The following is a sponsored post by Commune Media.
If you live in Canada these days, a certain telephone company might have you believe that "Better" is better.
And not just better. But also cooler and faster.
Ring a bell?
Trouble is, describing your offering as better, cooler and faster often undermines your message.
each of those descriptions—and just about any other that ends in "er"—is a
comparative. Quite simply, they compare one thing to another.
And comparatives can kill your positioning while actually helping your competitors‘.
Why Comparing is Worse than Weak
Here’s an example.
of the latest sleek smartphones to mimic Apple’s design is, er, positioned as "way cooler."
The ads leave it at "cooler," but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what it’s supposedly cooler than.
You see their expensive ad, but you think iPhone.
And there’s the rub. When you use comparatives, you call more attention to what you’re comparing your offering to.
it gets worse—because if your offering doesn’t hold up (and in the case
of this mismarketed phone, it doesn’t), you’ll be simultaneously promoting your competition and calling attention to your offering’s inferiority.
It’s like saying, "This is the ideal, and we’re trying to outdo it."
Except your prospects will hear, "This is what we wish we were."
The Concrete Alternative
Comparatives have another nasty side effect—they’re hopelessly abstract.
If you’ve read Chip and Dan Heath’s excellent Made to Stick, you already know that a message needs to be concrete in order to resonate.
Think about it. If someone claims a car is "faster than a Ferrari," you’d have to assume that’s pretty fast (unless you’ve personally pushed the limits of a Ferrari’s speedometer).
if someone says it does "zero to 60 in three seconds and throttles you
so hard into your seat that it bruises your ribs," you get a
concrete sense of of the speed. You can actually visualize and feel it,
makes it sticky.
So what’s the takeaway?
When you state your benefits with a comparative, you:
- Call attention to your competition.
- Risk looking like you’re less than them.
- Push a wishy-washy, forgettable message instead of a concrete association.
So the next time you plan your positioning, keep in mind that being concrete is crucial.
It’s not just a better approach. It will measurably improve your results.
Want more tried-and-true techniques for effective web writing? Learn how to write compelling copy with our free 25-page e-book, Breakthrough Web Writing.