In the 5 years I spent living in Los Angeles, I drove past a place called “Best China Restaurant” hundreds of times. Instinctively I knew that this was not, in fact, the best Chinese restaurant out there, and subconsciously I began to assume it actually must be pretty terrible if it has to call itself the best in order to get people to come in and dine.

The majority of those 5 years passed by without me ever eating at “Best China Restaurant”. Until one day, my friend (who was the one driving) stopped the car and insisted we go.

Well it’s no surprise, my intuition was right… their food tasted almost as awful as we felt in the hours following its consumption.

We are taught from a young age to doubt people’s motives if they’re too forward or too altruistic in their presentation.

Do you remember the first time you received a call, letter or pop up ad saying, “You’ve been selected to win a free vacation!”?

Or how about that scene from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, where the child-catcher offers children free candy?

While not every good offer is hiding something as heinous as a kidnapper, when it comes to doing business, we’ve learned: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So what does this mean for your business?

Do you promote your business as having the best product, warranty, people, service/support?

You may well exemplify these things, but there are two issues:

  • As with the examples above, potential clients will often see your self-promotion as manipulation… potentially because your product or service cannot stand on its own.
  • You have nowhere to go but down. If your product has the slightest flaw, if your employee doesn’t greet a customer with a warm enough smile… your client will leave with unmet expectations. Then, when they need your product or service again, they’ll remember their feeling of disappointment and choose your competitor instead.

But isn’t this how I make my company distinct from others?

Maybe, but don’t directly say you’re the best in your marketing. Everyone else does, and no one believes them.

Instead of telling potential clients to trust you, that you’ll take the best care of them, that you’ll serve them with integrity, SHOW THEM.

This is an area where traditional marketing stands head and shoulders above digital marketing. Digital struggles to tell enough of your story in just a photo, caption, or short clip to set you apart. Traditional media, however, allows you to imply things through story without saying them directly.

For example, you can avoid a red flag of saying, “we operate with integrity” by casually telling a short story in an ad about a time when you went out of your way to do the right thing for a customer.

This is more of an art than a science.

If you’re too obvious – red flags will be flying for your potential customers.

If you’re too vague – you won’t imply the right things or leave an impression.

If you need help threading this needle, let me know and we can collaborate over Zoom!