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    Sometimes, it’s better to be better, rather than best.

    Remember Wil Farrell in the movie "Elf?"

    Pretty funny, right? And yet, most local companies create marketing messages full of equally preposterous, self-serving superlatives (they obviously never saw the movie).

    The business owner’s thinking seems logical: if I can just convince people that my product or service is high quality, they’ll have enough faith and confidence to buy from me.

    Every business owner thinks their product or service is “better” than their competitors’ (Actually, most of them don’t believe it. They just get lazy and say it hoping potential customers will buy it, but, duh, they never do. Customers aren’t stupid).

    Fixating on superlatives is particularly damaging to a businesses’ credibility online, where customers have access to real information, plus user-generated content like reviews, blog posts, discussion boards and the full gamut of social media.  People don’t search superlatives. Try typing in “best coffee” or “best bank” and you get back a useless list. Quality is subjective. There is no official, objective person, organization or process to determine “the best” anything.

    Besides, people aren’t always looking for the “best,” meaning the highest quality. They’re looking for a solution to a specific problem. Sometimes they need something that’s faster, cheaper, closer, bigger or smaller. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

    Your marketing message has to clearly differentiate your product or service as the solution to the particular problem the customer is trying to solve. If everyone out there says they’re “the best” the prospect has to make their decision based on other criteria. And you can’t possibly know or solve all the problems your customers may have. The best you can do is stand firmly for something specific with provides customers with tangible benefits and real reason to believe in what you’re selling.

    So, as a public service, here’s a little aide to help you create content that’s more credible with your customers and prospects. Every time you write something about your business, check and see how many words you use that end with the letters “est.” Highlight them and then, ask yourself if the claim is based in fact. If it is, state the fact and why it matters to the problem the customer is trying to solve.

    If the claim is not objective, verifiable and important to the customer, replace the “est” word with its corollary ending in “er.” Changing from “best” to “better” makes the statement relative and comparative. Better than what: the competition, a previous version, or an alternative approach? Better than doing it yourself?

    Words ending in “er” allow you to make credible claims. They force you to describe in greater detail just exactly why your solution should be chosen over another. An “er” word changes your mindset from selling to informing, a critical shift in today’s online world of conversations where everyone is an expert who can influence the behavior of others.

    Below is a list of those “est” words, along with their “er” alternatives. Good luck editing. And, if you do ever find the “world’s best coffee” be sure to post it on Starbuck’s website. Howard Schultz would love to hear about your discovery.

     

    INSTEAD OF..

    CONSIDER…

    barest

    bare

    best

    better

    biggest

    bigger

    blackest

    blacker

    bravest

    braver

    briefest

    brief

    brightest

    brigher

    busiest

    busier

    cheapest

    chaper

    cleanest

    cleaner

    clearest

    clearer

    closest

    closer

    coldest

    colder

    darkest

    darker

    deepest

    deeper

    earliest

    earlier

    easiest

    easier

    eldest

    elder

    fairest

    fair

    farthest

    farther

    fastest

    faster

    fiercest

    fiercer

    finest

    finer

    fittest

    fit

    fullest

    fuller

    funniest

    funnier

    furthest

    further

    grandest

    grander

    gravest

    grave

    greatest

    greater

    happiest

    happier

    hardest

    harder

    heaviest

    heavier

    highest

    higher

    hottest

    hotter

    kindest

    kinder

    largest

    larger

    lightest

    ligher

    longest

    longer

    loudest

    louder

    loveliest

    lovlier

    lowest

    lower

    meanest

    meaner

    narrowest

    narrower

    nearest

    nearer

    newest

    newer

    nicest

    nicer

    noblest

    nobler

    oddest

    odd

    oldest

    older

    poorest

    poor

    prettiest

    prettier

    proudest

    proud

    purest

    pure

    quickest

    quicker

    quietest

    quieter

    rarest

    rare

    richest

    richer

    saddest

    sadder

    safest

    safer

    sharpest

    sharper

    shortest

    shorter

    simplest

    simpler

    slightest

    slightly

    slowest

    shower

    smallest

    smaller

    smartest

    smarter

    steepest

    steeper

    strangest

    stranger

    strictest

    stricter

    strongest

    stronger

    surest

    sure

    sweetest

    sweeter

    tallest

    taller

    thickest

    thcker

    tiniest

    tinier

    toughest

    tougher

    truest

    true

    warmest

    warmer

    weakest

    weaker

    wealthiest

    wealthier

    wettest

    wetter

    widest

    wider

    wildest

    wilder

    wisest

    wiser

    youngest

    younger