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It's Time for Social Purpose Organizations to Restore Corrupt Marketing-Speak to Its Noble Roots

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Marketing-speak has a way of corrupting noble language.

Empathy, which should create a sense of solidarity and lessen pain, turns into the practice of pressing vulnerabilities until they hurt.

Empowerment, which should enable people to achieve their goals, becomes a certain style of marketing that creates the feeling—but not the results—of embracing a positive attitude.  

Advocacy, which should mean coming to the aid of someone who needs your help, describes the actions consumers take to prom…

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Five signs your messaging isn’t connecting with non-experts

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  1. Your document or presentation generates no questions.

Someone who has genuinely understood the messaging about your innovative product or service should be bursting with questions. 

They should react to your words the way an audience reacts to a David Copperfield show, with amazement and curiosity. You should hear questions like these:

Wow! How did you do this?

Can it really do everything you say it will? How?

Will it truly solve my problem?

If the only reaction is silence, then your …

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My Eureka Moment About How (Not) to “Niche Down”

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Earlier this week, I had the privilege of delivering a workshop for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Our topic was writing web copy, so of course, our first order of business was to discuss the challenge of zeroing in on your target audience.

Through our conversation about that, I came to recognize something I’d long felt in my bones but had never really articulated: the whole notion of “niching down,” defining the target market as a narrow segment, has always felt wrong to me. And now…

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What "the end of average" means for your startup’s messaging

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Let’s play a game of Truth or Lie. I’ll share three statements about myself, and you try to guess which one is the lie:

  • I am a woman of below-average height.
  • As a child, I scored above average on IQ tests.
  • My weight falls within the average range.

A few weeks ago, I believed all three of these statements to be accurate. I’m 5’2”, the public school system (which loves labels) tagged me as “gifted,” and I exercise just enough to balance out my intake of brownies and ice cream.

Now, after …

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Why Outsourcing Messaging is the Wrong Paradigm for Chrysalis Companies

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Some startups grow up to be unicorns, but before that, in the early phases, all of them are butterflies—fragile, beautiful business concepts. As Stephen Blank so eloquently puts it, “A startup is not a smaller version of a large company. A startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model.” (The Startup Owner’s Manual)

When my daughter was in Grade Two, her classroom featured a butterfly incubator. For weeks, she and the other children watched ea…

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Three Takes on Why It Pays to Wrestle With Your Messaging

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What do Madonna, a leading expert on growing your business, and a Roman Catholic theologian all have in common? To use Madonna’s words, they all believe in the mantra “Express yourself.”

Self-expression isn’t just about letting your “true colors” show in a gushy, Cyndi Lauperish kind of way. Both pragmatists and philosophers consider it a practical, essential element of human success and happiness. And if your business isn’t allowing you to achieve it, then why are you in business?

That’s a to…

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