A good brand or marketer knows their audience. They know what they want, and know how to position themselves for what their audience needs.

Bad marketers don’t know their audience. Instead, they hide behind empty cliches that seem to say a lot, while in all actuality they don’t say very much at all. It might be tempting to use them in your campaigns, but today’s customers are increasingly ad-savvy. As a result, they can see through them from a mile off.

To help you avoid being invisible to your customer, we’ve highlighted seven marketing cliches that are more cliched than this article title. If you or your company are still using any of them, then you’ve found this article in the nick of time.

1: “Data is the new oil”

This little piece of sage advice is repeated more times than you’ve had to fill your car up with gas. It’s essentially the “whassup?” of the marketing industry: all and sundry are saying it, and it’s about as relevant too. This phrase is as old as fossil fuel, and its argument doesn’t get any smarter with time.

What You Think It’s Saying

Data is now the most important element in the world, and the thing that makes the world work. You need to know this, and you didn’t know it before we told you.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We’re five years behind the time and are stating the bleedin’ obvious.”

As you see, this is about backslapping and self-appreciation. By trying to appear well-informed and authoritative, it does the opposite. This one is the mantra of the overenthusiastic marketer. Anyone in the industry will have heard it more times than they can count, and they see straight through it.

What You Should Say

Instead of telling your audience something they already know, try really thinking about the topic that you’re discussing.

If you can’t think of something new or revealing, then don’t dress your arguments up as such. Thought leadership is always appreciated in the marketing industry, but only when it’s genuine and well-informed. If you can’t create new ideas, add your own slant to a topic — one that demonstrates how your point connects with your audience.

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2. “We need to have an authentic conversation with our customers.”

Authenticity is a great word for brands to use. Just by mentioning it, it seems to give them a sense of credibility and integrity in their customers’ eyes. It’s a handy buzzword that lazy marketers throw about with wild abandon.

However, ad-savvy customers don’t always swallow it so eagerly. In fact, the chances are that they’ll ask: “were you not having an authentic conversation with your consumers before?” It’s a phrase that shifty politicians use on the campaign trail, and brands should avoid it.

What You Think It’s Saying

We care about our customers and want to understand what they want from us.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We haven’t been honest with you so far, so why change now. Here’s another list of things that we think you need.”

If you have to tell your audience that you’re authentic, then you’re probably not all that authentic. And when you try this hackneyed attempt at being genuine, they’ll automatically shut off.

What You Should Say

Instead of telling your audience that you’re going to be authentic with them, actually be authentic with them. Actions speak louder than words, and the right actions will resonate with your customers.

So be straight with your audience, and while you’re doing it, inject a sense of your brand’s personality into your marketing. You need to do this in a way that will resonate with your audience by doing some research into who they are and what makes them tick.

You can source this easily through customer data that is readily available from your social media accounts. Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights both provide highly detailed, granular information on a range of customer factors, from age and location to personal interests and shopping habits. Tap into these and drill down into who your customers really are, and what their pain points and needs are. In doing so, you’ll be able to build up a more accurate idea of who your audience is and what they expect from your brand.

3. “This is a 360-degree campaign.”

Another battle cry from the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed marketer, you can guarantee you’ll hear this at least once in every new campaign launch meeting. It sounds dynamic and exciting, certainly, but only the first time. After that, it just falls flat.

What You Think It’s Saying

We’ll cover everything in this campaign.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We’re not specialists at anything, so we’re gonna do a little bit of everything and end up back at the start – going nowhere.”

Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, a marketing campaign that tries to target everyone and do everything is destined to crash and burn. Instead, savvy marketers should create bespoke campaigns that have a specific goal in mind. With that said, you’ll want to create targeted, segmented ones instead.

What You Should Say

Know what your brand is good at, and then keep to that.

Instead of talking about all the different things you’re going to do – how you’re going to build the stadium, fill the seats, pick the teams, score the winning touchdown, and then hand the trophy to your client – explain in plain English what makes you a specialist and use testimonials from previous customers to back it up.

Nowhere is this more true than eCommerce. Niche expertise and targeted campaigns are much more likely to deliver than the scattergun approach. Re-targeting old customers and enticing them with offers and deals is more likely to yield commercial results. Why go chasing some elusive influencer for a post when you’ve got ways of making money right in front of you?

Right from the beginning of creating your store, you need to have personalization and segmentation configured in your dashboard so that you can run awesome campaigns that speak to individuals, not segments of a pie-chart. The aptly named Optimonk offers onsite re-targeting that works for a wide range of niches and can be laser-targeted so as to feel helpful, not invasive. Sometimes us marketers have to learn to think smaller, not bigger.

