That “Completely Unique” Thing

I couldn’t help but cringe while reading  a blog post about creating an elevator pitch.

The article itself was useful and interesting. The problem came in the “Tips for Creating the Perfect Pitch” section at the end. Tip #1, “Describe your product in one sentence” – we all know that one, even if we haven’t quite gotten it down yet. The cringing came with the explanation of Tip #2, “Give people a point of reference.” I agree with this statement, but not with the explanation in the article, which states:

Even if your product is completely unique, it pays off to give your listener a point of reference.  Mention other products or services that are similar to yours so your listener can refer to something he or she knows about and move on to discover how your product is better.

At issue here is using the term “completely unique,” and then going on to recommend mentioning “similar” products or services as a point of reference.

There is no such thing as “completely unique.”

Merriam-Webster defines “unique” as 1) being the only one, and 2) being without a like or equal. Thus, modifiers such as “completely” or “totally” are inappropriate and cringe-worthy.

For the sake of those who argue that modifiers are in common usage and therefore acceptable, let’s pretend the first sentence is OK.  Now we have to deal with the problem of the second statement, which suggests that we “mention products similar to yours.”

If you truly have a “completely unique” product or service, it has no equal and there is nothing similar anywhere on the planet. And if there were, your “completely unique” statement would go right out the window, leaving you caught in a lie and a ridiculous circle game that is simply not worth you time or energy.

“Give people a point of reference” is a good tip in terms of creating a great elevator pitch. Going after a similar thing to something that is “completely unique”  – well, that’s just bad grammar.


Your Words are Your Reputation

It used to be that reputations were ruined by pencil scrawls on public bathroom walls, or derogatory notes passed in class. A single word or phrase could destroy your life – but that is ancient history, right?

Not so.

Every post on your websites, blogs, or social networking sites impacts your personal and business life.

Now, I am a writer by trade, so maybe I’m hypersensitive. But from my perspective, messages containing spelling or uncommon usage errors cause me to question whether the writer pays attention to quality in other aspects of their business — particularly when I see similar errors across multiple messages.

Here are three examples I’ve seen in the last week. The improperly used/spelled words are in red:

More homeowners choose us to market there properties then any other agency.

… those of you that have been apart of the community…

… few our harnessing the true power…

Maybe the people who wrote these posts were in a hurry. Or, maybe they don’t care if their message is misconstrued or they look foolish. But the world is watching, and judging.

Double check your emails – even your Tweets – before you hit “send.” Have someone else proofread your web content and articles before they go live.

Your reputation is at stake.