You didn’t see it? It’s right there. Right over there. You have to be able to see it! For criminy sakes, it’s an elephant! It’s huge! Are you telling me that I’m the only one who sees it? No, I’m the only one who’s willing to admit that it’s there.
You’ve probably heard the “elephant in the room” expression used before. Typically it comes up when the family is gathered for a special event, and everyone pretends that they don’t notice that Uncle Leonard is snockered again, or that Cousin Louise is wailing loudly in the corner. There are those nervous glances at one another, but if we all keep pretending, maybe nobody else will notice, either.
I’ve noticed that companies often do the same thing. Maybe there’s an inherent shortfall in their products, maybe a competitor has a clear advantage, perhaps there’s a reputation problem – but when it comes to marketing what they have to offer, nobody seems to be willing to admit the presence of the elephant, much less confront it.
Know what? Not only do you know that Mr. Elephant is hanging around, the marketplace knows he’s there. And sidestepping his presence only perpetuates it. Today’s consumer (and that includes consumers of business products and services) appreciates and respects candor. You don’t have to make a big deal about the elephant, but the more you act as though he’s not there, the more attention you’ll draw to his presence. So take a different course of action. Be bold and speak the plain truth, both internally and externally. You’ll build the trust of everyone involved.
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