Gobbledygook Voices in the Financial Industry: Three Phrases to Avoid

  • December 5th, 2013
  • Tyson Steele

Most marketers litter their content with gobbledygook. David Meerman Scott describes gobbledygook as overused, vague words and phrases that are used to impress rather than to communicate – “words like ‘groundbreaking,’ ‘industry-standard,’ and ‘cutting-edge.’” What do these words even mean?

Unfortunately, one of the biggest culprits to the gobbledygook epidemic is the financial industry. I’ve combed through hundreds of websites of banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders, and I never want to hear about another “industry leading financial institution with cutting-edge, customizable financial solutions tailored to serve your business needs.” Huh?

You can leave a visitor unimpressed simply with your word choice. Is your site’s content engaging and helpful, or is it bland and confusing? Below, I’ve compiled a list of three of the most gobbledygook phrases that you should avoid (with an emphasis on business lending):

“We Are the Source for Your Funding Needs” – This phrase is probably the most overused. Whether it’s “banking needs,” “funding needs,” or “financing for your business needs,” I have rarely seen an impressive inclusion of the word “needs.” While it is true that a bank meets one’s “needs,” why not kill the word altogether? The phrase “we help finance your business” is far better than “we help finance your business needs.”

“We Have Financial Solutions For You” – Some sites try to create word variety by saying “financial solutions” as a substitute for “loans.” I recognize that “solutions” may include bank accounts, budgeting tools, etc., but as you write content, think from a business owner’s perspective. Say landscaper Joe comes to a site looking for a small business loan and finds that “X Bank provides creative financial solutions.” Great, but what is a creative financial solution? BMW doesn’t provide “creative commuting solutions” and Dominos Pizza doesn’t provide “innovative dining solutions.” So why do lenders tout their “sophisticated lending solutions?”

“We have Loans Tailored For Your Business.” – “Tailored,” “customized,” and “personalized” can be helpful words to describe your product or service, but the casual use of these words is rampant in the online world. I’ve seen one too many “multitudes of business loans specifically tailored for your business.” Sure, maybe “tailoring” is what you do, but too many lenders emphasize the customizability of a loan. The small business owner is really just concerned about getting the money at the best possible rate.

All of these gobbledygook phrases have a common theme: they all try to convince the borrower that the product is good without actually saying what is good about the product. Business owners will be left wondering, “How does this loan meet my ‘needs?’ How is this loan my ‘solution?’ What does it matter if this loan is ‘tailored?’” You can say you have the “best best best loans,” but ultimately these phrases all say the same thing.

If you want a great piece on how to avoid gobbledygook, read David Meerman Scott’s “The Gobbledygook Manifesto.” http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/documents/3703Gobbledygook.pdf

About the Author

  • Tyson Steele
  • Tyson Steele

Tyson is a talented writer and marketing professional who writes about small business lending topics for Lendio.com. His approachable style makes complex concepts easy to consume and understand for both lenders and small business borrowers.

Comments

  1. Gobbledygook is the bane of every marketer. It’s way to easy to fall into the trap. Keeping your marketing messages simple and straightforward is always a good idea. Particularly for lenders who live in a world filled with acronyms and gobbledygook. Great post Tyson.

  2. How true this is. I worked with a group of peers in the past that would play corporate buzz word bingo during company meetings. While this was fun, it illustrates the joke that corporate communication can become. There is a lot of wasted effort that goes into failing to communicate with our target audience. Great post Tyson.

    • The lingo makes the small business loan process a lot less accessible for the average small business owner. I’m convinced we need to make the process less daunting and easier to understand. You should have to be a small business financing expert to run a small business.