The effect of exaggerating your skills

35 replies
Do you fake it, until you make it, or are you exaggerating your skills?

In advertising, I read very often:"The best, The number one, The only, And so on..."
But we can't all be the number one SEO specialist from the US or Europe.

I was just wondering, does it work and if yes whom are does that believe it? Younger, older, educated or? And what make you say or use that phrase, in which moment to attract potential clients?

Let me know.
#effect #exaggerating #skills
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    True, we can't all be number 1 specialist in the US.

    We all can say it.

    The one who pops up #1 on page 1 convinces.

    In addition, the rest can claim to be #1, this side of the Mississippi. Or in Tulsa or Cedar Rapids.

    The one popping at #1 in Google for Tulsa gets credibility.

    The rest can claim they are #1 SEO in Tulsa for dentists.

    There are many #1 positions to be claimed. Find the one that fits you.

    Claim to be the best, get to be #1 and get bad reviews and you are still not # 1.

    What you are asking is a positioning question. You are supposed to find something that your clients are looking for but nobody has claimed and claim it.

    FedX has been advertising next day delivery, not the best or the fastest.

    Domino's Pizza: 30 minutes delivery not the best pizza.

    Originally Posted by allegandro View Post

    Do you fake it, until you make it, or are you exaggerating your skills?

    In advertising, I read very often:"The best, The number one, The only, And so on..."
    But we can't all be the number one SEO specialist from the US or Europe.

    I was just wondering, does it work and if yes whom are does that believe it? Younger, older, educated or? And what make you say or use that phrase, in which moment to attract potential clients?

    Let me know.
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    • Profile picture of the author adammoore
      Physiologically, it does probably work. In the same way, that nobody wants to be the first to engage with someone, in this example a marketing agency or whatever. Having external reviews, and case studies strongly improves your odds of attaining new clients. For the most part, I believe people can make up their own mind based on this information. As others have rightly pointed out, everyone can't be #1. Those who know what they're doing won't have issues attaining lasting clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matthew Stanley
    Curious what folks might think of James Altucher's guidance here: Over promise - AND over deliver. Many advocate "under promise / over deliver," but Altucher's view is that this puts you in with the glut of "everyone else." He reasons it's better to differentiate through consistent "surprise and delight." By taking pains to deliver a pleasant surprise / something that was not expected (or paid for), one might attract more loyal lifetime customers.

    Imo this may not work for every discipline, but is a great way of thinking about positioning and differentiation for a lot of client-based work.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Matthew Stanley View Post

      Curious what folks might think of James Altucher's guidance here: Over promise - AND over deliver.
      If you can deliver, it isn't over promising.

      I would never promise something that I didn't have complete control over...and knew for certain I could deliver.

      You said "Many advocate "under promise / over deliver," but Altucher's view is that this puts you in with the glut of "everyone else.".

      The problem with this statement is that you don't tell a customer that you are under promising. So to the customer, it just sounds like Promising.

      And my experience is that "Under promise and over deliver" is a cute thing to say in a business book. But I wonder if anyone on the planet actually does that.

      My advice would be to promise what you have absolute control over, and know for certain you will deliver. And...if it's easy and inexpensive...deliver a little more. I like the extras to come from the results I have less control over.

      Anyway, I feel better now.
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      • Profile picture of the author Matthew Stanley
        nd my experience is that "Under promise and over deliver" is a cute thing to say in a business book. But I wonder if anyone on the planet actually does that.
        Appreciate these points - thanks. I guess my slight push on this harkens from my corporate experience where, for some projects, teams acted as de facto consultants for different internal clients, and I got the impression that the main strategy was to find and offer the "bare minimum that the client will sign off to." Granted, some of this was done in anticipation of snags/more asks teams wanted to allow cushion to accommodate, but in honesty, and through chatting with folks, some of it was also a function of willfully promising less than folks knew they could achieve within the set time and budget parameters ... in order to look good later without having to sweat.

