In a world muddied by “Fake news”, brands being open and transparent would be welcome and refreshing. Perhaps a B2B brand could lead the way and become a shining example of what can be achieved with a more honest approach in their marketing?

Growing distrust

You can’t blame people for having their suspicions, when marketing used to rely heavily on the concept of FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt -  to make people feel they were lacking something in their lives, with the only hope of relief being a brand’s product or service.

According to research by Trinity Mirror, more than two fifths (42%) of consumers distrust brands, while over two thirds (69%) distrust advertising. As Marketing Week discusses, 37% admitted trusting brands less than they used to and 43% trust advertising less. 

Today’s modern audience is more savvy and tolerates less BS than the past. Social media has given customers the tools to uncover and share when a company has been untrustworthy.

A study from Sprout Social suggests that social media has created a culture of accountability. The overwhelming majority (81%) of respondents agree that social media has increased accountability for businesses. 

Highlighting the power dynamic between individuals and organisations, 80% believe that social platforms uncover situations when brands treat people unfairly. What’s more, nearly two thirds (65%) say it amplifies issues. Unsurprisingly, three quarters (75%) feel that social media gives them power.

It probably isn’t surprising then, that nearly half (46%) of those surveyed revealed they had used social media to “call out” or complain about a business. The main reason they would call out a company is to shine a light on dishonesty, with 60% citing this as their motivation. 

So, what’s a business to do? 

Rise in honest marketing

To resolve distrust and repair customer relationships, companies need to be 100% open and honest in their marketing.  Audiences value honesty, so it is surely good business sense to give prospects what they want.

Organisations need to demonstrate that they can fulfil their own promises, as Marketing Week explains, but they need to go beyond this and be open about positives, as well as possible negatives. As Oxford College of Marketing notes, being transparent about weaknesses can strengthen your marketing. 

Being completely honest in marketing messages can catch customers by surprise, helping your brand to stand out from the noisy marketing world. It also shows that you stand behind what you’re selling and this can boost customer confidence in your brand. As a result, customers are more likely to feel they can trust what you say about the positive points. 

When it comes to tech marketing, honesty could help businesses provide buyers with more relevant and valuable solutions. As Computer Dealer News discusses, IT decision-makers have more options than ever before, with new tech emerging all the time. This choice doesn’t mean buyers are always experiencing great customer service. 

A Devbridge Group study found that, while 80% of companies believe they’re providing a stellar service, just 8% of customers feel their suppliers deliver on this. Shedding light on the issue, one IT manager told Computer Dealer News that while vendors will remind him of the latest available products, “I’ll never get a call asking me what I actually need.”

So, greater honesty between suppliers and buyers could lead to better marketing, resulting in higher quality leads as they're from prospects that genuinely resonate with the messaging. At the end of the whole process, the solution delivered will match both sides' expectations. An honest and mutually beneficial relationship is likely to be a long and prosperous one. That’s a win for everyone.