Underpromise, Overdeliver, or Just Deliver What's Promised?

To underpromise and overdeliver is the dogmatic advice in the business world these days. The opposite approach of overpromising and underdelivering seems like business suicide. But what's wrong with the middle ground: Just deliver what you promise.


What's wrong with you? The customer specifically requested one cardboard box. And you, incompetent you, overdelivered. Four boxes. The customer does not need those extra four boxes. And now the customer must deal with your trash. Because trash is probably what it is. Why else would you send five boxes. Perhaps these boxes are fragile junk, and you must put them inside of each other. Yup, the customer does that. You're the worst cardbox company ever. Just why. You're incompetent at delivery, or you're selling crappy carboard boxes. Which makes you incompetent. Thank you for the overdelivery.

18. July 2024 by Click insider / Business

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Too many businesses and people does this:

  1. overpromise
  2. underdeliver

Too many business "gurus" tell you to do this:

  1. underpromise
  2. overdeliver

But perhaps, in a world like this world, in days as these days, plain old vanilla delivery would suffice. Don't over or under anything. Drop the prefixes. Just deliver. Deliver the damn thing, and do that every time, and you'll be the go-to and get the goddamn word of mouth.

Overpromising and Underdelivering

Stick with me to the end on this. Because that's how I will make the most revenue. It's clickbait, it will waste your time. But you won't notice, because I'll make the claim that if you listen carefully and take notes, you will succeed, you too will become successful, make millions, actually, if you do exactly like I'm telling you here, it would be impossible to fail, I mean, you're going to make $4000 by the end of this week if you do exactly like I tell you, obviously I can't guarantee that you will, but I can't see how you could fail at this. Just stick with me till the end, because there's a free bonus and it'll change your life instantly, but in order to get there you must watch this entire thing, eat the meat first, then join me for the most satisfying dessert after, I promise, you won't regret this and it will change your life. Ugh.

Right. This is the kind of crap we deal with in the digital world. And people believe this. In one form or another. It's always this sickening overpromising pitching going on. Watch random YouTube videos and you'll get one of those pretty quick. Don't just watch random content on YouTube, it's a trap.

Mountains of bullshit. The amounts of crap content on the web is staggering, and the explanation for this is simple: It takes far less time to generate crap than to generate anything with substance. Refuting bullshit takes more time that it takes to make bullshit, and this is how bullshit accumulates. Bullshit cannot be reduced simply by fighting it; Even if you wanted to, you can't just get out there and clean up the bullshit. Not possible. Nonsense will be prevalent as long as there are people willing to accept nonsense. The solution could be this: Educate people about how to differentiate between nonsense and actual sensible stuff, or even better: Just stick with people that already have acquired this skill. The danger of the latter prescription is that you might fall into group think, it's a thing, and groups of highly intelligent people who think they are smart enough to avoid bullshit are especially prone to this thing.

Bullshit in business. Most stuff and services sold today are bullshit, or contain nonsense components. Very few businesses operate an actual no-nonsense approach in every aspect. Either their marketing is bullshit, they have some engineering bullshit hacks, they increase their margin by adding bullshit, subtracting the no-nonsense things, or any other bullshit. Why this is happening, well, a guess would be because it pays, and bullshit need not be illegal, and by the way, speaking of legalities, politics, governments, you don't think those people are immune to this crap, do you? Nonsense is everywhere, sometimes it takes the form of overpromising and underdelivering, or it might be plain old bullshit masked with some kind of divert-by-overdelivery tactic; They think they got more than they paid for, but in reality they did not get what they paid for at all, although the wrapping was very beautiful indeed.

Delivering, What's Wrong With That?

Just deliver the thing you said you're going to deliver.

Don't add to it. Don't subtract. Deliver exactly what you said.


In the real world, exact delivery can be challenging, impossible even.

So, what do you do in the rare case when you cannot deliver the exact thing, the exact quantity, at the exact time, exactly as promised?

Simple. You err on the side of delivering more, not less. Less is not more, in this context. Deliver sooner rather than later. Deliver more, rather than less. Deliver extra benefits, not extra burdens. There are nitpicking cases, and there might be situations where the opposite would be true. But by and large, if you can't succeed at delivery, it's best to fail on the side of delivering more.

Also. In a sales situation, make sure you are fairly certain that the customer knows and understands what he pays for. Fairly certain, not completely certain, because that's not possible, only stupid morons are completely certain. Anyways. Sometimes, you can't know that the customer understands your product or service. The least you can do is to provide the information, in a clear and precise manner, so that it cannot be perceived as deceit or dishonest by any stretch of the imagination.

Nothing beats plain old delivery.

If you're constantly overdelivering, what's wrong with you? Some customers might think there's something wrong with you. You did deliver, but you added even more to it. Why? People don't just give stuff away for free. Are you hiding something? Might your original product be so horribly bad that you actually had to divert attention by delivering more than what was paid for? Why, just why? You don't know which direction the customer's brain will be headed. Delivering more might just eat into your margins while creating suspection or other undesirable emotions in the customer.

If you're the guy or girl that always delivers what's expected, you're it, you're the one, they know who you are, and if they need it they know where to find you. And you'll make satisfied return customers, which is the best kind of customer.

From the customer's perspective, less ain't more.

Deliver what you promise. Nothing more. Nothing less. But if you're incompetent at delivery, err on the side of delivering slightly more and never less.

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