Does this “four-letter word” slip into your marketing?


In America, referring to something as “a four-letter word” is another way of calling it a swear word or obscenity – something to be avoided in polite and professional company.

While the swear words that led to this euphemism truly do have four letters, the marketing equivalent has just three. Curiously, this tiny word has been the bane of many a would-be successful marketer.

What is that word?Can you solve their problem, or not?



Your prospects don’t care how you solve their problem.


Let’s face it: You’ve put a ton of effort into developing a process that gets results for your clients. You’ve pulled together all your experiences, all the lessons you and others have learned through successes and failures, all the professional development activities you’ve taken on, then distilled them down into your very best offerings. And you deserve to talk about this fantastic process, by golly!

There’s just one problem with that: Nobody cares about the nuts and bolts of how you provide your services.


It’s a sad but true business reality that your process – how you actually deliver value – is primarily of interest to you. You have a right to be proud of it, but it’s not what floats your prospect’s boat. Talking about your process is far more likely to overwhelm your prospect than drive her into a frenzy of desire for what you have to offer.

No, what matters to your prospect is that she has a problem and needs a solution to it – NOW. The real question she wants you to answer is simple: “Can you solve my problem for me?”


Your prospects care THAT you can solve their problems.


In other words, telling a marketing story is different than, say, writing an article for a newspaper. (Yes, there are still some newspapers out there.) While an article is made stronger when the writer addresses the “5 Ws and an H” – who, what, when, where, why, and how – your marketing message actually becomes weaker if you go on and on about how you do what you do.

In fact, I would argue that there are really just two Ws you should focus on in your marketing:

The idea here is to make it easy for a prospect to self-select – to read your material and feel on a gut level that you understand her and her challenges. You want her to feel as if you’ve written your marketing message just for her.

In the course of answering this, you’ll probably address some “what”elements as well, such as “What’s in it for you?” and “What can you expect as a result of our working together?”

But the real emphasis is on WHY you’re the answer to her prayers (or her visualizations, if she’s more spiritual than religious). You want to tell her, in no uncertain terms, what pain you can alleviate and what gratifying experiences you can create.

Whether you’re talking pain or gain, be sure to appeal to your prospect’s emotions, not just to her intellect. If you don’t appeal to her heart, it won’t matter how much you pander to her head; she just won’t feel a desire – much less a real need – to hire you.


What’s been your experience in focusing on WHY you’re the problem-solver of your prospects’ dreams? Does this seem to come fairly easily, or does it take some work to get across a powerful message?

Or are you at the stage where you’re still not sure just why someone would hire you? Are you still figuring out how to craft a unique selling proposition, rather than a same-old-same-old selling proposition? If you’re huffing and puffing over these types of questions, I have some tools that will help.

I specialize in showing stalled or overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to cut through clutter and confusion. Instead of trying to do everything that crosses their minds, or trying to be all things to all people, they learn how to identify and describe what they do differently than anyone else – no matter how large their industry – and who exactly derives the most benefit from it.

Is that something I can help you with? Yes. Would it be in both of our best interests? Maybe.

One of the worst things an entrepreneur can do is hire a consultant that’s a poor fit for her. And one of the worst things a consultant can do is take on a client who’s a poor fit for her. Certainly you and I both deserve better!

If you’d like to explore the possibility of working together without worrying about making a big mistake, we can avoid any pain by getting acquainted on the phone before making any decisions. At the end of our time together, we’ll both feel good about our decision, be it “go,” “no go,” or “go later.”

If that sounds like a good use of your time, you can set up the no-charge get-acquainted call one of several ways:

And in the meantime, ask yourself: “Why would it make sense to consider hiring a compassionately ruthless accountability buddy? Who would do me the most good?”

(By the way, thanks to Scott McLeod for the image of the question-mark cookies. I found it in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

This entry was posted in effectiveness and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Does this “four-letter word” slip into your marketing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

— Web design by wizzy wig design Minneapolis MN —