Is passion passé?

Your marketing content can come down from the mountaintop now: there’s no need to declare what you’re passionate about, or proclaim your values. Just show how your values shape what you do. Give evidence. People will be drawn to your business because when you describe your values, they’ll believe you.

Being straight-up can even boost your brand. By not claiming that everyone from the CEO down to the cleaner is in a permanent state of elation,  you’ll stand out from the hyped-up marketing-speak of yesterday.


Here’s what I mean

OPSM’s website declares that ‘We are passionate about eyecare.  With our 370 stores, you’re never far away from our expert opticians.’

Please give me some space, expert opticians.  I find your enthusiasm unnerving.

Or from Blue Sky Leisure: ‘We only do what we’re passionate about.’


When you say ‘passionate’ do you really mean ‘passionate’?

There are plenty of dictionary definitions out there, but here’s what I think of when I hear ‘passionate.’

  • Sacrificing your life for a cause
  • Staying awake all night because you’re inspired by an art project
  • Staying awake all night because you can’t stop thinking about someone
  • A fiery argument in a public place.

Passion can be a positive or a negative force, but it is always intense.  Consuming.  Passion overrides ‘normal’ impulses.

In this light, how many businesses pass the passion test? When you tease apart what’s really being talked about in most corporate marketing, what they’re really saying is ‘We place a high degree of importance on eyecare, and wish to be regarded as energetic, engaging people.’

That same need to forcibly inject excitement into marketing content comes through in other ways.  Such as the tendency to add exclamation marks at the end of the sentence where the content of the sentence does not warrant that level of enthusiasm!!

The thing is, this effort at positioning usually stops at vocabulary.  Words like ‘passionate’ and ‘committed’ are inserted, but the overall tone and positioning of the language stays the same.  ’We are passionate about providing excellent service to our customers.’  It’s sort of unconvincing, like watching your dad dance.


Make your dead values come to life (except not in a creepy way)

There’s an old writer’s rule which helps us here:  ‘show, don’t tell.’ Instead of declaring your values and your enthusiasm, show those values in action.

Compare these two statements:

A) We are passionate about customer service

B) We will make sure your part reaches you on time.  Our dispatch team will personally take your part to the airport for shipping.  We’ve even been known to get in the car and drive it all the way to you.

There’s a crucial difference between A) and B).   In A), the passion is just an aspect of the business.  There’s a risk that your audience will just think, ‘So what?’ When you do this, you’re basically talking about yourselves, not showing what it means to the client.

That’s what B) does.  It contains the same core message, but:

  • Gives evidence to back up the implied statement about customer service
  • Provides the evidence in a story – far more persuasive than a bald statement
  • Uses ‘you’ language that includes and engages your audience

B) creates such as convincing picture that you don’t even need to statement about customer service. It’s there in the promise you make.

Passion and values are like the wind.  If you want people to see them, just show what they do.


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