        But thinking on this more, aside from misaligned incentives that may have encouraged this to take place, what I'm describing - and to your point - is still largely above-board behavior. If the clients were happy and repeat work was secured, who's getting hurt? And I get what you mean about under-promising being largely an internal thing, versus something that can be pinned down ... but, I'd still maintain that Altucher's main action point is a good one and similar to one of yours: when possible, surprise / delight / deliver that little extra.
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    • Profile picture of the author tnob
      Over promise - AND over deliver.
      Curious how this works? You have a product or service that you normal sell for $XX. When pitching the product/service you say "This is what I usually sell, but I will do x and y also for you." Then you give customer original product/service + x + y + z? (z = over deliver)

      Is that what it means?
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        You sell them 2 lbs of potatoes. They pay. You give them 2.5 lbs of potatoes. Or 2 lbs of potatoes and a couple of onions.


        In marketing: you promise them 50 backlinks and give them 52 or 55 or...


        Originally Posted by tnob View Post

        Curious how this works? You have a product or service that you normal sell for . When pitching the product/service you say "This is what I usually sell, but I will do x and y also for you." Then you give customer original product/service + x + y + z? (z = over deliver)

        Is that what it means?
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        • Profile picture of the author tnob
          You sell them 2 lbs of potatoes. They pay. You give them 2.5 lbs of potatoes. Or 2 lbs of potatoes and a couple of onions.


          In marketing: you promise them 50 backlinks and give them 52 or 55 or...
          But how is that "Over Promising"?
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          • Profile picture of the author Skip Rozier
            In the simplest terms, this is over delivering not over promising.

            It's just good policy to deliver more than you promise. But, you
            better be able to deliver "at least" what you do promise. This is
            a very common problem in the MMO niche.

            That's why I always tell people that I help, you have to deliver a predictable outcome that's easy to achieve that they feel good
            about. Of course you'll never please everybody (some people just
            won't do what you tell them no matter how easy it is). The people
            that do and get the results you promise (depending on how substantial) will dig your stuff.

            Skip
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          • Profile picture of the author DABK
            You sell 2 potatoes to people who think you can only sell 1.


            You promise 50 backlinks to people who cannot believe any backlink provider can supply more than 40.


            Probably works best in this kind of context:


            Buyer wants to lose 10lbs by the end of the year.
            Coach says: With my program, I can get you to lose 12. By the end of the year, buyer lose 15lbs.


            Originally Posted by tnob View Post

            But how is that "Over Promising"?
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        • Profile picture of the author Odahh
          Originally Posted by DABK View Post

          You sell them 2 lbs of potatoes. They pay. You give them 2.5 lbs of potatoes. Or 2 lbs of potatoes and a couple of onions.


          In marketing: you promise them 50 backlinks and give them 52 or 55 or...
          thats a basic explanation.. but not practical ..in many businesses

          from the year and a half i spent working on the vegas strip nearly every day .there is the product. And the experience /service around delivering the product ..i am fascinated with higher end products and services ..

          the world we live in where the middle is fading away ..the choices are low end or high end ..and it is far easy to see the extras in how the product is delivered ..in luxury markets ..
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          • Originally Posted by Odahh View Post


            from the year and a half i spent working on the vegas strip nearly every day ...

            So kind of like they paid you for one hour but you gave them two?
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by allegandro View Post

    Do you fake it, until you make it,.
    I want to address that.

    Sure, "Fake it till you make it' helps if you imply there is demand for your services when there really isn't. Harmless little white lies like that just make you more attractive to clients.

    But fake experience? Credentials? Expertise? Lie about how many years you have been in business? How many clients you have? The results you have been able to produce?

    Those aren't little white lies. Those are gross misrepresentations. Fraud.

    And amazingly, it isn't necessary at all.

    Offer what you have. If you are new, you have enthusiasm, dedication to your first client to prove yourself, If you are young, you have energy. You can dedicate more time to a new client. You can learn their expectations....so you can fit your service to them.

    I knew a sales rep that was successful for decades. His sole approach was telling potential customers that it was his third day in business. Why? People love helping beginners. They allow for mistakes.

