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The One Word You Should Stop Using in Any Sales Pitch or Marketing Materials

“Do not think of a pink elephant in green socks.”

Chances are, you’re thinking about that pink elephant in green socks.

You see, the human mind does not process the word “not” as it’s intended. To understand what it’s NOT supposed to do, it has to know what it has to do first.

That’s why the parents reading this may be able to relate. When you yell for your child to:

“Don’t make any noise!”

Chances are either the kid would ignore you, or they will be quiet for a while, before getting back to loud-mode (sometimes louder than before).

Imagine, wives, if you were to tell your husband, “Do not have an affair with your female colleagues”.


Often I will see marketing messages like:

Example 1: Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the world’s greatest marketer!

Essentially, you’re asking people to miss the opportunity. (Although you on a side note, if he/she is indeed the world’s greatest marketer, they wouldn’t have greenlighted that sentence)

Example 2: Do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.

Yup, you’re hoping the prospect not to contact you. (Unless it’s a prospect you do not want?)

Example 3: Do not wait another day.

I think you’re starting to get the point…

You see, linguistically, there is nothing wrong with the statements at all. It is what it said. 

But for your marketing materials and sales pitch to be effective, you have to consider all psychological implications. If any word or phrase can cause you to lose the sale, they had to be removed or reworded.

So how can you change it around?

Let’s use the same examples:

Original: Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the world’s greatest marketer!

Suggestion: This is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the world’s greatest marketer!

Original: Do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.

Suggestion: Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.

Original: Do not wait another day.

Suggestion: Get the product now!

Original: Don’t make any noise!

Suggestion: Please be quiet. (Followed by a threat which usually involves a policeman or an innocent but grumpy uncle)

Original: Do not have an affair with your female colleagues.

Suggestion: I love you, Honey.

Original: Do not think of a pink elephant in green socks.

Suggestion: Picture this: The scandalous country leader caught in a clown suit. (Dare I say leave a comment below who comes to mind?)

You see, it’s a little more than just rephrasing into the positive. It’s also to make the instructions more action-driven, which is critical for crafting Call-To-Actions (CTA).


My mom always said, “First learn the rules, and then learn how to go around them.” (She was such a great teacher).

Now that you know how the NOT word works, there are ways you can use it effectively.

Scenario: You’re in a meeting with a prospect, and they are quite decided on using your competitor’s products or services instead.

“Mr. Client, I understand your point. I’m NOT saying that competitor A is a bad fit for your company…”

Guess what idea had been planted into the client’s head? #sneakybastard

It works in marketing materials as well.

  • Our satisfied customers are not saying that the other products are inferior in any way…
  • We’re not saying you should come for the event…
  • I’m not saying that the product you’re currently using has a high failure rate…

Again, you get the point.


So the next time you’re producing any marketing materials, keep this powerful copywriting principle in mind. I’m not saying that it will almost always increase the effectiveness of your sales copy. I mean, if there’s a chance for you to improve your results, wouldn’t you consider it? (see I just did it again). 

ps. Got a friend or colleague in mind that can benefit from this quick and extremely powerful tip? Share it with them, or tag them in the comments below. Don’t you want to be a good friend? (Dang, again!)

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