Have you been tempted to shoehorn 'truly' or 'genuinely' into a sentence? Are you, for example, 'genuinely reinventing the industry'? Overdoing the adverbs can produce the opposite result to the one you intend. Here's why.

People reading your words aren’t stupid. They know that it’s easy to add an emphasising adverb to a sentence, but harder to offer real proof. Saying something is innovative is fair enough – if you go on to prove why. But adding an adverb like 'truly' or 'genuinely' is a red flag, warning the reader that you may well not have any proof of your claim.

To see how this works, try reading the two (made-up) statements below. Which company would you trust?

A: We are genuinely committed to donating a proportion of our profits to reputable tree-planting schemes that truly help to combat climate change.”

B: Each year, we donate 1% of our net profits after tax to Save the Amazon (registered charity 123456), which campaigns to stop habitat loss and deforestation in South America. To find out more, visit...”

Statement A might sound good on the surface, but all we learn is that the company is desperate to be believed. In Statement B, the company gets specific about its commitment, includes verifiable details, and provides a link we can follow to find out more.

As ever in copywriting, the answer is to show rather than just tell. It doesn't have to be statistics and hard, indisputable evidence; you can also achieve results with a clutch of subjective, emotive testimonials. 

What is it that makes your product innovative, sustainable or affordable? Can you show what difference it makes? Could you quantify that? Spell it out clearly, and let your readers judge for themselves – they're smart, and they’ll spot the adverb trick.

From notebook

Case study

About us

Small by design

Because Polon is a small studio (run by Matt and Janet), there are no layers of account management – you get to work directly with a writer.

Find out more