My wife and I were having dinner in our dining room while the news played on the television in the adjacent living room. Although we weren’t paying much attention, one of the teases before a commercial break caught our attention.
“Police shoot dog on Eddie Road! Story right after this break.”
My wife, Kory, and I looked at each other. We lived on Eddie Road. We were accustomed to police stories being about neighborhoods on the other side of town. Now the police were shooting dogs on our street!
It got worse.
The news showed video of the house where the shooting occurred—and it was right across the street. Yes, directly across the street from the little yellow house where Kory and I lived with our 2-year-old daughter.
The police came by to arrest a guy who had failed to appear in court. The guy sent his dog after the police. To defend themselves, one of the officers shot the dog and killed it. During the distraction, the perpetrator escaped.
There I sat, living across the street from someone the police had come to arrest, in a terrible neighborhood with my family. I glanced at the swing set in our backyard where I frequently played with my daughter. We needed to move.
My wife and I lived on Eddie Road because we had no choice. We were married young, and Kory was pregnant before our first anniversary. Both of us brought debt into the marriage, and together we owed more than we earned in a year. Plus, my wife didn’t go back to work after our daughter was born. She didn’t make enough at her job at Home Depot to justify the time and expense. We had to grow up quickly.
All this made us work harder. Kory babysat for one of her friends, generating more than she would have in her job. Plus, we started a new courier business, walking license applications through Tallahassee’s government offices in the time before you could apply and renew online. Within a few years, we generated the money we needed and paid off everything we owed, plus interest.
Today we live in a nice home and enjoy spending time by our pool, but I’ll always remember where we came from. Those experiences gave us the work ethic we have today.
I’m telling you this story to illustrate something important. When you talk about your fancy lifestyle, people have two common reactions. The first is “Wow! I’d like what he has. I’m going to do what he did.” Alternatively, people might think “He’s such a blowhard, talking about how rich he is.”
By admitting your faults and showing a clear “before picture” of your life—how you struggled before you implemented what you teach—you reveal that you are human. Instead of seeing you as superhuman, customers can identify with you.
Often we are afraid to reveal our faults to our customers. We fear they’ll think less of us when we admit we aren’t perfect. Quite the opposite. Faults make us human. Revealing a vulnerable side to your customers will help them see themselves in your story, strengthening the bond they have with you.
One warning: I have seen this backfire. If your fault happens to be poor customer service or not paying your bills, it’s important to get that fixed before you admit it’s a fault. No one wants to deal with someone who is a mess. Customers will not fall in love with you because you admit how badly you run your business. You have to fix the problem and then admit to it after you have found a solution.
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