The Truth Hurts

Sometimes one has to wonder if the whole ad game is just an exercise in futility.

English: YouGov logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions of dollars are spent on ads and media to sell products and services yet much of that money is for naught  and I don’t mean in the classic “half my advertising is wasted” sense.  OK, so maybe I’m being a little too gloom and doomy this Monday but let me tell you what’s prompting the screed.

The folks over at YouGov did some research about how the public perceives advertising.  The results are kind of scary if you’re in the business of marketing:

Half of Americans (50%) who are aware of advertising don’t trust what they see, read and hear in advertisements.  44% think that advertisements are dishonest.  A clear majority (58%) thinks that there should be stronger requirements for proving claims in advertising. 

Charming.  The study also says that the more education you have the less likely you are to trust ads with 65% of post grads thinking advertising cannot be trusted.  So much for appealing to the customer’s intelligence…

Another finding does help to point us in the right direction:

Many of the common advertising tactics like comparative advertising, scientific endorsements and awards claims may be counter productive and put consumers on alert.  Although 16% think they are more likely to believe an advertising claim, which includes the testimonial of a scientist or expert, that expert makes 29% less likely to believe in an ad.  Ads making comparisons with brand competitors are more likely to be believed by 15% but less likely to be believed by 26%.

In other words, maybe it’s time many brands stopped talking smack about their competitors and treated their relationships with the customer (or potential customer) as if it were a first date.  Think about it.  You wouldn’t spend your time on a date citing studies about what a good person you are or talking badly about other people who might be in the available dating pool.  You’d spend the time learning more about the person you’re with.  What do they care about?  What are their needs?  How might the two of you be good for one another?

Marketing has changed (about the 500th time I’ve written that in 1,500 posts) and our thinking about it needs to change too.  We won’t build trust – and generate sales – if we’re doing the same old thing.  Maybe we need to start taking our customers out on mental dates?  Thoughts?

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