Today I want to share a concept with you that can change how you communicate with your ideal buyer.
A concept so simple you can start using it as soon as you’re done reading this letter.
Yet powerful enough to turn a struggling business into an industry leader.
I’m talking about Languaging.
But before I do that I’d just like to say a special thank you to all of you who sent me emails and private messages last week.
In my last letter to you, I revealed a concept called Entrepreneurial Minimalism. A radical new way to think about life and business.
It’s a concept whose time has come. And apparently, it struck a nerve.
So many of you contacted me to tell me how much you enjoyed the letter and the podcast I did expanding on the idea – that I changed the name of the newsletter!
Your words of encouragement inspired me and let me know we’re on to something big.
Often a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride.
Bad breath is nothing new.
Even the Egyptians worried about it. They invented the first breath mint over 3,000 years ago.
But in the 1920s the Lambert Pharmaceutical Company found a way to turn bad breath into a medical condition they could use to sell a product nobody wanted. Listerine.
Listerine got its name from Dr. Joseph Lister who, in the 1860s began using antiseptic in his operations.
In 1879, Joseph Lawrence and Robert Wood (founders of Johnson & Johnson) invented Listerine to be used in surgeries to prevent disease.
Around the turn of the century Lambert Pharmaceutical Company bought the rights to the product but struggled to sell it.
Then in 1921 Gerald Lambert, the son of the owner, discovered the term “halitosis” in an old medical journal.
It’s a Latin term that literally means “bad breath”.
Halitosis had a medical ring to it. So the company hired an advertising firm to create ads warning women about this new medical condition.
One of their most famous ads spoke of Edna. The perpetual bridesmaid.
“Edna’s case was a really pathetic one. Like every woman, her primary ambition was to marry. Most of the girls of her set were married — or about to be. Yet no one possessed more grace or charm or loveliness than she. And as her birthdays crept towards that tragic thirty-mark, marriage seemed farther from her life than ever. She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride.”
Lambert used unique languaging to change the way people thought about bad breath. It wasn’t simply a problem everyone dealt with…
…It was a medical condition that was preventing young women from finding a husband!
And it worked. In 1921 sales of Listerine were around $100,000 a year. By 1927 they were over $4,000,000.
Put Some Horse Cream On Your Nasty Feet
In 1862 William and Mary Young started W.F. Young Inc. with one product. A liniment for horses called Absorbine.
The liniment worked well. Within a few years Absorbine was being sold worldwide.
But William noticed something interesting.
Some of his customers were buying the ointment for themselves to treat a common problem called Tinea Pedis. You may know it better as Athlete’s Foot.
But nobody called it athlete’s foot back then. In the early 1900s athlete’s foot wasn’t something people talked about.
Can you blame them? Who wants to admit they have ringworm on their feet? What kind of unclean peasant has fungus growing between their toes?
So William created a second product called Absorbine Jr. to solve the problem.
But he couldn’t just stick it on the shelves of local drugstores.
This is the early 1900s. No one was going buy a product to cure foot fungus knowing everyone in town would know their fungal business.
So he came up with the name athlete’s foot. Boom! Problem solved.
No one will admit to having fungus foot. But athlete’s foot? Well, that’s just something you get when you’re a serious athlete.
And who doesn’t want to be thought of as athletic?
William Young used unique languaging to change the perception of the problem in the minds of the consumer, and it paid off handsomely.
Although W.F. Young sold the brand in 2012 it still does an estimated 9.9 million dollars in sales each year.
More importantly, it created an entire industry that hadn’t existed before.
All because of languaging.
How to Use Languaging In Your Business
Coming up with a new way of describing the problem you solve isn’t easy.
There’s no simple formula for changing the way someone thinks about their world.
But if you want to stand out from all the other voices in your industry you need to develop some unique languaging.
Languaging that helps communicate the problem AND your unique way you solve that problem.
To help get you started, here are 5 questions you should answer.
- What are the misconceptions or commonly held beliefs in your industry that you can challenge?
- What was true yesterday but isn’t true today?
- How does your industry currently think about the problem you solve vs. how should they be thinking about it?
- What’s new/different about the way you address the problem you solve?
- What words or combination of words would better express what you do?
These are the exact questions I asked when developing the concept of Entrepreneurial Minimalism.
Most entrepreneurs start a business to have more freedom and work on things they are passionate about.
Most of the books you read from business ‘experts’ tell you the key to success in business is “scaling up”, hiring people to do most of the work for you so “you can work on your business instead of in your business.”
But this formula rarely results in more time freedom. And unless your passion is running a large company it doesn’t allow you the opportunity to do work you enjoy.
That’s why I think we’ve got entrepreneurship wrong.
But I needed a way of explaining that to people. So I took two words that seem to be in conflict and gave them meaning.
Entrepreneurial Minimalists’ believe a business should support your lifestyle, not become your life. We put time freedom and income mobility ahead of growth.
We don’t care about vanity metrics like how much revenue you made or how many employees you have.
We measure success by how much Time Freedom a business provides.
- Time to work on things that give us purpose.
- Time to spend with people we love and admire.
- Time to relax and enjoy our life while it’s happening instead of waiting for retirement.
And by having income mobility, which is a fancy way of saying we can earn our income from anywhere, we create what I call maximum autonomy.
If you want to live a free and fulfilled life then you should be an entrepreneurial minimalist too.
See how it works?
This week I want you to try and answer the questions I listed above. But don’t be surprised if you struggle. As I said, the concept of languaging is simple to understand but difficult to execute.
I’ve been working on the languaging problem for Entrepreneurial Minimalism for six months.
So give it time. Keep asking those questions. Let your subconscious work while you’re busy with other things.
Good languaging can be transformational. It’s well worth the time and effort to find the right way of expressing your ideas.
For more details on how to use Languaging in your marketing, check out this article from CategoryPirates.com