Why Honesty and Integrity Pay Off: The Benefits of Truthful Marketing

According to a nationwide survey, customer trust in the store is dwindling: 69% of customers don't trust ads and 71% don't trust sponsored ads on social media.

Customers previously trusted sellers and ads to help them make purchasing decisions. Not anymore: Today we trust colleagues, friends, family members and third-party reviewers.

It may sound impossible at first, but certain practices can restore customers' apparent lack of confidence in sales and marketing.

Let the seller take care

A business concept called a caveat – "Let the buyer watch out" – states that it is the buyer's responsibility to conduct the due diligence. However, it is the responsibility of the seller – conditional seller or "let the seller watch out" – to provide full disclosure to the buyer by not lying, hiding defects, or advertising misleading or ambiguous statements.

An advertiser can easily give half-truths that allow a customer to come to wrong conclusions. But as they say: "A half-truth is a whole lie." The seller is obliged to be honest and transparent. And when a salesperson is honest and transparent, sales and marketing win customers' trust.

Trust-Based Marketing: Measuring Your ROMI

Is there a way to calculate your Return on Marketing Integrity (ROMI) in terms of increased sales?

It is difficult to track integrity investments because many factors such as product demand, sales, and competition can confuse the calculation. But as Lynn Upshaw, a member of the Haas School of Business School of Marketing, makes it clear, ROMI's metrics are worth the effort because they …

  • Find out why customers stay loyal
  • Find new ways to attract new customers
  • Develop competitive strategies
  • reduce costs
  • Protect brand equity in times of control

The bottom line is that marketing integrity increases profitability.

The payoff of full disclosure and the right attitude

In early 2020 I read about a trade magazine that practices ethical advertising. I was impressed by their values:

  • Constant monitoring of the ad-to-content ratio
  • Promotional materials are never presented as content – no advertorials
  • No false or inflated claims
  • No nebulous testimonials
  • No negative references to the competition
  • Review of the advertiser's reputation and financial stability

Recklessly verify the accuracy of your product claims and aggressively pursue trust-based marketing. Your customers will appreciate knowing the truth about what you are selling without resorting to exaggeration or belittling your competitors.

The importance of an honest picture

I remember a story about the importance of telling the truth by not leaving out facts. A wise teacher who was setting up a learning center in New Jersey bought a small building for that purpose. The path to the building was lined with trees, two on one side and three on the other.

A photo of the building was taken and one graphic designer thought the picture would look better if another tree was added to the sidewalk so that there would be three trees on either side. An additional tree was added to the picture.

When the teacher saw the finished picture, he was disappointed and exclaimed, "This is not a true resemblance to this house of learning!" He ordered the painting to be discarded and a new one to be prepared.

He stated, "I am building a house of learning based on the principles of truth and honesty, so I do not want any trace of misrepresentation or dishonesty to be included in the establishment of this institution!"

That was over 75 years ago. Today the House of Learning has more than 4,000 active students, and five trees still stand in front of it.

Advertising with integrity creates customer trust

If you practice sales and marketing diligently and with integrity, you will …

  • Do business again
  • Referral customers
  • Bigger and more profitable jobs

As Warren Buffett famously said of corporations, "We can afford to lose money – even a lot of money. But we can't afford to lose … even a little reputation."

More resources on how to trust marketing

Five ways to build trust – and tips for choosing

Transparency and Trust: The key links between data regulation and customer experience

Three ways to create trust-building content

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