Marketing Messaging Mistakes: Is what you say what they hear?

Recently I read an article about the worst word you can use in a sales pitch. The word itself surprised me. Are you ready to hear it?

As in, when you’re speaking to a client who is a potential author you should say “Yes, I’ve read your book” rather than “Actually, I have read your book.” The word actually plants the idea in someone’s mind that there’s something you’ve told them that’s untrue.

I use the word actually quite a lot as does my oldest son who is basically my copy. We do it because we like things to be accurate. Every time we go to the zoo and someone exclaims over the crocodile, my son is quick to inform them “Actually, that’s a caiman.” So, while I think our usage may be a bit different than the author’s intent (and may say more about our personalities than I care to admit), the article still stuck in my brain due to my frequent usage of the word.

Fast forward a few weeks. While visiting family, I see this message in a hotel room:


Instantly my mind questions this image. Why would they feel the need to tell me this? Did they have incidents where the sheets were found to be unclean in the past? What is the meaning of this?

Of course, this hotel likely simply meant to make their customers feel more at ease. In practice, it accomplished the opposite for me. It was like ordering food at a restaurant and having it come with a note that said “Don’t worry, we didn’t actually spit in your food?”

Not terribly reassuring.

When your brand sends a message to your customers you need to think not about what you intend it to say, but how they may receive it. Take a second to put yourself in their shoes and see how you’d feel if a brand gave you that same message. You may find what you think you’re saying is not actually what your customers are hearing.


  1. Nikki

    I use actually a lot when responding to clients via email. Good advice to know!

    • Kristin

      Clearly, I use the word a lot too. Just look how many times I used it in this post!

  2. Roxanne

    Something I’ve never really thought of before. Thanks for the tip. ACTUALLY, I’ll be paying more attention moving forward. 🙂


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