A phrase, often used, can fall into the realm of clichés. I too am guilty of using them from time to time, probably because it is so easy to do. We use clichés so often during our every-day speech that it is often difficult not to use them in writing. Also, because there is truth in them, they are hard to avoid. Perhaps a ten or twenty-year ban would suffice, after which the offending phrase could once again take its proper place in the world to be revived like an endangered species, that you were never quite sure existed in the first place.
One of those overused phrases is “Take your (insert service or business) to the next level, or to new heights!” This phrase, or something like it, has been used so often that it has become meaningless. If we are all now on “the next level,” what could be the attraction? Personally, I would like to go somewhere else for a change, somewhere explicit, somewhere concrete, because no one quite knows where this ubiquitous “next level” is, or what it means.
The other major problem with this type of phrasing is that once you get to “the next level” what happens next? Trying to get to “the next level” could set you up for striving for next level attainment in perpetuity; no matter what level you attain, there is always another one that follows. When will it end? Must we always strive for better? Which begs the question, better than what or whom? Because as we all know, no matter how good we are, there will always be someone better that comes along.
For clarity sake, let’s take a phrase like “Take your widget seeker to the next level.” If I were in the business of widget seeking, I would be somewhat offended that you would think that the work I put into marketing my widget seeking was sub-par. I realise most people are trying to position their business as the answer to your quite possibly non-existent problems, but to do so at the expense of someone else’s work is not the most productive way.
Certainly, there are perfectly acceptable things for “next level” attainment, like Karate, or the myriad of other martial arts sports. Practitioners in the martial arts world never imply that one’s previous level is not worthy, or not enough. Gamers go through levels all the time. They compete against one another, or the game itself to win, but games by their nature are meant to win, and bragging rights are part of that glory.
So what’s a person to call it when they want to sell you “the next level” goods? First and foremost, marketing experts need to be more specific in their pitch. Instead of telling someone “We’ll take you to the next level.” Tell them exactly what that next level entails. Whether it is increasing web traffic, or storefront traffic, don’t be so ambiguous when trying to steer potential clients your way.
If we think of our business like we should be thinking of ourselves, the answer is easy. If we can say we are good enough, or we are fast enough; then we can say we are enough instead of self-deprecating thoughts of not being enough. Self-improvement is great, but there is a difference between striving for betterment and endeavouring to be number one. The elusive “next level” is not always a requirement to win, or at least it shouldn’t be. Besides, no one cares about “the next level.” It has become the white noise of marketing jargon, and no one wants to end up like that.
So the next time you see someone promising you that they will help you take your service or job to “the next level,” I’d save your money, because if they have not done so for their marketing copy, then how can you be sure they will come through for you?