The company doth protest too much, methinks

Billy Shakespeare…or Shakespeare and Cuban heels.

Apologies to those fans of the Bard for the bastardisation of the famous line from Hamlet but it’s a phrase I’ve come to use for early market software vendors that are trying just a little too hard to convince prospects that they are bigger and more credible than they really are.

Claiming, front and centre on your web site and in the copy of your press releases that you are the “global leader” in somethingorother appears to be the fashion in marketing communications.  In fact we see phrases like “global”, “market-leading” or “leading provider” so often now that I think we’ve actually stopped thinking about the meaning of these words and whether we can legitimately use them in our communications.  Either that or marketing law has changed to make it possible to have more than one market leading product in the same market segment.

Equally, stating that you have offices in London, Paris and New York is meant to convey the impression of an organisation able to address the “global” requirements of a distributed world-wide customer base.  But if you’re competing with organisations with offices in 60 countries and a workforce the size of the population of Liechtenstein, then your 3 rented Regus offices don’t really cut it by comparison.  One organisation’s “global” is another organisation’s “niche”.

High_HeelsIn my mind, it’s the equivalent of short men wearing Cuban heels.  As soon as you see the heels, the illusion crumbles and you realise that you were being conned.  But it’s worse than that of course because you then wonder that if someone has gone to all that trouble to look taller, what other deficiency were they trying to hide?

I believe that the solution relies on a little bit of self confidence and being happy with the little that you’ve got.  It’s about realising the value you provide and making the most of your limited resources.  If you can develop the solution that your prospects need, and you can demonstrate reference customers who are happy to tell the world how good you are, then that should be good enough. If you can’t do any of these things, then you probably don’t have a business in the first place.

Differentiate yourself well, understand how you are better than the competition and communicate it clearly and as often as you can. Get more customers, grow organically, create more references and repeat.  There is no secret to it.  Don’t wait for you your prospects to try to catch a glimpse of your heels.  Be upfront and tell them you’re 5′ 5″ but getting taller every day.

Dan.

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