Ten Marketing Research Ideas To Help Grow Your Business


Idea #8 - Explore the potential of a "Balanced Truth" approach in your marketing communications.


The natural instinct when marketing a product or service is to put our best face forward. To do this, however, usually means telling those facts or that part of the truth that portrays our products, our services or ourselves in the most favorable light. This is essentially what could be called the Sugar-Coated Truth approach in marketing. Over the years, experience has shown that this type of marketing strategy is highly effective and appears to work much of the time.


Yet, we now see some fundamental changes occurring in the market place that raises the possibility that a more balanced approach may be worth considering. For example, one visible sign is the growing emergence of the Skeptical Buyer. Whether shopping for a new house, a new car or special mail offer in the back of a magazine, more consumers appear to be listening to the old adage of "buyer beware." This skepticism deepens, of course, when consumers are told about a senior business executive or top public official who has been "bending the truth" or simply telling an outright lie. More specifically, the serious corporate scandals surrounding Enron, WorldCom, Anderson Consulting and financial advisor, Bernie Madoff have further heightened public skepticism.


A second major change is that consumers are becoming better informed than ever before. In growing numbers, consumers are arming themselves with important facts they can easily obtain from the Internet as they strive to become smarter shoppers. It is against this backdrop of change that we ask the following question: Is it time to consider a different approach to marketing where consumers are provided with more "balanced truth" and less "sugar-coated truth?In other words, insteadof always putting our "best face" forward, are there times when we should put our "fuller face" forward?


To a large extent, this balanced truth approach already exists in the medical field. When prescribing medication, for example, the physician will not only explain the health benefits to the patient, but also point out the potential side effects and risks.


The implications of this more balanced approach to marketing are intriguing. For example, what would happen if a major bank that is promoting itself as a source for venture capital for small businesses were to clearly define the most common risks linked with starting a new business? Would this "fuller disclosure" instill customer trust and loyalty or would it scare away potential borrowers? In short, is this Balanced Truth idea simply a naive pipe dream or should it be viewed as a new opportunity to attract and retain larger numbers of customers?

While this issue has not yet been thoroughly researched, I suspect that the idea of using a more "balanced truth" approach in marketing may help provide a competitive edge for companies in those product and service industries where the creation of a higher level of customer trust can lead to significantly stronger brand loyalty.