Marketing and Communications Coach Tim Campbell

Two words are hurting your marketing and hindering your business:

I & Help. In that combination and on their own.

Nothing hurts me more than when I work with business owners, often

solopreneurs, who when asked what they do tell me "I help people..."

This is probably the laziest cop out in marketing.

Let me explain.

My first problem is with the I statement.

When the first thing you say is I, it places emphasis, focus and benefits on you. Not on the consumer.

The I statement is selfish, inward looking and based out of desire for the self.

This is also at odds with the any company that's successfully grown and scaled, because their missions and statements of purpose don't include the I word.

For example, look at Tony Robbins' mission statement:

Empowering individuals and organizations to make a significant difference in their quality of life and the lives of others. Source

Look at Apple's mission statement:

Bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”Source

And finally, Netflix:

We promise our customers stellar service, our suppliers a valuable partner, our investors the prospects of sustained profitable growth, and our employees the allure of huge impact. Source


What are commonalities among these mission statements? They

  • focus on other people,

  • have a clear deliverable,

  • have something unique to offer, and

  • are wildly unapologetic in their mission.

They also don't include the word I. Remember, your business should aim to solve a problem or meet the need or want of another person. It is about them and what they get out of the business. Your business is not a vehicle for you to meet your own wants and needs. If it is, you will end up achieving it and plateauing in your business because you met your own needs. Providing something for someone else is what will ensure longevity.

So instead of using the I word, take it out entirely. If you have to, add we. Or, skip the possessive altogether.

Then let's turn to the word help.

When someone tells me they help people, I immediately tune out. I especially turn off when they say they're going to help me. I don't need help: I need you to do something specific.

My first problem with help is that, quite frankly, it's a lazy verb in business that's not totally accurate. Of course you want to help: all people want to help others, in one way or another, because humans are pack animals. We're meant to be together. We are programmed to work together. To say "I help people" is the exact same as "I do things and want your money to do it." Doesn't that sound less appealing? It's too generic to mean anything.

Secondly, to help someone is to assist them to do what they would naturally do on their own. There are very few businesses where people would help you do something you would do on your own.

I would never procure $800,000 on my own to buy a home: a mortgage agent has to do that for me. I do not know all the ways I can grow my business AND hold myself accountable to do it: a business consultant has to do that with me. I do not know how to improve my sleep: a salesperson has to recommend a product to me to buy.

So instead of helping someone, here's my list of other go-to verbs:

  • equip (with what, be specific)

  • empower (to do what)

  • teach,

  • share,

  • solve,

  • provide,

  • answer,

  • give.

  • train,

  • relieve,

  • build,

  • create,

  • connect (name at least two specific things)

  • recruit,

  • manage,

  • move (from what to what)

  • grow (how so, be specific)

  • design,

  • plan,

  • strategize

At the core of these verbs are a couple principles:​

  • they are specific,

  • they lead to an outcome,

  • they are tactile, and

  • they are commonplace language.

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