Honesty is a virtue, one not often ascribed to marketers. Thanks to the unscrupulous practices of a few, the marketing profession has a reputation for spin, sensationalism and concealment.
It’s true that a marketer’s job is to represent a product or service in the best possible light. But I’m of the opinion that marketers can still do their jobs well during the day and be able to sleep at night. In fact, I would argue that there is a strong business case for honest, transparent marketing (not just an ethical one).
Here are three business reasons to be brutally honest in your marketing materials:
- It makes testimonials and case studies more compelling.
Have you ever read a glowing testimonial and suspected there was more to the story? Perhaps you even wondered whether it was entirely made up. Every product or service will have a downside, whether that be the cost, the time investment needed to implement/install it, or something else. That’s why I like to include details about minor downsides or challenges and how my clients’ customers overcame them in case studies; including that “negative” information makes them much more believable and relatable and, therefore, impactful. (Don’t believe me? Check out this study.)
- It helps to prequalify leads, saving sales reps time.
Let’s say you’re worried about revealing that your product isn’t the best fit for a certain application, so you withhold that information in your marketing materials. If you do that, your best-case scenario is that your sales team will waste a lot of time explaining this to every single customer when they inevitably ask about it. Your worst-case scenario will be that the customer doesn’t find out about it until after they buy the product, wasting their time and money and souring their opinion of you.
- It leads to higher customer satisfaction rates.
3 Aspens Media counts several software providers among its clients. We’ve learned that a major obstacle to any software implementation is getting buy-in from the employees that will use it. Rather than gloss over this challenge, we address it head-on in blogs and other marketing materials so that our clients’ customers aren’t blindsided. They are better prepared for inevitable challenges when they make a purchase, so implementation goes smoother and they are happier overall.
Another benefit of this approach: Content that addresses common questions or concerns tends to be SEO-friendly and enjoys higher engagement because we’re addressing our clients’ customers’ legitimate fears. What better way to make prospects feel good about moving forward than to acknowledge their concerns, let them know they’re not alone, and show them how to overcome common challenges (drawing in fresh organic web traffic in the process)?
Obviously, this transparent approach to marketing only works when your product or service is truly valuable. If your offering is substantially inferior to your competitors, your potential customers will eventually find out through reviews, word-of-mouth, and so on. So don’t bother trying to hide it through unscrupulous marketing. Instead, leverage that knowledge to change your company and value proposition for the better. Take the high road, both in terms of product development and marketing, and you will come out ahead.