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Somewhere in the deep recesses of the Internet, a crafty little marketing consultant figured out how to make a small advisory firm look bigger than it is. I’ll show you a few ways to present the scale of your business based on your true merit.

But first I’ll go over a few commonly used and slightly-less-than-scrupulous tactics that you should avoid.

Combined experience

You’ve seen this before: You add up the years of experience of an executive team. For example: “Our management team has a collective 100 years of experience.”

100 years my foot!

It’s a ridiculous statement.

If three members of an executive team each work for three years, it doesn’t add to nine years. That’s like me saying that in 2017 my work counted for two years because I had two computers in my office, an HP and a Dell, that I used at the same time.

There’s no room for creativity in mathematics. Math is governed by incontrovertible logic and rules. Twisting them like this is what makes people distrust the financial industry.

Yes, three times three is nine, but you aren’t getting the benefit of the sum of the years. You’re getting the benefit of the average of the years.

Think about it; if there’s one person with 30 years of experience and two people with 10 years of experience, you have 50 total years. However, the 30-year person is going to be the one calling the shots, not the 10-year people.

That leads me to my next point about how combining experience is not valid. Many firms state the amount of collective experience but they don’t disclose how many people are included. If you total 100 years of experience over five people, that’s a totally different scenario versus if it were three people. That’s a 13-year difference per person.

Not insignificant, wouldn’t you say?