The Ten Best Over Promises

The Ten Best Over Promises

Why Overpromising is a GOOD THING!

Traditional wisdom says that you should UNDER promise and over deliver. But when you under promise you get no marketplace attention at all. What you need is a good OVER promise that grabs marketplace attention and gets customers to try your product or service. Then you’ve got to WOW them with your Overdelivery to ensure they stay customers for life. (To be clear, promising things you cannot deliver is LYING…not over promising.) So how can you Overpromise and Overdeliver for your customers?


A great Overpromise should tell your customers:

·       What to expect

·       How you are different

·       Why they should choose you

My top ten examples of great Overpromises are:


Minute Clinic- “You’re Sick. We’re Quick”

This is a favorite because it speaks directly to the specific state of the target market. If you are sick, you will pay particular attention to this Overpromise. And what do you want most when you are sick? To get well FAST! That’s exactly what Minute Clinic promised…to be quick. Also note the alignment with the NAME of the company, Minute Clinic. Doesn’t it seem logical that a company named Minute Clinic would be fast? The Overpromise also rhymes, making it stick in your mind. “You’re Sick, We’re Quick” is a GREAT Overpromise! Why don’t you see it being used by Minute Clinic anymore? Because they were bought by CVS Pharmacy and doctors pressured CVS to stop using the Overpromise by threatening to stop sending patients to their pharmacies. I take that as proof that Minute Clinic was eating into their business…because the Overpromise was working.


FedEx- “When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight!”

When Federal Express launched in 1973, why didn’t they just say “We Ship Stuff!” Because EVERYONE shipped stuff. How could they quickly get the idea across that that they were for critical overnight shipments? How could they get business people engaged in a service as boring as shipping? They did their homework properly by working with focus groups to learn about how their services were perceived and when overnight shipping would be valuable. One of the focus group members came up with “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight!” What started out as a niche of less than 1% of the market soon became a global logistics behemoth. and you’re done.

I love this Overpromise because they were able to include their name while keeping it to just four words. It clearly describes the key benefit to buying anything and everything from Amazon. It also amplifies and reinforces the ease of use of their patented One-Click system. You start with Amazon and you are done. No three easy steps, no process needed. Just one click and your task is done. If only I could get Amazon to do my work for me in one click!


Las Vegas- “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

Of course this one has been parodied endlessly including the often used “What happens in Vegas ends up on the Internet.” This unique Overpromise conveys a sense of mystery, fun, excitement and maybe a bit of naughtiness. OK, more than a bit of naughtiness. But it speaks directly to their target market. Those who want to break the rules…even if only for a night or a weekend.



Geico- “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance”

Notice the alignment between the 15 minutes and the 15%. The call may only take 10 minutes, but by aligning the two, it sticks in the brain. You only need to remember one number for both ideas. It is fast and it saves you a significant amount of cabbage. The Overpromise has a clear benefit statement that simultaneously differentiates them from their competitors.


Lexus- “The Passionate Pursuit of Perfection”

Notice the alliteration that makes this Overpromise sticky. Notice also that they are pursuing and not arriving. They are not promising perfection, only its pursuit. This allows for model and vehicle changes while staying true to the Overpromise. They are always raising the bar on the design and quality of their automobiles but also on the entire dealership experience as well. Loaner cars are standard and dealerships have spas, restaurants, movie theaters, office spaces for customers to work and much more.


Apple-“Insanely Great!”

Nothing got past Steve Jobs that was not “Insanely Great!” Jobs knew that as a much smaller player in the computer industry that he had to create a dramatically better user experience to compete so he set the threshold exceptionally high and set prices to match. By creating the coolest gadgets on the planet, he ensured that celebrities and the elite would all buy them. The rest of the world followed. Jobs really understood the power of a great Overpromise. When the iPod debuted Steve coined its Overpromise…”A thousand Songs in Your Pocket.” Are you paying attention, Tim?


BMW-“The Ultimate Driving Machine”

This Overpromise is about performance but BMW didn’t choose standard automotive lingo. They chose their own words that they could own, and they get special kudos for sticking with their Overpromise for four decades! There is good reason for that. It works. If you build the ultimate driving machine, what does that leave for your competitors? The super ultimate? They staked out the top position and work every day to stay there by delivering cars for people who love to drive.


USA Network- “Characters Welcome”

This is one that didn’t work in the marketplace, but I personally loved. USA was a small network but they had a unique point of view. They aired showed with exceptionally well-developed but very quirky characters as their stars. Monk was the most prominent, a very quirky detective who was also very effective. Dexter, the guys from Psych and others are also “characters.” It is also a double entendre inviting you, if you are a character, to join the USA Network community. I thought it was particularly clever but apparently, it was lost on the target audience.


Kindle- Start Reading in Under a Minute

Another one from Amazon. HMMM…it seems the really good marketers are consistent Overpromisers. What is the key advantage of a Kindle book? You can have it RIGHT NOW! It’s perfectly captured with Kindle’s Overpromise, Start Reading in Under a Minute. It fulfils all three criteria, it tells you what to expect, how a Kindle book is different and why you should choose a Kindle book over the printed version, all in 6 words. Brilliant!


Here is a Bonus Overpromise because I have to Overdeliver for you.

Patek Philippe- You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation.

I love this Overpromise from watchmaker Patek Philippe because it simultaneously gets two points across. The first is that we’ve been around for generations so you can trust us, and our quality is so good that our product will be, too. Implied is that you shouldn’t worry about that pesky little price tag because the cost will be spread over generations. Mere pennies a day. Patek Philippe understands that saying the word quality is useless and instead found a way to make its quality resonate with its customers by demonstrating that you are not buying a watch, but a treasured family heirloom.


What is your Overpromise? How will you grab marketplace attention with unique words that you can own? Finding exactly the right words can take research and time, but your efforts will pay off because you will be in a category of one.

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