"In most businesses, someone is getting screwed," said my childhood teacher. I don't remember what grade I was in, or who even said it to me, but I will always remember hearing it and how much it bothered me. I promised myself I would never be in one of those businesses and I would always want the people around me to know they could trust me.
I got into public relations initially because I wanted to talk about and promote amazing people and their products, but I quickly learned that that world wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. There is in fact, quite a bit of "spin" in many ways, which is why when I started my company, I would make social impact a pillar of my business and being picky about the companies we work with.
I wanted to know my 18 hour days were benefiting something good.
But I digress. Backing up for a moment, part of the reason someone would feel slighted in a business deal of any kind comes down to transparency and trust.
In many ways, transparency can sound scary - do you really want your customers to know you made a mistake while shipping? The answer is yes. While it might seem the more information a customer has the worse off you are, its actually the opposite if you want the lifetime value of your customer to be very, very long.
Over the years, I've learned the best policy has always been full transparency. It's also the scariest thing to do, but you always come out on top which is why its so important for young startups to adopt this as part of their culture early on.
A particularly good example of this is the car market.
We all know the stereotype, a greasy, used-car salesman in a lot full of unwanted cars trying to sell you a Honda masquerading as a Maserati.
In this case, the vendor is in the more powerful position, assuming of course, you are not a car expert. Using this example, one new company, Car Buyers Edge, is seeking to lift the veil on the car market - further than a Carmax, for example.
Car Buyer's Edge provides consumers with information normally only available to dealers. The company doesn't sell any consumer information to dealerships or price comparison websites. It's entirely exclusive to users of this platform and it will remain that way. Good for us and bad for the dealers, right?
Consumers are smarter than ever before. The auto industry has long had a reputation for cheating the general public because the sales people have always had the informational advantage. But a dealer can easily combat something like this by simply being honest. Crazy idea, right?
Consumers are no longer willing to accept that they have to remain uninformed - which again, is why a new company cannot avoid honesty. It will always come out. Hate to use this example, but lets look at what happened with Theranos.
It's never been easier to conduct research either. The last thing you want is to be caught with your pants down being called out on social media - or worse. Again, look at Theranos.
Companies like Car Buyer's Edge can allow you to skip the Googling. It's nice to know a company will pull back the curtain. And it can mean huge benefits. Car Buyer's Edge will always be a trusted source, because they are building their business by trust first.
There is no more powerful marketing than that.
These days it's more surprising - and refreshing - to know a company is being honest with you. Your company is like a person. You would forgive a friend if they made a mistake and owned up to it or gave you all the information even if it hurt. But you wouldn't if they flat out lied to you and tried to keep lying in an endless circle.
Think about your company as a person and you'll make the right decisions.