Extremely honest marketing works!

In the late 1960s, the volkswagen beetle was hugely popular. This was due in part to a campaign deployed by Volkswagen in the mid-1960s. Instead of highlighting only the best traits, they emphasized the traits that were not so good and were extremely honest about the lesser traits.
Auteur: Camman Jasper
Categorie: Communications

The tactic of extreme honesty worked very well for volkswagen, because now the beetles of the 60s are considered classics and the beetle has gained popularity. Few companies use extreme honesty in their communications. In doing so, you are missing an opportunity, because when used, it can be very beneficial.

What is very important to include in this tactic is that, in all your sincerity, you do not run yourself into the ground.

What makes the tactic of extreme honesty work?

There are a number of reasons why this tactic works well. Because not many companies use it, it is surprising and it has a certain charm (no one likes braggarts).

It causes you to alienate people you want to alienate, the people who can’t stand the extreme honesty wouldn’t buy your product anyway. So it ensures that you are left with only the people who belong to your ideal target audience, people who are interested despite the lesser characteristics.

Finally, this tactic builds trust, because honesty goes hand in hand with trust, and it sends the message that you have confidence in your product.

What is very important to include in this tactic is that, in all your sincerity, you do not run yourself into the ground. Volkswagen was honest about the Beetle but did not run it into the ground. So extreme honesty is not about bringing the lesser qualities pessimistically, but to bring it in such a way that it does not seem so bad.

The seven rules for extreme honesty

1. Say who your product or service is not for.
2. Provide information about a lesser feature of your product or service.
3. Embrace the elephant in the room. (If there is something going on you shouldn’t beat around the bush.)
4. Praise your competition.
5. Laugh at yourself.
6. Replace lame excuses with the truth. (When there is a crisis don’t spin it to downplay it but just tell the truth and what you are going to do to solve it).
7. Share disappointments instead of hiding them.

When this tactic is used properly, you can turn your weaknesses into your strengths.

Original ad of the beetle.

Original text of the volkswagen ad:

It may not be much to look at. But beneath that humble exterior beats an air-cooled engine. It won’t boil over and ruin your piston rings. It’s in the back of the car for better traction in snow and sand. And it will give you about 29 miles to a gallon of gas. After a while you get to like so much about the VW, you even get to like what it looks like.You find that there’s enough legroom for almost anybody’s legs. Enough headroom for almost anybody’s head. With a hat on it. Snug-fitting bucket seats. Doors that close so well you can hardly close them. (They’re so airtight, it’s better to open the window a crack first.) Those plain, unglamorous wheels are each suspended independently. So when a bump makes one wheel bounce, the bounce doesn’t make the other wheel bump. It’s things like that you pay the $1585 for, when you buy a VW. The ugliness doesn’t add a thing to the cost of the car. That’s the beauty of it.

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