    And if you tell them you are brand new at your profession, it takes away roadblocks. Nobody is intimidated by the new guy. Their guard is lowered. The bar is set so low, it's easy to make sales.

    Of course, once you are really proficient and established, you talk about your experience and expertise.

    Always sell what you have. Everything about you can be used to your advantage.

    The problem with Faking it...is after they buy...they find out you lied about yourself. And that's the end of that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    Originally Posted by allegandro View Post

    Do you fake it, until you make it, or are you exaggerating your skills?

    In advertising, I read very often:"The best, The number one, The only, And so on..."
    But we can't all be the number one SEO specialist from the US or Europe.

    I was just wondering, does it work and if yes whom are does that believe it? Younger, older, educated or? And what make you say or use that phrase, in which moment to attract potential clients?

    Let me know.
    when there is no set rule for actually deciding who is the best or who is number one ..it is really just a fluffy marketing claim .. my view doesn't matter .. but if someone was that good they would be interviewing client and have a waiting list

    i'm under the delusion that the best people let their work speak for their skills.... or if you claim to be number one but your prices are on the low side ..somthing i wrong ..

    if the customer is in on the act .. or you are king it clear you are putting on a magic show ... but that it hard to explain right now

    sometime faking it is just faking it and you are attracting clients who are into that (the reads a lot dirtier than i meant it )
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  • Profile picture of the author socialentry
    There's no point in exaggerating.

    If you can demonstrate understanding via questions and revealing pain points, that's a lot more powerful IMO then simply stating a certification. It also allows for more granular control of the narrative. Overselling is real and bland generalities are obvious.

    Most people also grossly misunderstand fields outside their own. More often then not, I find that going by credentials or experience, you attach a label to yourself, which may be good or bad.
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  • Profile picture of the author WF- Enzo
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    If you exaggerate your claims, people will expect you to live to that claim. It's basically puffery.
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  • I expect the upcoming PPV event to be hyped to the hilt. I won't blame Sky Sports if the game is a washout. To use the same hype to sell me on a product you know is not as amazing as you presented it, puts you in the same category as the frauds to avoid in future.

    Be careful who you associate with: Not all hype merchants are frauds. But all frauds are hype merchants.

    Too many people are playing the "I'm better" game; all competing against each other for attention. If I play that game the only way to win is to exaggerate more than the rest. How else can I get you to buy from me, over them?

    Since nobody trusts marketers/advertisers because they are mostly liars, it makes more sense to be different than trying to be incrementally better than the same. Big claims are rightly met with skepticism. Be careful. You may need to be an expert copywriter to overturn the skepticism you yourself created by how you showed up.

    Most wounds are self inflicted. Hype, or exaggerated claims tend to raise the 'risk' level of the person it's being done to.

    If the bathroom is filthy in the restaurant, it's much harder to get orders from the kitchen no matter how clean it is or how well your menu reads.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Capra
    Good question. I think to a certain degree it can help but the trouble is that if you get found out then you lose trust with people. Building trust is probably one of the most important things because, in essence, you are asking people for their money. Exactly why offering value is so important. Although, it is a very powerful thing to show people results. Convincing proof that a product is worth it's salt. If you don't have that you can try showing other people's results and hope that is enough to swing the deal.

    Honesty, and integrity I think is important so I wouldn't personally "fake it" as such myself but they do say through these manifestation courses that you should think like you are already rich and successful. Apparently, it reprograms your mind and then magic things start to happen
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Reminds me of Avis who actually came out in their ads and said they were number 2...
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
    A while back there was a lot of discussion here about when it's appropriate for a person to sell how to make money products. Some people had generic answers like when you are rich or when you are successful. Other answers were silly. They would say once you've made a minimum $100,000 profit online you can write an ebook about how to make money. 90,000 wouldn't do, I guess.

    This discussion brought up that several big name gurus had never sold anything but how to make money information--even when they hadn't made money in the beginning. Joe Newbie Warrior was laughed out of the forum for selling an MMO ebook under those circumstances while big gurus were respected.

