Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A short list of cliches I'm tired of

Know your customer
Of course. That’s the first rule of marketing. But isn’t just as important to ask, “Do your customers know you?” After all, people will do business with you for three reasons: they’ve heard you, they’ve heard OF you, or someone they trust has heard of you.

If you build it, they will come
Boy, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But it doesn’t work that way. You need to create significant attraction. Because just building it (your business, your brand, your front porch) is not enough. Kevin Costner wasn’t incorrect, he was incomplete. You need to build it authentically. Creatively. Consistently. Interestingly. Remarkably. Transparently. Participatory. Daily. Then, and only then, they (might) come.

Be the best
Definitely. You can’t beat quality. But Jerry Garcia took it further when he said, “Don’t just be the best at what you do, be the only one who does what you do.” So, do that first. Then you will become the first one, the only one AND the best one.

It’s just one of those days
Give me a break. People who have “one of those days” only do so because they choose to. They wave their white flag and surrender to the day. And often times, customers and coworkers suffer the consequences. So, if you have a bad day, it’s your fault. Don’t take it out on anyone. Take responsibility. You don’t have to have a bad day if you don’t want to.

Thinking outside of the box
Stop! This ridiculous excuse for creativity is no longer valid. It’s an old, tired cliché and it desperately needs rewording. If you really wanted to think outside the box, you would have called it a hexagon. And isn’t it ironic that “outside of the box” is a completely “inside of the box” expression?

Go from where you are to where you want to be
Unbelievable. It’s not humanly possibly to be more vague than this. It lacks originality, creativity and uniqueness. And too many companies use this so-called “benefit statement” in their marketing materials. Even ask yourself: Do you want to work with someone who will “take you from where you are to where you want to be” or do you want to work with someone who will “increase your company’s profits by 25%”? Specificity = credibility.

You've got to have charisma
Not enough. In an age of corporate scandal, lack of consumer trust and mass media brainwashing, there is only one attribute that picks up where charisma left off and TRULY magnetizes customers and coworkers to you: authenticity. Because you don’t need to possess the interpersonal charm or brilliance of Bill Clinton to be authentic. You just need to be yourself. And anybody can do that to become a more successful communicator and businessperson.

If you have a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life
Bullshit. Confucius must have been “confused” when he said this 2000 years ago. For example, I love my job. I’m excited every single day to get out of bed and go to work. You couldn’t pay me enough money NOT to do my job! But you better believe it’s work. It’s a lot of work. Even when it’s fun, cool and rewarding; it’s still work. So if you think the day you find a job you love is the day you stop working, you’re probably confused too.

What’s in it for me?
Utterly selfish. And the funny thing about this cliché is that everyone thinks they’re the first writer or speaker to say, “All people are tuned into the same radio station: WIIFM.” Look, networking is about developing and maintaining mutually valuable relationships. So shouldn’t we be asking, “What’s in it for US?”

Try to be different
Please don’t. Remember what Yoda said: there is no try. Either do, or do not. Don’t try, just be. Be yourself. And don’t be different, be unique. Because anybody can be different. Different is wearing a red hat. But that doesn't make you unique. That’s not doing something that nobody else can do. Unique is when you’re the ONLY one.

Never toot your own horn
Fine. But if YOU don’t, nobody else will. I say shout it from the rooftops. Let the world know how awesome you are! But do it with grace. Don’t TELL customers that you’re a great salesman; SHOW them testimonials of past customers who agree with you. Don’t TELL strangers on the airplane that you’re an author; SHOW them by offering a free, autographed copy of your book.

Life is about finding yourself
No it isn’t. It’s about creating yourself. It’s about becoming the person you are supposed to become. It’s about revealing the sculpture that’s already inside the stone. You can’t find something that’s been there the whole time.

The nail that stands up will be hammered down
Possibly. On the other hand, maybe customers will notice how cool and valuable and unique that nail is and then HIRE that nail. Then refer that nail to their friends. “Stand up, stick your neck out – or be counted out,” says Tom Peters. “People who get ahead get noticed,” says Peter Montoya. Damn right.


What cliche are you tired of - and how would you rewrite it?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag