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The Most Important Word in Marketing is Just 3 Letters

Big, old book upside magically dropping letters to the ground.

There are 475,000,000+ results for the keyword phrase, the most important word in marketing.

That’s a lot of people writing about finding the Holy Grail.

So, what do the experts have to say about it? It seems everyone has a different opinion depending on what they are selling.

Actually, I was surprised by that. I thought the most important word in marketing was obvious regardless of what you’re selling.

With that in mind, the top four Google posts on this topic state these are the most important marketing words:

It’s true. These words are power words for sales.

  • A company does need a relationship with their customers to sell to them.

  • It does have to know how to maneuver the product or service to sell it.

  • Tracking is tantamount to understanding customer triggers and buying patterns.

  • Brainstorming the question, “What if?” is necessary to keep sharp and try to anticipate market changes.

So, what’s my beef? Over and over again, I see small businesses and gigantic corporations first choosing a tactical approach like those above as a means to a profitable end.

And it’s a costly mistake.

Before a business throws all of those ingredients into one pot, stirs them around, and serves them up, I firmly believe you have to back up and read the recipe first.

That means understanding your target audience. It doesn’t matter how much maneuverability, tracking or brainstorming you do, if you’re not talking with the customer about what’s important to them.

And that brings us to relationship. Customers relate to one kind of relationship only. So let’s explore that.

One Little Word is the Most Profitable Word in Marketing

The bottom line in marketing is making sales. Period.

Before we think about what WE need to do to get business, we have to think about how to say it so the customer buys into our marketing strategy.

Take a look at these two taglines. Which one do you find to be more relatable?

We’re the best plumber in town

Your favorite plumber

The first one puts up a barrier right away. It’s cliché. How many times have you heard that? How many times have you actually believed it?

The second one is friendly and invites the customer into your story. We’ve all had a favorite person, place, or thing. It’s relatable and has layers and layers of meaning. We get it.

In fact, you could say the second tagline makes a promise.

There’s something in it for you. The first tagline offers you nothing.

But your favorite plumber makes a promise of excellence, reliability, and dare I say, friendship?

That’s why the most important—and profitable— word in anybody’s marketing campaign has to be the word “you” or the derivation, “your.”

“You” invites the customer into your story on their terms. (Notice how I’ve used “you” to bring you into my story.)

And that’s an important distinction. To create a story that sells your product or service requires, oddly enough, that you take a backseat.

Forget about maneuvers, tracking, brainstorming. Focus on the kind of relationship the prospect wants with you.

Here’s how.

Answer These 3 Questions to Win the Heart and Wallet of Your Prospect

Start by asking these three questions.

1) Does your customer know what you sell?

Really good marketing doesn’t use a catchy phrase to attract customers. (Remember the Whazzup commercial of the ‘90’s? That commercial was considered a success because it was popular for 3 years. Count ‘em. Three.)

And what did it really sell?

Marketing that actually connects and sells has a message that the audience deeply relates to and literally sells for years.

For example, if you’re in the information technology business, how well can prospects relate to a message that says, “We’re in the solutions business.”

A message that’s direct and straight forward like, “We send 5 people to your organization and re-vamp your entire computer security system. You never have to worry about breaches again.”

No, it isn’t sexy, but it sells. You know why? Because you told the prospect exactly what you do and how you take their pain away.

Speaking of pain…

2) Does your customer know what problems you solve for them?

This is fascinating to me.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found the solution to the customer’s problem buried under fancy jargon.

For the IT company, the real and potentially devastating problem they solve is this:

Fear of breaches and wasting money on crashes.

Again, it’s not sexy, but it does invite the prospect into your story by solving their problem.


3) Does your customer know how to buy from you?

On the web, too often businesses waffle on a direct call-to-action. “Learn more” and “Get more info” are not direct calls to action.

Ask for the sale but also have an indirect call-to-action such as a downloadable PDF, a template, primer, etc. that solves a piece of the customer’s problem.

Then add them to an email list. Continue to demonstrate you understand the problem they want solved.

Then show them how you can help them solve it.

These are smart marketing words that aren’t fancy or “creative.” But guess what? Customers want solutions. You solve them and they’ll think you walk on water.

The Real Reason Behind “I’ll Think About It”

If a customer says those dreaded words or “I’ll get back to you,” then something about your marketing message isn’t clear.

Or, there’s an objection you haven’t overcome.

It’s really as simple as that.

As Donald Miller of StoryBrand is fond of saying, “If you confuse, you lose. Confusion is the enemy of clarity.”

People buy when they:

  • Clearly understand what they’re buying

  • See how it solves their problem

  • Understand how to do business with you

While there are a number of important words that sell, the most important word in marketing has always been and will continue to be “You.”

For the 475,000,000 searchers seeking answers, here’s my advice: Deeply understand your target audience, then invite them in with a story that shows you get them.

You’ll find you’ve got something to crow about.


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