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Could this strategy be your secret marketing weapon? (okay, perhaps not on Tinder)

Fun-loving. Easy-going. Sassy salsa dancer with a killer smile.

In-depth knowledge. Technical expertise. Years of experience with hundreds of happy clients.

Whether it’s your Tinder profile, a telemarketing script or your website content, you’d be downright crazy not to kick things off with the good stuff.

Your strengths.

After all, you only have a split second to make that all-important first impression before they swipe left, hang up or click away.

But what if I told you that promoting your strengths exclusively could do your brand more harm than good?

And what if I told you that by promoting your weaknesses, you’re more likely to:

  • Establish trust with your audience
  • Distinguish yourself from the competition

This saying sums it up well:

Tell me what you can’t do, and I’ll believe you when you tell me what you can do.

Let’s take a look at some brands that have successfully taken this approach.

 

Remember this famous tagline?

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

If you say this phrase to any Gen Xer, they’ll know instantly that it’s from those Pantene ads.

Most of us are sceptical of overnight cures for lifeless hair (or any overnight cures for that matter). So why not just tell us what we already know and believe? That way, we’re more likely to accept your other statements as true.

 

Here’s another tagline. For pap smears:

It’s a little bit awkward for a lot of peace of mind.

Every woman knows that on the awkward scale, pap smears are right ‘up there’.

So by admitting this fact, I now believe these guys when they tell me that it’s still worth it.

 

And here’s another well-known slogan. This time for a US cough syrup brand called Buckley’s from the mid 1980s:

It tastes awful and it works.

Now that’s what I call product differentiation.

Imagine you’re in the pharmacy. You have a dreadful cough that you’re desperate to get rid of. Wouldn’t you reach for the Buckley’s brand with confidence? I would.

 

And here’s one more example I came across recently:

We’re not going to tell you that filling out this mental health survey will be quick. In fact, it will take you around 25 minutes to complete. But for something this important, we know you’ll agree it is worth your time and effort.

It was enough to convince me. I filled it out.

 

So, what weaknesses can you promote about your business or product?

Although you may not be undertaking a national advertising campaign, you could still apply this strategy to your website content and other marketing materials.

But remember: ensure you select a weakness that won’t kill the sale. This is often referred to as a ‘non-fatal admission’. (So please, leave your high staff turnover issue and that customer court case for another time.)

Here are two ‘weaknesses’ I actively promote for my business:

1. Higher prices: I tell new prospects upfront that if they’re shopping around, my prices will probably come in highest. But that’s for good reason: everything I write gets published. And unlike any other copywriter I know, I offer unlimited changes until my clients are 100% happy. This means my services often turn out cheaper in the long run.

2. Long lead times: Although I aim to be responsive with existing clients, I tell new prospects to expect an 8-12 week wait before I can start their project. Of course, they’re often disappointed at first. But they’re also reassured. Don’t we all prefer service providers who are busy and in demand?

One final caveat:

I am yet to test this theory on Tinder (and may never get to since I am happily spoken for). So maybe don’t be too upfront about your stubborn foot fungus or melodramatic tendencies too soon.