Why "follow the leader(ship)" messaging no longer works

We all have seen these… companies that tout / message their products and solutions, or themselves  as…

  • The worldwide leader in…
  • First company to deliver…
  • XX% of the world’s ABC use…
  • Over X years of experience in…

Who says you are a worldwide leader in….?  Market share? Revenue? Nope…leadership is a perception, not a truth, or a right. Who cares  if you were the first company to deliver a product or technology? The only ones that are going to buy are the early adopters…the masses typically wait for a second option, or even a second generation.  I never buy the first year model of a new car, why would I anything else?  Okay, I admit…maybe an iPad, or iPhone, but Apple has a history of doing it right. And, they seldom tout themselves as first in anything, and look where they are….the perceived “leader” in a number of markets.

XX% of the world’s ABC use your product? C’mon. All that tells me that a bunch of people (supposedly like me) bought your product. It doesn’t tell me if users are happy with it, heck if users even use it anymore. Plus, I’ll believe the user, before I believe your message and follow  like a sheep. And, when it comes to experience or expertise, in this day and age, that can be purchased, rented, borrowed, etc. Truly creative and intelligent people are everywhere, and many of them may be right out of college or even high school for that matter.  Being old, does not make you a leader.

See the trend…leadership messaging is all about you, when today it’s all about us (consumers).  Tell me what you are doing, have done, or will do to earn, and more importantly, keep my business.  The fact that you are the worldwide leader in some product or technology, does not tell me anything, nor is it really that credible, original, or creative…it’s a crutch as far as I am concerned. If you have to resort to product leadership messaging as your stand-by, then all you are saying is that you don’t fully comprehend what my needs are.  You aren’t offering a solution to a problem, you are chest pumping, and no one likes hot dog, hence, Peyton Manning = leader, Terrell Owens = not really.

In the end, who really awards leadership?  Not you.


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