Today’s Consumer has a Strong B.S. Meter

Customers have strong B.S. meters and they’re constantly bombarded with ads, marketing messages and information. It is possible for company’s to can stand apart from the crowd by producing extremely high quality marketing that engages, entertains and educates. ‘Good’ is never good enough. Your stuff needs to be amazing.

Traditional marketing relies on getting the attention of a potential customer and convincing him or her to buy something. This used to be a pretty simple task.

Today, consumers no longer believe the things that a nicely-dressed spokesperson tells them on the T.V. and/or radio or believe the official-sounding pronouncements they read in the newspapers.

Today, consumers no longer blindly believe ads, they raise their B.S. meters

The house flipping phenomenon of 2004–06, Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, this pill or new ‘revolutionary’ patch/pill will take away your pain, or this clothing item will make you ‘cool’ with your friends, and other shining examples of B.S. has resulted in distrust of government, corporations and most of all brand marketing — it has become part of our cultural DNA.

Brands are part of the “establishment” and therefore presumed to full of B.S. until proven otherwise.

Consumers have MANY choices for every possible purchasing decision. If one company gives us the slightest blip on the B.S. meter, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Companies that haven’t invested in building trust with their potential customers have trouble even giving away free samples.

Years of shady practices have caught up with corporations, brands and marketing and if we want to sell things, we have to pay the price, put the time in and effort to engage consumers 1:1. Today this is possible and there are an abundant amount of tools available to do so, easily.

Meters Giving Off False Positives (BS Detected)

The problem with these hair-trigger B.S. meters is that it has become difficult to convince anyone of anything.

When things sound too good to be true, the consumers B.S. meter lights up like a fireworks on the 4th of July

B.S. Meter — how to avoid the false positives

Fancy corporate vocabulary. Leveraging, monetizing, Adding “izing” to pretty much any word or using phrases like “best of breed,” “push the envelope”, “reinvent the wheel” “guaranteed to work”, “revolutionary” and “hours of relief” are terms that can set off the B.S. meter, even when used by innocent and well-meaning brands or their marketing professionals.

Overblown promises. Even the most scrupulously honest company’s have a difficult time being believed if their promises seem over-the-top [and they usually are].

Hit and run marketing. The first advertisement you run, the first email you send out, the first coupon site you post on a coupon website are likely to be your least effective. This is especially true if the education required, cost, time or risk involved with your product offering are high.

The first reaction is likely to be “Who the heck is this company? What do they stand for? Why should I trust or engage with them? Pure puffery or hyperbole”

Immediately the consumers B.S. meter goes up. It can take months of emails, newsletters, ads and great, not good but great articles before brands are eventually able to convince consumers that you are interested in them, personally. Or at least that you are persistent enough that they should give your brand and product offering a chance to prove it.

Today, social media influences 34% of all purchases up from 25% in 2015.

Along the way you will learn that it is critical to maintain a persistent, low-key “drip” of consistent marketing message. There are multiple media options that can be utilized: web and social media ads, electronic or printed newsletters, social media and others. Regardless of the platform you chose, the key is be ‘own it’, be consistent, entertaining and engaging. Transfer usable in-depth knowledge that your consumer is looking for. Over time, consumers learn that you are diligent, persistent, and going to be around for the long haul.

Being “inhumanly perfect.” Perfectly polished and crafted corporate messaging sends loud B.S. signals. If your website showcases all of your successes but none of your challenges, you sound like that kid in school that got a perfect score on every test and was good at every sport. It’s impossible to relate to, hard to be friends with, and for those of us who know ourselves to be all too human, hard to believe.

Business and leadership is all about relationships. In any relationship, things go wrong, mistakes are made, ups are followed by downs. The strength of a relationship is not how perfect it is, but how resiliently it deals with the inevitable failures.

In a world filled with real-time, tell-all social media, your ability to hide from your failures is, well, non-existent. You are much better off admitting that something is wrong and addressing it in as authentic and transparent a way as possible.

Admitting failure feels unnatural and carries the weight of others questioning our decisions in the long term.

For a business it can be even more difficult, as there’s more than just personal pride at stake and a lot of people to convince that such an admission won’t do more harm than standing your ground or simply keeping quiet on the matter.

The reality is that the truth will out, however, and it’s better to be open about failures and make them right, rather than try to cover them up. If you still need to be convinced, consider the example that Apple, the world’s biggest brand, just set by acknowledging a mistake.

When Apple’s new music streaming service was announced it quickly became engulfed in a cycle of negative press. Blindsided and facing the beginnings of a media-hyped cultural backlash, Apple chose to put artists (and its brand!) first and confirmed that it made a mistake and took steps to correct it.

Small and medium-sized businesses are actually some of the best placed to build these strong, customer-focused brands, as they tend to be closer to clients and able to communicate directly with them.

When you make a mistake on an individual order, be sure to stay in close contact with the customer, be open about what went wrong and do everything in your power to fix it.

Every error can be seen as an opportunity to connect with your clients and make things right.

The other element is also under your control: a willingness to actively look for errors and admit when things go wrong.

Could honesty be coming back into style? Even in marketing and PR?

Dealing with failure is part of being a leader. Rather than expend enormous energy to avoid it, you should build an organization that is resilient in the face of inevitable failures.

Reward the act of risk-taking. How many times have you heard a CEO exhort, “We have to take more risks!” and then disappear? When there is a commitment from corporate higher ups these words need to be backed by action, then great things can happen. Companies that have highlight when risks were being taken and showcase the people who were sticking out their necks and then came back and celebrated the results — regardless of whether it was a success or a failure. Without allowed risk taking, no one is going to take a risk that is meaningful — people will act only if they think there is a high chance of success.

Risk taking gives brands the opportunity for complete honesty from their teams, without this, you will hear what you want to hear and nothing more.

Honesty has always been in style. But sometimes it’s hard to have honesty recognized as such in a world full of B.S..

Today’s marketers should focus on having a heart. Giving more than you expect to get is a powerful way to build an instant bond with your consumer.

Brands CAN be recognized as believable. But it will take some changes in the way products and services are sold. We can start by using straightforward language rather than corporate euphemisms. We can tone down promises that might seem hard to believe. We can design our marketing campaigns to convert customers over a longer period of time and using a variety of media, rather than depending on the single “killer ad” or the huge-budget short-term “media blitz” that the ad agencies promise will lead to huge profits.

Brands need to spend more time building trust.

And we must be transparent about our challenges and imperfections.

These are all deliberate departures from the “textbook” marketing utilized in the past. Overall, changes that allows for relationship building with your consumer that will benefit both you, the brand and the consumer in the long run and for the better. You will have a much stronger company, relationship with your consumer and brand as a result.

Personally, I like the healthy skepticism, although it makes my job harder as a marketing professional, I’m glad companies, governments and and other institutions are being held accountable, its serves us all well and makes us better as people and consumers.

May the good guys always win!

Connect with me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CarolForden

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