Marketing is, of course, one of the most important activities in business, it creates awareness and understanding of your product and business while etching your brand into the memories of people. However, given that a lot of our small and startup businesses do not have the benefit of working with qualified or skilled marketing personnel, I see a cardinal rule being broken many times by entrepreneurs. The rule is simple, ” Don’t tell me, show me”.

Telling vs Showing

The difference is most times subtle but there is a difference. Perhaps I can use a practical example to explain. The person who comes into the WhatsApp group chat telling you about the great product they are selling at a great price. Soon enough someone replies to the message saying “pictures please”. I hope you get the gist. Showing is always superior to telling whether in marketing, sales, advertising, storytelling or any other form of expression. Yet, we are caught in a frame of mind that seems to be more intent to tell than show. Having covered the rule, allow me to go through a few scenarios to fully explain how truly can be applied to different business scenarios.

As a graphic or other visual art professional for example you would require some sort of portfolio of your works. This can be physical or contained on an online platform where you can let people actually see your work. If you were pitching your services as a voice-over artist, having a resource such as SoundCloud which showcases some of your voice work would achieve the same thing.

When offering a product, whether good or service it may serve you well to employ the show don’t tell rule too. It’s easy to see with physical tangible products. The test units in electronic shops or that vendor with the fabulous demonstration for his vegetable cutter tool are good examples of this principle with tangibles. Where you offer services the initial free trial is a good example of this principle in effect. No matter where you look and go showing is always superior to telling.

Further applied to marketing, showing also has the advantage of honing your message in on the important things. For example, telling someone that I have something for sale is all well and good but when I want to show them that they can get the item I would incorporate payment methods and delivery issues into my overall presentation.

Imagine pitching an investor for your new project which needs funding, assuming all other things are the same between two separate pitches except one has a proof of concept or minimum viable product, ie they can show the product at work and the other has not. It’s easy to see which way an investor is likely to swing.

Time and again, as you have seen in this article it is a principle that is used on you, so why aren’t you using it in your business?