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A top 10 of copy writing hates

Compelling copy is at the heart of any successful creative execution.  So why do we see so many bad examples of copywriting when it comes to B2B marketing?  It's as if briefs come pre-stamped with 'please talk to me as a big corporate machine rather than a human being'.

This got me thinking about the things that I hate seeing in copy.  All completely subjective - but it would be good to hear if others share my dislikes or have dislikes of their own.  So here goes - a top 10 of copy hates:


  1. Exclamation marks - Sale!  Free!  Vomit!  This is one particular to my personal tastes. I really don't need an exclamation mark to point out the merits of something.  It can often cheapen communications and is completely superfluous to getting a message across.
  2. Mutton dressed as lamb - in an attempt to be a little bit 'out there' you'll sometimes find some brands posturing as young and rad, man!  It often damages brand credibility and is akin to watching your dad krunking at a wedding party.
  3. Save time and money - it is the Gwyneth Paltrow of stock copy such is the sheer insipid nature of it.  It is surely the laziest of phrases in marketing.  Can't button down a benefit?  Let's say that it saves you time and money.  Job done.  It has become so ubiquitous that it now almost holds no meaning.
  4. We know your business - the arrogance of such a phrase to businesses must surely rancour with them.  I challenge anyone who receives a piece of communication claiming to 'know your business' to ring the perpetrators up and ask for a detailed analysis of your accounts for the last 5 years - and then check whether they really know your business.
  5. Solutions - in my book a solution is a liquid or an answer to a sum.  It's not a product. If you go a step further and add Global in front of it,  then it makes my hair stand on end - and that is no mean feat considering that I am bald.   
  6. Jargon - 3 letter acronyms, technical terminology and industry spiel can often cripple copy.  This is a fault that is more prevalent in B2B copy than B2C.  Some clients often fall into the trap of wanting to explain absolutely everything to the prospect in the communication - when in fact simplicity often works best. 
  7. Holistic - I don't think I even need to say anything
  8. Jokes - 'You don't have to be mad to work at Johnco - but it helps'. Actually if you were mad and working at Johnco, I'd be very worried about your company's employee welfare policy.  Humour is such a subjective thing that jokes in copy often fall flat and diminish brand perception.
  9. Open - the most hideous of B2B creative.  The old, tired classic of an 'open' sign in a shop window.  It is almost as bad as handshake photos - but not quite. It's lazy marketing but is rolled out again and again by different agencies.  
  10. Buzzwords - does your business need more 'blue sky thinking', need to take a 'helicopter view' on that problem.  Yuk. Buzzwords don't demonstrate business accumen, they demonstrate insincerity and a sure-fire way to make your business look dated and vapid.  

So I leave it to the great and the good of the B2B Marketing world to offer their thoughts on their own pet-hates and perhaps share some examples of copy writing horrors they've come across.