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Don't Be Afraid Show Your Warts - Here's Why

Don't Be Afraid Show Your Warts - Here's Why

November 05, 2009

There's no other team that can provoke emotions like the New York Yankees. People who don't even follow baseball either love 'em or hate 'em. And if you do follow baseball you know exactly what I mean. There's no in between.

And right now, as the Yankees and their fans celebrate today, people are either hailing their heroes or complaining about how George Steinbrenner 'bought' another World Series by collecting the biggest stars and racking up the biggest payroll in history.

My wife is from Philly so you know who I was cheering for but, to be honest, I'm not a big fan of watching baseball. I like to play it. I love to coach my son's little league team. I just don't like to watch it. What I do enjoy watching is how people react to things like the Yankees, and it's been fascinating. It's also a lot more fun!

Here's what I've come to realize. Fans love them because they win. In fact, this is their 27th World Series title. Anti-Yankee fans hate them not just because they win, but how they win.

They have a swagger to them. But it's more than that. Everybody (except Yankee nation) hates braggadocia. And most people, especially in our culture, will root for the underdog. We see it all the time:

David v. Goliath

Rocky v. Apollo Creed

Microsoft v. Macintosh

Tiger Woods v. Phil Mickelson

We see it on the Biggest Loser, American Idol (who could ever forget the British woman whose beautiful voice captured the world's attention?) and we see it all the time in business. It's one of the best way to attract a crowd.

How to be the underdog in your market

To be the underdog, however, you have to be willing to expose your weaknesses. You have to make yourself humble and the best way to do that is what I call, 'showing your warts.'

It's a willingness to talk about those things that others may see as a weakness and then turning it into a positive.

Avis built an entire ad campaign around the idea that they're #2. They grabbed people's attention around ads that said, 'We try harder.' Motel 6 freely admits that it's not a big fancy chain so it promotes itself as a no-frills place to stay with it's low rates and friendly staff. They emphasize their shortcomings and turn them into positives.

Comedians like Lucille Ball, Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Foxworthy, Rodney Dangerfield attracted huge followings because of their self-deprecating humor. They truly showed their warts!

What would most people consider to be a weakness about your business? Is it the size of your company? Do you have a limited product offering? Do you not have the slick packaging that maybe your competitors offer? Jot them down and turn them into a benefit.

When you're willing to be the underdog people will open their minds and wallets.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman