“The Best Policy” for Marketing Success

After more than 35 years in the advertising business, I’ve heard all the jokes… for many people, the idea of “truth in advertising” is the ultimate oxymoron. The cynical, and traditional, view of advertising is that honesty is always the first victim of advertising strategies. But the truth is, in our experience, “truth” is the keystone for long term success.

Outrageous promises and unsupported claims will always attract attention, and maybe even make a sale. For the long term, though, you rely on repeat business and referrals. You get neither when you fail to make good for your customer. But when you over-promise and under-deliver, you undermine every chance to really build your business.

In these days of instant communication and social media, bad news travels worldwide in a blink. Anything that smacks of dishonest advertising will be called to account, loud and clear. Years of conscientious work to build your brand and reputation can be undone overnight.

The planning process we bring to our clients is based on learning and searching for the truth. We work with our clients to make an honest assessment of the strength and weaknesses of the product, and to profile the customers who will fit best with what we can deliver. That “fit” becomes the foundation of the marketing plan.

The great thing about building your brand on the “truth” is that you never have to second guess and you never have to apologize. You deliver on your promises and your customers thank you for it.

When you build your business on true values, honest promises and consistent delivery become part of your culture. Your company becomes known for integrity, and that becomes a bankable commodity. It can open doors for business growth that you don’t even expect.

Recently, one of our clients experienced the rewards of building an honest brand directly. The company is a family-owned manufacturer of specialized transport trailers, with traditional family values. They take personal pride in the quality of their products, and they are deeply committed to preserving an unsullied reputation for aftersale service.

Meanwhile in Australia, a leading forestry operation, was searching for a better solution for transporting wood products out of the forest and down to the ports. The forester contacted our client after a competitor failed to respond. Our client replied to his email the next day, and they soon began discussing a business plan to ship trailer components from Canada for assembly, with their help, in Australia. Together, they were able to overcome the numerous hurdles to establishing a new import/export channel and licensing for a new transport jurisdiction. The initial sale was for 8 B-Trains and the first sets of trailers hit the road “Down Under” just months after their initial contact.

Our client and their new partner both credit the success of the effort to their mutual trust. On the Australian end, the forester came and visited a number of long-time customers of our client personally in Canada and the U.S. He had already reviewed their website marketing and literature, and quickly learned that this was a firm that was good to its word. During a conversation with one of the manufacturer’s clients in New Hampshire, they remarked, “Obviously you like the best gear because this is the best you can get.” Moving forward on little more than a handshake, our client was able to launch into a new territory on the far side of the world, in record time.

Not every brand promise is going to suddenly open new sales opportunities in a distant sub-continent, of course. But this case does demonstrate how a habit of marketing and serving customers truthfully can give all your customer relationships a strong and resilient foundation.

Even in advertising, honesty really is the best policy.