2 Apr 2012

EXPLORE, DISCOVER, EXPERIENCE: Words and phrases to avoid (plus 37 more)

The oft-quoted quip goes something like this: “I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted. The problem is I don’t know which half.”

Truth be told, when it comes to community-related marketing efforts, a full ninety-seven percent of ALL marketing and advertising is ineffective. That’s right 97%. Think city, county, state, province, region, or even a country. Billions are spent every year trying to attract new residents, business investment, economic development and tourism. And billions are wasted every year because the message is mundane, overused, and just like everyone else.

If you want to create marketing messages that stick, start by memorizing these three words: JETTISON THE GENERIC. If your message can fit anyone, toss it and start over.

Here are 40 words and phrases you need to avoid, at all costs, in your marketing efforts:
  • Explore
  • Discover
  • Unique (so overused it’s come to mean “just like everyone else”)
  • Four season destination
  • Fun for the whole family
  • Naturally fun (anything with the word “natural” in it)
  • Something for everyone (have you ever gone anywhere because they had something for everyone?)
  • Outdoor recreation (name a place that doesn’t have this)
  • Unlike anywhere else
  • So much to see and do
  • Where the seasons come to life
  • Historic downtown
  • Center of it all (have you ever gone anywhere because it was the center of anything?)
  • Best kept secret
  • We have it all
  • Experience…
  • Visit (name of destination)
  • Beauty and heritage
  • Gateway (a gateway is something you pass through to go somewhere else)
  • Close to it all
  • Right around the corner
  • Your playground
  • So much history
  • So much to offer
  • The place for all ages
  • … and so much more
  • Home away from home
  • A slice of heaven
  • It’s all right here
  • Recreation unlimited
  • The perfect getaway (or place)
  • The place for families
  • Start your vacation here
  • Recreational paradise
  • Take a look!
  • A great place to live, work and play (the most overused slogan in the world)
  • Location, location, location
  • Open for business
  • Your adventure place (anything with the word adventure in it)
  • Unique shops & restaurants

Could all of these apply to you? Could these fit virtually anyone anywhere? No wonder our messages are falling on deaf ears.

I was speaking in Wisconsin at the state tourism conference and showed this list of words and phrases to about 1,100 attendees. After my opening keynote a woman came up to me, smiled, and sheepishly shared with me “I think we’re using all of those.”

It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, but you’re doing what everyone else is doing. We are exposed to 5,000 marketing messages a day. How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get noticed? What differentiates you?

Stay tuned…


About Roger Brooks

Roger Brooks has assisted more than a thousand communities in North America and in Europe, with their business and tourism development, branding, and marketing efforts. Simply put, his passion is to help make places better.