I get a kick out of the things people dress up like for Halloween. How one personality transforms into another for a day of fun. Take my niece Sadie just for example. Mild mannered, sweet little first grader who transforms into a dangerous masked ninja assassin. I can’t barely even recognize her in her Halloween costume.
Halloween is always a good reminder to me that people wear masks to hide who they really are. For a holiday it’s all in good fun, but what happens when people take [invisible] masks into their lives and businesses? What happens when someone presents themselves as one thing but really lives as something different? You get discrepancies that can turn into lies. That’s a terrible way to live. How can you keep everything straight? “Am I being the real me right now or the public version of ‘me’?”
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses have taken the masked approach and applied it to their marketing. We have all seen promises or slogans that companies have in their marketing that are misleading or communicate something that differs from who the company is or what it does. The intentions of these businesses are not bad. They are merely trying to present themselves as best as they can. Of course, it’s important to communicate professionally, but if a company does not have the capacity to properly do the work that it says it does then there is an integrity issue in how things are being presented in the business. A company that is marketing this way is setting itself up for trouble because people will eventually spot inauthentic marketing. The result is always distrust.
So how can you avoid falling into the trap of using masks in your marketing? Here are three things that we recommend:
- Be relational! There are tons of programs out there that will tell you to systematize or automate your marketing to generate more business. Avoid these. Instead use your marketing to build a relationship with your market. Let them get to know you, your business, your quirks, your ideas.
- Be consistent! Customers love things that they can count on. If you are changing things up all the time, people can get confused or disconnected quickly. Use your marketing as a vehicle to reinforce the values of your business, the ways you can help them, and how they can take the step to get involved.
- Be honest! ….about who you are, what you do. Sounds like an overly simple recommendation but it is probably the most difficult. Successful and well loved companies have consistently proven that being authentic and genuine far outweighs the slick advertising campaigns and gimmicks with no substance. Don’t be afraid to say you got it wrong. People appreciate a business that will take responsibility!
Taking off the mask can let your customers see the real you in your business. That is really what they are buying anyway!