Specifics sell. Vague generalities do not.

This is an accepted and well-established marketing principle. And for good reason.

Specificity, used correctly, makes your marketing message more believable.

Yet, when applied incorrectly, specificity can actually damage the credibility of your marketing message. And suppress sales conversions.

Specificity in marketing is all about giving specific details within your marketing stories, claims, promises, benefit statements, and case studies.

Specifics can increase the credibility and believability of your message. And allow prospects to conjure a more vivid image in their mind's eye of the picture you're painting.

While vague, general statements and promises in your marketing roll off your prospects back like water off a duck. And are viewed as typical "salesman's hype".

This is why specificity in your marketing is essential.

But, there are two different types of specificity you need to be aware of. And, different instances where you should be using each.

2 Types Of Specificity To Use

The first type of specificity is: Past Specificity

The second type of specificity is: Future Specificity.

The main difference between the two is in the detail of specifics given.

Let me explain...

Past specificity applies when you're talking about something that's taken place in the past (e.g. the result you or a customer has experienced from using your product or service, method, etc.).

In the case of Past Specificity, the more accurate and specific you are, the more believable your marketing message becomes. The less specific, the less believable.

For example, saying you earned $100,000 in 90 days is not as believable as saying you earned $97,856.72 in 83 days.

The reason for this is simple...

When talking about something that has already happened, you should have all the details to provide. So, if you don't provide them, prospects can feel you're not telling the complete truth or you're simply using hype.

So Past Specificity is all about being as specific as possible.

But what about Future Specificity?

What about when talking about something the prospect can experience in the future? Like, when you're presenting your Primary Marketing Promise (i.e. a promise of outcome, transformation, change, etc.)?

This is where lots of marketers go wrong.

Here, lots of marketers misapply the idea of specificity. They use the same level of specifics for their marketing promise as they would for describing a past experience.

The result?

Headlines like...

"How to make an extra $16,345.89 every month..."

"How to lose 2.89 pounds of fat every week..."

"How to attract 12,396 new visitors to your website every 30 days..."

These headlines are an example of applying Past Specificity to a future promise.

It's using Past Specificity when Future Specificity should be used.

In laymen's terms: these headlines are too specific to be believed.

  • How could you promise what a prospect will earn, every month, down to the penny?
  • How could you promise how much fat a prospect will lose, each week, down to the decimal?
  • How could you promise the exact number of website visitors a prospect will get?

You can't. And prospects know that.

You see, when describing something you've experienced in the past you can be ultra-specific. Because it's already happened. So you have all the details.

Like, "How I've made an extra $16,345.89 every month using..." (Past Specificity)

But, you can't be ultra-specific like that when presenting your marketing promise.


Because you don't have a crystal ball. You're not Nostradamus. You can't predict the future with that level of detail.

And, again, prospects know this.

So, you need to have something like, "How to make a minimum of $16,000 every month using...". (Future Specificity)

Make sense?

Simply put:

Be specific when making your promises.

Be ultra-specific when describing the past.

For more examples, review the sample headlines below. These are expanded versions of the headlines from above:

"How I'm banking an average of $16,345.89 every month with one Facebook ad... and how you can easily do the same to bank a quick 5K in the next 30 days!"

"How I eliminated one food from my diet and have since lost an average of 2.89 pounds every week for the last 26 weeks straight!"

"Finally, you can use the same media buying method that's generated an average of 12,396 new website visitors for me every 30 days for the last 8 months straight!"

*Notice the application of Past Specificity when referencing what's already happened for me. But, Future Specificity when talking about what the prospect can expect.