IS IT AMAZINGLY UNIQUE? PROBABLY NOT. Top 10 Words Content Writers Should Avoid

As writers, we want to create content that ignites action and compels our audience. It’s best to use language that simply and accurately describes your product or service, with the end goal being to educate and persuade. The words you choose make the difference between a message that may be passed over or one that hits home.

To keep your content fresh, avoid the use of words that are so generic and cliché that:

A. Your content becomes boring and doesn’t differentiate your product or service

B. No one believes you, since your words have been overused and aren’t expected to hold true

C. Readers lose interest due to lack of relevant, specific details

Next time you sit down to write that epic (speak of the devil) email, social post or company brochure, check out our top ten list of words to avoid before you let the old standbys weaken your writing and dilute your ideas.

1. Groundbreaking
Unless you’re literally breaking ground on a new facility, “groundbreaking” is just another buzzword we’ve all learned not to take too seriously. It does have an impressive sound to it, but make sure you have the goods to back it up.

2. Amazing
Before you use this word, ask yourself if what you’re talking about is “amazing” enough to cause astonishment or great wonder. With innovations happening at a rapid pace, very few things actually fit this bill. Be creative and use your thesaurus to get closer to what you’re actually describing.

3. Epic
We all fell in love with this word not so very long ago, but it’s time to let it go. We are open to suggestions for a suitable replacement. Anything except amazing.

4. Unique
There are no varying degrees of unique. Something is not “very unique” or “somewhat unique”, it’s either unique or it isn’t. It is more likely your product has a unique or special feature. Tell us in concrete terms how you or your product does what no one else’s in the universe does or choose an alternative word with less exclusivity, such as distinctive. Consider this also. Man landing on the moon was unique the day it happened – now it’s simply special.

5. Bandwidth
Buzz words that your audience may not understand are never a good idea. I know, it sounds cool, but keep it simple and save the jargon for that annoying dude in the sales department.

6. Just
This is one of those words that doesn’t add any real value to a sentence. Leaving it out almost always results in the same meaning and makes sentences tighter and more direct. Try eliminating this filler word from your writing and see just how much better it sounds.

7. Solution
The word solution in and of itself is not bad, but it has been used so often, it carries all the excitement of a deflated balloon. When you use the word solution, be sure to back it up with facts and benefits that explain why it’s a solution, what problem it solves and how it solves that problem.

8. Immediately
Some companies do respond immediately, such as tech support via instant chat. But unless you are offering true, real-time service, be careful with this one. Instead of saying we will contact you immediately or we deliver immediately, find a word with less literal connotation such as promptly or quickly.

9. Revolutionary
Peace out, man. This was a great word in its day, but it’s been overused for so many years, it has lost its power. Don’t say your company or product is revolutionary, demonstrate it with specific examples.

10. Expert
If you have to tell someone how great you are at something, you probably aren’t. True experts highlight their specific experience, benefits and strengths, and let the audience come to their own conclusion.

If you found this blog helpful, keep an eye out for next month’s where we’ll share our top ten tips on avoiding common grammar mistakes. From exploring apostrophe abuse to helping you get a grip on misplaced modifiers, we’ll do our best to keep you off the grammar nazi “cringe” list.


Why research matters

By Leslie Galbreath

Why do leaders fail?

Why Research Matters

Put simply, they make bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions are based too much on emotion or gut instinct. Other times, decisions are made to appease key influencers without considering the masses. In some cases, decisions are made too quickly or not quickly enough. And sometimes, decisions are based solely on habit – this is a particularly risky one, can’t see the forest for the trees and all that. There are a slew of reasons leaders make bad decisions, not the least of which is the absence of reliable information. The same can be said of strategic planning.

The ability to make sound decisions with regard to communications strategy, tactics and budget rests solely how well we effectively size up the situation and then act on it. As consumers, we get it – we research everything. We vigorously scour the internet to compare airline ticket prices, hotel rates, mobile phones, appliances, cars, shampoo, clothing, computer technology, shoes (maybe that’s just me) – the list goes on and on. The point is, if you have a big decision to make you take the time to look into it. Companies should do the same with their marketing programs.

Now, I’m going to blow your mind with this next line, so hold on to your hats. Marketing is not about convincing customers to agree with you. Quite to the contrary, good marketers understand that communication is meant to help companies identify sentiment and preference among their customer base, uncover and understand what they need (even when they don’t know themselves) and adjust to fill this void in a unique way that grows business. Sometimes research guides product development directly, other times it alerts companies that they aren’t talking enough about the great things they do. Either way, it connects customer need with goods and services, which is what we’re all after.

Research can be a scary word that brings to mind huge dollar signs, annoying phone calls, little bingo cards that fall out of your favorite periodical and all manner of other things. But it doesn’t have to be. The brave new world of digital media has opened countless doors for companies large and small to tap into customer opinion and behavior at a fraction of the cost of yesteryear. Online survey tools make it easier and more affordable than ever to check in with folks who just attended your open house. Native website analytics give you loads of useful information about the content habits of users. CRM-based marketing automation makes it possible to customize communication based on interest and buying history. The possibilities are endless.

