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I Insist You Read Every Single Word of This Immediately

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, uninteresting, 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 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 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 hire industry experts.

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 companies.

ALL: All work is done by expert programmers. All employees must attend mandatory training for 3 hours a week.

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 engineered the world’s only PERFECT script.

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 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 all workers to take random drug tests at least two times per year.

DEMAND: We demand all salespeople take ten hours of sensitivity training prior to letting them see customers.

INSIST: We insist all employees sign our “worker code of ethics” agreement prior to starting with us.

REFUSE: 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 seventeen years we’ve received exactly zero complaints. Our exacting standards are your assurance that the job will be done right.

EXPECT: You can expect our salesperson to ask you what your needs are. You should expect the final price to match the quote to the penny.

ELIMINATE: We eliminate every hint of stress from the (fill in the blank) process. We eliminate the uncomfortable sales pressure applied by most companies. We eliminate the three-week waiting process and install your software 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 a future post.

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