Why People Hate Marketers

People hate marketers because marketers lie, cheat and steal.

Now, you may protest. You may say you don't lie, cheat or steal.

I understand. You adhere to the letter of the law, you follow the rules, and you resent the implication of any dishonesty.

But even if you are “clean” as a marketer, guess what? It doesn't matter.

You see, what matters is if your customers think you lie, cheat and steal, it might as well be true. Because its true for them, and that's all that matters.

Perception is the reality.

What do you do, then, to change things?

Well. Change things.

Be more than just “clean”. Be honest. But not just to the letter of the law — be honest to the point that it makes you uncomfortable. Be refreshingly honest.

Want examples?

Think of Southwest Airlines. People love this airline, even though it has the most degrading boarding process of all airlines, has the least amount of service offered in-flight, and has the highest percentage of screaming babies and inexperienced travelers.

So why do people love Southwest? Simple: they have been refreshingly honest about what they offer, so our expectations are always met.

Grit your teeth and ask: in what ways can you be refreshingly honest with your customers?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • chrisinprague

    Absolutely right, Michel. But how many marketers, let alone corporate management are willing to do that? VERY VERY few. I can think of several (no names) so-called 'marketing gurus' who are definitely not honest to the point that it would make them uncomfortable. If they did though they would gain a BIG competittive advantage. Chris. http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisshallow

  • I understand. You adhere to the letter of the law, you follow the rules, and you resent the implication of any dishonesty.

    At a cockteil party, Rockefeller, Trump and Onasis were asked by Bill Gates for a short secret meeting in a private secure room.
    Once there, Bill said:
    – There is one unique way to make one million dollars in a 100% moral, legal and honest way.
    All other three rush:
    – HOW ????
    Disapointed, Bill Gates said:
    – Dam it, I was sure you also have no idea how …

  • Very cool Ray, awesome tip. I suspect “Candor” is perhaps the single most powerful sales “secret” someone can use right now with all the tomfoolery going on in the business world these days.

    • Exactly, Ben.

      Candor and empathy will get you many more sales than all the “techniques” in the world.

      And of course… good copywriting helps.


  • Honesty is certainly in vogue right now. With all the bad news about big companies giving the little guy 'the short end of the stick', companies & organizations that build report & honesty are certainly the ones that will grow.

    But it's not the only thing. They have to have a product WORTH talking about. Southwest is a great example.

    Nice article, Ray

    • Well, yes — if you don't have a good product then you have a bigger issue, don't you?

      Thanks Mark!

  • Good ideas on being honest about flaws of your product/service Ray. You're almost advocating taking the 'damaging admission' idea and applying it to your whole business. Thanks for the reminder that there's even more skepticism than normal in customers' minds for us to overcome with good honest marketing.

    • Dave,

      I think the differentiator is the motivation, don't you?

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