Marketing: Telling (Selling) vs. Reminding (Marketing)

Marketing_ Telling (Selling) vs. Reminding (Marketing) _ MediaOne Singapore (1)

Hey there, fellow content enthusiasts! 🌟

Today, we’re going to dive headfirst into the exciting world of marketing. We’ll be exploring a fascinating topic: the difference between “telling” (or selling) and “reminding” in commerce.

So, grab your favorite beverage, settle in, and let’s embark on this marketing adventure together.

Marketing is all about communication, connection, and creativity. It’s about reaching out to your audience in a way that resonates with them.

One essential aspect of marketing is the approach you take – whether you’re actively “telling” your audience something or gently “reminding” them of your presence. Each method has its own unique charm and can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

Marketing 101: Telling (Selling) vs. Reminding

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Telling (Selling) in Marketing 📢

The Power of Persuasion

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Imagine you’re at a bustling street market, and you stumble upon a vendor selling the juiciest, most mouthwatering mangoes you’ve ever seen. The vendor doesn’t just show you the mangoes; they passionately tell you about their origin, their flavor, and how they are handpicked at the peak of ripeness.

In marketing, this is akin to the “telling” approach. It’s all about actively persuading and convincing your audience about the value of your product or service. Here’s what makes it tick:

  • Clear and Direct: Telling is straightforward and to the point. It lays out the benefits, features, and reasons why your audience should choose your product.
  • Creating Urgency: Telling can instill a sense of urgency. It makes your audience feel like they need your product right now to improve their lives.
  • Highlighting Uniqueness: This approach allows you to showcase what sets your product apart from the competition. It’s your chance to shine in the spotlight.
  • Call to Action: Telling often includes strong calls to action (CTAs) that prompt the audience to take immediate steps like “Buy Now” or “Sign Up Today.”

Reminding in Marketing 🌟

The Gentle Nudge

Now, picture yourself in a cozy cafe. You’ve been here before, and it’s one of your favorite spots. The barista remembers your name, and you feel right at home. This is the essence of the “reminding” approach in marketing.

Reminding doesn’t aggressively push your product or service. Instead, it gently nudges your audience, ensuring they don’t forget about you. Here’s why it’s so effective:

  • Building Relationships: Reminding is like nurturing a long-term relationship. It focuses on maintaining connections and making your audience feel valued.
  • Consistency Matters: This approach is all about staying on your audience’s radar without overwhelming them. It keeps your brand in their minds.
  • Engagement Over Sales: Reminding often encourages engagement rather than immediate sales. It’s about staying in touch through newsletters, social media updates, or helpful content.
  • Loyalty and Trust: Over time, this approach can foster loyalty and trust. When your audience consistently sees your brand in a positive light, they’re more likely to choose you when the time is right.

Finding the Balance 🤝

So, you might be wondering, “Which approach should I use?” Well, the truth is, both approaches have their time and place in the world of marketing. The key to a successful marketing strategy often lies in finding the right balance between telling and reminding. Let’s explore this in more detail.

The Art of Balancing Telling and Reminding

  1. Understanding Your Audience: Before you can strike the perfect balance, you need to know your audience inside out. What are their preferences, pain points, and habits? Are they more receptive to direct messaging, or do they prefer a softer touch?
  2. Segmentation: Not all your customers are the same. Some might respond better to telling, while others appreciate gentle reminders. Use customer segmentation to tailor your approach to different audience segments.
  3. The Buyer’s Journey: Consider where your audience is in their buyer’s journey. Are they just discovering your brand, or have they been loyal customers for years? Adjust your messaging accordingly.
  4. Content Variety: Keep your content fresh and varied. Use telling for product launches and promotions, and use reminding for maintaining brand awareness and loyalty. Mix blog posts, social media updates, emails, and more to strike the right balance.
  5. Feedback Loop: Listen to your audience’s feedback. Are they responding positively to your current approach? Use data and insights to refine your strategy over time.

Case Study: Finding Balance in Action

To illustrate the power of balancing telling and reminding, let’s take a look at a real-world case study.

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XYZ Fitness Studio: XYZ Fitness Studio wanted to boost its membership numbers. They started by telling potential customers about their state-of-the-art equipment, expert trainers, and incredible results achieved by members. This direct approach attracted new clients eager to kickstart their fitness journey.