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4. “Blue-sky thinking”

It’s a lovely image, certainly — who doesn’t enjoy a blue sky? — but if you really look into it, it’s not a promising sight, especially for marketers.

The problem is that a blue sky is just a blue sky. It’s empty and bare.

What You Think It’s Saying

There’s nothing stopping our creativity.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We don’t have a clear idea of where we’re going.”

The image of a beautiful azure sky certainly sounds great, but every marketer worth their salt knows that a good strategy has direction. A blue sky has no limits, but a good marketing campaign has limits, because it has clearly-defined goals.

What You Should Say

Build a strategy that gives your audience realistic, measurable goals. These goals are clear and coherent and form a logical, natural progression in your marketing strategy. Each one should build on the goal that came before it.

You then need to tell your team how you are going to achieve these goals and how the stages in-between will help you to do so. Ultimately, you need to have something tangible at the end to show evidence of success, and a clearly-defined direction will help you achieve this.

5. “This is a bespoke solution.”

The word ‘bespoke’ makes you think of London’s Savile Row and exquisitely tailored suits, but when you look into it, it’s not quite as promising. It’s another great word to use that, in all honesty, doesn’t really work in practice.

What You Think It’s Saying

We care about and will work with you on an individual level.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We haven’t prepared solutions to your problems and instead are going to have to work out how to fix them.”

Most customers, especially in 2018, don’t believe that brands and companies spend all their time thinking about them and their problems. Instead, they think about problems generally and how they can find solutions to them. They then look at what’s affecting the marketplace and establish what they can bring to it.

What You Should Say

As a brand, you should highlight existing issues that your target audience encounters, and then identify how your product or service actually resolves them.

Your brand can’t offer a solution to every issue under the sun. Instead, you need to highlight specific issues that your customers experience, and then offer yourself as a direct solution to it. With the rise of SaaS models across the board, customers are willing to share the same solution with many people, as long as the price is right.

In short, it’s better to do one thing right and fulfill on your promise to fix it, instead of claiming to do everything right and then failing.

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6. “XYZ is DEAD”

Brands, beware: you will hear this repeated time and time again from the new marketers on the block. They see themselves as the punks of marketing, ready to tear up the rule book and change the playing field. While they may claim to disrupt the industry, more often than not they’re all bark and no bite.

What You Think It’s Saying

We’ve predicted the future, and you need to know that we were the ones who stopped you from wasting your valuable time by giving you this information.”

What It’s Actually Saying

We’re another marketing company that’s trying to make a name for itself by being the one who called out the end of an era – one that’s almost certainly not dead.”

Dozens of marketing agencies try this, and dozens fail.

Is Facebook really dead? No. Even the print industry is still alive and kicking, so chances are the only thing that’s dead is the sales pitch they’re making.

What You Should Say

Don’t posit your campaign as a response to the death of something. Instead, make your customers, their problems, and your solution the focus of your energies. A good marketer knows they are just one cog in an industry of thousands. You should offer beneficial, actionable strategies that work with the current instead of against it. Be genuine and grounded, and your clients will appreciate you all the more because of it.

7. “Solutions-driven”

If you hear this in conversation with a marketer, it’s easy to just accept it and move on. Solutions are good, so that’s all there is to it, surely? Unfortunately, as with all cliches, when you look into it, it’s not quite that simple. What marketer doesn’t claim to offer a solution?

What You Think It’s Saying

We’re about getting results. Our competitors will just waste your time.”

What It’s Actually Saying

Our results aren’t great, and we won’t necessarily do exactly what you want. So we’ll tell you about what we do in vague jargon, so that you believe that our identikit solution is what you really wanted.”

On the face of it, a solutions-driven approach sounds great. But unfortunately, it’s a rather flat phrase that does little to inspire discerning clients. Solutions are ways to fix a problem, but results are the stats that actually back up your claims.

What You Should Say

By all means, offer solutions and offer results, but you need to be specific. Every other competitor out there is offering this, but you need to show how what you provide is different.

Instead, tell your customers what problems you are going to solve, and then show them how you are going to do it. If, for example, you’re in the eCommerce game, then make videos that demonstrate how your product works. You could also have video interviews with your happy customers, with them explaining how your product has enriched their lives. Essentially: don’t show, tell.

The cliches listed above are cliches for a reason. They’re empty, hollow, and overused, and today’s marketing-savvy clients and customers see straight through them. Not only that, but every other brand and marketer out there are using them. It’s up to you to make sure that you stand out from your competitors and convey a genuine, honest message.

When you’re planning your next advertising campaign, really think about what you’re saying. Consider the needs of your client or customers and what your brand offers, then communicate your offerings with originality, creativity and authenticity without using the above cliches.