“Language is a meaning approximator that sometimes gets too big for its britches and deceives us. … Language, like algebra, operates usefully only within certain limits. It's a tool for making representations of the world, which, unfortunately, we then go on to mistake for the world itself.” — George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain
At the end of the day, the words we write and the things we say to get our customers interested are approximators of meaning, but not the meaning itself.
By that I mean, it’s easy to think that we can talk our way to a sale, or write enough copy that people have to come away convinced.
But we can’t mistake language for the world itself—for experiencing value itself.
Nobody will believe us until they’ve seen us—until we’ve demonstrated value to them in some meaningful way.
Maybe that’s by giving them something to do, something to talk about, something to change or something to believe in.
Something they want, not just something we want them to know.
So if you’re frustrated that people are visiting your website, but not buying. Or signing up for your newsletter, but not converting. Or following you on social media, but not engaging—consider this:
Are you talking about value, or are you demonstrating it?
Are they reading, or are they experiencing?
Step 1: Marketing “Charades”
Action: Imagine (or act out, if you’re feeling brave) how you’d demonstrate how your service or product works and delivers value if you couldn’t say anything.
Time: 2 minutes
Step 2: Review
Action: Pause and debrief. What did you focus on? What did you show? Where you would find it most enjoyable to try incorporating more demonstrating vs. saying into your marketing next?
Time: 2 minutes