However, XYZ Fitness Studio knew that long-term success required reminding. They introduced a monthly newsletter that offered workout tips, healthy recipes, and success stories from their members. This gentle reminder kept existing members engaged and motivated to renew their memberships.

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The result? XYZ Fitness Studio achieved a perfect balance. They continued to attract new clients with their telling approach, while their reminding efforts kept existing members loyal and committed.

The Role of Content

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In your quest to strike the right balance, content plays a pivotal role. Here’s how you can leverage content for both telling and reminding:

Telling Through Content
  • Product Demonstrations: Create videos or blog posts that showcase the features and benefits of your product or service.
  • Case Studies: Share success stories and case studies that demonstrate how your product has solved real problems for customers.
  • How-To Guides: Provide step-by-step guides that explain how to use your product effectively.
  • Comparative Analysis: Show how your product stacks up against competitors.
Reminding Through Content
  • Newsletters: Regularly send out newsletters with updates, tips, and exclusive offers to keep your audience engaged.
  • Blog Posts: Write informative blog posts related to your industry, even if they’re not directly promoting your product. This positions you as an authority and keeps your brand top-of-mind.
  • Social Media Updates: Share user-generated content, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and fun facts about your brand.
  • Email Drip Campaigns: Create automated email sequences that provide value over time and gently remind subscribers about your offerings.

Embracing the Customer Journey

The customer journey is a dynamic process that can vary widely from one individual to another. By embracing the customer journey, you can adapt your marketing approach to meet your audience’s needs at each stage.

  1. Awareness Stage: At this stage, focus on telling. Use attention-grabbing content to introduce your brand and its offerings. Blog posts, social media ads, and eye-catching visuals can be effective here.
  2. Consideration Stage: As potential customers move into the consideration stage, continue telling by providing in-depth information about your product or service. Case studies, reviews, and comparison guides can sway their decision.
  3. Decision Stage: When prospects are ready to make a decision, offer compelling incentives and clear calls to action. This is the time for direct selling tactics like limited-time discounts and free trials.
  4. Retention Stage: After conversion, shift towards reminding. Stay connected through newsletters, exclusive offers, and personalized recommendations to keep customers engaged.
  5. Advocacy Stage: Turn loyal customers into brand advocates by encouraging them to share their positive experiences. User-generated content and referral programs are excellent tools for this stage.

Tools for Success

Balancing telling and reminding requires the right tools in your marketing toolkit. Here are some essential tools to consider:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: CRM software helps you organize and manage customer data, making it easier to tailor your messages and track interactions.
  2. Email Marketing Platforms: These platforms allow you to create and automate email campaigns, perfect for gentle reminders and nurturing relationships.
  3. Social Media Management Tools: Use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule and analyze your social media posts, ensuring consistent reminders.
  4. Analytics and Reporting Tools: Stay informed about the effectiveness of your marketing efforts with tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot.
  5. Content Calendar: A well-organized content calendar ensures you have a mix of telling and reminding content scheduled throughout the year.

The Evolving Landscape of Marketing

Marketing is not a static field. It evolves alongside technology, consumer behavior, and societal changes. As you strive to strike the perfect balance between telling and reminding, keep an eye on these trends:

  1. Personalization: Consumers increasingly expect personalized experiences. Use data to tailor your messaging and content to individual preferences.
  2. AI and Automation: AI can analyze vast amounts of data to deliver timely and relevant reminders, enhancing customer experiences.
  3. Sustainability: As environmental concerns grow, customers appreciate brands that remind them of their commitment to sustainability through eco-friendly practices.
  4. Transparency: Be open and honest with your audience. Telling them about your values and practices builds trust.
  5. Interactive Content: Interactive content like quizzes, polls, and surveys can engage your audience while reminding them of your brand.