    About the same time, I heard a theory about the expertise scale which says that expertise has different levels, say 0-10. A 0 level expert isn't an expert at all. They know nothing. A 1 level knows more than the 0 level and the 5 level expert knows more than the 1 level expert.

    How this relates to selling your expertise is this (sticking to MMO but it applies in many areas): I would guess that the great majority of members of this forum have never made even $100 online much less have a consistent income.

    Yet, a much higher percentage have more expertise in building a WP site, getting it online, and doing some online marketing things like sending an email than billions of other humans who have zero clue about any of that.

    According to the theory, they are experts, albeit level 1 or 2 experts, compared to those billions.

    The would be experts at those basic tasks could figuratively dunk on most politicians, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, doctors, lawyers, rich people, etc.

    The problem comes when a level 1 expert pretends like they are a level 9 expert. I agree with what Claude said, sell what you have.

    This is blatantly obvious when someone says they have a new SEO contract for a local business, and they want to know what the first step is. Or when they ask about getting traffic to their site but advertising a how to get traffic book. Or when they spam a link for a HVAC mechanic in Miami here on the forum (they sold their link building package to the Miami guy and then they post their links here).

    I would say those are faking and they won't ever make it.

    If they would just sell their level 1 or 2 expertise, they could have billions of potential customers. But they won't. They try to be the big shot too soon and wind up failing.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
      Originally Posted by Mark Singletary View Post


      About the same time, I heard a theory about the expertise scale which says that expertise has different levels, say 0-10. A 0 level expert isn't an expert at all. They know nothing. A 1 level knows more than the 0 level and the 5 level expert knows more than the 1 level expert.

      Mark
      I never heard that before, but off the cuff, I agree and see it in my world.

      I have the same formal training as a lot of people in my field, and I have met with experts who have the same certs and years on the job as I do and they suck.

      In my field, it's not just knowing, it's also about having the experience and keeping up with any innovations that appear to be going mainstream.

      Also, in my experience, real experts aren't hyperbolic.
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Stealing is wrong.
    Lying is wrong.

    Aside from the fact that they are major relationship killers,

    If you purposely lie to a customer about your skills and you can't/ don't deliver then you are
    stealing time, money and resources from them. End of story.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Not to mention that they will tell others about you, so you're not going to make it big.


      On the other hand, telling someone what you can do, then do it, and within cost and time frame, gets them to tell a few people about you. Or, at least, to not complain about you. And, therefore, you might make it big.


      Originally Posted by kenmichaels View Post

      Stealing is wrong.
      Lying is wrong.

      Aside from the fact that they are major relationship killers,

      If you purposely lie to a customer about your skills and you can't/ don't deliver then you are
      stealing time, money and resources from them. End of story.
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    • Profile picture of the author allegandro
      Originally Posted by kenmichaels View Post

      Stealing is wrong.
      Lying is wrong.

      Aside from the fact that they are major relationship killers,

      If you purposely lie to a customer about your skills and you can't/ don't deliver then you are
      stealing time, money and resources from them. End of story.

      I agree with you 100%, still, even most major companies love to say that they provide the best this and that. And still, we buy their products.

      Does that mean that "THE BEST" has become subjective and not factual anymore?

      Why do they get away with it?

      Again, I would never use it to promote my service or products, but to understand why they get away with it, is very interesting to understand.
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        When was 'best' not subjective?


        Even with Google... it dominates. But is it the best? Best at what?


        At providing great results?


        My idea of providing best results and yours might not be the same. There's enough people on earth that there will be more than one interpretation.


        Duck Duck Go investors put money on the line because they think they can do better... Because their idea of best is not quite the same as Google's.


        If I rank for 'best SEO provider for Plumbers in Las Vegas in the 1st position and you're in the 5th, am I the best SEO provider?


        What if you're #1 for best SEO in Las Vegas?


        What if you're #1 for best SEO in Chicago and I am #1 for Best SEO in Queens?


