According to the Global Language Monitor, a language analytics company known for releasing its official “word of the year” each December, 2017 was the year of “truth.” Coming in at a close second was the word “narrative.” Alongside these words, they analyze the top phrases of the year; 2017 was the year of “#metoo” and “fake news.”
What does all of this mean to marketers and communications professionals?
Honesty, transparency, and compassion are going to be the main force behind successful communication in 2018.
Audiences are tired of misleading articles from unverified sources, and creators of sponsored content must be extra cautious heading into 2018. Clickbait and listicles may still work, but they have to have some truth behind them in order to maintain success.
So how can we market truthfully to our audiences in 2018?
Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating graphics for an ad, make sure that all elements of your marketing campaign come from genuine, verified sources. For content pieces, be sure that all links work, and that they lead back to sources that are truly leaders in their field.
There are a wide range of tools and resources out there to help readers identify and discard unverified information. This 2016 NPR article is a great place to start researching and educating yourself about how to verify sources. Even photos should be verified before use, which can be done simply through a Google reverse image search.
For agencies and marketing firms, arming yourself with these simple tools can make or break a connection with clients. For internal marketing teams, these tips can help establish your organization as an honest, reliable source for products and information.
On the topic of products and information, it’s important that they are exactly what you say they are. In other words, be honest to advertisers about what your company (or your client) is offering. Companies like Lord & Taylor, Perdue, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and even Amazon were sued for deceptive marketing tactics in 2017. While they’re big enough names that they have bounced back, they’ve likely lost some customers in the process. And no matter what the size of your company, losing customers is never a good thing.
Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby and HostBaby, says that "Customer service is the new marketing." What he means is that we’re no longer in the Mad Men era of loud ads in bright colors. Today’s audiences require complete customer service, because technology has opened a line of communication directly between consumers and producers. No longer can a company hide behind a billboard or a magazine ad. Modern consumers can simply Tweet directly to an organization, expecting a timely answer; and this conversation is visible to the public.
Today’s advertisers are held to a much higher standard than their predecessors, and are also paying for the mistakes and deceptions of those who came before. Audiences are smarter and expect much more than they did half a century ago.
Companies in every industry have boarded the transparency train in the last few years, which means that consumers are beginning to regain trust in their favored brands.
However, 61% is still a far leap from 100%, and it’s our job as marketing and communications professionals to keep pushing that number upwards.
We can only provide great customer service and boost consumer trust by being honest. What’s the best way to do that? Tell your truth as an organization. Let your audience know what you’re truly about. Think about 2018 as your company’s biggest interview ever, and just be yourself. You want an audience made up of clients and/or consumers who know exactly who you are and like you that way.
Not sure how to begin speaking your truth? Social media is a great starting place; find some inspiration in Hubspot’s blog post ranking 10 of the Best Brands on Twitter (And Why They’re So Successful).
Drop us a line and tell us how you intend to pursue truth in advertising in 2018 - and find out how Advantage Business Media can help you achieve your honest goals.
- Lindsay Jawor