Do you ever wonder why there are so many disclaimers on advertisements these days?
The medical and pharmaceutical products seem to spend more time telling who should not use it, or the long list of side effects that happened in clinical trials, but they are not the only ones.
Cereal boxes and almost everything with a package showing photography put a little asterisk and note indicating that the image has been enlarged in order to show texture. After working for a photography studio and being on-hand for several food shoots; I can tell you that practically nothing is edible on set.
To explain a simple version of it; I found a video McDonalds produced to answer questions from their customers. It seeks to answer the question; ‘Why does the photography look different than what is served?’ It is actually shot on one of their sets in Canada and is narrated by their Director of Marketing. While she says all the ingredients are the exact same, none of the preparation techniques are. THEN they enter the realm of digital retouching.
By this, and nearly every major brand; it would seem that marketing is about manipulating perceptions, but not so much that it exposes them on a legal front. Many corporations staff attorneys and compliance departments just to help them navigate through these treacherous waters.
I offer a modern definition of Marketing.
The sum total of all the outward communications of your company.
Media and advertising, Branding, Public Relations, brochures, websites, company social media, blogs, as well as a variety of sales operations and materials; those are easy.
Customer service is typically associated with sales operations; but I am only infuriated when I hear an actor enthusiastically recite an on-hold message telling me how much Company A “appreciates its customers, yet are experiencing abnormally high call volume.” (I understand this as, “we want to keep call center staffing costs to a minimum”).
Today, social media is bringing tremendous power back to consumers. One trend among savvy marketers is to develop and empower Brand Advocates – a powerful army of enthusiastic customers who voluntarily help promote the brands they love. Ironically, most advocates are turned off by compensation or rewards of any significant value. You can’t buy authenticity.
Other aspects of business operations are influencing public opinion through social media – therefore too are part of marketing.
Your company’s approach to hiring and human relations/human capital (it doesn’t stop at a good job description or posting). The way resumes are screened; interviews are arranged and conducted; as well as the array of communications throughout the hiring process communicate volumes of information about how a company truly treats people. What about when you congratulate your neighbor on getting a new job; the one with an awesome title, new car, expense account, etc. but tells you at a backyard barbeque that he is miserable and is already looking again. I’m thinking that does NOT make you eager to buy products from his new employer. However if he were to downsize his life and found a great company; you would be more eager to support.
A company who is truly dedicated to building a quality reputation will incorporate all of these aspects (and more) into their mix of authentic marketing. Modern marketing professionals understand the totality of their efforts and actions. We know that people are tired of being manipulated and don’t appreciate being deceived for their money.
Transparency and Authenticity are buzzwords because they are so valuable.