September 7, 2011
This week I've changed the name of this newsletter feature from the "Twitter Question of the Week" to the "High Rankings Question of the Week." I decided that it was too limiting to only ask my Twitter followers because I also have friends on Facebook and now Google+. Moving forward, you'll have the opportunity to respond on any of those social networks. Keep in mind that while you can write more than 140 characters on Facebook and G+, I'd appreciate it if you could continue to keep your answers succinct, and I'll be editing them as necessary!
To go along with today's rant on deceptive marketing, I asked my social media followers:
++Are dishonesty, stretching the truth, or white lies necessary to be a good marketer?++
Here's how they replied at Twitter:
tcpeter: No. You position your product based on its strengths and weaknesses. But long-term value with customer depends on honesty and transparency.
joshgister: No – unless you are trying to sell something nobody needs – also known as a con.
Casieg: I'd like to think not, but there is the question that, if you omit things, does that count as lying? I don't know.
BrianHarnish: I don't think so. I believe that delivering the right message to the right audience is key. No deception or lies.
analyticscanvas: Honesty and transparency are what a good marketer needs. Anything else is (a) wrong and (b) will get detected in an instant!
ann_donnelly: Dishonesty, even white lies, are not the way to be a good marketer; lost credibility and trust = lost referrals and relationships.
forefront1: Never – unless your product is weak or flat-out sucks.
joehall: There is a very fine line, and it's also blurry and sometimes hard to see...but also everything is relevant given the right context.
chris_m_mason: IMO good marketing and PR are based on building trust. Dishonesty ruins trust. Lies will catch you out in the long term.
GrpTwentySeven: Even when the truth hurts, it's better to be open, direct and honest. You will gain from it in the long run.
JTPotts: No way! Marketing is all about identifying real needs and showing good solutions. Anything else is ineffective.
Here's how they replied at Facebook:
Derrick Wheeler: They are required to be a good person. There is a time and place for all three – I prefer stretching the truth, though. Of all three choices, stretching the truth is the most honest, right? So that is my preference. Plain ol' truthfulness can work too!
Jon Rognerud: Dishonesty, no. Stretching (depending) may be fine to get attention, but you'd better deliver on that promise. As Seth Godin says: "All marketers are liars"... ;-)
Eric Lander: None of them are necessary. All of them are helpful for certain clientele, however.
Larry Mersman: Dishonesty will kill your business quickly. It will lump you into the same category as the old "used car salesman." In this business, news spreads quickly. Stretching the truth seems to be the less offensive of the three, as it is still somewhat based on truth. I'd rather be honest with the customer. They do appreciate it.
Karon Price Thackston: I don't think any of the 3 are necessary.
David Matson: It's only necessary if you are marketing a truly crappy product.
Steven Musumeche: No, just exaggeration. :)
Rob Watts: No, but it IS all about how you tell the story. Paint it wrong or overdo it and it'll look like crap. A good marketer, like a good artist, will know exactly what it is they're trying to communicate and will use their tools and skills to satisfy the recipient.
Woodie Gay: No! Little white lies will lead to bigger lies. Where does it end. They will always come back to bite you. Always tell the truth even if it loses you a sale. Your conscience will tell you that you were right.
Scot Smith: No. Being anything but honest is never acceptable and will always bite you in the rear later on. Even if it doesn't catch up with you, will you be satisfied to have met your campaign goals by being unethical? It's more important to only accept contracts for marketing products and brands that you can fully buy into yourself; once you reach that level you'll undoubtedly reach success in your marketing efforts.
Here's how they replied at Google+:
Tim Laughlin: No, getting caught in those practices is quite often a deal breaker.
Gary Stock: No, they are not necessary; they are regrettable. If political campaigns qualify as "marketing," then sadly, all three are becoming more common – especially intentional dishonesty. Given many popular claims contrary to economic principles, scientific realities, and even historical facts, such deceptiveness is mounting by the day.
Mike Wilton: To be a good marketer, no. To be a successful salesman, sometimes, but even in those instances you'd better make damn sure that you can make up for it in the end. The biggest thing to consider if you have to be dishonest is the risk. If you get caught, will the person impacted understand why and accept it, or will it create a level of distrust for your or your message?
Dianna Huff: Absolutely not. I hate it when people say, "It's marketing!" as if all advertising / marketing is not honest / truthful.
Jill's comment: Thanks for the very thoughtful replies! While it certainly sounds like you're all wonderful non-deceptive marketers, I do wonder if those who disagree were (rightfully) keeping silent. If you don't quite agree, but would rather not leave your name, feel free to share your comments anonymously below.
Want to participate in the High Rankings Question of the Week?