How great is your product or service? I’m sure you can tell me all about how you’ve got the best designed widget, the highest quality thingamajig, and the most amazing service on the planet.

But while you drone on about how great you are, I’m thinking, "Yeah, sure, you’re SUPPOSED to tell me how great you are. But what I want to know is who besides YOU says you’re so great?" Where’s the outside PROOF?

Yesterday I received two examples of this — one by snailmail, one email.


Check out this picture. A charity solicitation to help our severely wounded troops. This letter really tugs at our heartstrings at the start of the holiday season.

And they go one step beyond what I’ve seen in the past. They included $1 in the letter! Here’s the copy:

"Dear Mr. Miller,

I’ve enclosed a $1 bill. It’s real and you can spend it. But I hope you won’t. Because I have faith in you. Many people say they support the troops and their families–especially at Christmas time. That’s why I trust you’ll not only return the enclosed $1.00 bill but will multiply that dollar many times over on behalf of my fellow troops who’ve been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and really need your help this Christmas."

Ouch! How can I resist? I mean, am I going to SPEND this $1? I’d be such a jerk, right?

Obviously, it’s important for us to support our wounded troops, but is this the right charity to do that through? There are a lot of celebrity and military names on the letterhead, supposedly supporting this. But do I really know they are?

I decided to do some checking on the Internet. I had a very difficult time finding any information about this particular charity. I couldn’t find any PROOF that it was legitimate. Even in the government site for charities, they didn’t have any current information about them.

My conclusion? I can’t send them any money. It doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate and it doesn’t mean they aren’t really helping our wounded troops. It just means I couldn’t find anybody else who supported their claims of who they are and what they do. I couldn’t find the PROOF.

My second example was an email. I’m not going to say who it was from, but this guy calls himself the "world’s leading expert on golf related marketing," and signs his emails with the title "Marketing Legend."

Those are some pretty tall claims and I would suggest that most people seeing those would be instantly skeptical. Claiming such titles without PROOF is asking for nonbelievers.

Heck, I’ve always wanted to call myself the Idea Guy, but it sounds more credible if somebody else says it. That’s proof of my claim. And the more proof the better.

So go ahead and tell your product or service is great, but then back it up with proof. Who besides you says you’re so great?

Now, what do I do with this $1 bill?