A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
This is the definition of cliche.
Ever used cliches in your copywriting?
Don’t worry, I have too and they’re not altogether bad. It’s neither possible nor necessary for every word you write to be original. Plus, the human brain is drawn to familiarity. But familiar doesn’t stand out. And the consumer brain is already trained to tune out the barrage of generic holiday marketing messages it faces every year.
So how do you actually stand out?
In this post, I’m going to share 60+ examples and ideas to help you write cliche-free copy for your ads, landing pages, emails, social posts, and more this holiday season. I’m also sharing the strategies behind these examples, so get ready to expand your creative copywriting toolkit for ideas all year round!
What makes Twitter such a great resource for cliche-free copywriting is that [good] Tweets are relatable and satisfyingly succinct. And isn’t that how all great copy should be? Some Tweets will give you ideas for your own relatable ad copy while others you’ll need to include right in your content for context (like in a gift guide).
Just be sure to get permission and give credit where it’s due. And also, check the user’s account to make sure other Tweets they post are appropriate. To find holiday Tweets:
This Tweet reads: “For a Hanukkah gift, I’m gonna assemble my son’s birthday present from July.”
This Tweet reads: “Have kids so that instead of real gifts you can give friends and family novelty photo items with pictures of your children they saw on social media 6 months ago.”
This Tweet reads: “Getting so many great bargains on holiday decorations I won’t remember I bought next Christmas.”
Twitter has its pros and cons, but it is a great source of inspiration for conversational and relatable content—holidays or not. You can also post fun questions to your own account and see if your followers can come up with anything good.
Let’s talk for a minute about the cards in the bottom row of any greeting card aisle. There is no good way to browse these cards without having to hold a squat for several minutes. And who’s going to do that? Indeed, this row is the greeting card page two of search results and something needs to be done.
Plus, from an accessibility standpoint, bottom and top rows aren’t accessible. Ergo, browsing through cards online is a luxury, and lucky for you, they are fantastic for getting creative holiday marketing ideas.
This card reads: “May your heart be full..and your inbox empty.”
Want more original copywriting ideas? 📣 Free guide: The 36 Best Call to Action Phrases (Ever)
Want more original copywriting ideas?
📣 Free guide: The 36 Best Call to Action Phrases (Ever)
Perhaps one of the quintessential pain points of the holidays. A picture of tangled Christmas lights and the word “nope.”
This card has different mittens to represent different cultures and says “happy everything.”
This card shows how simple and easy it can be to make your holiday messaging more inclusive and diverse. Think about the icons, colors, and examples you use in your designs and content. The smallest details can send big messages—so make sure yours is positive.
This card is a menorah with a word for each candle: peace, happiness, laughter, home, friendship, spirit, lights, holiday, family.
You could model after this image in a blog post or guide containing eight or nine components. The main topic would be the center candle and the eight strategies/tips/values would be the remaining ones.
First, I plugged “Hanukkah” into Shopify’s slogan generator. Like I said, prepare for a lot of hilariously unusable taglines, but I was able to extract some copywriting potential.
Then I put “holidays” into said slogan generator.
Last, I plugged “gifts” into the generator.
Queue in “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.
Now there is no doubt that the holiday season is associated with warm home and family vibes, and there is nothing wrong with using those to add emotion to your copywriting.
But if you’re looking to achieve that sense of comfort in a different way this holiday season, perhaps take a different approach and cater to those who don’t have family to come home to or family coming home to them.
Here’s an inclusive email giving subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe from Mother’s Day emails.
Cliche holiday song lyrics are THE cliches of holiday marketing. But there’s no escaping the positive emotions these songs bring out in us. If you want to use songs to market with emotion, but want to stay authentic, how about using those same songs, but the other lyrics that don’t get beaten down to a pulp? Or holiday songs that use words and phrases you can connect back to your value proposition?
Let’s take Bing Crosby’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
Don’t forget Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”
There are two phrases you could have fun with in your holiday copy:
Or let’s take Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
This is a Tweet that says: “The twelve days of christmas is completely unrealistic there is no way that you’re still accepting gifts from someone after four days of birds.”
You may also be able to come up with some funny or compelling marketing copy by looking more closely at popular song lyrics. Like
Many great holiday marketing campaigns are focused on giving and gratitude. There is nothing wrong with these values! The thing is, there are so many more points of emphasis when viewed from other cultural perspectives.
Take Kwanzaa, for example.
This is another strategy to come up with super-relatable content. Big disclaimer: someecards content can be offensive and insensitive, so be sure to only choose memes that don’t even come close to risking it.
This someecard reads: “Sorry your company is performing well enough this year to have an office holiday party.”
This someecard reads: “May all your regifting go undetected this year.”
This someecard reads: “This holiday season, in lieu of gifts, I’ve decided to give everyone my opinion.”
One of the best ways to get jumpstart your copywriting creativity is to Google around for examples.
Given that 90% of people use Google, and that 90% of that 90% don’t go past the first page (i.e. to the bottom row of the card aisle—head back to #2 if you don’t know what I’m talking about), you can rest assured that any ideas you get are not going to be authentic.
Plus, top pages for “best holiday marketing campaigns” almost invariably include the same list of 10 or so YouTube videos of commercials from big brands. These are entertaining and inspiring, but hardly useful for copywriting, and often not adaptable for small businesses (but this list is!).
The trick is to just omit “holidays” from your searches. So for example, instead of “holiday facebook ad examples,” I Googled “facebook ad examples.” Here are some that stuck out to me.
In this carousel ad from our Facebook ads roundup, we read: “Learn how to maintain creative control WITHOUT making marketing enemies.” Then each card in the carousel has a different version of “Creatives & Marketers need each other like…” including “Tuesdays need tacos,” “Tonic needs gin,” and “Shaggy needs Scooby.”
This Facebook ad copy says: “Time travel. Talking babies. Old man yelling at clouds. Just another day in adult animation. See it on Hulu for $5.99/month.”
There are two things about this ad copy that I like. The first is “Diaper rash, meet your match,” and the second is the use of a review.
Feelings aren’t facts, but facts DO provoke feelings. Go down the rabbit hole of statistic Googling and you can find your way to some impressive copywriting.
There’s a right and a wrong way to use a thesaurus in your copywriting. In my tips on how to write copy that sells, I implore you to keep your language simple and relatable. So there will be NO using of the thesaurus for finding more intelligent-sounding words. But we will use it for escaping generic holiday phrases in our holiday advertising.
Let’s take a look at the most generic of the generics of the holiday season: Ring in the new year.
There are alternatives!
Using cliches in your copywriting is a holiday marketing mistake! May this be our gift to your holiday marketing strategy and perhaps the gift that keeps on giving—as you can apply these tips for other holidays and non-holiday copy all year round! And remember, cliche and common phrases aren’t altogether bad, just not for content pieces you really want to shine! So to keep true authenticity this season, follow these 10 tips:
We’ve got you covered! Here’s a mix of resources that are helpful for both holiday and non-holiday copywriting:
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in SEO and copywriting and finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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