What’s the Over/Under in your Marketing?

by Jason Ogden | Mar 16, 2021

“Underpromise, over-deliver” is something we’ve all heard, almost always as if it’s a virtue. In fact, it’s simply gaming the client’s expectations in the short term. Clients will begin to expect based on what you do, not what you say, over time.   

“Overpromise, under-deliver” is knowingly setting people’s hopes beyond that which you can execute. This one doesn’t even pretend to be virtuous; it’s an underhanded tactic used to close business and then apologize your way out of well-earned disappointment.  

What both of these approaches in marketing share is that they relate to providing goods or services to existing customers. Have you thought about how your marketing promises affect your market messages? 

In marketing, we place great emphasis on your unique message. Based on the distinct traits of your business, your messaging should be made up of things that only your company can say. This is the substantive uniqueness of your message. Then there’s the articulation of your uniqueness – how you say it. To do this well it must be memorable and stand out in a sea of thousands of daily messages.   

Both of these things are critical, but there’s more.  

Your message is meant for your unique audience. They need something from you; they need your help. This is where your marketing promise comes in. Does it line up with the needs of your audience? Can you deliver on it? To be effective, the promise component of your messaging must be right.  

The consequences of the wrong promise (over or under) in marketing are not considered enough. 

If you overpromise during marketing, it will have the same effect as overpromising during a relationship – disappointment, remorse, and premature end to the relationship.  

Underpromising will have a very different effect. First, you simply won’t bring the right people into your sales funnel. The audience your business was built for will pass you by because you’re not speaking to their needs with your promise. Second, you WILL attract the wrong people into your funnel. They’ll pick up on the signal you’re sending and buy from you for the wrong reasons. You’ll solve problems they’re not interested in. You’ll provide additional products/services that won’t make sense for their business. You won’t be able to provide what they most care about and like overpromising, you’ll lose customers. 

As you look at all of your messaging, ask the questions:

“Is my marketing promise the right one?”

“Does it meet the needs of my audience?”

“Can I deliver?”  

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 by Jason Ogden

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