Let’s take a “power words” quiz. Examine these two phrases:
Phrase 1: We Do The Job Right The First Time.
Phrase 2: We Always Insist That Every Job Be Done Exactly Right The First Time—No Exceptions.
The first one expresses a worthwhile idea in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. Unfortunately, it’s also stated in such an expected, non-interesting, and uninspiring way that nobody will give it a second thought.
The second phrase, on the other hand, has a certain level of panache to it. It’s intrepid, audacious, and borderline cocky. It’s not the kind of thing one says unless one is fairly certain they can follow through on the stated promise. It’s concrete, certain, and confident. And because of that, it’s also unusual, unexpected, and interrupting. It has power, precision, and passion.
Lyndon B. Johnson was famously quoted as saying, “What convinces is conviction. Believe in the argument you’re advancing. If you don’t, you’re as good as dead.”
A big part of your marketing success depends on finding ways to say things that leads prospects to believe that YOU actually believe what you are saying. If you don’t, you’re as good as dead.
In other words, Phrase 1 above has no conviction. Phrase 2 does—and it wins, hand down.
Today we’re going to examine TWO categories of power words: Absolutes and Commandos. In future postings we’ll learn about TWO additional categories: Elevators and Intensifiers.
Absolutes are a category of power words that strengthen your writing by making claims in absolute terms instead of general terms. Instead of “being on time” (general claim) we say “always insist on being on time” (absolute claim). Here are the Absolutes and some examples for remodeling companies:
ALWAYS: We always finish the job when we say we will. We always leave our work space cleaner than we found it. We always do what we say we will do.
NEVER: We never apply any sales pressure. We never shortcut quality. We never quote one price then charge another.
ONLY: We only use the highest quality materials. We only allow W2 employees to set foot in your home. We only specialize in high-end artistic kitchens and bathrooms.
ABSOLUTELY: We absolutely refuse to cut corners. You can absolutely count on the final price being the same as the quote. There is absolutely no reason to call multiple contractors.
ALL: All work is done by master-craftsman level carpenters. All employees must attend mandatory training for 3 hours a week. All windows are installed by W2 employees, not contract labor.
EVERY: Every detail is carefully monitored to ensure quality. Every single job is assigned priority status within our system. Every imaginable precaution is taken to assure quality.
PERFECT: Outstanding is not good enough; our standard is PERFECT. We have a 100% perfect record with the BBB—17 years, zero complaints.
Now let’s shift our attention to Commandos. These are first cousins to Absolutes, and often are used in tandem with them to create real powerhouses. Commandos are words that suggest a rigid inflexibility; their unyielding nature leads readers to be believe that you really mean what you’re saying.
REQUIRE: We require all salespeople to sign a “no tricks, no pressure” sales agreement. We require 4 signatures before we consider any project complete. We require all workers to take random drug tests at least 2 times per year.
DEMAND: You should demand that any remodeler provide you with at least 1,000 references. We demand perfection from our installers. We demand all salespeople take 10 hours of sensitivity training prior to letting them see customers.
INSIST: We insist that all workers arrive on time, wearing clean uniforms. We insist on gutting the window and installing new ones from scratch. We insist subcontractor sign our “worker code of ethics” agreement prior to starting with us.
REFUSE: We refuse to install inferior products—even if our customers request them. We refuse to expose our clients to high-pressure salesmen. We refuse to accept payment until you say you’re 100% satisfied with the job.
EXACT(LY): In 17 years we’ve received exactly zero BBB complaints. Our exacting standards our your assurance that the job will be done right.
EXPECT: You can expect our sales person to be in and out and gone in less than an hour. You should expect the final price to match the quote to the penny. We expect our installers to arrive on time, to have a clean and friendly appearance, and to do the job right.
ELIMINATE: We eliminate every hint of stress from the remodeling process. We eliminate the uncomfortable sales pressure applied by most companies. We eliminate the 3-week waiting process and install your windows the very next day.
Once you get a feel for these two sets of words, you can start to combine them to really crank up the power: always insist; absolutely refuse; never require; always eliminate, etc.
As we close, let’s reconsider the power statement at the beginning of this post:
We Always Insist That Every Job Be Done Exactly Right The First Time—No Exceptions.
Count the number of Absolutes and Commandos: always, insist, every, exactly. That’s four… and “no exceptions” is what we call an “Elevator”. We’ll get to that on the next post.