Today, ladies and gentlemen, whilst you find yourself worshipping at the alter that is air conditioning, promises to be the most fulfilling day of your lives. Forget your wedding day, the birth of your children or that time you met Gregg Wallace off of Masterchef, because this, this one right here, this is the day.
And why, you may ask? I’ll tell you. It’s because today – in fact right now – is the moment in time when you finally get to read the greatest article ever to be written in a voice over blog since the dawn of time itself (cue bloke banging on some kettle drums for dramatic effect!)
It’s all a bit much isn’t it? And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about in this article, which some of you may well think is great, while others of you might read it, smile a little, share it with a colleague, and then go back to your much more interesting lives.
To be fair, it makes very little difference to me – I’m going to write it anyway, and what I want to talk about are superlatives. For those of you reaching for the dictionary – and by dictionary, I mean asking Google – I’m referring to those words which claim that you are the best, leading, most wonderful covered in dark chocolate and we’ll let you lick the spoon, company in the world.
I’m all for being proud of your brand, but so many of these claims are just completely bogus. Let’s take a look at a few examples shall we?
My personal favourite – ‘leading’, as in “Paul J Rose is a leading voice over artist.” The problem is that this claim is completely empty. Aside from the fact that I have no statistical evidence to back it up, exactly how can I lead in this field? It’s not a race, I’m just happy and grateful for the work, and equally happy when friends and colleagues in the industry tell me that they’re doing well too.
Perhaps in your own industry, you genuinely are in the lead at something. Look around long enough, and there will be one field in which you are leading, even if it boils down to the number of fire extinguishers you have in your warehouse and then ‘ding’, as if by magic, you’re a market leader.
Or here’s a personal favourite – how about when a company claims to be leaders in terms of customer service?
Now that’s a tricky one, because used in a clever way, a company can use this issue to their advantage. Let’s take a look at two companies – we’ll call them A and B. Company A has a flawless track record. Every job that leaves their factory is flawless and on time. Trouble is, they don’t answer the phone within less than 10 rings and the nearest available manager is almost never available for a chat.
Company B are friendly and lovely, and whilst their factory does make the occasional blunder, they always work tirelessly to fix their mistakes and the end users are usually happy with the final arrangement.
Now if you were handing out the award for leading customer service, who would you give it to? Personally, I’d call it a tie – neither of them are leading, but in the same token, neither is falling behind the other one either.
So let’s look at all of those other superlatives. Actually, let’s not, because you can apply the same argument to every single one of them. Claiming to be the best needs to be backed up with something we can actually quantify.
And how does this apply to any of you? Well I’d invite you to take a look at your marketing literature and to see if you’re guilty of the same crime. Take a look at your website, play the explainer videos that you’ve had expertly produced, look at your SEO keywords and adverts and listen to the messages that are played to customers on your hold music.
You see, you have a captive audience right there, and yet you’re wasting precious time and column inches (do those still exist wen you’re talking about websites, oh let’s say yes) on telling them ‘we’re great’, ‘we’re market leaders’, ‘our admin people have the whitest smiles’. They don’t care.
You need to replace this information with facts. If your firm shipped to 200 countries last year, then tell them that. If after countless months of research you have confirmed that no one can do what you do for as cheap as you do it, then we want to know about it, and if your admin staff do indeed have the whitest smile, then please tell me how they do it, because my whitening toothpaste is rubbish and my dentist wants £400, which is just a bit much when a bottle of TippEx only costs £1.49.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. “But Paul, our customers say we are the best”. That’s fantastic, in which case you should be asking them for testimonials for your catalogue or better yet, video testimonials to put on your website.
Doing that shows that you really get it. It’s not up to you to declare that you’re the best – it’s up to your customers to draw that conclusion, and if you’ve done your job so well that they are motivated to share their positive opinions with others, then you are truly on your way to becoming leaders in your field.
So come on, be honest – was that the best article ever?