Nothing deters me more from trying a new product or restaurant than gimmicks and deceptive marketing. I’m not lured by flashy logos, seductive images, celebrities, before and after illusions or claims of being the best. I’m not interested in rhetoric demonstrations. You can also skip the abounding sales pitches. The only thing that will grab my attention is honest marketing. And, if you really want to entice me, throw in a little self-deprecation and a handful of reasons why you probably won’t climb to number one.
Yes, I’ll be the first to agree my views on marketing are slightly unconventional. However, if you take a step back there’s a few fundamental truths to every product and service out there. You’re not going to sell your product or service to everyone. Not everyone is going to like you. You’re going to make mistakes. There will always competitors who are miles ahead of you. With that being said, you have two choices. Be honest or waste valuable time and funds trying to persuade the masses.
When companies opt to persuade the masses, gaining the customer’s trust is often compromised. This happens when promises are made, truths are bent, and faults are blanketed. Think about fast food and sandwich advertisements. The image depicts a beautifully constructed, eye appealing sandwich. Order the same sandwich and it doesn’t come close to the image.
At first, you may draw a crowd with appealing ads, but when the smoke clears, customers will see beyond the façade. You will lose their trust in a very short period of time and they’re going to wander elsewhere.
On the other hand, when companies are honest, it gets people’s attention. In this day and age, honesty is a rarity. If you are lucky enough to come across a company who is honest about their product, it’s a refreshing break from the redundant marketing campaigns, flaunting and bragging about their products and services, that often fall short.
A notable example of honest marketing occurred in the 1940’s during the infamous rival between Avis and Hertz. Eventually, Avis was knocked down to 2nd place. In 1962, they incorporated this into their advertising campaign. The original ad, written by Paula Green, stated, “Avis can’t afford not to be nice. Or, not give you a new car like a lively, super-torque Ford, or not know a pastrami-on-rye place in Duluth. Why? When you’re not the biggest in rent a cars, you have to try harder. We do. We’re only No. 2.” Their honest marketing paid off. For the first time in over a decade, Avis was a profitable company.
More recently, and closer to home, a friend of mine bakes homemade dog treats and offers them to the public. Her packaging is generic. The biscuits are made with only 4 ingredients. They’re plain and only one flavor is offered. She has no interest in upgrading or competing with nearby “boutique” dog biscuit bakeries. There won’t be additional flavors in the future. If people want fancy biscuits, she’ll point them in the right direction. She’ll relate all of this to inquiring people while crunching on a biscuit. Over the past few years, her community of faithful customers has increased. Why? She’s honest.
How can companies incorporate honest marketing into their campaigns and advertising and be successful at the same time? Has this approach worked for companies in the past and present? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss later this week. Stay tuned…