Making honesty a priority: Building trust in a "dishonest" business

Do you trust advertisements? After hearing all of the promises, what do you really think?

Customers can have a natural distrust of advertising and what it's trying to sell them. The act of being "sold to" can put people on edge. It's the reason that car salesman are unpopular and that Carvana exists.

People can be distrustful because they have been let down before. 30Rock makes a play at this reason with Chatterton's cigarette advertisements:

Marketing professionals become tasked with overcoming this bias, but what can we do at an individual level?

Eliminate false claims

Don't make extravagant promises with the products effects that are untrue. If your product offers amazing results, shout it to the rooftop. But don't mislead consumers. Puffery statements are valid, but make them unique to the business.

Be clear about your offer

Getting stuck in the fine print of an advertisment is necessary for some industries, but could be much simpler in others. Laws require medical advertisements to disclose side effects, but phone carrier commercials carry just as much text. Marketers can use industry stereotypes and fears to showcase how their product or service is not following the norm. Suddenlink does this by attacking the fine print found in contracts, followed by a clear offer that lacks an asterisk.

Showcase your differentiation

By connecting with your target audience, marketers can ease their specific fears about being taken advantage of. Marketers can showcase the bad scenario, and then make a promise at the end of their spot that can ease customers' reluctance. Johnson dealership commercials do a great job at highlighting people's fear, a badgering salesperson, and promise a better experience.

Work with reputable people

Working in marketing, find like-minded people who know they have an ethical responsibility to  provide consumers with reliable information. By being around people with similar values, it will reinforce ethical standards. Find a shop that values honesty in what they do.

Let customers try it out

If you can, and your product is one that needs to be tested, let customers try it out so they can dispel the fears they have themselves. Opening the business's products up to customer trial will help the company gain further transparency. Zappos overcame the stigma of buying shoes online with a simple and effective policy that allowed consumers to reduce the stress of trial:

Zappos.com customers enjoy free shipping, free returns, and 24/7 customer service!

3rd party validation

Are you wanting to claim that your product is the fastest or the best? Use a third party service to validate your claims. People trust ratings systems to let them know how well a car withstands crashes, how great a local restaurant will be, and if the movie pick of the week will be family friendly. If your product is amazing, and it gets rated by a third party, let your customers know that the business is doing well.

Let customers rate it

Open your products up to customer ratings. Word of mouth is the best marketing you can get, with ratings being the online form. Trust your own products and services enough to ask for reviews. A customer will be more likely to listen to another customer than a sales pitch through an employee or advertisement.

What other ways can marketers help cultivate a more transparent presence for their products and brands?

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