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The 2015 Nosedive By Claiming What You Want To Claim

claim what you want to claim

Most businesses shout how different they are and why we should part our time and money.

Grand claims don’t work in 2015, unless you can back it up. Lets get straight to the point, when you finally scratch under the surface the majority of businesses behave the same as everyone else.

The UK’s rapidly growing start-up economy means a wealth of duplicates, copycats and so what’s.

According to Business Population Estimates (BPE) there are 5.2 million private sector businesses in the UK, the highest since estimates began in 2000. Breaking down even further British entrepreneurs broke records in 2014 with start-up figures at 581,173 new businesses (according to Start-Up Britain).

No wonder big business is latching onto the growth of the start-up economy. We only have to look at the current ‘Pitch To Rich’ competition where Virgin Media Business is offering £250,000 to entrepreneurs who impress with their plans for growth.

What these figures suggest is that we are seeing an explosion of companies. Lets dig a bit deeper, are those who say they are different really are?

A company that makes a commitment to understanding it’s marketplace and audience are in a different hemisphere than the ‘we lead, others follow’ mantra.

The Nottingham Myth

This is the way I see business in 2015. It’s similar to the old belief that Nottingham has five girls to every boy ratio (or in some cases 7:1). I had a few friends who went to Nottingham University and they were looked in awe by others (in that transition from sixth form to university), based on this myth that the gender imbalance would make life easier to at least be accepted by the opposite sex. The thought that every male who would become part of the city were also walking into the equivalent of a harem became something that others could only look on in admiration (including myself).

The reality we all know is that this is pure fantasy. However, this story does date back to the town’s lace industry. According to records, in the mid 19th century and the height of the lace industry in the UK, there were 110,000 women employed in the lace industry. Interesting that this belief has held on to the present day. Much like businesses sticking to what they have been used to year, after year.

Let me come back to the link between business and Nottingham five girls to every boy myth. When you visit Nottingham, it’s just the same as every other UK city. Similarly, for most business when you see through the bluster and promise, they are the same as everyone else in a specific industry.

Looking At A Solution

So, what does this mean for the consumer?

The consumer is now evolving. We are now more sceptical, more resourceful and the world is on our terms. This is a far cry from the early days of the internet and when the world of social was a fledgling platform to consider. Businesses could make grand claims and no one would really contest you. However, businesses will always make grand claims.

  • Activia yoghurt proudly boasted that it was ‘scientifically’ proven to provide nutritional benefits. However, Danone paid $45 million in damages to consumers and limited it’s health claims. At the end of the day, it’s just yoghurt.
  • In 2009, 60s fashion icon Twiggy became the face of Olay’s wrinkle free eye-cream ad campaign (at £25 a pop). As it turned out, the wrinkles were airbrushed out. Olay withdrew the advert. At the end of the day, it’s just eye cream.
  • Ecigarettes have been positioned within the marketplace as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. As a way to help people quit smoking, it couldn’t be further from the truth whilst containing many of the toxic compounds from traditional cigarettes. As evidence there has been an action suit against NJOY e-cigarettes. At the end of the day, it’s still smoking.

The points I am highlighting here is that all businesses need to be more believable in how they can make a difference to someone else and the pain points they may have. We can all see through shallow claims, we all need to stand for something on a much deeper level. We need to look through everything in the eyes of the consumer (and not airbrush it out in Olay’s case).

Hey…Look At Me

We now can’t claim what we want to claim. It’s as simple as that.

We are still part of a world where grand claims are regarded as the norm. Moving from a brand level, above, to a much more localised level, here is the headline from the business pages of my local paper (The Bournemouth Echo, Tuesday 12th May), that sums up the boastful world we are still part of.


Without highlighting the full article, well if you want a read, it’s here.

The reason that I am highlighting is that using the word ‘over delivery’ surely promotes antagonism. Who decides if someone has over delivered, is it the customer or is it company? I know what my money is on.

To Consider

If we say that we are different from everyone else then it is our responsibility to back it up with the content that we create:

  • Understand the person you are selling to

We can’t tell people what we want them to hear. They surely care about something too?

  • Be normal

As Activia fell flat by being ‘clinically’ and ‘scientifically’ proven or even Olay talking about ‘pentapetides,’ lets just talk normally to one another. This even means getting off the high horse and ‘over delivering.’

  • Encourage a prospect to imagine

It’s not about making claims about you; it’s about evoking feelings and emotions. It doesn’t just have to be hard facts and figures.

  • Keeping it simple

Many of us think that the route to making things complicated equals knowledge. I still don’t get what ‘big data’ is, so lets just take complexity out of what we do.

  • Encourage others for clarification

Be open, be honest, and be truthful. If someone asks a question, at least have the courtesy to answer it and in the least complex way.

  • Create value in the eyes of someone else

Value is created when someone understands the worldview gap that they have and how you can fill it. Value is worth so much more than conformity ie. 581,173 new businesses as mentioned at the top of the article behaving in a similar way.

To Round Up

There are more of us in business, lets not get carried away that we have to shout louder. Those who say they are different merely blend in with everyone else.

The media landscape is changing, so we have a responsibility to help people become more informed. It’s time to stand for the truth.


3D-bookcoverTo read how the media landscape is changing, why not download a FREE section of my book The Content Revolution.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you for your email address, just click this link and download the PDF.



Photo at the top courtesy of Ville Hyvonen

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