ROMI — that’s the acronym for “Return on Marketing Investment.”
There’s another type of ROMI that’s harder to measure but arguably more important. It’s your “Return on Marketing Integrity.”
At Sigl Creative, marketing integrity is a top priority for us. We understand that integrity is more important than ever as public trust is rapidly declining in businesses, institutions, and advertisements.
A 2018 HubSpot Research Trust Survey with 2,3119 respondents in the United States and United Kingdom revealed that 55% of respondents “don’t trust companies they buy from as much as they used to.” 65% also “do not trust advertisements,” and a whopping 71% “do not trust sponsored social media ads.”
Who do they trust? According to HubSpot’s survey, 81% “trust the advice of friends and family over business advice.”
How can you foster trust with current and future customers? By prioritizing marketing integrity. While marketing investment is easier to measure, marketing integrity will set you apart from competitors — plus, it’s the right thing to do.
We emphasize the importance of creating marketing content that offers value or solves a problem for free to customers and prospects. This blog is one example! But how do you create marketing content with honesty and integrity? Today we’re sharing 4 ways to increase your return on marketing integrity!
1. Give credit where credit is due.
If you create a lot of content like we do on our blog, you’re usually doing research and gathering information from other sources. Sometimes, you probably feel like you’re not saying anything original!
Here’s a hard pill to swallow — you’re feeling that way because you aren’t saying anything original.
In his book How to Think, Alan Jacobs writes, “To think independently of other human beings is impossible and if it were possible it would be undesirable. Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social. Everything you think is a response to what someone else has thought and said.”
Don’t misunderstand — your marketing content will convey a message in a way that only you can. That’s original!
But you’re also learning from others along the way so it’s important to give credit where credit is due. If you’re quoting someone directly, make sure you cite the source with a hyperlink or footnote and put quotation marks around their words. Even if you’re not directly quoting someone, it’s still a sign of integrity to cite your source.
Notice that we even put quotation marks around the statistics we cited earlier. That’s how HubSpot reported the numbers, and we wanted you to know we quoted their findings verbatim.
Also, make sure you have permission to tweak someone’s quote, testimonial, or review if it’s hard to understand. If you get permission, don’t ever change the meaning of their words, even if you edit them for better comprehension.
2. Use rigorous statistics and cite your findings.
You can find a statistic on the Internet to support any claim you want to make.
But is that a sign of integrity? Hardly.
Statistics are everywhere, but finding good statistics to support claims — or finding good stats to help you form new claims — is harder than you might think.
In his book How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff wrote,
The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify. Statistical methods and statistical terms are necessary in reporting the mass data of social and economic trends, business conditions, “opinion” polls, the census. But without writers who use the words with honesty and understanding and readers who know what they mean, the result can only be semantic nonsense.
Want to avoid “semantic nonsense?” Choose your statistics wisely.
Learning how to find and support your marketing content with good statistics takes time and is beyond the scope of this blog. But a good “beginner’s tip” is to look at the sample size when citing statistics from something like a survey. How many people took the survey? If only 17 people responded, that’s not a strong sample to support a claim you want to make. Consider the HubSpot survey again — 2,3119 people responded to their survey! That’s a decent sample size.
If you want to dive further into this topic, we recommend Huff’s book How to Lie with Statistics (don’t you love the clever title?). You’ll learn some tips for seeking out and citing statistics that reflect your commitment to integrity and honesty, which will earn the trust of those you’re trying to reach.
3. Avoid misleading or ambiguous information.
We all have that one philosophically-minded friend — the one who’s always asking, “But what do you mean by that?” They might drive you nuts, but it’s a good mentality to have when creating marketing content.
While writing your content, you should always be asking, “But what do I mean by that? What do I want to convey, and are these words accomplishing that goal?” for two reasons.
First, marketing expert Donald Miller says, “If you confuse, you lose.” If your marketing message is unclear, prospects will do business with another brand whose message is clear.
Second, you should always prioritize precision with your words because you want to maintain integrity. Misleading or ambiguous information is lazy at best and dishonest at worst.
Joel Malkoff, author of Selling Ethically: A Business Parable Connecting Integrity with Profits, wrote, “A business concept called caveat emptor — ‘let the buyer beware’ — states that it is the buyer’s responsibility to perform due diligence. However, it is the seller’s responsibility… to provide full disclosure to the buyer by not lying, concealing defects, or advertising with misleading or ambiguous statements.”
You might be tempted to say your product is “second to none.” But is that factual, and how do you and prospective customers know? This is an example of misleading information. Talk about what makes your product or service unique instead of making outlandish claims you can’t support.
Language can also be ambiguous. Think about the word “transform.” A lot of people like to talk about how their brand will transform “X” — your business, wardrobe, schedule, or even your life (whoa!).
Here’s the problem: “transformation” is ambiguous unless you elaborate. The dictionary says to “transform” something means to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.” Although we most often use the word positively, you can transform something into a worse version of itself — not a better one! — based on that definition.
Do you see why accuracy with your words is so important? When you consistently edit your words for precision, not only do you clarify your message for your audience, but you also act with integrity by avoiding misleading or ambiguous information.
4. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Few things frustrate us as consumers more than when a business over-promises but under-delivers, especially in a market where skepticism abounds.
Although #3 and #4 have some overlap, overpromising involves saying you, your employees, or your product or service will achieve a result that’s unlikely or untrue. Over-promising will certainly decrease — if not obliterate — your return on marketing integrity and investment.
“Ruthlessly check the accuracy of your product claims and aggressively pursue trust-based marketing,” Malkoff wrote. “Your customers will appreciate learning the truth about what you are selling without resorting to exaggerations or disparaging your competitors.”
The best way to combat this temptation is simply to make promises you know your company can keep, from your products to your customer service. Before you make any claims, ask yourself, “Do I know that I or the people on my team can follow through with these promises?”
Once you’ve made promises you know you can keep, then over-deliver for your customers or clients! Go out of your way to serve them. If 81% of people “trust the advice of friends and family over business advice,” then positive reviews from your current customers are one of your best marketing tools!
We also wrote a blog here on increasing word-of-mouth marketing if you’d like to learn more about providing a positive experience for your customers or clients. But what’s the bottom line?
People take notice of your honesty and integrity when you, your product, and your team deliver on your promises.
We hope these tips help you begin building a reputation of integrity and honesty as a brand because it’s indispensable in a market where people are low on trust. It’s also the right thing to do.
Schedule a call today if you need extra hands to help with your digital marketing strategy. Our team at Sigl Creative can take your online presence from functional to exceptional, and we’re committed to executing it with integrity too.