The Line Between Marketing Integrity & Manipulation

I met with a few business owners last week and the topic of integrity and honesty came up. Two of them are in the restaurant industry and they were talking about how important it is for them to be honest about the food they offer. For example, even if 95% of the meals prepared are msg-free, the fact that one or two dishes do contain msg causes them not to advertise that they “offer an msg-free menu.” Some marketers might balk at this and say “it’s close enough.”

I mean, where do marketers draw the line? I’m sure some folks wouldn’t think twice about marketing something even if it’s only 50% true.

It was truly refreshing to hear how these business owners represent their brands with integrity. If they say something is true about their establishment, you can be damn sure it is. It’s unfortunate that this is so rare.

Think about the restaurants who state that they are using only “fresh,” “all-natural,” “free-range” ingredients. These terms are constantly thrown around to differentiate brands, but they aren’t necessarily monitored by any regulations.

Consumers believe marketing because it can be manipulative. We want to believe what business owners advertise is the truth. Businesses that hide terms and conditions, intentionally mislead consumers or don’t deliver on their promises are, in my eyes, not trustworthy and not deserving of my business. In fact, their product or service probably isn’t all that great anyway.

The biggest problem is that the business owners who follow ethical standards take a risk by not stretching the truth in advertising. Sometimes they feel like they can’t compete because they aren’t willing to lie. If they have to lie, being in business isn’t worth it to them. Fortunately, many consumers can spot a marketing lie a mile away. Not only that, but when they find businesses that are honest and ethical in all of their business practices, they become customers for life. Isn’t this better than gaining one customer who leaves you after they realize you’re a liar?

If you are a business owner who is interested with making an authentic connection with your audience by leveraging your genuine value proposition, then we are probably a good match.

Reach out and let’s talk about how you can market your business while telling the truth.