Is it ever OK to boast?
13th August 2015
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“My Husband has a very important job,” she said loudly.  In fact so loudly that you could only presume that she wanted as many people as possible to hear her.  I wondered why some people felt it necessary to boast in this way.  I had actually been talking to her Husband earlier at the hotel bar.  He seemed a nice chap.  He told me he worked for a logistics company.  He described himself as a “middle manager” and was modest about his role – in contrast to his Wife.

This illustrates a dilemma that businesses find themselves having to address.  How do we tell our target customers how good we are and why they should choose us rather than one of our competitors without it sounding boastful?

From the outset there is one rule that must never be broken – don’t tell lies.  Never claim you can deliver a service that you can’t; and don’t claim to have the capability to do things that you don’t.

Before you start to think about what you should write on your website or in your sales brochure, write down the services you offer to your customers.  Then think again.  Do you do anything as a matter of course that your competitors don’t do?  When I talk to businesses I sometimes find they are doing great things for their customers without giving them a second thought.  When I point this out they often say something like, “That’s just the way we do things around here.”  Perhaps it is; but just because you do something as part of your overall service provision it doesn’t mean to say that your competitors do – and it may be a key point of difference in the eyes of your customers.

Once you have decided what you want to tell your customers you can compose your copy.  Avoid using statements like “We exceed our customers’ expectations” – it’s meaningless.  Unless all your competitors are writing that they fall short of their customers’ expectations it’s not likely to differentiate you.  Instead, survey your customers regularly.  Ask them balanced questions designed to enable them to give you an honest assessment of the quality of your services.  Analyse the results and then publish them.  If you can genuinely say that you surveyed all your customers last month and 90% of those who replied said they would not hesitate to do business with you again, that is a really powerful message.

In the same way, for every instance when you claim to be able to do something well, make sure you can illustrate your competency with a case study and a testimonial from a satisfied customer.  With genuine praise from real people, your message will be much more powerful than if you use glib statements.  Your target customers will see that you really can be trusted to deliver.   

Don’t be afraid to talk positively about your strengths. Remember, some of the people reading your copy may not know much about the product or service they are trying to source.  Tell people what you do in terms they will understand; avoid jargon and ‘techspeak’.

Consider getting accreditations for your business to confirm your competency; and join trade associations that have a recognised code of conduct; these things will give your target customers reassurance.

In short, if your customers believe you are good at what you do, then saying so surely can’t be described as boasting.

About the Author

Kelvin M

Member since: 6th August 2015

Locally-based, Kelvin is a Business Communications Consultant with, the business services provider.

In a successful career, he has held senior positions in retail operations with some...

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