Do you know the tale of ‘The Fox and the Crow’? 

In this anecdote, the crow learns a valuable lesson about flattery…The fox compliments the crow, luring her into a trap of admiration by paying her homage, causing her to forget about her intention and before she can quite realise what has occurred, the fox is gone.

The moral of the story:

Don’t believe everything you hear; not everyone has your best interests at heart.

The image for this post got me thinking about ‘the fox’. Now I’m very fond of foxes, in fact, I’m utterly enchanted by them. Living in a rural area of Hampshire, I am frequently blessed by visits from these red-coated and fluffy white-bellied creatures.

The fox is cunning, shrewd, focused, and above all else, goal-driven. Their objective is simple – survival. One must come to admire these glorious and simple critters; however, not all animals will see the fox in this regard. Many will have come to fear this rascal, and so they should, he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. I guess it’s about perspective…

So, why is the fox on the agenda for today? Well, the story led me to ponder the power of words. Many people will, just as the fox did to the crow, lure you into a false sense of security with flattery, compliments and false promises, given a chance. Some call it smoke and mirrors. In our house, we call it snake oil, and I’m sorry to say, I’ve seen it many times.

On several occasions, I have been the second or even third marketing professional approached by a company who has in the past been sold ‘snake oil’. They have been persuaded by the outcome of an idea, promised the world in return for large sums of money with zero return on investment. It can be a hard and a bitter pill to swallow to realise you have been tricked and deceived and understandably, as a result, confidence in marketing abilities has been lost. It then becomes my duty to rebuild certainty and sureness in the process but also to change thinking.

One of my values is ethical. This is in part about taking a sustainable approach to business operations, but it is also about operating with integrity and honesty. I will not tell clients what I think they want to hear to get a job over the line. I do not charge more than a project is worth or sell false promises to reach my aims. My vision is to work towards a better world, one marketing project at a time, and that begins with virtue.

To conclude on this point. Please be vigilant when looking for a marketing partner. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It is doubtful that someone can change your business overnight. There are some ‘quick-win!’ approaches, yes, but they are unlikely to last and will not meet long term aspirations. Marketing takes time, careful planning, commitment and investment. Do not be fooled by snake oil sellers. They may look affluent and thriving from the outside; however, they are crafty, just like the fox, and they are driven by a straightforward intention, and this doesn’t consider the best interests of your business.

My advice is to find someone that genuinely cares about you and wants to grow your business ‘with’ you. Do not limit your search to the largest and most prominent companies, but instead talk to those whom you connect and can develop a personal relationship with.

Photo credit @withluke.

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