In marketing, your weakness has power. When I dig into a new client’s old sales strategies, I often find fresh inspiration in “weaknesses.”
If you’re breaking into a tight field already populated by an extremely short list of long-term players, you may shy away from any overt reference to your company’s youth. Your sales materials, presentations and pitches may focus on your “best” selling points: the unique ways your company takes care of its customers, completes its installations or builds its products, etc.
Why would you not only examine your weaknesses, but spotlight them? Even if you’re not saying much about your company’s recent entrance into a narrow niche, for example, you can bet your competitors are finding a way to reference it. By drawing attention to their own extensive experience, they’ve encouraged your potential customers to discount all the ideas and innovation your company’s shorter history might bring.
You may already underscore your agility or your use of the latest technology, but what if you hit those points in a deeper way? What if its size is the reason your company is agile, and that smaller size also gives clients direct access to C-suite instead of working only with front-line associates after the deal is closed? What if your longer tenure in technology informs and enhances your performance in a different industry at a level your competitors can’t match?
Before I started my own business, I heard a co-worker would be making a political presentation at a local high school. At the last minute, he learned he would be in an informal debate against the statewide leader of the opposing party, with about 30 years of experience. He asked someone else in the office for advice, and she shook her head. In prettier language, she told him he was in big trouble. I looked at my co-worker – a college intern – and told him this: You’re just a few years older than those students. You’re practically one of them. Use it.
Oh, he won. But first, he changed his thinking. He could have continued to view his competitor as the true measure, as some sort of standard from which he deviated. Instead, he reframed a liability into an advantage. He couldn’t pretend to have the knowledge or experience of his opponent, but he had a passion for politics. By behaving with full authenticity, “just being himself,” he built trust; those students could relate to him.
As you catalog your strengths and differentiators, take a closer look at everything you’d like to hide. Lead with your strengths and, when it feels right, sell with a weakness. Win.