Did you know that you should be proud of your downfalls? Let’s start with a hilarious story about honesty in business.
When the Maggiolino car was advertised in America for the first time, it was a bit of a shock. Not only was it considerably different than the fashionable cars at that time, but the advertising campaign used was absolutely disruptive.
The Doyle, Dane & Bernbach Advertising Agency proposed a very different slogan:
“Ugly only on the surface.. it will stay uglier longer.”
This tactic of highlighting the downsides of a company is useful because it produces a very catchy proposition. Nonetheless, this is not the main advantage… Indeed, honesty is one of the principles of persuasion.
When a salesperson also lists the disadvantages of a product, consumers or potential customers view the company as honest, and they are keener on concluding the purchase.
Coming back to the example, Volkswagen could have stressed the positive aspects of the Maggiolino car such as the price tag or the low fuel consumption. Instead, they were brave and proposed an alternative way to present their product—and it was a great success.
The technique of highlighting defects has been used by other companies such as Avis, the car rental, which admitted to being the second best in the market and that they are currently in the process of improving. This technique makes people regard the company as transparent and honest, so another positive aspect is that they will be considered more trustworthy.
Honesty in Business and Word of Mouth 2.0
Honesty in business is important because a company will not be able to hide its wrongdoings for a long time. In fact, word of mouth (referrals, recommendations) is still one of the most powerful sources of leads. In the digital era, word of mouth has become 2.0: The word can spread dangerously fast. Further, with social media in place, a brand can be destroyed or scrutinized if not completely sincere.
Companies are very well aware of this. Thus, they use techniques miming the word of mouth in their digital marketing strategy.
However, word of mouth online can be built by the company itself by proposing case studies and using customers’ comments, feedback, and testimonials. The key is to remain honest in business.
For instance, made up comments on products can easily be demystified by other people, and the company reputation can quickly plummet as a result. Also, too many positive comments on a company will become suspicious, so it is wise to highlight some small pitfalls.
There is nothing wrong with showing off a bit of appraisals, but it works best when they are accompanied by the downsides—after all, no one is PERFECT.
Honesty in Business Is Part of the Three Pillars of Persuasion
As mentioned previously, honesty is one of the pillars of persuasion. Below, I have briefly outlined the three principles of persuasion. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
- Authority: A person who is perceived as an authority figure will increase his or her chances to sell. Let’s say that a person is selling houses, he or she will be able to sell if they manage to impress potential buyers with their knowledge of houses. The authority is given not only by the knowledge but also by the title. For example, a doctor will be trusted more than anyone else when it comes to health-related concerns. Further, the individuals’s social status also influences their authority. We are bound to attribute more authority to a smartly dressed person with a Porsche, for instance.
- Likability: We buy from people we like. Have you ever bought a product just because you love the main actor in the commercial? Here is when we conclude a sale we are very much influenced by other things rather than the features of the item itself.
- Honesty: We want to buy from honest and honorable people. Be brave and show off your defects.