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When was the last time you were honest with your customers?

Tom Chapman
Tom
A publishing specialist skilled in getting clients noticed, Tom has been featured by several marketing publications and even by the BBC. He is always happy to discuss the future of marketing and journalism to anyone with questions.

September 19, 2018

4 minute read

Years ago, while I was working for a different company, my boss burst into the office. He’s delighted, he’s secured a lucrative contract and it’s going to be very good for the firm. “There’s just one problem”, he states, “I told them you all speak fluent Spanish, so you all have two weeks to learn the lingo”.

It was this moment which made me realise I needed a new employer.

A heated conversation followed where I informed my boss I would not be learning an entirely new language in that time frame. I was subsequently taken off the project and got to watch from the sidelines when the client realised they had been lied to.

This is an extreme example but one which is unfortunately common throughout many marketing firms. Whether maliciously or not, lying is used by some organisations to stretch results or influence customers. Although you might not have claimed your team speaks Spanish, chances are,  you’re probably guilty of stretching the truth.

Let’s talk about honesty

Public trust in advertising and media is extremely low. One poll, published by Ipsos MORI in 2017, demonstrated that more than 40% of Britons didn’t trust brands while almost 60% didn’t trust the word of a company until they had seen ‘real world proof’ of the firm keeping their promises.

Although it’s easy to blame the rise of Donald Trump and ‘fake news’ for this, traditional marketing has always had a complicated relationship with the truth. Whether a company promising free delivery – and then adding ‘on your first order’ in small letters – or using questionable research, lies have been part of the industry for decades.

This is at odds with what customers want, – they actually prefer transparency. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) even went so far as to claim that “authenticity” was important to more than 85% of customers when deciding which brands to support.

“Honesty is the best policy” – Benjamin Franklin

Being honest with customers is the best way to win them over. This sounds obvious but it’s a lesson which seasoned professionals still have trouble learning. This could be because the way advertisers communicated with consumers was previously through a one-way conversation – with the customer passively absorbing the information being disseminated to them.

However, with social media now fully established in our day-to-day lives – and an essential communication channel for thousands of people – this message is frequently questioned and critiqued. Individuals can also interact with other customers to gauge the company’s reputation and look up reviews.

As a result, consumers have more power than ever – and misleading them can have dire consequences.  Sincerity must now be at the heart of everything you do. From putting forward realistic messages to the hardest thing many organisations will have to do – taking responsibility for mistakes.

Instead of the ‘death sentence’ many PR professionals believe it to be, owning up to an error can be a great thing. Just ask Domino’s.

Almost a decade ago, the organisation was in trouble. Sales were plummeting and customers described the organisation’s products as tasting similar to cardboard. Executives did the unexpected and agreed. They then launched a huge advertising campaign to give customers a say on what the company should do – from the organisation’s deals to their recipes.

Putting the consumer at the heart of the company paid off and, since then, Domino’s has enjoyed impressive growth while their stock price has increased from $2.61 in 2008 to $172.62 in 2016.

Watch out for dishonest marketers

At CandidSky, we pride ourselves on being honest with our customers. In fact, we’ve had to help clients who’ve suffered after being promised unrealistic results by other agencies. If you want to see how we can help you, get in touch with us today. Our teams will be more than happy to help.

Just please don’t ask me to learn Spanish in two weeks, I don’t think it can be done…

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