The bad news is that failure is a part of life. It happens to all of us at one point or another. The good news is that with a little effort, we can learn from it, dramatically reduce the likelihood of it happening again and in the process delight our customers by giving them what they need, which we can all agree is a win for everyone.

I love this topic, so stay tuned.


How to sustain a successful social media presence for your company

You’ve done it. Your business has finally taken the leap into the social landscape and started a Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram profile. You’re now ready to engage with your customers and share exciting updates from your company.

Fast forward three months. After a few weeks of posting, your social accounts lay desolate – no recent posts, very few followers and little activity. While you started off strong, you soon struggled to share updates and had difficulty deciding what you should post. Eventually you stopped posting altogether. Despite your initial enthusiastic intentions, your social accounts now give the impression that your business either no longer exists or isn’t capable of engaging on the digital scene.

We’ve seen this happen to countless companies. When social media is mentioned to prospective clients, many respond with a “we’ve tried it, it’s not for us” mentality. But in today’s digital world, every company from any industry can benefit from some form of social media presence.

So why do so many companies fail so soon after they begin and what are the main ingredients of success?

No method behind the madness
Many businesses decide to start using social networks on a whim. But like any other marketing tool, a strong, developed strategy must be created and implemented for success. The first steps in creating a successful social strategy is research and planning. Before you even create a social profile, you should first ask yourself the following questions:

– Why does my company want to use social media?
– How does social media fit into our comprehensive marketing plan?
– On which social networks does our audience spend most of its time, and how do we effectively reach them?
– What content will we share and how often will we share it?
– Who will be in charge of managing/posting to our social accounts?

As you complete your research and start developing a strategy, be sure to set benchmarks to measure your social success. These objectives should impact your overall marketing goals, and should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound (S.M.A.R.T). Make sure to use analytics tools that will help you identify whether or not the objectives you’ve set are being achieved. Having a well-established process that will help you build the foundation of a robust social media strategy while keeping up with the several moving parts of the social media world is the main key to success.

Having a well-established process that will help you build the foundation of a robust social media strategy while keeping up with the several moving parts of the social media world is the main key to success.

There’s gasoline but no fire
Even when companies take the time to map out a strategy to drive their social endeavors, they often leave one crucial element out: content. Social media marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is part of a larger content strategy; in particular, it should be used as a tool to share the content you are creating to generate leads and build brand awareness – content like blogs, white papers, videos, etc. Many companies never develop these resources, and often resort to sharing static website pages, external articles and miscellaneous photos to their social accounts; content that has a short shelf time.

The key to successful posting on a regular basis is the creation of promotable content just as frequently. Developing a content calendar will help successfully organize, manage and schedule the content that needs to be created. Using a content calendar can keep your team accountable for creating the resources needed for social sharing and prevent periods of little to no posting on your accounts.

As you develop content, don’t spend all of your content efforts puffing up your company or promoting your products (no one likes a Facebook friend that constantly posts about themselves). Instead, make an effort to frequently create content that educates and genuinely interests your target audience.

There you have it. Avoid these mistakes and follow the above strategies and you’re well on your way to developing a glowing social reputation for your business.

At dgs we work with many of our clients to develop successful social media strategies and digital content. If you are interested, you can see some of the recent results from our work.


Being a Graphic Designer

By Justin Brown

I love the opportunity to craft exceptional experiences that delight, educate, and inform current and future users. Building products means you’re part of something big. When you’re starting a new feature or product, you’re trying to solve a problem that previously didn’t exist for a specific audience. It’s kind of like having kids. First there’s an idea. Then over time it turns into this amazing thing that exists, and you are its creator. There is always something exciting to look forward to.

It takes a certain kind of person to be a graphic designer, one who really enjoys doing it and is willing to make a career out of it. It requires being a lifelong learner to survive, confidence in one’s talent and a willingness to surrender it to another’s taste preferences. When I see my work out there in the world, representing clients and hopefully improving its image and credibility among customers who support them, I feel uniquely proud. I feel like I’m making the world just a little bit better, even though none of those client customers know who I am.

I enjoy the creative outlet and the constant challenges. I enjoy getting to work with powerful computers (and big screens) in a comfortable environment. I enjoy working with other communications professionals I respect and who respect me. I enjoy having flexibility and that I’m considered a professional. And I take comfort in the fact that my talent and skills will never be obsolete. The economy rises and falls, the fortunes of companies expand and contract. But communications are vital. Every business needs to communicate and everyone needs their visual communication to look the best it can. I went into a field where there will always be a demand for talented, experienced people who aren’t afraid to work hard. It’s a good job, and there’s really nothing else I’d rather be doing.

I feel particularly lucky to be a graphic designer, doing this job, today. Because the work I’ve done is now a part of these organization’s history and it will continue to be for as long as it lasts. That’s a kind of indelible mark I was given the opportunity to make.

So, stay close. Something interesting may happen.