So this weekend I’m taking a break and decided to get some time with my little girl and watch one of her favorite shows with her. I don’t have a lot of patience for television, especially live television. If I can’t fast-forward through the absolutely ridiculous number of commercials, I really don’t care much to watch it. That even goes for football games of my beloved alma mater Florida State University. So as usual I focus my attention on my little girl and we’re having a good talk about what’s going on and getting some time together.
So the action on the screen ends and here comes the barrage of advertisements as usual. Most of the time i’ll mute it or change the channel but this time that didn’t happen. And that’s when I saw a commercial for a software security product that seems to be getting a lot of rotation these days. And then that’s when I saw it. The "fine print".
It was so small that it literally looked like a smudge on my TV. That’s why I looked at it twice. And there it was. It’s seemingly innocuous enough, not really a big deal. But they decided that they wanted to make it so small it was virtually unreadable. I just shook my head, and waited for iCarly to come back on. Spencer had burned Carly’s room and we were all anxious to see what he’d done with it.
Why do companies do this? Really, I’d like to know. I understand that with certain products they’re required by law to publish certain disclosures. But, personally all it does is tell me that I don’t need to trust you. There is no reason for me to listen to what you’re saying, you’re telling me everything I need to know by cramming 500 words of text in white text in the smallest conceivable type at the bottom of the page.
Companies that do these things need to be on notice that in this day and age we as prospective customers, consumers, or clients really expect more. Gone are the days when people gloss over these things. The proliferation of social media has shown us that companies can be open and honest with people, telling them everything they need to know and still do a brisk business. The companies that are demonstrating this new ethic of openness and are embracing their customers do great – even when they screw up. So, if it’s reasonable to expect that when someone buys your product or service that their "results may vary" don’t hide it. And if you think that your claims may be prone to misunderstanding as to the extent of those results, revise your claims to be more clear.
It’s not that hard, and you’ll win over a ton of people. Be honest, be real, be clear, and then OVER-DELIVER.