Stop Being Perfect
Here is a top tip for using your flaws to generate brand likeability. Use it in your content marketing, video content and social media posts.
Two candidates interview for a top position. Both candidates conduct themselves well and have equal skills and qualifications. Torn between the two, you watch as candidate #2 leaves the room. He trips and lands on his knees, spilling coffee down his trousers. He laughs, and you can’t help but chuckle with him.
Which candidate do you hire?
According to the Pratfall Effect (discovered in 1966 by Elliot Aronson, a Harvard University psychologist), you’re more likely to hire candidate #2.
In a similar recorded scenario to the above, students watching two actors answering questions found the one who spilt coffee on himself the most likeable.
Weakness, flaws and vulnerability make a person seem human and more relatable.
It’s why we love watching outtakes and blunders.
Everywhere you look on social media, brands are trying to look professional. Unfortunately, striving for perfection can lead to a vanilla brand message, with nothing to differentiate your business from the competition.
The caveat is to not try too hard. I’ve noticed many LinkedIn posts in 2023 with people oversharing their vulnerability. One guy filmed himself crying because he’d had to let his team go. He got a lot of flack for being inauthentic. You might argue that his business got significant attention, but his actions most likely reduced the chances of generating leads.
Trying to make people feel warm towards you, kind of defeats the object of the Pratfall effect. Authenticity must always be the number one rule. Be yourself and you will eventually *uck up, because we all do. Learn to laugh at yourself and not take life too seriously. By all means, share your hardships, but don’t add a whole film crew to your efforts. It’s not Eastenders, you know.
Don’t be afraid to show your flaws
- Share relatable stories
- Share imperfect video content
- Admit to mistakes (ideally comedic)
- Use a brand voice that doesn’t sound like your math teacher
Indeed, make a thing of your flaws and mistakes. It makes you more human and your brand more likeable.
Examples of Companies Applying the Pratfall Effect to Marketing Campaigns
- VW Beetle US advert: “It’s ugly, but it gets you there.”
- Avis (comparing themselves with Hertz): “When you’re only number two, you try harder. Or else.”
- Stella Artois Award-winning campaign: “Reassuringly Expensive.“
- Guinness (referring to slow pour): “Good things come to those who wait.”
These ad campaigns generated significant success. It’s a powerful way of turning a flaw, weakness, or objection into a likeable brand trait.
We all love watching people and animals mess up on video shorts. It’s fun and funny and makes us feel connected. Laughter is fantastic medicine and I love working with clients who have a sense of humour. It makes life and work more enjoyable.
I am a Coach and Copywriter helping heart-led small businesses become visible for business growth.