When you think of traditional marketing practices, honesty probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Jonathan Crossfield reminded the audience at Content Marketing World Sydney that marketing was more about persuasion than absolute truth. As content marketing assumes a different perspective than traditional marketing, is there a place for honesty in content marketing?

In recent years we have seen the beginnings of a shift towards using honesty in marketing. Content marketing is the perfect medium to do this as one of the primary goals is to establish your business as a trusted source of information. Without honesty there can be no trust.

Being honest about your business’ strengths is the easy part. What can be difficult is acknowledging your shortcomings and areas of weakness. Even though it is hard, you can display transparency in your business about what you are and what you aren’t. It can be a real benefit to your organisation in several ways.

It makes your marketing seem less ?sell’ focussed

One of the core principles of content marketing is that it is not overtly trying to sell your product or service. Content marketing engages an audience because it considers what a customer wants from a business, rather than forcing down the customer’s throat what the business wants to say.

It builds a sense of trust with your customer

Content marketing is effective in bringing business to your company because it creates a relationship with the customer. Like any good relationship, trust is imperative in this exchange. If they trust you, they will be confident you can deliver what they are looking for.

It attracts your ideal customers to your business

Acknowledging your faults makes customers trust the legitimacy of your strengths. Customers who find your areas of strength the most important will choose your service. Because you excel in these areas, you deliver a top-quality product. Never underestimate the value of a satisfied customer. It has been proven positive word of mouth from a trusted friend or family member is more effective in influencing a customer than media messages.

It deters those customers who are likely to be unsatisfied

Being honest will save you from having unsatisfied customers. If a customer places high value on your areas of weakness and you are transparent about your shortcomings, they won’t choose your business. Don’t consider this a loss of business. Anything you would deliver to the customer in this area would be unsatisfactory to them. It is better to have not had the business in the first place than to have someone spread negative word of mouth about your company.

You will stand out from the pack

Seeing total candour in marketing is surprising. Your content will be memorable to your customers. People seek honesty in their relationships with people and brands alike. Being honest will separate your business from the pack in a manner customers find endearing.

Real world brand honesty

Can’t imagine how total honesty could be used in a real content setting? Take a look at this video from the 2013 Internet Explorer campaign:

The backstory behind this campaign is Internet Explorer’s extreme decline in market share over the past decade. Internet Explorer reached a peak usage share of 95% from 2002-2003 and has since plummeted to somewhere between 11-13% as of February of this year. Acknowledging this history, the video opens with a voice-over saying, “You may not remember us”. This is a shockingly bold and honest statement for a multinational corporation to make.

Through storytelling techniques, Internet Explorer managed to spin this acknowledgement of their flaws into content which is hopeful and optimistic. They compare themselves to fond memories from the era in which they were popular, and note how technology has changed since then. This shows an understanding of their company’s shortcomings, that like other beloved memories from the 90s, Internet Explorer has been forgotten.

This is a perfect example of how a brand can show weakness while maintaining positive positioning. Instead of turning customers away, this honest communication actually instils a sense of confidence in the viewer that Internet Explorer understands their shortcomings and will change accordingly.

That’s the thing; anyone can tell you how good they are straight off the bat, but telling you how they’re not so good shows a company has put serious thought into their business and how they’re delivering on their customers’ needs.

If you want help implementing honesty into your content marketing strategy, contact Lush Digital Media.

By Carla Young

Image Credits : Pinocchio by Luigi Orru

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