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You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig
This folksy phrase draws on a basic truth which people readily understand. It has been recently used and misused in election politics. According to a recent issue of Time Magazine, the saying originated in the used car industry to describe the shady practice of painting wrecks to mask or distract from their mechanical flaws.
People understand this saying because they experience it in daily life. It’s called “spin.” We regularly hear about new and improved products, and we buy them. But opening the newer package, we often find less of the product inside. Or perhaps a health claim about fewer calories is not quite so absolute. On closer inspection, we learn that the claim only applies to a very small serving size. Spin serves as lipstick, and it reduces the product’s credibility. When the consumer catches on, it erodes trust.
When it comes to our products and services, lipstick wears off eventually. From a marketing perspective, very bright lipstick or heavy spin tends to raise suspicions. In fact, most of us can identify when talk is empty due to our vast exposure to false claims –falling for some of them. Therefore, as consumers we are not very trusting. We examine the ingredients in our food, the side effects of our medications and supplements, and the validity of books, products and politicians promising to change our lives for the better.
As businesspeople, we want to build relationships based on trust. When you promise something, be sure to deliver. Here are ways that businesses can impart confidence:
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