Selling with transparency

An ad is still selling you something. That's it's primary goal. But being open and honest about the product facts, minimizing puffery, and staying true to a core message make selling more transparent.

Around 50% of people trust advertising.

Ever read an ad that starts with the hard sell? Something like, "You need this product now! It will change your life! See how it changed Mary's life!"

I picture a lot of exclamation points, maybe a before and after photo, along with a "BUY NOW" in large text. While these types of advertisements must be working somewhere (it does beg the question of just how often these work), they still are bombarding the consumer.

The first thing a consumer thinks is, "That's not true." Once they identify an advertisement for what it is, they are ready to argue with it.

63% of global respondents trust or somewhat trust TV advertisements.
— Nielsen

TV was the highest of the categories. Most of traditional advertising fell closer to 50% and mobile advertisements ranged from 36-48% trust. That means:

Around half of the people seeing your advertisement don't trust its message.

Advertising on its own is not well-trusted. That's why the added effort to be transparent or to craft a well-written ad like the one above is so important. Overcoming consumers' predisposition for skepticism can be done by disarming them.

Disarm distrust by being transparent, persuading with honesty, and doing the unexpected.

Being transparent.

Acknowledging that an advertisement is trying to sell you is one way for someone to leave their skepticism behind. They are ready for you to say exactly what they expect. Something like, "My product is the best because..." Stop that conversation and puffery to start opening up the consumer to being persuaded.

An ad that admits it's an ad (when it's done right) is able to be transparent while still managing to sell you on an idea. In that vein, I wanted to share this advertisement from Bill Bernbach:

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I enjoy ads that are self-deprecating or self-aware. They acknowledge what they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Not all advertisements are created equal, some are better than others at prompting action, telling a story, and selling by showing.

 
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Persuade with honesty.

Honesty sells. People want their advertising to tell them the truth, not have a hovering asterisk over every claim. VW does it well by selling an "ugly" car. Or advertising without advertising.

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Do the unexpected.

Tell people that your car is ugly. Tell them you hate being sold to as well. Tell them you're trying to sell them something. 

By doing the unexpected and telling the truth, minimizing "sales language", and building a connection with the customer, you are building a foundation for someone to accept your message.