science.

Convinced yet?

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Image: Cliche by Tom Newby is licensed under CC BY 2.0
AuthorAlex Stevenson