Promise too much and you risk angering people when you don’t meet their expectations.  Or they simply won’t believe your bullshit.  Promise too little and you risk not getting noticed at all.

One of Seth Godin’s recent posts inspired this one, “The paradox of promises in the age of word of mouth.”  He talks about the natural tension between promising too much and too little.  And NAILS it, as usual.

I’d add a third warning: promise what everybody else does and you disappear into the crowd.

The goal, then:

Promise enough to get noticed, not so much your execution can’t satisfy and make your promise unique.

Ouch!  I know, this is a tough target to hit.  But that’s the challenge, the fun.  This is at the core of why I love marketing consulting: the challenge of hitting a very small target; the joy when I do; and the profound satisfaction of choosing promises that are sincere and honest over those that trick and manipulate.

I’ve discovered a way to make this very difficult task easier.  Wait. . .I have the key to your marketing success.  Or, how about I have the marketing secret only marketing masters know and I’m willing to share with you right now!!!!!

Talk to your customers.  Ask the people you are about to make promises to.  They’ll tell you what’s important, what they’re concerned about, what their objections are.  Then, simply, promise what’s important to them at the level you know you can deliver.

Do this, and you’ll get noticed AND you’ll satisfy.  Okay, wait, do this, and turn on a steady flow of new business.  Ah, screw it, do this, and just site back and watch your business sore, make more in a week than you did last year, women will want you and men will fear you (or vise versa, as required).

I promise.