There seems to be a common narrative in a lot of online marketing at the moment. The “rags to riches, you can do it too” type story, but with a Dumb & Dumber plot twist.
The gist of it is a lot of failure stories. Copywriters who failed English, people selling software who claim to have no tech ability, millionaires who can’t count past a thousand.
It annoys me because I’m frankly a genius.
Actually I am.
An IQ score of 155, a decent degree, a masters degree and other accomplishments.
These didn’t all come from hard graft either. My parents are super smart, they both have Masters Degrees from London University. One in English Literature and one in Elecrical Engineering.
So I get to play in the creative and tech worlds and feel comfortable in both.
Have I turned you off me yet?
Obviously not or you wouldn’t still be reading this.
There are a few things I find annoying about this narrative:
1) It’s frequently bullshit and doesn’t take a lot to uncover it.
2) It glorifies stupidity.
But here’s the big one…
3) It’s completely meaningless to the outcome your customers want
What these stories are frequently leading to is:
“I figured it out, so you can do it too”
Let’s break that down:
“I figured it out” = I am innovative, inventive, worked hard to prove the formula works in my own business
“You can do it too” = I have simplified the formula and provided support so that you can get the same results
The two are not the same. The ability to execute does not depend in the ability to invent.
An example. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin. Smart guy.
To use it you just have to contract the clap and admit it to your doctor.
Dozens of engineers and scientists contributed to the development of the modern motor car. Smart guys.
To use it you just have to pass your driving test.
A few PhD’s worth of brainpower went into developing WordPress.
To us it you need no more skills than to use Facebook.
The skill is not in the use, it’s in creating something simple enough to be put in other people’s hands.
Steve Jobs wrote:
“Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
and you don’t get much simpler than the iPod.
So if we’re trying to build authority in our sales process, what we should be focussing on is not just the “celebrity endorsement”, we want some dribbling drunk Homer Simpson lookalike to show that they can use it.
Focus on what your customer can execute, not invent.
“Look what a loser he is. If he can do it, so can you.”
Try pulling a few of these into your stack of testimonials, they’re also way easier to get than celebrities, who are super protective of who they endorse.
And if your product is good, don’t be afraid to admit that it took some skill to create. You’re not asking them to re-invent the wheel, you’re just asking them to roll it down a hill.