Good vs Best: Superlatives That Kill
“We’re not looking for the best. …we are looking for something good enough right now.”
“We have the best employees with the best service and the highest quality products at the easiest location in town with the largest parking lot in the industry.”
Ad writers loooove superlatives. Biggest. Greatest. Best. Most. Cheapest. If it ends in “est,” you can be sure it will be in a commercial. At first blush, you may wonder why wouldn’t you say you’re “the best?” People want the best. Why would anyone buy something that isn’t the best… most… or cheapest? Here, we have another case when what we say and what we do are not on the same train.
Think about the restaurant in your town that has the best hamburger. Every town has one. A burger quite possibly sent by God. The one that wins the awards in the newspaper. The burger Yelp reviewers gush over. Got it in your head? Good.
Now think of the place that is selling the most burgers in town. Not the same place, is it? I’m willing to wager that the burger most often sold and consumed in your town came from a place with a clown as its mascot.
How is it that the one that is sold the most (and probably tastes the worst) is number one? Because we’re not looking for the “best.” In the burger example, we are looking for something “good enough right now.”
But, it doesn’t stop there. Are you taking your child to the best doctor? Are you? And how could you even know? Unless your pediatrician is at Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic, you likely have a good doctor. The best? No. But, one that is good. “Good” is good enough.
The other risk in rampant superlatives is what Roy Williams calls “Unsubstantiated Claims.” I’m not about to believe you are awesome, unless you can prove you’re awesome. Until you do, you’re just another car salesman promising me rainbows.
Try this in a commercial: “We do a good job. Once in a while, yes, we make a mistake. But, it only happens once… and we’ll fix it so it never happens again.” You will come across more human, likeable, and believable than saying: “We do the best work with the most knowledgeable staff in town. Guaranteed!”
The difference is dramatic and totally changes what you’re communicating. Real Person vs Puffed Up Blowhard. Good vs Best.
Drop your superlatives and tell me you’re good. Good is good enough.