Why what you sell doesn’t have to be profound to impact your customers in a profound way.
This is a story about brand promises and sweat. Lady Sweat, to be specific.
First, a little context.
When three separate clients ask the same question in one week, you know there’s something to examine there.
In this case, the question revolved around brand promises. Specifically, “Can we really say that? Won’t that sound…”
Like a serious overreach?
Three clients, three totally different industries (recruiting, fashion, and eco-friendly personal care products). They each believe in their offerings and how they can make their customers’ lives better in ways both big and small. But when it comes to actually expressing what they do and why it’s important, all three hesitated to make a big claim — they didn’t want to come across as self-important or deluded.
To be clear, I get it.
Can swapping out part of your daily hygiene routine save the planet? Probably not.
Can one app help recruiters 10x their revenue? Unlikely.
Will clothes change your life? I mean… no? (Don’t ask me, my wardrobe is 80% running clothes, 20% sundresses.)
Here’s the thing: what you sell doesn’t have to be profound in order to make a profound difference in someone’s life.
My friend, Kathleen Donohoe, a truly impressive, multi-talented woman, runs an amazing fitness class called Lady Sweat. It’s like a HIIT workout but with mini dance parties instead of boring old breaks in between sets of exercises.
Last night, for the first time in nearly a year and a half, forty women gathered together in a Seattle nightclub to dance and sweat and do squats and cheer each other on (and maybe tear up just a little at how f*cking good it feels to be in the same space, together, again).
Because Lady Sweat isn’t just a workout, it’s so much more. (I promise you, this isn’t just some eye roll-y cardio = church thing, it’s an actual phenomenon.)
Lady Sweat was created out of Kathleen’s desire to help women be bigger and braver.
To change the goal of working out from trying to make ourselves smaller, less objectionable, less unruly…
To instead take up more space, in all senses of that word. To get stronger and move our bodies joyfully. To tell ourselves, when things get difficult, “This is hard and I’m doing it.”
Week after week, Kathleen hears from women who tell her that Lady Sweat gave them the courage to advocate for themselves, to…
Go for the job.
Ask for the raise.
Say no when they mean it.
Be more assertive in their relationships.
Be less self-conscious, more uninhibited.
Heck, I trained for and ran a full marathon last year, something I never would have considered before. I always worried that my long weekend runs would inconvenience my family. That it would be selfish to take that time for myself. Now, those early morning runs with my training partner, Bing, are one of my favorite parts of the week and I’m in awe of what my body can do.
So, yeah, Lady Sweat is a fitness class. It’s also a whole lot more.
Here’s what I told my clients this week and what I want you to realize, too:
What you have to offer isn’t just about what you sell. It’s about your intent, how you show up, and the way you help your customers see the world and themselves.
That app? Its real superpower is saving recruiters time and frustration by automating annoying lead gen tasks. That’s a win, regardless of any financial gains.
And no, swapping out two products in your daily toilette won’t do anything to address the mountains of plastic that threaten our oceans and waterways. But it can be the start of pushing an industry to clean up its act.
The clothes themselves might not change your life. But feeling more joyful, comfortable, and happy about how you look could change how you show up in the world. What you imagine to be possible for yourself. The opportunities you seek out.
Those are the kind of things that you absolutely can promise in your copy and your content. The trick with brand promises is keeping them —showing up over and over with the same message, intent, and follow-through.
Go ahead, make big promises. Practice thinking of your company not just as a way to make money, but as a vehicle for change. Show your customers that you see them as being capable of doing great things. When your brand promise is grounded in that kind of thinking, you stop having “just” a business and start experiencing real-life magic.