Honesty in Relationships: Part I

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Honesty in Relationships: Part I

When goals-achievement is the number one priority of a business, the temptation to disguise weaknesses is a real challenge for marketers and legal departments. I remember a copywriter complaining that her clients always ruined her copy by insisting on accuracy. The creative fabrication sold the product so much better.

Too many businesses market their beliefs without testing their own integrity. Expressions like ‘Best’, ‘Leading’, ‘#1’, ‘Lowest Price’, ‘Largest Inventory’, ‘Top Rated’ and ‘Most Successful’ appear throughout marketing copy. The customer who finds a lower price elsewhere will not trust such a claim again. Once the veil of honesty is damaged by the revelation of deception, whether big or small, trust evaporates and is hard to recover.

The Alchemy of Concealment

The temptation to deceive or conceal the truth is part of the human psyche.

Q: “How’s business?” A: “Busy.”

The truth remains agreeably hidden. But, when truths are revealed there can be significant consequences. Consider the impregnable Bike Lock that was opened using a Bic pen. Is it possible that the market leader in bike security products didn’t want its vulnerability to be known? Or was it an unfortunate embarrassment? However framed, doubt formed in the mind of the customer. There are PR companies that specialize crisis communications, when a damaging truth is exposed in an unforgiving world of customers demanding an explanation. Enron. Blatant. No mercy. Once a lie is exposed, society has the will to vilify the perpetrators and to extract their confession.

A Study of Truth & Deception

As a child my elders posited my future in advertising. My wisdom of nine years replied, “Why would I work in a job that is about telling lies.” I had experienced the disappointment of the picture in the ad being better than the product inside the box. Another rule I picked up was: “Don’t trust show-offs. They only please themselves.” A business that exaggerates its delivery cannot be sustained.

As an adolescent, in order to get out of trouble, I learned that the most believable lie is the one that is closest to the truth. Marketers are often pressured to tell the ‘closest’ version of the truth to make their employers or clients succeed. I learned a law similar to the law of gravity when it comes to misleading people: the bigger the deception, the bigger the fall when the truth comes out. And the truth has a way of coming out. I won’t reveal the details of how I learned that lesson, but it was learned well. The more we mislead customers, the greater the repercussions we will have to endure.

At the age of 19 I came to the realization that, if I acted in good conscience, there would be no cause for deceit. As a customer-centric marketer for 11 years, and a career marketing professional of 20-something years, I am able to demonstrate to my clients that if a promise is not credible and deliverable to their audience, it is counterproductive to their objectives.

Putting Values on Truths

Honesty in marketing relationships is about truly representing and supporting what is important to each customer. Failure to deliver on a marketing promise is tantamount to a lie in the customer’s dictionary of business terminology. Your integrity is really defined by your commitment to the relationship. Any actions and statements that could prove damaging to the relationship need to be thought out ahead of time and revised.

The focus of customer-centric marketing is to understand truth from the customer’s perspective. Touch Marketing, the technique I practice within my studio, is the determination and communication of customer values (their truths) with emotional relevance and the demonstration of commitment to support those values. This is counter posed to the product (or brand) as ‘the hero’

By looking through the other end of the telescope I have come to realize that trust is what bonds a relationship, and honesty is the basic ingredient.

Touch Marketing is not just honest and emotionally relevant – it engenders attachment, loyalty, frequency and continuity within a marketing relationship. Experience is the truth the customer believes.

The next part of Honesty in Relationships will discuss how to shift perspective away from what the business inherently believes towards the customer perspective.

 

Written By   Jon|Advertising Truths, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Honesty in Relationships: Part I
Written By   Jon|Advertising Truths, Customer Focus, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Honesty in Relationships: Part I

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Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.