Pratfall Effect

🤔 Did you know…

There was a typo in today’s email preview text.

I wrote “imprefections” when it should have read “imperfections.”

This was no accident. This may surprise you, but the occasional typo can actually make people like you more.

Why? Keep reading…

Brought to you today by MindStudio and CXL ❤️

Imagine this…

You’re speaking on stage at your very first conference.

The audience will be jam-packed with prospective customers so it’s a BIG opportunity for your business. The pressure is on.

When the big day finally arrives, you’re super nervous. You’ve been practicing for months but you’re still sweating bullets.

Then the moment of truth—they call your name… you step on stage… and…

You kill it!

The audience laughs at your jokes and you hit every talking point perfectly. At the end of your presentation, you get a huge applause.

As you walk proudly off the stage, the unthinkable happens—you trip and fall flat on your face in front of EVERYONE. 😭

You’re absolutely humiliated. Months of hard work, and now all people will remember from your talk is how clumsy you are.

You hide in the bathroom for 10 minutes, feeling sorry for yourself. When you finally emerge, you see a few people standing in the hallway chatting.

You try to sneak past them unnoticed when someone calls your name.

“Amazing talk!” she says. “Would you join us for lunch? I’d love to learn more about your company and how we can work together.”

Another person chimes in, “Me too! You’re so inspiring.”

Are you surprised people still want to talk business after your embarrassing moment?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy 🧠 we’ll explore the Pratfall Effectwhy imperfections can actually make people like you (or your brand) more.

Let’s get into it…

Plot twist: customers don’t want perfect. They want real.

But before you uninstall Grammarly and start sending work emails without proofreading them…

There’s a caveat.

Why is Patrick happy? (wrong answers only) : r/spongebob

The Pratfall Effect only applies if the entrepreneur or brand is already considered competent.

In 1966, psychologist Elliot Aronson discovered when a person is viewed as superior, they’re more likable if they make a mistake. But when a person is viewed as average or mediocre, their likability plummets. 😟

And when it comes to naturally beloved items like cookies, consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier found people prefer the “imperfect” versions.

It’s simple: Occasional imperfections humanize us and make products feel more authentic.

But repeated blunders make us look incompetent.

That’s why smart marketers *don’t* make intentional mistakes. They focus on building the brand or company up to its highest potential.

That way when they do make an inevitable mistake, it works *in their favor* instead of backfiring.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Retail & Hospitality

Turn f*ck-ups into moments of delight

Every business messes up from time to time. Usually, when businesses make a mistake, they try to sweep it under the rug. You can stand out by turning mess-ups into moments of surprise and delight.

For instance, in 2018 KFC ran out of chicken in the UK. Rather than putting out a boring statement and making excuses, they owned the mistake with this funny ad campaign.

You don’t need to take out a full-page ad like KFC after making a mistake though. There are plenty of simple and low-cost ways to delight customers. Get creative!

Health & Wellness

Flaunt inherent flaws

Smart marketers tackle undesirable features of a brand or product head-on.

Like Buckley’s famously did when it came to the repulsive taste of its cough syrup.

Embrace delegation

Instead of merely highlighting the benefit (“it works”), Buckley’s was boldly transparent with customers and let them know firsthand it tastes like sh*t.

The award-winning “Bad Taste” campaign built trust and drove MASSIVE sales.

By ‘92, Buckley’s had beaten out big names in the pharmaceutical industry to become the top-selling cough syrup in Canada.

And compared to its competitors, it only spent a fraction on ad costs to do so.

Media & Education

Turn your “flaws” into features and overcome skepticism

The online education space is full of grifters‘ grandiose promises. Everywhere you look another person is promising to help you “make $10k in 10 days” or “get 100K followers on LinkedIn fast so you can quit your 9-5!”

If you’re anything like me… you probably roll your eyes when you see messages like this.

CXL knew when it came to online learning, many marketers were sick of over-the-top promises from self-proclaimed gurus.

Smart marketers want to go beyond beginner-level fluff and learn from the world’s top growth experts. To reach these ambitious marketers, CXL created an ad flaunting 1-star reviews from students who said CXL’s program was “too difficult.”

This unexpected ad leaned into the Pratfall Effect, making it UNIGNORABLE.

The Short of It 💥

People appreciate realness. And we’re very aware that nobody is perfect.

Ask yourself, what flaws does your brand have and how can you use them to make you or your product more relatable?

Imperfection can be a selling point.

That said, there’s a difference between small imperfections and incompetence or messy mistakes.

Don’t overdo it.

Until next time, happy selling.

🐦 Your Brainy Tweetable

No one is perfect.

Sometimes imperfections can make people & brands more likable.

Smart advertisers know that flaunting your flaws can humanize your brand & actually drive more sales.

Buckley’s cough syrup is a famous example:

Tweet this now > 



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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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