What do these words have in common?

  • Fast, quick
  • Easy, effortless
  • Modern
  • Best, top
  • Simple
  • Powerful
  • Beautiful
  • Flexible

You’ve probably seen them used to describe software products. Maybe you use them to describe your own product. They seem like great descriptors, because you know they’re truthful, and what’s true must be convincing, right?

Cartoon about bad words

The hard truth is that these words are devoid of any real meaning, significance, or differentiation. They fail at convincing people to try your product. How do I know? I’ve interviewed hundreds of enterprise software buyers to learn what messaging does or does not resonate with them.

That’s why I call them “bad words” for describing software products.

Why “Simple” is Bad

There are three reasons why these common descriptors are bad at attracting users and buyers:

1. No Meaning

Does “simple” mean it works out-of-the-box, has a clean look, uses drag-and-drop UI, or costs a flat rate? Does “powerful” mean it has many features, it’s fast, or it has many integrations? Is it “fast” because there’s no setup process, or it has a snappy UI, or has fast processing? “Best” in what way? “Easy” for whom? “Modern” compared to what?

When a word can mean so many things, it means nothing.

2. No Significance

The product description is the first step in making software buyers want to buy. It’s an opportunity to express that your product will help with what they care about most—their “desired outcomes,” such as lowering overhead costs, saving their teams’ time, increasing revenue, minimizing outages, etc. They don’t get bonuses and promotions for buying “simple” or “beautiful” products.

3. No Differentiation

Because these words are so common and devoid of meaning, they make your description forgettable and indistinguishable from the competition. Your product is “fast” but the competing product is “easy,” so what’s the difference?

If you’re not sure whether you have bad words in your product description, check:

  • Does it have adjectives such as “easy,” “simple,” “modern,” or “powerful”? (See the 500 most common adjectives.)
  • When you search the phrase on Google, are the results irrelevant and all over the place?

Take this actual product description, for instance: “SaaS leadership made easier—Manage your growth, people, and investors more effectively.”

The bad words are “easier” and “more effectively.” Easier than what? More effective than what? Is this even a product, or a service?

Effective descriptions

Cartoon about choosing words

The fix for bad words isn’t to swap them with “good” words, but to answer “what?” and “so what?” in your product description. Then, you have a chance at catching the attention of your audience.

These companies get it right:

“Prevent security threats caused by humans with machine intelligent email security.” (Tessian)

  • What? → Machine-intelligent email security.
  • So what? → Prevent security threats caused by humans.

“Marketing intelligence platform: Drive growth with unified marketing data, intelligent insights, and automation.” (Singular)

  • What? → Marketing intelligence platform.
  • So what? → Drive growth with…

“Kubernetes packaging solution that takes the drama out of on-prem deployments.” (Gravity)

  • What? → Kubernetes packaging solution.
  • So what? → Takes drama out of on-prem deployments.

“Code policy enforcement for confident and compliant code.” (Datree)

  • What? → Code policy enforcement.
  • So what? → Confident and compliant code.

Notice the lack of “powerful,” “modern,” “fast,” “effortless,” etc.

It takes effort to avoid bad words—I know those companies did not start with those descriptions or think of them overnight—but the result is worth it: A clear and convincing opener that interests potential users and buyers.

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