From the Desk (and Mind) of Marc Landsberg

From the Vault: Deviantism #27


In marketing, as in life, guile, mis-direction, and intellectual sleight of hand no longer work, if they ever truly did.

Today, it’s a world driven by total transparency.

Today, a googolplex of information is available to anyone who knows where to look for it. And even, to those who don’t.

And because this information is so freely available, it’s forcing the hand.

It’s forcing everyone, and especially great brands, to come clean.

Today, it’s cards on the table time.

The chance to operate with true transparency. To embrace the notion of a fair exchange of value. I give you this in exchange for that.

Brands that over-reach, that try to tell you how live your life, do more, be more, be better, be smarter, whatever…lose.

Brands that understand  their audiences, and focus with intense passion on creating value and utility for those audiences, win.

To be clear, this value can be inspirational. It can be emotional. It can be entertaining. It can be a lot of things.

But what it can’t be, is misleading.

The founder and CEO of Spanx said it so well, when she said “Every time somebody puts on a SPANX product, one of two things can happen: Our brand can get stronger, or our brand can get weaker.”

Full stop.

Consumers are too smart, too wary, too tired of being promised the moon, to really believe in the over-promise.

I think the pendulum is swinging back to a world that’s slightly more transactional in nature.

After all, I don’t want a relationship with Tylenol, I just want my headache to go away.

It used to be that we spent a lot of time, and a lot of money, changing attitudes about the brand. You know, make a friend before you can make a sale.

I think today, the opportunity is to change behavior – to give someone a compelling, value-driven reason to give your product or service a try – and if it delivers in that moment of trial, perhaps they’ll try it again. And again. And then, perhaps they’ll like the brand, because it delivers on its promise. And then, their attitude changes. Advocacy and commitment follow.

Attitudes follow behavior. And the best way to change behavior, is to be fully transparent. To honor and respect the decision-making public, and to do our level best to create some value in their lives.

A transactional relationship that leads to a loyal relationship. Advocacy, even.

In life, as in marketing, the same rules apply.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you can’t do it, then simply say “I can’t do it.”

If that task is too hard, say so. If you need help, ask for it. If you can’t make it to the party, simply say “Thanks for the invite, can’t make it.”

No need for excuse-making when you’re full transparent. Spend less time fashioning an excuse, and more time simply trying to come good in the first instance.

Our clients, our colleagues, our partners, our friends, and our family members – all deserve this ultimate expression of respect. Honesty. Transparency. Absence of guile.

Leave the curveball for the baseball diamond. It’s cards on the table time, for us all.


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