The Beat: Flaws and All

Should your marketing admit your mistakes?

Welcome to The Beat by Rockstar CMO. I’m Ian Truscott, a 3xCMO, trusted advisor, strategy consultant and Chief Bottle Washer at Rockstar CMO. In this newsletter, I’d like to share a mix of what’s caught my eye from our community, our podcast and our street knowledge blog.


Thanks again for opening this newsletter, and I hope you’ve had a good week!

As B2B marketers, we constantly strive for differentiation, and when discussing this, we are never far from the word “authentic” as we try to shape what is truly different about us.

If we are genuine about that, then being authentic will mean we are not for everyone, and maybe we have flaws or gaps, and perhaps we make the odd mistake. Yet, we often fall back on trying to be everything for everyone and smoothing off anything that might stand out.

We’ve discussed this a couple of times on the podcast, but I was nudged into thinking about it again this week by one of my favourite podcasts — Nudge, by Phil Agnew.

His podcast focuses on the fascinating topic of psychology in marketing, and as he shares, being honest about your flaws is called “The Pratfall Effect”, in that if you appear honestly flawed, you can be seen as more attractive and trusted.

On the most recent episode on the topic, Phil also quoted a fabulous author, Richard Shotton (who I got to feature on Rockstar CMO some time ago when he published his book, the rather brilliant “The Choice Factory”). Richard quotes a lot of research into this, but this is good about cookies (the kind we nibble on):

We replicated an unpublished study about cookies by leading consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier that asked 626 nationally representative people which of the two cookies they preferred. The cookies are the same apart from one small difference: one has a rough edge; the other a perfectly smooth one.

The cookie with the rough edge, was the overwhelming favourite: 66% preferred it. The small imperfection didn’t detract from its appeal, but boosted it.

Phil shares that exposing your flaws is not all cookies. It can have a negative effect, as he talks about an example from the early nineties in the UK, which I remember (and I doubt Phil is old enough to 😀 ) of the founder of a once popular jewellery chain, Ratners.

Gerald Ratner almost destroyed his own company when in a speech, he described a decanter set sold by the group as “total crap” and that a set of gold earrings they sold would last not last longer than a sandwich.

So, maybe in your drive to be authentic, admit flaws, but just don’t describe your products as “total crap”, and, as Robert Rose shared on our podcast and in his Rose Colored Glasses column on the Content Marketing Institute, every great hero has flaws:

Historically, brand messaging architectures must be idealized, perfect, and unassailable — a passionate voice striking an ideal chord in an imperfect world. Your brand is the solution to all that ails. You develop reasons for that belief, a focus, and a value.

You pay little or no attention to exposing weaknesses and flaws.

But you should. Every great hero has flaws.

Yes, every great hero has flaws, and if we are honest and authentic, so are our B2B companies. Exposing a little of that humanity builds trust.

This brings me to the almost flawless Beyonce, who gives me the title of this edition of the newsletter with her “Flaws and All” track from 2007.

There are a lot of links there, all of which I have included below - please take a look - click through, even it‘s just to let me know someone opened this email :-)

If you have any thoughts on anything I share here, please reply to this email. In the meantime, enjoy your week!



Ian Truscott | Chief Bottle Washer Rockstar CMO

Street Knowledge

A collection of articles and podcasts that will give you a perfect guide to being flawed.

Our Beat

On the topic of flaws, on the Rockstar CMO FM podcast, Jeff shares some Martech f**k ups from his career:

Get your Monday Marketing Mojo Working

Yes, we have our finger on the pulse! Beyonce is a ht with Texas Hold ‘Em, but what about this, it is not one of her best-known hits and may not get your mojo working, but it is a great tune for this week’s topic: