Today the news offers us a tangible reminder of how important honesty is in our businesses. What seems like a harmless twisting of the truth can have significant impact even decades later.
Here’s the story:
An accomplished and successful person in the newspaper publishing business was fired before she even started her job as the new publisher of the Orange County Register. Her offer of this new position was rescinded when her potential employer discovered she lied on her resume earlier in her career. She is 54 years old.
Apparently, she claimed to have a bachelor’s degree from a certain university, but she did not. Read the full story here.
It might be easy to brush this aside by noting it happened decades ago. Since then she’s proven herself in the newspaper business and her career so it’s not a big deal anymore. And I would agree that if she has proven herself capable over the years then she is probably qualified for the new position.
But she lied and she got caught. As a result, her new employer deems her unworthy.
Whether their decision is right or wrong is not the point here. The point is, what she said about herself decades ago has now cost her a good job and has damaged her career. Her capability, her skills, her on the job performance over the last 30 years are not even part of the discussion.
That’s the power of the truth at work. That’s the power of the messages we send.
What we say about ourselves, our business and our products is important. It needs to be based on reality. If we exaggerate, mislead or lie, it can come back and bite us.
Looking at so much of the marketing we’re exposed to today you’d think it wasn’t a big deal. People and companies lie to us every minute of every day. They do it with such voracity and skill I’d be impressed if I weren’t so disgusted.
Too many people think marketing is the natural equivalent of lying. “It’s okay to stretch the truth, people expect it” seems to be the code of honor for many marketers.
My advice: Stick to the truth.
The more honest and accurate you are in your marketing, the better your marketing will be. It will be better because you’re delivering your message more accurately. You’re also daring to be different. While much of the world is telling half-truths and fabrications, you’ll be delivering a refreshing dose of reality to your customers.
People notice this. They respond and they talk about it. The truth can be a powerful marketing tool simply because it’s so underutilized. Make it a foundation of your marketing and you’ll see better results.