“Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story,” the maxim goes. Aside from politicians, marketers have the worst rap for bending (or breaking) the truth.
We’re so used to disingenuous marketing that we come to expect it. The large print giveth what the small print taketh away. Quotes in political ads are always taken out of context. The fast food sandwich never looks like the photo. No wonder consumers don’t trust most of the marketing they see.
Nokia sparked a minor firestorm last week when it was exposed they’d faked their promotional video for the new Lumia 920. They demoed their PureView camera technology with a video shot by a professional camera, not a Lumia 920. The trick only surfaced because a critic with a keen eye spotted the cameraman caught in a reflection in the video.
Exaggeration and insincerity is so commonplace in marketing that there is tremendous power in authentic storytelling. Seth Godin shared some lessons in this post on “How To Tell A Great Story“:
“A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on…
“Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. No one trusts anyone. People don’t trust the beautiful women ordering vodka at the corner bar (they’re getting paid by the liquor company). People don’t trust the spokespeople on commercials (who exactly is Rula Lenska?). And they certainly don’t trust the companies that make pharmaceuticals (Vioxx, apparently, can kill you). As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story.”
I love the concept of marketers “earning the credibility” to tell their stories. Apple (launching a new iPhone this week) has earned it. Nokia shows us how easy that credibility is to lose.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)