Imperfections can be endearing, whether it's your crush who snorts when they laugh or the vase with the chipped rim you made in your pottery class. Flaws can be attractive through a shared recognition of humanity. But in the capitalistic world of business, can you afford to be seen as human?
Appalled by the amount of false information and parenting cliches on the internet, first-time parents Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman started a parenting blog in 2006. They tackled the barrage of drab internet parenting advice with humor and hot takes. In one year, the site had half a million readers per month.
In 2009, when Rufus Griscom pitched to investors, he committed class A silicon-valley-blasphemy; he had a slide listing five reasons not to invest in his company.
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Disney ended up buying the company for $40 million.
In his book Originals, Adam Grant discusses why you shouldn't minimize your weaknesses, especially when pitching a novel idea. People are aware when you're selling something to them, they tend to have their mental shields up. Unbridled optimism can come across as salesmanship; consequently, it's met with skepticism. Everyone is suspicious of being sold.
With his 'Why You Should Not Invest in Babble' slide, Rufus instantly disarmed his audience. They were primed to assess his business model for loopholes and liabilities critically. When they were presented with the flaws upfront, they let their guard down and shifted from self-defense to problem-solving.
Businesses that aren't afraid to embrace their flaws come across as more authentic and trustworthy. Creating more emotional and memorable branding also helps them stand out from the self-aggrandizing noise of mainstream advertising.
When KFC ran out of chicken in 2018, it leaned into it with witty ads and clever wordplay. The 'FCK' campaign is now heralded as a masterclass in crisis management. Avis created one of the most memorable instances of underdog advertising with their 'We try harder' campaign. By publicly acknowledging that they were #2, the car rental agency turned a $3.2 million loss into a $1.2 million profit.
So if you're brainstorming for a quirky 2023 campaign, take a hard look at the slides you skim over during your presentations. Your liabilities can make you beautiful.
What we’re reading
It takes over 3 minutes to pour an Irish beer. During a presentation of Tesla’s CyberTruck, the ‘unbreakable armor’ broke. Both brands managed to make opportunities out of their shortcomings. The Pratfall effect and how brands can humanize themselves.
From embarrassment comes empathy. Here’s how you can leverage emotional marketing’s secret weapon. Winning with weakness [LinkedIn Ads Blog]