3 Reasons Batman is Better Than Superman & How it Can Improve Your Conversion Rates

As a died-in-the-wool geek, I stand ever ready to defend my personal preferences in superheroes as if they were objective facts with religious importance for all people.

In that vein, allow me to explain why Batman is better than Superman, and how putting this knowledge to work could increase your leads and sales.

The way I see it, there are three main reasons:

1. Batman actually has to try

One of the most annoying things about Superman is how overpowered he is. I mean, it’s bad enough that he’s indestructible, can fly to alternate dimensions at will, and that his sneeze will destroy an entire solar system.

super-sneeze

But it’s even more annoying that, despite his ability to hear every conversation on the planet, multitask at speeds where common mortals appear motionless, assimilate complex books in seconds, freeze or melt most materials, see through anything except lead, move well in excess of 5,000 feet per second, and let’s not forget fly…not only has he been completely unsuccessful at eliminating crime worldwide, but he can’t even get it under control in a single city.

This implies that he is not merely dimwitted and incompetent, but also incredibly lazy. Even a determined moron—or an indolent genius—with these sorts of powers would still have solved the problem by now. If you gave Batman those powers, the world would be a very different place. Yet Batman manages to keep Gotham under control with nothing but a good brain, a buff (but super-powerless) physique, and a few billion dollars’ worth of custom technology.

How this could improve your conversions

I know. This is all extremely interesting, and you probably had a great rebuttal ready for that snarky comment about indolence (because, if nothing else, All Star Superman established beyond doubt that Superman is a genius)—but what in the blue blazes does it have to do with increasing leads and sales?

Just this: when you’re deciding how you want to position your brand—how you want your customers to perceive you—it’s very tempting to take on the role of Superman. You’d like to think you’re their flawless savior, flying in to the rescue with nary an effort.

The trouble is, customers aren’t looking for a Superman, because Superman is silly. They’re looking for a Batman—someone who can achieve great things, not because he was born that way, but because he has paid his dues in the School of Hard Knocks. Someone who doesn’t pretend he can give them the world when he can’t; but who can give them what they want, because he has developed that ability through skill and determination. While Superman breezes through any challenge (or would, if he remembered to use all his powers), Batman has to face adversity and overcome it. That makes him more relatable, and subsequently more trustworthy.

Simply put, Batman is believable, and Superman isn’t. So when you’re formulating your brand story, where believability is crucial, keep that in mind.

2. Batman has skin in the game

Clark Kent was raised by good, honest parents to be a good, honest, rose-tinted farm boy. Bruce Wayne was also raised by good, honest parents—until a tender age, when they were brutally gunned down before his very eyes by Joe Chill, a petty criminal.

This gives us a certain sense that Batman has real skin in the game when it comes to crime fighting, while Superman is just doing it to please his parents. That isn’t to say his belief in Truth, Justice and the American Way is wrong…just that it rings kinda hollow when, as we’ve already established, he is really doing the bare minimum. When you’re basically a god, but you spend a sizable portion of your time pretending to be a nerdy reporter instead of using your powers to save the world (something you claim to strongly believe in)…well, it just comes across as a bit like you’re going through a superhero phase, as opposed to actually being a superhero.

Batman, by contrast, spends his off hours either running his company, or finding ways to relax (you know what I’m talking about). Both these things are of the utmost necessity to maintaining his role as Batman; which is financially, physically, and emotionally stressful.

The upshot is that Batman puts everything into a cause he has vowed to uphold since childhood, while Superman just seems to be coasting along, putting a bit of time in because he knows he should. Batman really seems to stand for justice and freedom; Superman just pays lip service to them.

How this could improve your conversions

Customers want a vendor who stands for something. Not someone who will fight for them just because he happens to be there and it’s really no trouble, but someone who will put everything he has into getting the job done, no matter the cost—because that is his cause. The more fiercely you stand for something your customers care about—whether it’s beautiful technology that just works, a la Apple, or “free as in freedom” a la Linux—the more fiercely they will support you.

3. Batman has serious flaws

This might sound like a strange reason to think Supes is inferior, but bear with me. Superman, as everyone knows, is a bit of a goody two-shoes. A big blue boy scout. That’s probably for the best, since we only have to look to titles like Irredeemable or The Boys to know what would happen if he were less stable upstairs. Batman, by contrast, tends to brood a lot, and is known for being dangerously obsessive about fighting crime. Simply put, he’s kind of damaged.

Incidentally, the same is true of Iron Man, who garners a great deal more interest (and movies) than Captain America. There’s something going on there, psychologically speaking.

How this could help your conversions

By now you’re probably picking up on how this works, but let me explain it anyway.

Superman seems aloof, unrelatable, or just plain bland by being too perfect. Batman, on the other hand, seems genuine. Customers don’t expect flawlessness—indeed, they are automatically suspicious of it, because no one is flawless. And although it seems counterintuitive to us as marketers, one of the ways customers become more loyal is by defending the flaws of the brands they love. They often consider these foibles to be idiosyncratic—part of what sets the brand apart. “It’s a feature, not a bug.”

This is especially important if you’re a one-man band, or you use a single person (or personality) for presenting your brand in your email marketing. But regardless of how big you are, or what you’re selling, it generally increases customer trust and loyalty when you are frank about your shortcomings. Pretending to be perfect has the opposite effect.

Let the flamewar begin

So there you have three reasons to take a Batman approach to marketing. What do you think of my reasoning? Is Batman’s victory decisive, or do you think Superman still has a few things to teach us? Share your insights below.

d bnonn tennant

About the Author: D Bnonn Tennant is the author of the free email micro-course, “5 Sales-Spiking Website Tweaks Gurus & Designers Don’t Know”. It contains no super-heroes, but there are plenty of practical, actionable tips Batman would approve of.

