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101 Bad Business Buzzwords (And Why to Avoid Them)

Today’s marketing and proposal materials are littered with important-sounding words that have no real value. Seamless, top-notch, world-class, laser-focused, and best of breed: we’ve all been guilty of using terms like these in place of meaningful descriptors.

Unfortunately, buzzwords can seriously weaken your persuasive messaging and give an impression of insecurity. In fact, a study by researchers at New York University and the University of Basel found that readers are significantly more likely to think your statements are untruthful when written with abstract language, rather than with concrete terms and phrasing. Not good.

That’s why this week we’re listing the 101 buzzwords we most often see in marketing and proposal writing. They take many forms, from correct words used in ways never intended to bizarre verbs transformed from nouns, but they all have better alternatives. So next time you type one, stop and think of a more concise and meaningful replacement. Your readers—and bottom line—will thank you.

  1. 24/7

  2. actionable

  3. agent of change

  4. apples to apples

  5. at this point in time

  6. back to the drawing board

  7. bang for the buck

  8. benefit of the doubt

  9. beside the point

  10. best and brightest

  11. best in class

  12. best of breed

  13. best practices

  14. big picture

  15. bite the bullet

  16. boots on the ground

  17. bring to the table

  18. built-in safeguards

  19. change agent

  20. circle back

  21. clean slate

  22. client-centered

  23. close the loop

  24. come full circle

  25. core competency

  26. cream of the crop

  27. customer intimacy

  28. cut to the chase

  29. cutting-edge

  30. data-driven

  31. dialed-in

  32. drastic action

  33. drop-dead date

  34. drop the ball

  35. each and every

  36. functionality

  37. give the green light to

  38. giving 110 percent

  39. goes without saying

  40. grind to a halt

  41. hard and fast

  42. having the bandwidth

  43. hit the ground running

  44. hot pursuit

  45. ill-fated

  46. in close proximity

  47. in no uncertain terms

  48. in the day and age

  49. in the loop

  50. in the trenches

  51. iron out the problem

  52. keep options open

  53. laser-focused

  54. last but not least

  55. level playing field

  56. leverage

  57. low-hanging fruit

  58. make the case for

  59. marked contrast

  60. mission critical

  61. more or less

  62. moving up the value chain

  63. needless to say

  64. needs no introduction

  65. one and the same

  66. one stop shop

  67. open and shut

  68. paradigm shift

  69. plug-and-play

  70. point in time

  71. pushing the envelope

  72. put in the parking lot

  73. raising the bar

  74. reinventing the wheel

  75. research-proven and field-tested

  76. right-sizing

  77. robust

  78. run of the mill

  79. said and done

  80. seamless transition/integration

  81. second to none

  82. seeing the big picture

  83. sharpen our pencils

  84. silo

  85. skin in the game

  86. soup to nuts

  87. square the circle

  88. step up to the plate

  89. synergy or synergizing

  90. take it off-line

  91. thanking you in advance

  92. think outside the box

  93. thought leader

  94. too numerous to mention

  95. top-notch

  96. track record

  97. turnkey operation/solution

  98. unprecedented opportunity

  99. value-add

  100. win-win situation

  101. world-class

Get Chatty: There are many more out there, so share your insight. What hollow words or phrases do you frequently see in proposal and marketing materials? Leave a comment and let us know!

Shameless Plug Alert: A great way to ensure you have effective, persuasive proposals and marketing materials is by hiring a professional writer, editor, or trainer. You know, like the ones at Freestyle Editorial Services. Explore our website and contact us today to discuss how we can make your company stand apart from the competition.

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