Inciting or Inviting? Why Most Marketing Doesn’t Work

Sometimes one little letter makes all the difference.

This is a story about a typo. A simple typing mistake, that’s so wonderful – I have tears of gratitude in my eyes from the relief it’s brought.

Let me explain… it’s all about the difference between inciting and inviting.

I’ve been trying to be “A Marketer” for years. Instead of being a design innovator, a creative thinker, a break-the-mold genius like I’d set out to be when I started in on this business extravaganza, I thought I had to market and convince people to do business with me.

And, somehow, I thought I had to do marketing in the standard way. Because I thought that was the way that things had to be if I was going to be “in business”. Especially in “this economy”.

And it’s always felt icky.

 Because being “A Marketer” asks you to incite your ideal clients: meaning to goad an individual or a group to take some action or to express some feeling.

”To goad” means, literally, “To prod or urge with or as if with a long pointed stick.”


Seriously, that just feels kind of slimy.

Yet, I want to be heard. I want to be seen. I want to be understood. So that my thinking and my message can get out into the world. And in the world of business, that means marketing – in a different way.

I don’t want to get what I want by inciting. It doesn’t work for me.

I want to invite.

To ask my wonderful, perfect clients and future-clients to come over and play with me.

Just look at the gorgeous things that “invite” means:

1. To request the presence or participation of in a kindly,courteous, or complimentary way, especially to request to come or go to some place, gathering, entertainment, etc.,or to do something: to invite friends to dinner.

2. To request politely or formally: to invite donations.

3. To attract, allure, entice, or tempt.

I suspect that I’m not alone. Not by a long shot.

If you want to leave the icky energy of inciting behind, and start inviting your ideal clients to work and play with you, then please join me!

Stop goading and poking at your precious, lovely clients-to-be in your marketing. Start inviting and encouraging them to come.

Pretend your business is a party and ask your clients to come be your guest and enjoy themselves. Make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable, and that you’re being charming and engaging. Talk “with” them instead of “at” them. You’ll see the energy turn around and I’d be willing to bet that you’ll all start having more fun in the process.' About Erin Ferree

Erin Ferree is a brand strategist and designer. She works with small businesses to create brands with substance and style that fit their businesses perfectly.
She's designed brands for hundreds of small business all over the world. Her brands help her clients attract their ideal clients, outshine their competition and make them unforgettable. She also works with small business owners to develop complete clarity about their brand positioning and to develop total brand clarity.
Her award-winning design work and her writing on design have been published in many books and periodicals.
Erin lives, cooks and plays tug-of-war with her dog Stanley in San Luis Obispo, California. Her website is

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