The Powerful and Pivotal Word: BUT

by Chris Goldman

…the word ‘but’ is at the heart of all that is human. 
And you want to be human, right?

~ Randy Olson, The Narrative Gym

“But” is an interesting word. It discounts anything that precedes it. It’s a word we need to be careful of using. However, it’s also considered by some to be the most powerful word in the English language. Why? Because the word “but” forces a change of direction; a powerful pivot from one place to another. 

Randy Olson, author of The Narrative Gym, teaches business owners, communicators, writers, and marketers to empower language by engaging what he calls the and, but, therefore structure of narrative communication. “It has the setup (And), the problem (But), the solution (Therefore).”

Powerful marketing empathizes with a person’s problem and helps them discover a solution (preferably your products or services). This process – when done right – is the most authentic marketing strategy a business can have. 

For example:

“The digital marketing world provides opportunities and challenges like never before. But standing out in the online marketplace can feel overwhelming if not impossible. That’s why (therefore) exists…to help businesses win online.”

In this simple three-sentence paragraph, the current situation is acknowledged, the problem is identified, and a solution is introduced. This compact kind of language is powerful and can be communicated in a matter of seconds. And in the online world, seconds are all you have

“According to Contentsquare’s 2021 Digital Experience Benchmark Report, the average time on page across all industries is 54 seconds.” This is an average including people who are reading blogs on websites for upwards of ten minutes. For marketing purposes, most people either click, swipe, or leave your site within 8-22 seconds. That’s how fast and clearly your core content needs to communicate what you do to help customers.

How Do You Develop Quality Content?

The truth is, most businesses don’t. They use up space with information that only impresses the company owner or their C-Suite. The problem is, you’re not your customer. Your customer or client is searching for a solution to a problem. You have one shot to introduce your products or services as the solution they need.   

As a copywriter and messaging specialist, when business owners realize content can be crafted for them quickly and effectively, there is a look of relief and hope. Content creation is difficult for almost everyone. Writer’s block kills most creative writing. Owners often don’t know where to start, how much to write, and what to edit out.  

If you are looking for resources, I recommend starting with, “The Narrative Gym for Business.” Another great read is Donald Miller’s, “Building A StoryBrand,” or you might explore, “The 1-Page Marketing Plan” by Allan Dib as another resource. 

Marketing books and online resources are everywhere. But most business owners don’t have the time to read, digest, and perfect practices while dealing with the day-to-day demands. That’s why so many business owners engage trained specialists for content creation while they run their business.

Where Content Creation Should Start

Here are the basic understandings any marketing team needs to know in order to create content on your behalf:

  1. Who is your client/customer?
  2. What is your business and who are you?
  3. What’s the solution you offer?
  4. What is your plan (for your customer)?
  5. What is their path (to success)?
  6. How will they benefit?
  7. What obstacles might they encounter?
  8. How will their life change?

Once these basics are understood and a relationship is developed, a good writer can speak to your customer and create copy for your website, newsletter, social media posts, etc. 

How Can We Help

If you’ve hit a wall and don’t know how to proceed, you’re not alone. After all, owning or running a business is more than a full-time job. We can begin with a simple conversation or book a customized strategy session with you (and your core team if you like). From there, powerful…pivotal language can be crafted. But know this: Moving forward demands action. Otherwise, you are either standing still or getting left behind. 

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