Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Using the English we have
According to Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert Siegel in “The Story of English” (Penguin 1992), “The statistics of English are astonishing. Of all the world’s languages (which now number over 2,700), it is arguably the richest in vocabulary. The compendious Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words; and a further half million technical and scientific terms remain uncatalogued.”
I once did a demonstration before my business referral group of how I develop a print ad. To help determine the eventual concept, I interviewed a volunteer “client” by asking him different questions about his business. Sure enough, when asked what differentiates himself from his competition, he proudly intoned “service.”
Oh really, I asked, what else?
“We care about the customer.”
Hmmmm, you don’t say...
“And we’re experienced,” he added.
I’m going to take a wild stab at this, but I’ll just bet that isn’t the first time those words have been used to, ho-hum, excite and entice a potential customer.
Look, we’re all guilty of falling back on the familiar – in this case, words that have been used ten thousand times before. But the more serious consequence of using these hackneyed phrases is that they simply lose their meaning after a while.
If you say about your business that you provide “great service,” that you really and truly “care” about your customer, and that no one can match your “experience,” I’ll counter that every time with “SO WHAT?” Every business can, in one facet or another, make that claim! You may BE different from your competition…but you’re not SAYING anything differently.
Put it this way -- if text for your brochure, ad or 30-second oral commercial is worded in such generalities that ANYBODY else can put their name at the end of it, it’s time to consider rewriting the piece.
See you the first Tuesday of next month for another etymological sampling of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
NAWP, Visit Charlotte