Are you really a ‘leading provider’…or leading me on?

Calling yourself an ‘industry leader’ is like assigning yourself a nickname. Better to cite (or even induce) kudos from others.

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“I’m an amazing person.”

Imagine that a complete stranger said this to you. How would you react?

I know what I’d be thinking: “According to whom, buddy?”

Now think of the corporate world: Too often, businesses are leading providers, industry-leading or market leaders—according to nobody other than themselves.

You say you’re amazing? Prove it.

As opposed to our personal lives, where arrogance is met with cynicism, consumers generally let businesses get away with statements of grandeur.

That doesn’t mean your business won’t ever be called on it. And boy, will you ever look dumb without an answer.

Have an answer to ‘According to whom?’

There are occasions for marketing-speak, and others for speaking the facts.

Look at it this way: Realistically, there can’t be more than one leading provider of the same product. You must be able to back up your words.

Seize as many opportunities as you can to find “proof.” For example:

  • Enter an awards program in your industry. Then, you can say “According to W, our product has the best X, Y and Z.”
  • Ask your clients to fill out a short survey. Ask them how your customer service ranks against other similar companies. Or find out how many clients would recommend you to their peers.
  • Quote a high-profile media outlet. For example, arrange for a product review.

You will have to do some work to seek out accolades—but it will be worth it, especially when you’re trying to drum up new business.

Take the challenge

Believe it or not, you can look good without resorting to statements of grandeur.

So here’s my challenge to you:

  1. Look closely at how you’re describing your business, product, service or cause—particularly the adjectives you use. At the end of each sentence, ask yourself, “According to whom?”
  2. If you can’t back up your statement, find proof; or
  3. Identify original, factual yet still attention-grabbing one-liners that will appeal to your target audience. It may not be easy, but you can do it.

What are some of the worst statements of grandeur you’ve ever heard? How would you fix them?

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