Why Transparency Works Better Than Deception in Marketing

“I still can’t believe that the guy fooled brother,” I said holding the fake camera which my cousin had bought a few years ago. It looked exactly like a real one but was, well, a dummy.

“I broke it and what came out of it was sand,” I said talking to another cousin. “Those manufacturers might have used it to increase its weight and make it look like a real one,” I said again amazed by how real the camera actually looked with a grin on my face.

“Haha. I have to admit. Whosoever that guy was, he was probably a great salesman,” said my another cousin laughing at the incident and looking at the camera (the plastic dummy).

“A great fraud,” I corrected him.

A great fraud!”

The spread of deception in marketing

Marketing was ordinary in the past.

It was nothing more than ‘plain selling’ done with an intention of earning profits by giving to those who wanted the products.

Salesmen were still going through a phase where they had to try hard to sell anything.

In terms of today’s marketing, you might say it was quite similar to shooting arrows. Blindfolded. The sellers didn’t knew much they could do to sell more.

Yet, those earlier days were significant.

They formed the base of modern marketing which gave sellers a better insight about what they really need to do. The earlier marketing practices laid a solid foundation, gave an idea about what really works and then disappeared.

But once marketers mastered the old art, they got tired of the similarity in the market. This aroused the hunger for better methods in them.

Truth began to look boring. Values seemed to go out of style. Money dominated everything. So they searched for better methods, and ultimately chose deception.

How marketing turned towards deception and got worse

Deception works – that’s the sole reason why it’s popular.

Deception gives businesses what they want. It takes them away from the competition. They sell more. No matter if this means exploiting the customers or tricking.

“It’s a part of our business,” has always been a nice excuse to justify deception.

My cousin had brought that camera from a salesman, believing that it was real. The salesman said that he had the last stock left and was selling all that he had for cheap.

That seemed like an enticing offer, so my cousin chose to buy one. He didn’t test it as the salesman said that he had no rolls, and my cousin didn’t consider checking as it seemed like a fine offer anyway.

He was assured that the product would work well. Later my cousin realized that it was nothing more than a realistic looking dummy model.

The customer was fooled again, like millions of customers are fooled each day.

Unless you live on mars, you know what I’m talking about

Marketers who use deception are cowards, because they fear they won’t survive in an honest system.

One time profits, fooling customers with fake products, telling lies, trickery, fooling – aren’t all these similar to fraud and open-robbing?

When some businesses fear they won’t be able to sell, they find ways to push selling instead of focusing on improvement.

That’s when deception comes in for them. It’s a shortcut. A cheat-sheet. A quick growth hack.

Why deception won’t ever work

You may gain money from exploitation and fooling but you won’t be able to establish yourself.

You can’t become the next Steve jobs or earn a speck of respect unless you think about your customers as much you think of yourself.

Marketing is more than selling – it’s about slowly earning loyalty and crawling into the hearts of customers.

Deception prevents you from getting there. Transparency takes you there.

The moment you choose a road, you decide what your business will be like.

How transparency can make you thrive

Transparency doesn’t pay off in the short term.

It might even seem like a bad idea.

For instance, PayPal acquired its initial customers by giving their customers $20 for signing up. But in the end, it was their effort which paid off.

They only paid to get what they deserved – attention of people.

Giving money might seem like a foolish idea but it worked. Would PayPal have become as successful if it had tricked people in some way?


But could it have gained the dominance and credibility which it has today? The answer is obvious – no.

Is this a relevant example? Not much, but here’s the thing – observe any big brand or the ones which are successful, you’ll find one common trait among them all – they don’t trick their customers.

How you can use transparency in marketing

Be honest, mention the problems of your customers, and focus on serving them first – you grow when you strive to bring a change.

Here’s a truth – the market is huge and you can have people your way and even make profit.

Yet, if you want your customers to remember you and believe in you, you’ll have to put in the effort to make them stay. Give them enough reasons to trust you and try not to disappoint them.

If your sole motive is to earn money, transparent marketing isn’t something you will appreciate. It’s an audacious step towards betterment. You decide to give a purpose to the existence of your business and make it much more than a business might usually mean.

There are people who take advantage of uneducated, vulnerable and innocent customers – but they’re the ones who ruin the game.

To rise about what’s going on, give more.

Don’t you notice this?

With great power comes great responsibility – Uncle Ben

When there’s something wrong going on, you notice it. So do your customers. You can’t trick anyone for too long.

The bad products, cheap tactics, or false claims – you can’t hide them forever. Someday they’re likely to show up.

When you think you’re cunning enough, you just lie to yourself. Others notice what you think they might not. You get busted – and it’s worst to get busted.

Your credibility is shattered to pieces. You feel like a culprit caught red-handed. You lose the trust you’ve gained.

Difference between transparency and deception in marketing

Although there are several reasons to refrain from deception in marketing, here are some of the most common reasons that tell you why.



Customer-centered Self-centered
Long term Short term
Values Tricks
Gradual outcomes Instant outcomes
Reliable Unreliable
Credible Untrustworthy
Firm Customer Base Temporary Customer Base
Better Prospects Fewer Prospects
Easier to brand Harder to brand


What kind of brands and products do you like the most?

Your customers are no different – above anything they’re humans. They expect you to lead them, not to exploit them. Each time they allow you to sell them, they give you your shot of influencing them and serving them.

If you do it right, you can have them. If you do it wrong, it isn’t hard to predict what’s next. Each step you take through your marketing efforts gives you some opportunities.

However, what decides what those opportunities might bring to is how well you’re serving.

“Honesty is still the best policy”

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