Practical Strategies for Balancing Telling and Reminding

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1. Content Mapping

One effective strategy for striking the right balance is content mapping. This involves planning your content according to the buyer’s journey we discussed earlier. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Awareness Stage: Create content that raises awareness about your brand and educates your audience about the problems you solve. For example, blog posts addressing common pain points or challenges in your industry can be great for this stage.
  • Consideration Stage: At this point, your audience is actively researching solutions. Provide content that compares your offerings to competitors, such as comparison guides or product feature videos.
  • Decision Stage: When your audience is ready to make a decision, offer them clear, compelling content. This could be case studies showcasing successful implementations, testimonials, or limited-time offers.
  • Retention and Advocacy: Once someone becomes a customer, your content should focus on reminding them of the value you provide. This could include regular newsletters, loyalty programs, and user-generated content campaigns.
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2. Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful way to balance telling and reminding. People connect with stories, and it can be an effective method to both tell your brand’s story and remind your audience of your values.

For instance, let’s take a look at Airbnb. They tell stories of hosts and travelers, showcasing unique and heartwarming experiences. This telling approach draws new users in. However, they also remind users of their platform’s values and commitment to community through initiatives like disaster response and refugee housing.

3. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools can be your best friend when it comes to reminding. They allow you to set up email drip campaigns, personalized recommendations, and reminders for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.

Consider the example of a clothing brand. After a customer makes a purchase, the brand can send personalized emails reminding them about new arrivals or offering exclusive discounts. This gentle reminder keeps the customer engaged and encourages repeat purchases.

4. User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content is a fantastic way to remind your audience of your brand’s presence. Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your product or service on social media. This not only reminds your existing audience but also serves as powerful social proof for potential customers.

GoPro, the action camera company, is a prime example of using UGC effectively. They actively encourage their customers to share their thrilling adventures captured with GoPro cameras. This reminding strategy not only keeps their audience engaged but also encourages others to join the GoPro community.

5. Seasonal and Holiday Campaigns

Seasonal and holiday campaigns are a perfect opportunity to strike a balance between telling and reminding. During these periods, you can tell your audience about special promotions, new products, or holiday-themed content. Simultaneously, these campaigns serve as reminders of your brand’s presence during festive times.

For instance, Starbucks is known for its seasonal campaigns like the Pumpkin Spice Latte launch in the fall. They actively tell customers about these limited-time offerings while reminding them of the cozy, seasonal atmosphere Starbucks creates.

Real-World Examples

Let’s take a closer look at how some well-known brands have successfully balanced telling and reminding in their marketing strategies:


Telling: Apple is a master at telling the world about its innovative products. Their product launch events are grand showcases of new features, design, and capabilities.

Reminding: Apple also excels in reminding its loyal customer base about its ecosystem. Frequent updates, personalized recommendations, and the seamless integration of their devices serve as constant reminders.


Telling: Coca-Cola’s advertising campaigns are legendary for telling stories that evoke emotions. Think of their iconic Christmas ads featuring Santa Claus.

Reminding: Coca-Cola keeps its brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds through consistent branding and seasonal campaigns. They remind us to “Open Happiness” with every sip.

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Telling: Nike tells inspiring stories of athletes overcoming challenges in their “Just Do It” campaigns. These stories motivate and persuade.

Reminding: Nike reminds us of their brand through athlete endorsements, sponsored events, and regular releases of new shoe designs. Their “Swoosh” logo is one of the most recognizable symbols worldwide.


Telling: Amazon tells customers about the vast selection of products, fast delivery, and the convenience of shopping online.

Reminding: Amazon reminds customers through personalized recommendations, one-click ordering, and Prime membership benefits.

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Telling: Airbnb tells us about unique travel experiences through their storytelling campaigns.

Reminding: Airbnb reminds us of their brand through regular emails about upcoming trips, host updates, and community initiatives.

The Happy Harmony in Action

Balancing telling and reminding in your marketing strategy isn’t just a theory; it’s a dynamic practice. It’s about understanding your audience, adjusting your content, and embracing the journey your customers take with your brand.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. The perfect balance for your brand may differ from another, but the key is to stay attuned to your audience’s needs and preferences.

As you embark on your marketing journey, keep experimenting, analyzing results, and evolving your strategy. Use storytelling, automation, and user-generated content to your advantage. And don’t forget to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in the ever-evolving landscape of marketing.

In conclusion, finding the happy harmony between telling and reminding is your secret sauce for building a strong brand, engaging your audience, and achieving marketing success. So, go forth with confidence, creativity, and a keen sense of balance, and watch your marketing efforts bloom into something truly remarkable.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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