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Are You Committing the Marketing Sin of Assumption?

by Sharon Ernst  |  
August 5, 2008
  |  9,649 views

It's an ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless: Marketers are sinners. We're not talking lying or cheating or stealing or coveting here. We're talking about the sin of assumption. And many of us commit that sin on a regular basis, from assumptions about what to say to assumptions about how to say it.

The Sin of Assumption

What is the sin of assumption? Assuming that visitors know why they're at your Web site, prospects know why they should read your brochure, recipients know why they should subscribe to your newsletter... basically, assuming that they care. They don't. So you can't. Sin, that is.

Whatever it is you're promoting, it's much more important to you as the marketer than it is to any prospect. So to communicate to that potential buyer, you must think like one.

Remember: They don't eat, breathe, sleep, and obsess over your widget, gadget, or webinar the way you do. They don't know anything about it.


As marketers, we work really hard to get people's attention, to be seen, heard, noticed in a crowded marketplace where our prospects suffer from an onslaught of marketing messages all day, every day. When we do get their attention, the worst thing we can do is assume. You know the old adage about the word "assume": It makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me"?

In this case, just you. Sorry.

Examples of Sins


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Sharon Ernst is marketing maven for We Know Words, a Seattle-area agency focused on customer-centric copywriting.

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  • by Mark Kurtz Tue Aug 5, 2008 via web

    SLB - The deadly marketing sin is "Sloth". It takes a disciplined approach and solid thinking to eliminate many of these assumptions. Nice read - mark

  • by Ed Yang Tue Aug 5, 2008 via web

    It's the "me" syndrome that causes this marketing sin of assumption.

    Companies, including us, have a tendency to focus too much of the marketing focus on "me", "we" and "us".

    Instead, it takes a conscious effort to switch the focus to "you", the prospect.

    So instead of yammering on about our features and why we're so great (which your prospects don't really care about), instead we as marketers need to focus on the pain points of the prospect and what benefits your product or service will bring.

    [link removed, please use your profile to post personal links]

  • by Caron Sjoberg Tue Aug 5, 2008 via web

    Great article and good comments from Mark and Ed. It is definitely harder to market from the client's standpoint, and most companies simply don't "get it." Good reminders to those of us who market for a living.

    [link removed, please use your profile to post personal links]

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