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Your marketing agency’s words

This week, I’m asking one simple but important question each day for you to ponder (on your own or with your team):

When you read out loud the words that your marketing agency came up with, how does it feel? How would you say it in your own words?

Would they still buy?

This week, I’m asking one simple but important question each day for you to ponder (on your own or with your team):

If you told your customers the full truth about your product, would they still buy? What do you need to change so that you can tell the full truth?

Ideas that spread

How many businesses have you seen fail because there was no easy way to tell your friends what they actually do? How many ideas have you seen die because there was no easy way to explain them? How many projects lost traction because no-one could clearly state what they were for?

Your audience is very unlikely to want to figure this out for you. If you want your idea to spread, your chances will dramatically increase if you yourself work out a way that makes it easy to spread.

So, what should spread for your idea? What should people think when they think about you? What should they say when they pass your message along to their friends?

How is this different?

When you’re building a new product, the question “How is it different?” is mostly pointless.

Because “different” can be hugely misleading as a metric.

Business developers love “different”. But the customers couldn’t care less. Customers care for specific.

In fact, many customers have no sympathy for “different”. They prefer “familiar”. Familiar is proven and safe.

Customers do care very much about whether your product solves their specific need.

Therefore, a better question to ask is: “What specific problem does this solve that isn’t solved properly, yet?”

(And, by the way, when you have an answer to that question, you’ll get the answer to “What’s different?” for free.)

Repeating yourself

Say something often and people will start to believe it.

Repetition doesn’t make the thing you repeat any more true or false but people are more likely to believe a statement when they hear it more often (that’s true even for smart thinkers).

Bullshitters know and embrace that. For them, that’s easy because true or false doesn’t matter the least bit to a bullshitter. The only thing they care for is whether a narrative serves their goal. And so, they repeat whatever statement serves them best.

It’s party time for them when others chime in to the repetitions, preferably mass media, the press or the social media mob.

In light of that it breaks my heart every time I speak to brilliant people who say that they don’t want to repeat themselves, e.g. because they think it’s impolite.

I don’t think it’s impolite at all. If it’s true it deserves to be said repeatedly. Looking at how often bullshitters repeat their bullshit, it might even be necessary.

Don’t shy away from putting your best thoughts on hot rotation.

What do you want to be known for?

What do you want to be known for? You won’t believe how many businesses don’t have a compelling answer to that simple question.

And yet, every action they take contributes to their fame. Every product they release. Every keynote their CEO gives. Every post they publish. Every sales presentation they make. Every call to customer support. Every mail. Proposal. Conversation. …

If these actions are inconsistent, the story of that business will be fuzzy at best.

Hence, marketing.

Huge budgets are allocated to create a public image. Agencies come up with something that sounds good and looks good. But more often than not, that image doesn’t match what customers experience when they reach out, use the product, or are otherwise exposed to the business.

What do you want to be known for?
If you don’t decide someone else will.

The biggest lever to own what the public thinks of you is to find clarity about that yourself. Uncover what a) you’re incredibly good at, b) you are passionate about, and c) makes you a profit. Based on that define what you want to be known for. The shorter the better.

Then light the path for the whole team. When the path is lit brightly (and when it’s aligned to what the team aspires to) you can trust them to do the right thing. Their actions will be aligned with the path. And so, every action anyone in your business takes contributes to becoming known for the right thing.

How not to change minds

Insisting that you are right and the others are wrong has never changed anyone’s opinion.

Repeating the same arguments, only louder, doesn’t work, either.

Making fun of someone’s argument won’t encourage anyone to re-consider that argument.

And decorating an argument with sarcasm (even when it’s hilarious) won’t open anyone’s mind to that argument.

I’ve always found it way more helpful to assume that the other person is at least as smart as I am and that there’s a reason for why they don’t see what (I think) I see.

Another helpful attitude when you want to change someone’s mind is to be open to changing yours, too. Getting it right is so much more useful than being right at all cost.

The hunt for visibility

Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me!

In the hunt for visibility, the space is overflowing with “Look at me” messages.

The irony being that what gets our attention is the exact opposite: “I see you”.

(Here’s a great example of that.)

Better than the truth

If your customers knew everything you know, would they still buy?

Well, of course they are never going to know everything, so the real question here is this:

Is the story you are crafting about your offering a truthful representation of what you do (and how you do it)?

Selfish marketers don’t really care. They will happily bend the truth, tweak a few things here and there, and leave anything out that would make the story sound less favorable. Selfish marketers look for ways to tell their story that makes it sound better than the truth.

An early client of mine, some 15 years back, was obsessed with giving their “effectiveness charts” more bang – the problem being that the underlying data had no bang at all. But rather than to optimize the product, they invested heavily in graphic design to make it look like it had bang.

Selfish marketers can’t trust the customer with the decision to buy because they don’t trust in their product, either.

The best brands are different. They start by building great products – products which are actually effective and which really do serve (real) people’s needs and desires in a delightful way.

And so these brands dare to tell true stories about their product and the experiences that their customers have.

The best part is this: For the customer, it will still sound better than the truth – their current truth. And if it’s a truly great product, it will even exceed these expectation. These products delight because the marketer was telling the truth.

Do you trust your product in delivering that experience? Do you dare to tell a true story about it?


Secure the only spot at the airport that sells water and you can basically stop bothering about how you do business. It doesn’t really matter how good or bad your service is or how clear or confusing your communication is, business is almost unavoidable.

For everyone else, clarity in your communication (what can people expect) and providing great service (delivering on what they expect) turns out to be invaluable.

Spread the Word

Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz



Yes, I love talking to you. Call me at +49.2241.8997777
Or reach out at michael@michaelgerharz.com