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Don't fall into this credibility-damaging trap
👉 "being authentic" is powerful, but you've got to do it the right way
I'm sure you'll have been advised at some point to be "authentic" in your marketing and to share your story warts'n all: your failures as well as your successes.
In fact I advised similar in my last email, telling you people are way more interested in hearing about your worst-ever sales meeting than your best one. Or the time you screwed up that performance appraisal or botched an important client email.
And while that's absolutely true, you do have to be careful.
Don't overuse this technique. And don't use it at the wrong time.
Mentioning your screw-ups and what you learned from them works to get attention. And it helps your audience to feel you understand their problems and challenges because you went through similar yourself.
It gives you that air of real-world experience and empathy that's vital for a client to feel comfortable working with you.
But if you talk about problem after problem, disaster after disaster in every communication you send, they'll begin to get the idea that you're a walking catastrophe. The Frank Spencer of your field.
(Sorry about that reference for anyone outside the UK or under the age of 40, but I couldn't resist).
To use your problems and challenges effectively in your marketing you need to do two things.
First, establish your credibility before talking about your previous screw-ups.
That way they'll see the problems you talk about as roadblocks you overcame rather than your status quo.
In fact, following something credibility-building with an admission of a mistake helps to avoid you coming across as a show-off. It makes your successes seem more realistic because there were challenges too.
But make sure you do it in that order. Establish credibility, then admit mistakes.
Secondly, make sure you talk about what you learned from your mistakes and what you then did differently.
In "my worst sales meeting ever" I shared that my big lesson learned was to properly pre-qualify meetings and only have them with people who are genuinely looking for help.
In "my worst email ever" I revealed that since that email I've deliberately avoided trying to be clever with subject lines and focused instead on curiosity and value.
When you talk about what you learned from a mistake (and ideally what you now do differently) it casts the mistake into the past. Something you learned from and then moved onwards and upwards.
If you just talk about your mistakes without showing progression your audience is going to think you'll likely make similar mistakes again.
So don't hide your mistakes or who you are. But make sure you set the context correctly so your audience realises that those mistakes were part of your growth, not something you're about to repeat.
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