Tell The Truth

Want to sell your product? Tell the truth about it.

By that, I don’t just mean adhering to legal standards of truth in advertising. The legal truth is a small subset of the whole truth. It’s not intended to win customers – just to keep them from suing.

You already understand you shouldn’t be making legally dubious claims. But what about ethically dubious ones?

I’m not talking about outright lies, but rather shading the truth by writing things you don’t quite believe. Expressing dubious enthusiasm for your product’s benefits. Showing dubious empathy for your customer’s pain points. Proposing dubious cost/benefit scenarios with dubious ROI.

If you’re selling beer, say whatever you think will work. Show attractive people enjoying your beer on a private beach, and don’t worry whether people will believe they can get invited to the party just by picking up a six-pack. All you’re really trying to do is implant the thought, “Yeah I could really be a tropical beach kind of guy.” And to answer the thought you’ve created with, “This beer understands you, awesome would-be beach guy.”

Affinity marketing is the bread and butter of B2C. But mere affinity doesn’t work as well when the stakes are higher. Establishing trust becomes far more important than catering to image when you’re asking people to make major investments and promising to deliver fundamental changes in return.

That’s what we ask for and what we promise in the B2B world. And that’s why telling the truth is so important. Not just the literal truth, but the deeper truths that instill the thought, “I understand this product.”

As a B2B copywriter, the easiest thing in the world is to get caught up in subtle deceptions. Like talking your way around a technical feature you don’t quite comprehend. Or puffing up a benefit you don’t quite believe in. Or throwing around industry jargon in an effort to appear “serious.” Or, worst of all, piling up feel-good words without considering whether you’re actually helping customers make an informed decision.

I want to excise those kinds of insidious deceptions from my writing. I’d rather tell the truths that make a B2B brand believable and therefore truly compelling. It takes far more effort to write with scrupulous truthfulness than to sling BS. But if you care about your readers – and if you don’t, then why are you a writer? – you owe them nothing less than the best version of the truth you can tell.

Think about it: B2B customers are smart people with hard problems to solve, and they’re going to be looking for any cracks in your credibility. They’re not willing to believe just anything, so you’d better tell them the truth and convince them it’s an important truth that can make a difference for their business.

That doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Creativity and the truth can and should coexist. In the best B2B marketing, they’re the same thing.

That’s because the best B2B marketing doesn’t just convey facts. It discovers and reveals the product’s unique truths – the truths that competitors can’t lay claim to. And once you’ve discovered what those unique truths are, you gain the freedom to bring an entirely new perspective to the product’s creative expression.

For example, one of our most successful campaigns has been the DENTSPLY Caulk Truth or Dare Challenge.

The basic truth about most dental products is that dentists tend to remain loyal to the products they’re already familiar with. The deeper, underlying truth is that dentists place a high value on ease of handling, and because they equate familiarity with predictability – and predictability with ease – they’re reluctant to try something new. The unique truth about DENTSPLY’s TPH® Spectra restorative composite is that it offers superior handling, with dual viscosity options that adapt to the way each dentist prefers to work.

To tell that unique truth, we simply gave dentists an easy way to evaluate the dental composite they currently use against DENTSPLY’s TPH® Spectra composite in a blind, hands-on comparison.

To spread the truth, we gave them a platform to share their impressions with the wider community of dentists, and for those dentists to take the challenge in their own offices.

To validate the truth, we gave dentists information explaining why the product handles better – and how its demonstrably better handling can help them work more efficiently and improve clinical outcomes.

The Truth or Dare Challenge delivered stunning results for DENTSPLY Caulk. It helped turn a declining market share into 1.1 percent growth, $2.0 million in incremental revenue, and the largest number of dental offices in more than four years purchasing TPH Spectra. Simply by inviting dentists to experience a unique truth for themselves.

In a sense, that’s what all our marketing needs to do: Put the product front and center, tell its unique truth in a clear and engaging way, and refuse to get caught up in the snake-oil obfuscations of the competition.

Tell the truth and make it matter, because the truth works like nothing else.