A recent article about ethical marketing made me realize once again the importance of my work. I am an advocate of ethics in business, and I stay away from declarations that might make it sound presumptuous. Yes, we may be doing something that has never been done before. But stating it doesn’t mean people will believe it. As PR people, one aspect of our job is to tell beautifully crafted stories to increase visibility and engage with the audience. But when every business claims it is the best, we have a conflict of credibility. And credibility leads to trust, which is what ultimately defines business relationships.
I remember the beginning of telesales and an old man with a thick Italian accent repeating obsessively “cado” (gift). He was selling jewelry, and his bald head shone almost as brilliantly as the gems in the rings and pendants. Fast forward to these days, it irks my nerves when I see women taking out bottles or bags of detergent from their purses or even from their pockets during a party or whenever else. My intelligence feels insulted. Do these people in advertising agencies really think we are so gullible to buy that story? I have never ever carried a bottle of detergent in my handbag. I don’t know anyone who has.
These are just two examples of what marketing and PR have become nowadays. As PR people, our main job if to prettify things. But I guess it’s the same as applying make-up. Too much turns into hideous. The tendency to exaggerate is too deeply established. There is a multitude of the best, the most something, the only. Millions of calls to actions ask us to click, subscribe and ultimately buy. There is really no differentiation between products, and people who are able to judge for themselves see beyond the commercial facade.
On a personal note, I hate it when something is advertised in big bold letters as free, but you have to either subscribe or create an account to be able to have the download link sent to your inbox. That’s a few steps too many. Not to mention you will become part of a mailing list from which you have to unsubscribe if you don’t want your e-mail to pop notifications a dozen times per hour. Most of the times, we are interested only in a specific material, not everything the website has to offer. Also, it often happens that the title and package are interesting, but the content has nothing to do with them or is low quality or irrelevant.
People buy based on trust, and you might be able to trick them once or twice, but by the third time, they’ll surely catch on to it. Lies won’t last too long, and at the end of the day the thousands of followers and subscribers will give up. In the 3.0 world, content is the absolute ruler. It’s not about being pushy and aggressive in selling your products anymore, but about offering meaningful content to the audience and helping them make the best decisions, even when that doesn’t mean they will turn into clients. Content sharing can help you position yourself as an expert, of course as long as you have a good strategy in place. Studies show people don’t like being sold things, instead they prefer to feel they have the power to decide. The buyers’ behavior has shifted. Furthermore, their purchases have shifted from simple things to experiences. How do you sell an experience? Well, that’s for us to find out.
Image from Pixabay