If you were to ask a hundred consumers what the most annoying thing about marketing was, I bet many of them would say they are tired of false promises, and would really like to be told the truth. Truth in advertising used to be a code among marketers but today it seems so many embellish the facts, stretch the truth and some flat out lie in some form or other.
Today’s customer hates being lied to and will go to great lenghts to get to the truth. Especially considering all the scams and dishonest so-called business owners we encounter almost daily in the news and in real life. Marketing offline or online it is just as important to tell the truth because eventually people get found out (or outed as the case may be). This practice of half-truths in marketing has resulted in a cynical consumer. If you tell them that something is too good to be true, then they’ll believe that it is – and therefore must be a lie. And in many cases “too good to be true,” actually is.
Companies who hold to the code of truth in advertising will fare better in the long run. You may or may not be old enough to remember the way Macy’s built their reputation. When they did not have an item a customer wanted instead of trying to sell them something else, they would tell the customer where she could find it – and send them to the competition. They knew that in the long run the customer would remember them and in fact, many times the customer would try to find a substitute for the item in question because they felt a loyalty to Macy’s that they did not experience in other retail establishments.
A really smart offline marketer can gain a lot of return on their investment in being honest to the customer. This doesn’t mean saying to them: “If I were you, I’d go elsewhere. I know another shop that sells this item at about half the price.”. What it means is that you concentrate on the facts and avoid making your product out to be the answer to all their problems when all they really want to hear is that it will make their life easier, more enjoyable or more convenient. It may even be that the product is better than you make it out to be, and when that is the case they are even more impressed.
Gaining a reputation for honest, reliable information is worthwhile. People who are fed up of being lied to will really value the word of someone who is prepared to be less hyperbolic and more constructive in their marketing. Don’t undersell yourself, but be prepared to tone down the rhetoric. In the long run, people will spend more when they trust the person they want to do business with. Besides, its the right thing to do…