The Impact of Honesty


Do you have the guts to be honest and real with your customers?  Honesty connects, even when it isn’t 100% pretty.

A good friend of mine, Mike Kasun, shared a great blog post with me that illustrates the point. It is by guitarist Alex Skolnick, who writes of going to see Van Halen and being charmed – along with 13,999 other fans – by Diamond Dave telling the crowd “San Francisco, you guys are the best crowd of the whole tour!”

He was charmed only until his brother let him in on the secret. Dave said that every night, to every crowd, in every city. It was part of the show. Alex’s faith in Van Halen was shattered.

In the 80s, the music business, like the advertising business, was pretty much smoke-and-mirrors. It was driven by hype. Today, however, honesty trumps hype and smoke-and-mirrors are transparent

A few factors are at play.

First, we are part of a natural societal cycle that is taking us deeper into a civic-minded culture. More and more we are becoming concerned about the greater good, not just our own selfish benefit. Honesty and integrity are values that perfectly fit with this societal shift. (For more about this concept, read this piece. I am not affiliated with it in any way, so if you sign up I don’t earn a cent. However, we might meet in person because I plan to take the seminar.)

Second, our inate bullshit detectors have never been more alert. We are bombarded by so many messages every day that we naturally assume that we have developed a heightened sense for when things don’t seem above board. As such, our belief in traditional advertising claims has sunk to new lows. Our default setting is “doubt”.

And third, we live in a world where your every flaw can be exposed. Lie to a customer, and they’ll tell a thousand friends (on Facebook) and tweet it out to a million people (on Twitter) nearly instantly. Good luck building a long-term brand based on misleading people.

Businesses who take an honest approach tap into the civic cycle, earn a ”pass” from the BS filter, and put us in a position to say wonderful things about them to our friends.

Have a look at Marmite’s website. They don’t try disguise the fact that the majority of the population hates it. Instead, they celebrate it.

Check out what Buckley’s does. They can’t hide from the fact that their cough medicine is revolting but powerful. Their slogan actually says “it tastes awful”.

And read through the “disclosures and relationships” section of author and blogger Jason Falls’ website. I wouldn’t hesitate to click on anything on his site, because Jason is so absolutely up front and honest about his affiliations. Meanwhile, most websites hide their affiliations and attempt to sell you products they don’t believe in. I love how Jason offers full disclosure. I trust him, and you can’t easily place a dollar value on trust.

Is your business honest and forthright about who you are, what you stand for, and how you do business?

Are you brave enough to acknowledge the reality around you like Marmite and Buckley’s?

Or are you like an aging 80s hair band, screaming stupid cliches to people night after night, even when you don’t really mean it?

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Buckley's, Jason Falls, Marmite, Roy Williams 176 Comments