My Insane Honesty

Yesterday evening, I could choose between watching football (soccer) or go on YouTube to listen to a few keynote speeches.  So I did what every reasonable guy would do.

On YouTube I came across a presentation by Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity Partners Ltd. According to Velocity Partners website, “Doug is a displaced Yank who started his career at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Soap and fabric softener bored him rigid so he jumped ship to specialise in B2B. Doug is a content marketing junkie. He’s a copywriter at heart but with a secret jones for analytics. And Lagavulin.”

So instead of football, I watched this video of Doug’s presentation called “Insane Honesty.”
It’s about the logic behind putting your “worst foot forward whilst Marketing is all about the best foot forward.” (mostly)

Quite frankly, not a bad idea at all. But a bit weird. I mean: why would you NOT tell your customer the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as from your company’s perspective that person is the most crucial person.

Whilst watching I started asking myself: If I would tell the “insane truth” about me, what would I tell?  How would I tell potential customers, why they would be better off by NOT hiring me?  

Well I definitely would start by apologising not being the best consultant, trainer and definitively not the best public speaker (yet). Because bragging to be the best is quite similar to all those companies claiming to be market leader.
The truth is that I really don’t want to be the best consultant, the best business coach nor the best speaker. I firmly believe that any client would better off hiring the right consultant, the right executive coach and definitely he should hire the right speaker for a particular event.

So telling that I absolutely don’t want to be there for everybody shouldn’t be that difficult.

  • First of all, if you would hire me, you will recognise that I am pragmatic, straight forward: I am Dutch. So you have to be aware that sometimes Dutch straight talking takes a bit of getting used to. However, it does have its advantages. At least you know where you stand. Surprisingly you may even conclude that occasionally Dutch directness may be not so bad after all.
  • I may tell you things you may not want to hear, if you don't like it, that's no problem: please remember there is a difference between hearing and listening. Nevertheless, you may decide to listen. As a client once said: frankly speaking, there is a fair piece of truth and value in it.
  • If you would hire me, please be aware that I work in high tempo. Having me on board, so must you. I am told to be rather good at delegating, allowing my clients to do most of the work: I think they learn quicker and succeed faster.
  • I don't stick to standard textbook models, or a single pre-set methodology. I believe every client is unique.
  • And I also believe that content should have proof, so you will be confronted with scientific stuff, theoretical management thinking. I will pick your brain. Please be aware.
  • You shouldn't hire me if you prefer to be similar to everybody else in your industry. I think this is one of the key factors why companies do need to invest a lot of marketing and sales, and still are suffering from price pressure. Do you already see the opportunities?
  • Most of the time you have to deal with me in person. I don't bring a bunch of ambitious young consultants in.
  • You also should know that I’m not perfect. I made a few mistakes myself. I'm sorry. However, there is an advantage, most likely I'm not making the same mistake twice. So when hiring me, you have the opportunity to avoid those mistakes I already made. Yes, I am a positive guy: as long as there’s life, there’s hope.
  • I don't always have an immediate solution to a problem. But I try to come up with an idea and if I do, there is always a fair chance indeed it may work.
  • On my website you don't find a list of company names and logos, I once worked for. I think that may give you a false idea of certainty. Hence, I am not showing off by dropping big names. And I also believe in confidentiality.

Now you may think, that I made these up. Well, I didn't. This is what you indeed may expect to get when you hire me. Yes, there are some potential downsides, some particular concerns you will have to deal with. I'm not perfect. And I don't see any reason to hide nor deny that. I rather tell you this in advance. Because I don't want you to be disappointed.

Then there are two possibilities. It may alienates you or you get curious, maybe even attracted.
Well, I guess, if the above alienates you, you would never had hired me anyway, no matter what my ‘normal’ marketing would say.
But at the same time there are also a few who appreciate someone being honest about his or her shortcomings.

According to Michael Porter, the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. With this in mind, if insane honesty alienates you, fine.
If it attracts just a few of you, excellent.
Doug says, such honesty builds trust as these statements signal confidence. And showing confidence in the own capabilities is as important as having clients trusting you. It even may attract customers because it simply contains an element of surprise. At least these statements are somewhat different, even charming.
Telling the world who should probably NOT buy also identifies those who should. Insane Honesty focuses you on battles you can win.

Klaas Meekma

P.S. follow @dougkessler or @velocitytweets on Twitter, it may be worthwhile.


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