We’d all like to be perfect, but we’re not. Our family and friends know we’re not either, but they love us anyway. And certainly no business is perfect. It’s how you deal with this lack of perfection that will affect your business.
So, how does your business stack up in the perfection stakes? Are you open about your product’s downfalls or weak points or do you regularly make claims you can’t support? Are your customers prepared to accept you as you are, or are you regularly drawn into invoice disputes with products returned?
Being truthful in marketing is important because without truth, there can be no trust, and without trust, your business has no future.
Inflating your company’s or product’s virtues and lying to your customers is bad for business… sure it might give you a quick sales spike, but once the truth gets out, your product will be relegated to the lowest shelves if not turfed out altogether. The worst untruths make juicy viewing on programs like A Current Affair and in articles by Choice Magazine… you certainly don’t want to end up there!
Now it’s definitely important to have a point of difference for your business; it’s what sets you apart from your competitors. But you need to make truthful claims you can stand behind and promises you can deliver on. Phrase your message confidently, yet carefully, for example:
- Do you really have the best coffee in town? Or do you serve piping hot coffee by an award winning barista?
- Are you really the largest local employer? Or do you provide employment for more than 20 people?
- Can you really serve it in three minutes every time? Or are you immensely proud of your three minute average?
- Do you really leave the place as you found it? Or do you promise to take your rubbish away?
- Are you on time, every time? Or do you always strive to be on time?
- Is it true that you’re always the cheapest? Or are your prices hard to beat?
Think about how you like to be treated as a customer. Then think about your last bad experience with a product…. How about the ‘super fast’ mulcher that takes longer to shred a shrub than gnawing on it with your teeth? Or the piece of underwear that’s meant to be the ‘most comfortable ever’ but feels like a medieval torture device?
By speaking honestly to a customer about your product’s good and bad points, they have an opportunity to weigh up the purchase and then confidently make a decision. People often get a sense that they’re not being told the whole story and this is when sales can be lost. When a customer isn’t sure about a service or product’s good and bad features, it makes it really hard for them to sign on the dotted line.
By being totally honest and not omitting anything, it means your competitors can’t steal them by saying something like “Yes, but did you know that at full speed, that product is notorious for breaking down”. If you have already told your customer that “it’s wise not to run it past a certain speed”, the attack from your competitor won’t matter.
Truth in advertising can also cut through the clutter of all the false and pumped up claims out there, and can also appeal to our sense of humour making us more receptive to the message. Which dentist would you call, the one whose advertising says: “Come in for a clean, it won’t hurt a bit” or the one who offers “New DVD goggles to take your mind off it!”
I’m not saying you should spill the beans on all the shortcomings of your product or service — that would be a huge turn-off, but you can’t just sweep them under the carpet either. When you set the bar too high and put your product or service up on a pedestal, it’s easy to fall or be shoved off, but by being confident in your claim rather than cocky, you will get respect and repeat business.
Author: Veronica Costas
Coming from a multicultural background, Veronica has lived in Brazil, Spain, and Singapore, and has now been in Australia for five years. Regardless of language and geographic location, her passion for reading and writing has remained constant, and she manages to write expertly about a wide range of subjects.