The Worst Cliches and Your Business

If you’ve spent any time at all on … well, I feel for you.

Don’t worry, I’ve been there, too. My point is, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the profiles sound alike. People enjoy long walks, thunderstorms, snuggling on the couch, etc. Human nature, I suppose.

And they often describe themselves with the same three words.¬†They say, “I’m smart, funny and adventurous.” (Have you ever met anyone, by the way, who doesn’t think they’re smart or funny?)

Now you may very well be smart, funny and adventurous. But you’d better prove it.

I talk a lot about the principle of show/don’t tell. Usually I mean replacing words with images, expression or action. But show/don’t tell is also about how we use words.

Saying that you’re smart, funny and adventurous is an unproven claim. Worst of all, it’s a claim coming from the one source we have the least reason to trust: you. You’re not objective when it comes to yourself. And you very well may be a liar. (Not you, of course — but some people!)

So instead of saying you’re smart, talk about the last book you read. Instead of saying you’re funny, be funny. Instead of saying you’re adventurous, talk about the white water rafting trip you took.

Show, don’t tell.

What does this have to do with business? Companies make this same mistake all the time.

They brag about their “superior service” or “unmatched expertise” or “top quality” products. But instead of telling me those things, prove it. Show me some stories, accolades, reviews, endorsements, testimonials or rankings that back up those claims. Third party validation. It’s key to credibility.

Of course, in the end, business is probably no different than online dating. A lot of it has to do with how pretty your pictures are. Which is another form of show/don’t tell.

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