As a copywriter, I spend a lot of time reading. A lot. In fact, I spend more time reading than writing on any given day.
As such, I’m privy to every word or phrase that catches the imagination of marketers and entrepreneurs, and I’m privy to them over and over and over again as they saturate one industry after another.
News tip: Even the most novel words become meaningless and mundane after repeated abuse…I mean, use.
A few years ago, it was sea change. It popped up on Forbes, at The Washington Post, and in the New York Times. If you read widely enough, it was everywhere.
And then there was a sea change, and it (blessedly) disappeared for a while.
It’s not that I don’t like the phrase. I love it. I can see why it became popular (and is becoming popular again). Especially when we’re talking about climate change because – the sea, it’s changing. Get it?
It’s not an uncommon event. We hear a new phrase. We like it. We latch onto it. Others follow suit. It’s a common language that gets us all quickly on the same page, but when it comes to differentiating yourself from your competition, you’ve got to – well, make a sea change. You’ve got to move past the easy access words and ideas that are found at the shoreline and dive into deeper waters.
One of the most commonly over-used words used on business websites is:
I see the word strive come up way too often when conducting content audits, and I’ve got a few problems with it.
First, let’s talk originality.
It’s not original. Guess how many other law firms are striving to achieve favorable results for their clients? All of them. Guess how many pizza joints are striving to make the best pizza west of Rome? You got it. They all are. Not only that, I saw this word cropping up on the regular when I was a high school teacher. You want to take a stab at how many barely passing kids are striving to become their best selves? Yeah. I figured you wouldn’t need me to tell you.
Next, let’s talk about intent.
The word strive means to make great efforts or try really hard, which is noble. But it’s the bare minimum of what I’m looking for in a lawyer or a pizza maker. If you’re operating a successful business, you should be well past striving. Trying (even really hard) should be a thing of the past. I want to know that the professionals I hire can get the job done. Period. If they’re having to strive, my confidence is somewhat diminished.
To paraphrase Yoda:
There is no strive.
Do or do not.
We can do better, right? Let’s stop sending your prospects the message that you – like all of your competitors – are trying really hard. Let’s show them that you’ve surpassed striving – that you’ve moved on to achieving.