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Honesty in Marketing: The (not so) New Rule


Mar 18, 2011

Since the prevalence of consumer reviews on the Internet, there has been one major web marketing rule that must be followed for a company brand to have staying power: do not lie. Do not lie to your consumers directly. Do not lie to your consumers indirectly. Do not tell half-truths. Do not hand out misinformation about anything. In all communications with consumers, your web marketing must match the message and identity of your company and its product or face horrific online public relations issues.

First and foremost, all businesses in this day and age should abide by ethical guidelines for their industry. It has been proven over and over again that businesses that do not embrace ethical policies (and do not have a strangle hold on their market) will lose customer trust. Losing the trust of your customers may not cause your business to fail; it may only decrease the rate at which it grows. In any case, it certainly will not help your bottom line.

If you are a company that relies on direct response for sales, then you market like a direct response company. Attempting to hide the true nature of your business will lead to customer confusion, and eventually (perhaps immediately), customer complaints.  No one likes being misled. Push your products with integrity and do your best not to mislead customers into unwanted transactions.

If your business is provides a service or services for customers, avoid stretching the parameters. Say your service performs tasks A, C and D for customers. Do not claim it can also perform task B just to get a new customer. Consumers prefer and appreciate truth in advertising. It will turn a one-time purchase into a repeat customer.

Sticker shock is the leading cause of canceled transactions in e-commerce. When advertising special deals and promotional offers, make sure that your company is following through on it. There is nothing that angers a customer more than finding out the deal they thought they were getting was a phony.

It is all about consistency and delivering on promises. Try your best not to make promises you cannot keep. Many people are Internet savvy now. Getting online, finding something you don’t like about a company and making a review or post about it is common place now. Depending on where the complaint is posted, it can be seen on the first page of Google results, for all potential customers to see. While this isn’t the end of the world, it certainly hurts your company and it will most definitely affect your bottom line.

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