I realize I’m going against the tide here, but instead of wishing you success for the new year, I would like to see you strive for imperfection. Here is why being imperfect and having fails can make your events thrive.
What email would you be more likely to open?
Positive thinking is growing in popularity, and particularly now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, people seem to want to adopt a positive mindset even more. In business context, it means focusing on positive messages, and striving for perfect performance in everything. Does it help, though?
In experiments, out of two cookies (ideal and cracked), people prefer the cracked one; of two job candidates, people prefer the one who spilled coffee during the interview; and all-5 star ratings aren’t trusted. It seems to be our nature to gravitate towards negative emotions or facts.
It is known as the Pratfall effect in psychology – a bias that draws us towards imperfection. Nudge podcast has a great episode on it. Phil says, “Deep down we all know that we’re not drawn solely to positive things; sometimes we prefer negative things” and I can’t agree more.
We are more likely to open bad news headlines. We enjoy learning about failures. If a controversial statement is made, we pay attention immediately. It’s not just assumptions; studies have proven it for business contexts, too (see examples below). What email did you say you would open above? (I opened the second one). Business can only win if they don’t aim for perfection and add some fly in the ointment on purpose.
Adam Ferrier says, ‘for marketers…there is a lot more engagement to be had when we start to look at the weaknesses and look at our foibles”. The brands that distinguish themselves from others by acting more human and inviting more ‘mistakes’, apologies, randomness, and imperfections will win over audiences. Click here to watch his thoughtful and hilarious (as always) presentation in full.
How to use it in your event marketing?
So, how can you benefit from event fails and use the pratfall effect in your event communications? A couple (general) suggestions:
✔️ don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. This is how In-Event’s team eloquently turned their typo into a benefit:
✔️ don’t hide negative feedback or bad reviews. Fix the problem, describe improvements, and even involve the reviewer along the way! If you can’t fix it right away – at least explain the reasons and show your appreciation:
These days, it is more important than ever for #eventprofs to understand the true meaning of imperfection and failure. Turns out, it’s not just a way to practice self-care (hello, wabi-sabi), but it actually benefits our event communications, and helps increase engagement and connect with attendees authentically.
The Value of Imperfection
We all feel it is exhausting to be perfect, but we have yet to realize the value of imperfection, especially in business. Interestingly, several posts in my feed lately highlight a similar subject, such as this piece by Jay Desai about fails in marketing, so we appear to be on the right track.
Here are some more links for you which I hope will help you step into the new year without feeling the pressure of being perfect, and enlightened about how imperfection is better for your professional and personal goals.
Failure is the new flawless – Bad experiences stick in our memories for longer, according to behavioural experts. Sérgio Brodsky wants to know why more brands aren’t leveraging vulnerability to connect with audiences.
Why brands should flaunt their flaws – another Nudge episode exploring the Pratfall effect.
When Blemishing Leads to Blossoming: The Positive Effect of Negative Information – Research that shows that people will be more favorably disposed to a product when a small dose of negative information is added to an otherwise positive description.
Learning from others’ failures: The effectiveness of failure stories for managerial learning – According to this research, stories about failures may result in more effective learning.