        Originally Posted by allegandro View Post

        I agree with you 100%, still, even most major companies love to say that they provide the best this and that. And still, we buy their products.

        Does that mean that "THE BEST" has become subjective and not factual anymore?

        Why do they get away with it?

        Again, I would never use it to promote my service or products, but to understand why they get away with it, is very interesting to understand.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by allegandro View Post


        Does that mean that "THE BEST" has become subjective and not factual anymore?
        Saying you're "The Best" is meaningless. "The best" doesn't appeal to a specific customer. It doesn't satisfy a need, It doesn't indicate value. It doesn't set you apart from your competition. It's a claim that could only appeal to the most unsophisticated of shoppers.

        Making a claim that can be understood, that gives a specific benefit is positioning that will attract your ideal customers (assuming the benefit is specific to them)

        I had a friend that owned a retail store in New York. He told me that his store was "The best".

        I asked him what made it the best. He said "We're the best in town". I said "OK, but what makes you the best in town?"

        He said "We have been there the longest".

        I let it go, but t was a stupid claim based on nothing, made by someone who had no idea what to say if anyone asked them the simplest question.
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        • Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


          He said "We're the best in town". I said "OK, but what makes you the best in town?"

          He said "We have been there the longest".
          In many ways longevity in business can be seen as a sign of success, but is not necessarily an indication of being "the best". On the reverse, I know a guy that runs a small electrical store which is busy, very well known and has been there for over 40 years. Whilst he may have claims to being "the best", it certainly hasn't lined his pockets in any major way as he insists he has to keep working to survive. His margins are probably very slim to constantly draw the customers in.

          Longevity is only important to me in terms of my lifespan!
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        • Profile picture of the author max5ty
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          Saying you're "The Best" is meaningless. "The best" doesn't appeal to a specific customer. It doesn't satisfy a need, It doesn't indicate value. It doesn't set you apart from your competition. It's a claim that could only appeal to the most unsophisticated of shoppers.
          The best way to say you're the best...without saying you're the best...and have customers believe you just may be the best at what you do...

          use testimonials.

          "Claude is the best damn vacuum salesman I have ever seen" Batman

          "If you're looking for a vacuum, the only name you need to know is Claude" Barbie

          People will believe claims made by other buyers before they'll believe you.

          Also, it's why a lot of public speakers will have someone else introduce them first. The person that introduces you can tell all about how great you are...and the audience won't consider it bragging (when done correctly).
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  • Profile picture of the author Jamell
    Don't fake the funk because people will catch on and start distrusting you .Document your journey each step of the way and share so that people can see your progression
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    I would recommend People to be 100% upfront and honest. Many People can kind of sense when a Person is "exaggerating" and/or lying. The fact that a Person may be starting out in Copywriting (for example) can be a benefit/advantage ― for instance they can work for less money to build their skills, testimonials, portfolio etc.

    2C
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    • Profile picture of the author allegandro
      Originally Posted by Jonathan 2.0 View Post

      I would recommend People to be 100% upfront and honest. Many People can kind of sense when a Person is "exaggerating" and/or lying. The fact that a Person may be starting out in Copywriting (for example) can be a benefit/advantage ― for instance they can work for less money to build their skills, testimonials, portfolio etc.

      2C
      I prefer that as well, but you have to be bigger and better all the time.

      in the Netherlands some years ago a known product came with an advertising campaign that they improved their product.

      What they did is, they improved the package of the product, the product itself was still 100% the same.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
        Originally Posted by allegandro View Post

        What they did is, they improved the package of the product, the product itself was still 100% the same.
        See I couldn't do that, because I think it's a bit "sneaky." That said, there are worse things a "Marketer" could do.
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  • Profile picture of the author maxsi
    Exaggerating? In my opinion an excellent business doesn't need it....

    To give a real example: if you buy something for $8 and make $1200 back then.... there are no reasons for exaggerating.
    We talk about web properties
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  • Profile picture of the author luciesmazanska
    just be yourself do your job as good as you can and of course fake it until you make it!
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