Truth Rules

If I believed everything I saw in ads, I'd believe that oil companies are dedicated to protecting the environment, tobacco companies want to help me quit smoking and the Sham Wow is the second coming of sliced bread.

Yeah, right.

The whole "say-whatever-they-want-to-hear-and-we'll-sell-'em" mentality that still rules some corners of the marketing and ad industries just doesn't play anymore. Consumers are smart. They know when you're gaming them, when you're using a snake oil ploy just to make a sale. And, guess what, they're not buying it.

Think of your own "B.S. Alarm." Every time you see a shockingly low price followed by enough legal copy to send Matlock into convulsions, or every time you hear a claim in a commercial you know just isn't true, or every time some guy in a loud jacket tells you the extended warranty is worth every penny, "ding." The advertiser registers as one who speaks with forked tongue. You figure since you can't trust what they say, you can't trust anything else about them.



And trust, my delicate little flowers, is what this business is really all about.

The first step in creating believable advertising is to be transparent in your messaging. If you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, don't do it in your advertising until you've done it in your product. Make it a meaningful difference, one that adds value. Then let your advertising messages simply (and honestly) dramatize that difference.

And if you're an ad agency, hold your clients' feet to the fire. If they want you to make claims that their product can cure premature baldness, don't be afraid to play the devil's advocate.

The key for marketers today is to cherish the relationship over the transaction. Customers want to trust you, but trust has to be earned. An important first step is to make sure that your messages honestly reflect who you really are, not who it's going to take to make a sale.

3 comments about "Truth Rules ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Richard Eskinazi from Packaging solutions, April 14, 2009 at 5:30 a.m.

    Never a truer word said! Marketing gets a bad rap because clients and their agencies want to shout about meaningless little differences that are irrelevant to their customers, because they don't have any real product differences. I've been a "client" for over fifteen years and will only work with a product or brand with a real, relevant difference to customers. It's amazing what fun you can have creating advertising that tells the truth about your product in a relevant, impactful and creative way. You can only build trust in your product or brand with the truth...there's no other way.

  2. Steven Morris from MORRIS, April 14, 2009 at 10:12 a.m.

    Great post Mickey. Truth, beauty and authenticity is what people are desiring most in this age of corporate meltdowns and uber-stress on all fronts of our social and economic engines. Well done.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 14, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.

    Best marketing propaganda ever: Religion, from the ancients with name changes through the middle eras through today. Sham Wow does work, but then again we can all use it and judge for ourselves how well it works on water.

Next story loading loading..