The three most powerful words in marketing (and maybe also in life)

Marketing, many would say, is a business defined by communicating outward.

Marketing, many would say, is a business defined by communicating outward. Sending buyers the messages you need them to hear. Showing them the items you want them to see. Enticing them to buy a product or service. Explaining how it works and why they must have it.

In fact, in this era of omnichannel, constant content marketing, it sometimes seems like we are always talking to others, never missing an opportunity to post, comment or engage as quickly as possible. And that often means the communications themselves become less thoughtful, less original and less valuable to audiences.

But what if we stopped, just for a minute, to listen? What if, when we heard a client or a prospect speak, instead of rushing to explain why our product or service will absolutely, positively meet their needs, we simply said:

“Tell me more.”

“Tell me more” is an announcement of a certain stillness, a willingness to wait for the speaker to go deeper into what they’ve said. When we conduct research for a campaign or a brand, it lets us dive beneath the surface and understand what attracts an audience. When we are pitching a prospect, it helps us learn what they need and, just as important, what they don’t. When we are telling a client’s brand story, “Tell me more” gives us the kind of detail and nuance that make that story memorable. Inviting someone to explore ideas, giving them the space to think about what they really want to say, leads to more creativity and better expression.

Of course, “Tell me more” is not just for marketing. It’s used in negotiation, in therapy and in trying to drag information out of reticent teenage offspring (theoretically speaking, of course). It is the gentlest — and often most effective — form of persuasion because it lets the other person lead the way.

Because curiosity is one of Right Hat’s guiding principles, “Tell me more” is among our favorite sayings. In fact, years ago we put it on some company swag: a promotional coffee mug. The “Tell me more” side of the mug faces the client in a face-to-face or Zoom meeting, while a reminder for us to “stop talking” and tune in to the speaker faces inward.

Recently, a photo of our “Tell me more” mug surfaced in a LinkedIn post from a colleague. Since then, we’ve received a steady stream of requests for them. Clearly, in an age of feverish marketing, the idea of simply asking others what they think has struck a chord. If it did with you, tell us more.

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