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The power of honesty

Joey Dumont, chief growth officer at eEcosphere, opened his discussion at the iMedia Commerce Summit in Nashville, Tennessee with an important question: How does your business need to change over time in order to remain successful? After interviewing countless CEOs and senior marketers, one answer was perfectly clear: Be more honest.

As it turns out, the best advice your brand can take is the same that your mother has always given you. But why? As Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

Of course, every brand makes mistakes. But, as Dumont says, it's what you do consistently that matters. "What do you do when your human error becomes public?" Dumont asks. "How do you respond?"

The answer, of course, is honestly -- because people know honesty when they see it, and they feel it when they don't. To demonstrate this point, Dumont showed the audience images of eight people -- four who we like because of their honest persona, and four who are their complete opposites. He explained that we hold personal brands to the highest standards, and recovering from dishonesty is a difficult task. 

But what about a business? For a faceless company, it's more likely they can bounce back. However, your corporate brand is now personal. And transparency is necessary for moving forward -- we can access information in four seconds now that used to take four years. If you're covering something up, consumers won't buy your stuff.

Dumont showed two commercials: One from the 1950s, for a cigarette company, and one from more recently, for a Crayola product. Despite a solid advertisement, the latter famously flopped: Customer reviews online were scathing, and research shows that 90 percent of people trust peer reviews, while only 20 percent trust advertisers. Even with in-store sales, few people are purchasing blindly these days because, as Dumont says, "what goes in them, on them, and around them matters to them." 

This is where the idea of a beneficial cooperation comes into play. A b-corp is a for-profit company that is co-certified by a nonprofit b-lab, and it must meet rigorous standards in order to obtain this label. Dumont mentioned Patagonia the company he feels most distinctly qualifies as a b-corp. Time and time again, the outerwear brand has shown their true colors -- and even when they disclosed that certain chemicals were used in production, their sales continued to climb, showing that honesty really appeals to customers.

Another brand that is powered by transparency is Pura Vida Bracelets. Griffin Thall, CEO, was on site to discuss the company's mission, which began as simply a way to bring the work of local Costa Rican artisans to the masses, without exploiting the craftsmen. Thall explains that people are driven to his site because of Pura Vida's story -- actually selling a product is not their first priority. They also attempt to keep everything in-house, including graphics, fonts, and advertising materials. Thall feels that this creates an authentic experience for all.  

How can your brand be honest? Dumont explains that honesty is fairness, sincerity, and frankness. By sharing its philosophy, admitting mistakes, and allowing consumers to see behind the curtain, you'll soon see how honesty can translate to the conversions and engagement you're looking for. 

Becca is currently an editor at iMedia Connection, as well as a freelance entertainment writer for ScreenPicks.com and The Televixen. In the past, she has worked as a social media/community manager at SEO Savvy, Empower Digital, and Mahalo. ...

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