A Damaging Admission…

By Bernadette Doyle


In the mid eighties, researchers at Cleveland State University made an astonishing discovery.

The researchers created two fictitious job candidates, Dave and John. For each of them they created identical resumes and two almost identical letters of reference. The ONLY difference was that John’s letter included this sentence:

‘Sometimes, John can be a little difficult to get along with.’

The researchers showed the resumes to personnel directors.

Guess which applicant the directors most wanted to interview?

Believe it or not, the answer is JOHN.

The researchers concluded that the criticism of John made the rest of the reference far more believable.

Many savvy marketers have long understood the power of the ‘damaging admission’. The damaging admission is where the seller points out the flaws of what they are offering. Few products, services or offers are perfect and most prospects can’t help but wonder, ‘What’s the hidden catch?’

So if you take it upon yourself to let your prospects know up front what the weaknesses or limitations of what you are
offering, you accomplish several things.

First, by announcing upfront the limitations of your product service or idea, it stops your prospect from attempting to
uncover those limitations for himself.

Secondly, it lends credibility to everything else you have to say about your product or service. After all, if you’re honest
enough to admit the weaknesses and flaws of what you’re offering, it stands to reason that all the positive things you have to say are true too.

Finally, it can actually draw your prospects attention. Who can resist paying attention to the sentence that starts, ‘I
shouldn’t be telling you this, but….’?

Cosmetics company Lush have long understood the power of the ‘damaging admission’. Next to their product descriptions they include positive and negative comments from customers. Hence a shampoo that features rave reviews from some customers, may also be accompanied by comments from others such as ‘smells like coal tar’. Kind of refutes the idea that the positive testimonials are manufactured doesn’t it?

Here’s another example of a damaging admission, taken from one of my own products: ‘If you’re determined to find a catch, there is one major flaw that you should know about. This programme won’t pick up the phone and make the calls for you! You’ll still have to pick up the phone and dial!’

What stops most people from making the ‘damaging admission’ is that they’re afraid that by showing a weakness they’ll lose the sale. In actual fact, the reverse is true. You’re far more likely to win your customers’ trust and respect if you admit the
flaws of what you are offering.

© 2008 by Bernadette Doyle. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Bernadette Doyle publishes her free, weekly Client Magnets newsletter for trainers, speakers, coaches, consultants, complementary therapists and solo professionals. If you want to get clients calling you instead of you calling them then sign up for the Client Magnets newsletter at  http://www.ClientMagnets.com today!