The power of less-than-perfect

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Let’s take a virtual walk-n-talk, eh? I have a little exercise I think you’ll like.

It’s about how you can really connect with the people you’re trying to reach.

But first, I’d like to tell you about a couple copywriting origin stories.

Once upon a time, there was a copywriter who grew up in a blue collar, working class family in South Texas.

This copywriter kicked ass and took names throughout school, eventually earning a Master’s degree from a prestigious university.

This copywriter went on to take great jobs with big name companies, make great connections with top marketers, and ultimately learned how to sell millions of dollars in product.

One story down, one to go. Stick with me.

Another copywriter was working toward landing the dream job and was suddenly laid off.

This copywriter turned to a skill that could be sold immediately – writing. It didn’t go smoothly, not by a longshot.

This copywriter eventually lost the apartment, lost everything, and had to move in with generous friends who had a couch to spare.

This copywriter took all the crappy jobs from eLance and Guru, eventually learning through trial and error (and sheer bullheaded refusal to give up) how to sell millions of dollars in product.

Quick question: can you figure out which one is me?

Now don’t be too upset with me, because that was kind of a trick question…

Those stories are actually both me.

There’s a reason for my deception, I promise.

It’s to open a dialog about origin stories and damaging admissions.

Over the years, I’ve told both stories – the pedigree and the struggle.

The story of my struggle is the most effective, hands down. Every. Single. Time.

I found this fascinating – it’s the opposite of conventional business wisdom, where you put your best foot forward all the time.

Share your impressive stats, include the big names for social proof. When someone asks you to share an area where you could do better, you give ‘em the tried-and-true “I’m a perfectionist” schtick.

BS.

Here’s the thing – this ain’t Facebook.

This isn’t vacation photos and 24/7 news feed of shiny, happy people.

It’s business.

People resonate with the struggle. They resonate with the flaws.

They’ve been there themselves, or they’re close to someone who has.

Whether you’re selling a biz op, a cooking course, or a state of zen…

…you’re dealing with flawed human beings.

That struggle?

They may not vocalize it (conventional wisdom and/or Stepford Facebook strikes again), but it’s there with them in their heads as they’re experiencing your pitch and going through your funnel.

The pedigree is all well and good, but it could cause them to say, “well, I don’t have that kind of experience – this probably won’t work for me”.

That less-than-perfect past or your slightly imperfect product makes you more relatable, helps you connect. And most importantly, it helps your clients and prospects BELIEVE.

And it may seem magical, but it’s really just a tactic like any other you’d use to connect, build trust, and eventually make a sale. It’s known as the damaging admission.

So how do you find it, and how do you use it?

I’ve always used my gut – when it’s something that starts to make me feel squeamish, like I would be super embarrassed to share, I know I’m onto something.

I know that someone else out there has struggled with that exact same feeling in a nearly identical situation.

And that by sharing my less-than-perfect experience, I could potentially help them make it through too.

Have you used a damaging admission in your origin story or sales materials? Was it gut instinct to share, or a conscious tactical decision? I’m curious to hear your story.

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Angie Colee
Angie Colee
Angie Colee is a Senior Copywriter in retail by day and rockstar blues vocalist by night. She is obsessed with marketing strategy, simplifying complex ideas, and making her cat the next internet sensation. Life goals include trademarking her awesomely red hair and figuring out how to drink hot coffee without burning herself. If you’re ever in the San Francisco bay area, look her up.
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