Turning Your Weakness into a Strength

By Kirstin Carey – an award-winning speaker and consultant, believes that if you’re not having fun, then you’re doing something wrong. 

strengths from weaknessesIn the 1984 Presidential race, 73-year-old Ronald Reagan ran against much younger candidate Walter Mondale.  According to experts, Reagan’s age was his biggest weakness and Mondale was expected to use it to his advantage in the televised debate.  Reagan was asked point blank if he expected to have trouble “keeping up” for a second term as the oldest president in history.  Without skipping a beat, Reagan responded by saying, “Not at all. And I want you to know that I will not make age an issue in this campaign.  I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Not only did Reagan get a laugh from the audience and from Mondale, he won the election in a landslide leaving the age issue far behind.


How can you use this reverse philosophy to your advantage when marketing and selling your services?

First, list what you believe to be your strengths and weaknesses.

Second, look at the list of weaknesses.  Is it something you can fix without a lot of effort?  If so, than fix it.  If not, is it something that can be turned around to work in your favor?  How can your weakness be seen as a strength?


1) If one of your weaknesses is that you don’t have a lot of commercial experience, but want to get into commercial design marketing, you could turn this weakness around by pointing out that you have a “fresh and unique” perspective on design since you are not bogged down by the standard old way of doing things.

In your marketing you really want to highlight words such as “new”, “unique”, “fresh” and other words that would appeal to buyers who don’t want the same old thing and want to impress others with their outstanding design.

2) Perhaps you are much younger than your competitors.  You could positively exploit your age by pointing out that you have the most recent education in the newest techniques, using the latest technology.

Point out the flaw or weakness and show why it’s a positive.

3) One of my favorite “weakness-into-a-strength” marketing campaigns is from Avis car rental company.  The slogan is: “We’re number two. We try harder.”  How great is that?

4) Is your company much smaller than your competitors?  Highlight that your company is smaller and therefore your customers aren’t “numbers” like they are in the “big firms.”  Your employees are happier and are treated “like family,” so there’s less turnover.  Turn your perceived negative into strength.


Think beyond your immediate reaction of negativity and make it a positive angle to market your services.  This approach has a fantastic hidden bonus to it, too!

It helps to increase your ethos in the mind of the customer.  According to Aristotle and Socrates, ethos is one of the three key components to persuasion.  Roughly translated, ethos is the customers’ perception of your credibility based on your ability to deliver what the customer wants based on his beliefs and his values.  Essentially, the customer wants you to act in his best interest over yours.

That’s why you get an icky feeling when the stereotypical used car salesman, sporting a worn tweed jacket, cocks his head, shoots you a sly grin and asks, “So… what can I do to get you in this car today?”  He clearly isn’t interested in your needs, wants, or values.  He just wants to sell you a car and make his monthly quota.  Yuck.

The approach to admitting to a perceived weakness, then turning it around into a positive is a triple bonus for your ability to persuade the customer to buy from you.  First, it eliminates a negative.  Second, it gives you a new positive.  Third is raises your ethos with the customer for pointing out the negative, and therefore seemingly putting your customers’ needs above your own.  And, it doesn’t give anyone that yucky feeling. (Which is a fourth bonus, right?)

It’s a win for everyone.  Fun, huh?

If you are having difficulty handling a perceived negative or trying to set yourself apart from your competition, than try flipping your weaknesses into strengths.  It may just turn into the biggest strength you have!