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Too Good To Be True?

by Katie Goodell


I’m an optimist. I tend to trust people and assume positive intent of individuals as well as companies marketing and selling to me. This attitude, of course, has its benefits and its drawbacks to me as a consumer.

My fiancé, on the other hand, is a skeptic. Especially when it comes to sales and marketing. If he sees a product on sale at a significantly lower price than usual, he assumes it’s too good to be true. “That’s fake!”  If some promotion is advertised, he expects there’s an unspoken catch. “Katie, it’s a scam, don’t buy it!”

Usually he’s being overly cautious, but I’ll admit, sometimes he’s right! As searching for the best deal becomes more and more possible, especially with online shopping, it’s easy to become blind to quality in your hunt for the lowest price. This can make us bargain shoppers more susceptible to buying a knock-off product or falling for a complicated promotion that ultimately gets us to spend more than we originally anticipated. Because of the possibility of being burned in tricky sales promotions, more advertising skeptics are born. For these deal-doubters, compelling marketing and the promise of a good sale can sometimes have the opposite effect an advertiser is hoping for.

As marketers, how do we make sure our advertisements and promotions aren’t driving away the quality-conscious skeptics?

For customers like my fiancé, and for most other consumers out there, the answer lies in trustworthy branding. It’s the unknown sellers or new companies he’s most skeptical of. If he is familiar with and trusts the company putting on the sale, he’s much more comfortable paying a discounted price than if another unknown company offered the same deal. For the select few brands he knows and loves, he never doubts the integrity of a promotion.

In order to pull off successful promotions or deal-based sales, you have to start from a foundation of trustworthiness and honesty. Building a trusted brand is a long-term process with many components, but there are actions you can take to increase a sense of reliability among current and potential customers. Studies show the primary drivers of trust include having similar characteristics and shared values to your consumers, frequency and quality of communication, and mutual disclosure.

  1. Be relatable. Aim to be a part of the community you serve rather than just an onlooker. Act like a neighbor instead of a vendor. Fellow community members wouldn’t take advantage of each other, and consumers won’t be afraid that you’re scamming them when they understand you’re using promotions to work to improve their experience and the community.
  2. Be transparent. Being communicative about challenges and processes increases trust with your customers. Companies whose CEOs and other C-level execs participate in social media conversations and communicate their core mission and values are more likely to earn customers’ trust. Don’t be the wizard behind the curtain – people are scared of that wizard and aren’t given any reason to trust him except for fear!
  3. Be open to feedback. Allowing customers to leave reviews on your website or social media pages shows you’re flexible and responsive to input. Proactively reaching out to customers to gain feedback and have them offer customer opinions is even better in showing them you value their business and experience. We’re more likely to trust people and brands who have our best interests at heart and look for ways to hear and help us.

Before you shout about your new 25% Off! promotion or come to market with the best value product out there, make sure you’re thinking about consistently developing a trustworthy brand. This helps you retain customers while also winning over the cost-conscious and the sale-skeptics.



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