Marketing: Truth

Note to my readers:  I have recently combined my work and writing blogs. This article is aimed at my business clients, but other readers may find it interesting as well.


This morning I opened my e-mail.  There were dozens of them since I checked it last night.

Almost a third of them began with “RE:”, indicated they were responding to an email I had sent. Only, of course, I never sent them anything.  A few began by asking if I had gotten the e-mail they had sent me previously, which of course they had never sent.   A couple told me that “so –and-so” (a name I have never seen) referred them to me.  Some were newsletters I had evidently asked for, despite never hearing about their company or product.  A few purported to be from CNN or Fox News,  but of course their URL (or their e-mail) had nothing to do with these news giants. Two dating sites said women were clambering to get to me via my profile. Only I am not the part of any dating sites.

Let’s not call these things marketing. Let’s call them what they are. Lies.

A year or so I had a client who wanted me to write a product brochure for them. No problem.  I do that all the time.  But as they gave me information and I asked questions, it turned out that the product didn’t do many of the things they said it did.

“It will, eventually.” They assured me.

“How long before it does these things?” I asked.

They had no idea.

I turned down the job.  I’ll likely never get any work from them again.

Such is the state of marketing today. Lies. Over promising.  Near truths.   No wonder marketing has a bad name.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. I have a blurb on my Quarry House website that advertises my marketing work for companies and organizations. It says simply “Effective, Ethical Marketing.”  Maybe not so clever, but at least it warns most of the most egregious liars.

I would like to use the phrase coined by the world famous McCann Agency:  “Truth, Well Told.” But they came up with it in 1912 and it still drives them.

Lies are easy. People will fall for lies and hype, at least long enough to get a single sale. We WANT things to be amazing, wonderful, all powerful, a super duper bargain,. Life changing.

But mostly, we just want things to do what it says it will do. We want people to do what they promise to do.   A few less promises made and a few more promises kept can be far more powerful. That kind of truth doesn’t just sell stuff, it builds trust and relationships.

It captures customers, not sales.

Over the years, some of my best clients are clients where I lost the first opportunity. Where they fell for the hype over the truth.  Heck, I’ve even gotten in trouble with companies I worked for, for NOT hyping beyond the truth.

So I lost those first sales, but as time went on, and the clients learned I told and marketed from a place of truth, they became clients. My best, most loyal clients. Many of them are still with me twenty and thirty years later.

Why is it so hard to tell the truth in marketing? Because the next guy often isn’t.  In fact the next five guys often aren’t.  It’s like being a kid – “But mom, everybody’s doing it!” Yeah, somehow we never quite outgrow that.

Here is something else I have learned. The clients that fall for the truth instead of the hype are better clients. More loyal. More honest and open with me. More trustworthy. We become partners in their goals.  Oh, and they pay better.

“Truth, well told”.  Dang, I wish I had thought up that phrase. Because it sums up what marketing should be. Can be. At its best, IS.

That may be another reason there is so much lying in marketing.  With lies, you can say anything.  You don’t have to craft a message that is powerful and true. You just have to make it up, say what you think someone wants to hear, and voila! Instant marketing.

With truth, you have to look at yourself, your product and service closely. You have to be careful. You have to work at connections based on reality, not make believe.  And you have to overcome the lies of others.

That’s hard work.

But in the end, I believe, worth it.  Both from a spiritual, “I have to sleep with myself” viewpoint, and ultimately, from a business, “I want long term customers” viewpoint as well.

So go find your truth. Tell it. Take the time to do it well. Honestly.  Hire honest people who are craftsmen at telling truth. All the social media marketing, automated marketing, integrating marketing and every other buzzword marketing in the world doesn’t have the impact of truth.


Be well. Travel wisely.

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