  1. Nice post. I like how you use the super heroes show how people want authenticity and vulnerability to connect with.As you said, they want to see that the everyday man has the power to do what they dream of doing.

    Nice!

  2. Bnonn,

    Great post – why Batman is superior to Superman is something my wife and I have often discussed (we agree with you).

    It’s not just about using what you have – it’s also about finding a voice for your business that feels natural while still resonating with customers. This is something that a lot of organizations struggle with – we can’t appeal to all prospects all of the time, because then there’s nothing distinctive to get excited about.

    Do you have any ideas for helping find this voice? Love to hear what you think!

    • Hey Sam, well obviously the best voice to use is Kevin Conroy’s ;) But if you have to use your own, it comes down to that issue of authenticity again. Your voice needs to reflect who you really are (the good news is, this is much easier for tiny companies).

      A lot of it, in my opinion, comes down to practice. You don’t develop a refined, natural, genuine-seeming voice overnight. It tends to start out a bit raw. But it’s better to be raw than some generic, bland everyman, since at least rawness is still authentic. Then, as you use your voice more, you get more comfortable with it and start to see how customers respond, and you can really start to own it.

      I think by far the best way to do this is with frequent email marketing. And this is something I practice as well as preach, so if you’d like to see how I personally do it, by all means head on over to http://www.attentionthievery.com (hope that doesn’t seem too self-serving!)

  3. This makes Goku the best superhero ever. Interesting read btw. Learned some new things :)

  4. Two words: awe…some. Ok, really just one word. But totally enjoyed the post and the analogy. People want to know you care, not to just watch you prance around in shiny spandex and be super cool.

  5. Wow, you clearly don’t understand both superman or batman. In fact your using them them as points to make about your job.lame!

  6. I think you’ve hit on it with having skin in the game. I was just writing a post about coming up with a Million Dollar idea and I was struggling with the idea of why it has to be an individual’s own million dollar idea ( as opposed to them just adopting someone else’s). You’ve helped me grasp why very well with that part of the article. Thank you!

  7. Really cool post. You forgot batman gets the girl or girls. I really liked how you related it to conversion.

    Nice work keep up the good job

  8. I have to say this post is a great one and shares an interesting angle towards improving conversions. Definitely a post to share! : ) Have to appreciate Batman no doubt!

  9. Venkatesh Iyer May 17, 2013 at 1:37 am

    If Superman cleaned up the world in one episode, there would be no more episodes! But having said that, I do appreciate the argument that Batman, who is more vulnerable than Superman, tries harder than Superman.

  10. Hi, thanks for this post.
    I do agree with your approach.
    The Batman way leads to more trust from your Internet audience. As well in the daily life some persons are little bit suspicious with people who look to perfect; people who don’t try have a boring image and are lazy.

  11. Excellent post. Personally I like Batman because has has super gadgets and he uses them to get his mission completed so same thing is considered with Internet Marketing that we should keep on working hard using different methods and it will work one day !
    Thanks

  12. Pure awesomeness. The most readable post on conversions I’ve seen in a LONG time. Pat yourself on the back, take a break & have a refreshing Bat-drink.

  13. What a great idea for a post! I’d add that another reason Batman is better than Superman is because he analyzes his opponents. The word on the street that given enough time and advance preparation, Batman could take out anyone–including Superman. In fact, he actually created contingency plans to eliminate the members of the Justice League, in case any of them turned to evil.

    Great collection of Batman’s badass moments here:
    http://www.toplessrobot.com/2010/04/batmans_10_most_incredibly_badass_comic_moments.php

    How this could help your conversions: by studying your competitors, you can copy what works and discard what doesn’t. Going further, you can study your customers and get to know them on a deeper level than your competitors. The more your customers feel like you’re speaking directly to their needs, the better your business will be.

  14. Thanks for a great post
    I love how well you compared to two without really beating up on super man too bad.Myself I would love to be batman now.

  15. I love this post! Lets bring more nerdy metaphors to marketing :)

  16. I’m Batman.

  17. Although I’m glad that you like Batman more than the Superman just as I do, I wish that you wouldn’t allow other people to start a flame war because that’s counterproductive, messy, and chaotic. A true moderator wouldn’t allow a flame war to erupt. Instead, he or she would do whatever he or she can to prevent one.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand: There’s more than one reason why I favor Bats over Supes. And these are them:

    1. He’s really smart.

    2. He’s well-trained.

    3. He has a dark and brooding personality.

    4. The Man of Steel makes me jealous.

    5. Superman did things that I dislike more than Batman does.

    6. Most real people prefer anti-heroes to true heroes in this days and age. And I’m one of them but only to a certain extant.

    7. Because of the Dark Knight’s negative personality, he appears to have more haters than likers. And so, they make me wish that Bats would beat the crap outta them, especially when they posted shit about him.

    Another reason why I like Bats better than Supes is because some lying jerkass had posted that the Dark Knight’s a big baby and bitched about that Caped Crusader beating the crap out of villains, who he (the jerkass) likes. If you ask me, that jerks’ the one who’s a baby because he whined about the characters who he likes getting their asses kicked by Batman.

    If I’m the Dark Knight and I found that hater who lied about me, I’d tell him to shut the hell up and kick the shit outta him. Not only that. I’d also make him join those villains in death, except the ones who I like.

  18. I love it! Batman totally beats Superman any day of the week. And the marketing aspects of the comparison really hit home. Makes me wonder how I could be more like Batman in my own branding and marketing.

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