I learned the effectiveness of honesty as a marketing strategy even before I typed my first word on Google.

When I was about 8, an old man used to sell guavas in my area of residence. He would often announce his presence with a song, his sonorous voice permeating every house in the vicinity.

But the voice isn’t what I’m about to talk about, it is the content of his song.

Come buy Guavas
come buy guavas
Some are sweet and some are not
Some are rotten and some are not
Some are sweet and rotten
Some are rotten and some are sweet

In no time, he would be surrounded by people wanting to buy his imperfect guavas.

His honesty wasn’t just different and refreshing, a far cry from the ‘come buy sweet guavas‘ monotones that we were used to, it was madly effective.

He was telling us in not so many words “see I care about you and I have to tell you the truth, there are bad guavas in the midst”.

And by doing that, he was also absolving himself of any blames.

People loved this honesty, they talked about it and it was obvious they’d rather buy from someone who told them the truth.

Now compare this tactic with the usual form of marketing as you know it. Most marketers would concentrate on telling you how their product will magically transform your life for the better overnight, often with a single-minded focus on this fact.

The other side of the issue; the possible problems, the little fuck-ups are all hacked away in a bid to hard-sell you, as though they don’t exist or matter at all.

What this does is create an information vacuum that almost drives people crazy.

You as the buyer would often wonder about the what-ifs. You’ll wish someone will just tell you the whole truth so you can make informed decisions as quickly as possible.

This is why hardly do marketers command trust. Hardly.

What the customer sees is a person after his money, which means as great as the product might be, it wouldn’t be given much of a chance.

But when a seller tells you “Look the house is very old. There’s a big crack in the bedroom wall and there are giants rats coming from holes in the ceiling, especially at night. The toilet doesn’t flush properly and you’ll probably be disturbed every night by dogs barking in the neighbourhood. On the positive side, it is quite cozy, it is close to the road and the market, and for this price, it is quite a steal. You definitely have to do some repairs…blah blah blah”,

See? Imagine how easy it will be for you to make a decision with this information. Imagine how good it will be for everyone’s sanity if all marketers adopt this strategy.

As hard-selling becomes increasingly unpopular and ineffective, and buyers become smarter by the day, perhaps more businesses will make the shift.

For now, let me leave you with this extreme example: