Every business copywriter has clients who love abstractions. Competencies, verticals, footprint, added value – these words and phrases are so common that businesses use them without thinking.

So when do your solutions become problems?

1. When there’s no fixed meaning

What’s an IT solution? Is it hardware? Software? Perhaps it’s both, with some consultancy and a free iPhone thrown in.

You may have a clear idea of what you mean but there’s no guarantee your audience will, unless you spell it out for them. There’s no shame in being clear about what you’re selling.

2. When you sound silly

Want a dispense solution for the office? Probably not. But you might want a coffee machine.

Using abstractions to make a simple product sound clever achieves the opposite. You’ll confuse your readers and make yourself look daft into the bargain.

3. When you sound like everyone else

Here’s a common defence for abstractions: ‘Everyone in my industry speaks like this. They know what I mean.’

Maybe they do speak like that. And that’s a problem in itself. Because how are you going to make your company stand out, if you sound exactly the same? Copywriting is not the same as copying.

And don’t be so sure that everyone understands. See (1) above.

4. When you sound disingenuous

What you say What you mean
The merger will create £100m of synergies Higher sales? No, we’re firing people.
We’re expanding into new verticals Our existing markets have tanked
We have a broad geographical footprint We have a salesman in Belgium

The problem with euphemisms is that your readers see through them. Then they wonder why you won’t give it to them straight.

5. When it sends the wrong message

It’s great that you want to sell me some added-value services. But if your standard services don’t add any value, why would I want them? Don’t accidentally disparage the bulk of your business.

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