B2B Marketing: I’ll Take Results Over Superlatives, Any Day

by Jennifer Beever

Hot Air BalloonsMarketing guru. Social media expert. Digital genius. Dynamic speaker. Prolific writer. Does anyone really believe these words when they read them on a marketing provider’s website?

Something’s been bothering me as I sift through marketing information and visit other marketing providers’ websites, About pages and bios on social media.

It’s the use of superlatives.

Marketers trying to make an impact are using too many superlatives, when what they really need to share is their knowledge and the results they get for their clients.

Am I being too harsh?

I don’t think I am. When I’m wondering if my Friday Morning Marketing Soapbox topic is out there, I often Google the topic. It turns out a Marketing and PR expert (really) David Meerman Scott, blogged about this. In David’s words, superlative marketing strategy is tricky because someone can always trump you.

When I see a brand new entrant into the marketing consulting arena post that they are an “expert,” I am slightly incredulous. I think it takes some big “huevos” for anyone to say they’re an expert in anything, especially a newbie.

The use of the title “expert” is particularly true in the social media space (when I Googled “social media expert” I got over 47 million results). Maybe to the brick and mortar business owner who doesn’t know anything about social media, everyone’s an expert! Peter Shankman, marketer and founder of HARO, is adamant about this. Read his great post, Why I Will Never, Ever, Hire a “Social Media Expert.”

A marketing consultant said on his website that he is a “prolific writer.” He self-published one book and has a blog on his site with daily but short posts – most written by others. Is that really prolific? And, even if he had written a lot, wouldn’t that be apparent to the website visitor?

Many consultants say on their profiles that they are a “dynamic speaker,” even if they have little speaking experience. Again, since a speaker is telling me they’re dynamic, I find it hard to believe. Obviously, the proof is in their performance, and I would find the words “dynamic speaker” easier to swallow if they are from a client’s testimonial.

And yes, on the site of a company of digital marketers, I saw the word “genius.” Yikes!

I was taught by my parents to be humble. My father actually told me that if I just worked hard I would get ahead – that I didn’t need to “toot my own horn.”

Today things are different. There is a lot of competition as more and more people get into consulting and freelancing. Younger generations are different than mine or my father’s. I’ve heard that a characteristic of the millennial generation is that they are supremely confident, having been told by their parents and teachers that they could do anything and were given awards whether they earned them or not.

Part of my view is my training in my early career in sales and marketing in the software industry and in my ongoing B2B marketing consulting. It is not ethical and is in some cases illegal to over-promise in your marketing. Your business could be sued and/or fined if your marketing claims are misleading or false.

So, when you see self-proclaimed experts, geniuses, prolific writers and dynamic speakers, look for proof in the form of the marketing results they get for their clients.

Photo by Nicholas Raymond. Some Rights Reserved.


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