Insane Honesty: The Next Content Marketing Revolution?

I still have way too much to say about the awesome Content Marketing World conference I attended in Cleveland last week. Today’s CMWorld post is about a session titled: “How Insane Honesty Can Take Your B2B Story to the Next Level.”

This talk by Doug Kessler, of U.K. content agency Velocity, immediately brought to mind the many times in my various careers that I’ve gotten that “Are you bleeping insane?” look from co-workers or bosses. Often, it was after I suggested going public about some weakness, foible, or idiotic mistake we had made.

You see, many of my strongest, longest-lasting business relationships emerged out of crises caused by a screw-up, either of my own or my team. I learned that in the crucible of coming clean, acknowledging the error, and searching for a meaningful way to make it right, relationships of indelible trust are forged. So it always seemed to me that extreme honesty was, in fact, the best policy.

But, oh my God, the looks I got.

The core of Kessler’s idea is that marketing your weaknesses really only scares away those people who aren’t going to buy anyway, or would be really unhappy if they did (because they care so much about the areas where you are weak). However, the insane honesty builds trust like crazy with everyone else. And for every prospect scared away, “there will be dozens or hundreds or thousands who appreciate honesty, don’t care about the downside, and trust you far more because you had the balls to be truthful in public.”

His slides say insanely honest content works because it:

·         Shows that you care about the customer’s experience more than short-term revenue;

·         Builds trust – i.e., the positive things you say ring truer;

·         Surprises and delights;

·         Signals confidence;

·         Alienates mismatches/time-wasters;

·         Attracts ideal prospects; and

·         Focuses you on battles you can win.

The deck also links to this page of insane honesty in action, leaning on classic ads like Avis’ “We're only No. 2. We try harder” and Volkswagen’s “Ugly is only skin deep,” as well as more recent examples.

I encourage you to click these links; they’re entertaining and provocative. And I urge you (as Kessler does) to practice insane honesty by “exposing your soft spots and explaining them. Admit your shortcomings and put them in context.”

So take that, all you former co-workers and bosses from my previous lives. Kessler articulates, simply and powerfully, the values of insane honesty that I always suspected. And in content marketing, no less – my latest profession.

I’m looking forward to making right on my next royal screw-up!

Adapted from a post originally appearing in