Borrowed credibility. Is this right?

5 replies
Hi, fellow warriors...

I often see sales letters that try to "borrow credibility."

My question is - where does someone draw a line?

Let's say someone is selling an email list-building course.

What would you think of the following?

1) Quotes from marketing gurus (with said gurus pictures) on the importance of building an email list (in general).

2) Mention big companies (with their logos for illustration) that use list-building (again, in general).

It goes without saying, the sales page would not falsely claim that those gurus or companies endorse the list-building product.

I feel that most gurus or companies wouldn't want their name to be used to sell someone else's product (flattering as the mention of their name might be).

But I could be wrong, because I often see this practice being used.

What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
#borrowed #credibility
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    This seems to be another 'what if' question...



    If you are trying to sell an 'email course' by referencing another marketer's name....why wouldn't I go buy from them instead?



    I feel that most gurus or companies wouldn't want their name to be used to sell someone else's product (flattering as the mention of their name might be).

    Nothing to do with 'feelings' - there are legal reasons NOT to use someone else's name. What you call 'flattering' others might call trademark infringement.
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    As far as I know you can't trademark an entire sentence (unless it's a registered tagline?) So I don't believe that quoting someone else about the importance of email marketing would be a litigious offense. (I could be wrong. I'm not a lawyer)

    On the other hand...

    Unless the logo is somehow in public domain (and right now, I can't think of how that would be possible?) anytime you use someone else's name, image or logo, it can be seen as implied endorsement. And possibly trademark infringement from that more famous brand.

    Where do you draw the line...?

    I guess you draw it at your level of ethics. If you don't think it's moral or ethical to imply false endorsements... then don't do it.

    If ethics is not a moral burden for you, then I guess you can draw the line at your level of risk taking? If you get away with it, then you win. If they find out and decide to come after you, then you'll either need to take it down, or face legal action (maybe both)




    Edit: After a small amount of soul searching, I came back to finish my post...

    Although I'm not a big fan of leaching credibility, I have been known to use published studies as social proof.

    Like if Stanford University publishes a study that can provide evidence of a claim, then I've been known to cite to the study if it helps move my story along.

    I suppose some people could call that "borrowed credibility"? But I don't feel like citing an authority crosses over the line of ethics (as long as I don't actually pretend like I was involved with the study)

    On the other hand, I wouldn't put the University's logo on my page without their permission. To me, that feels more like stealing credibility.

    So I guess that's where I draw the line...
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Re-reading the question I realize it's a very simple equation.


    My question is - where does someone draw a line?

    You draw the line where you are comfortable with it. Doesn't matter one whit what someone else thinks (though legalities can be a wakeup call)...or what other people do or don't do.


    How far are YOU willing to go to 'find' credibility - what are YOU willing to do to sell something - what makes you proud of what you do - and what makes you cringe?
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Originally Posted by perneali45 View Post

    Let's say someone is selling an email list-building course.

    What would you think of the following?

    1) Quotes from marketing gurus (with said gurus pictures) on the importance of building an email list (in general).

    2) Mention big companies (with their logos for illustration) that use list-building (again, in general).
    I'm not a big fan of using borrowed credibility, unless you're the only kid on the block - if only because you shift that credibility away from yourself.

    But as a general point, trying to convince a prospect of the benefits of a product or service and then trying to persuade them to get it from you means your sales letter is going to have to work extra hard. Far better to break this down into a multi-stage process (for example, as a series of emails) or target those who are already in the market for the product.
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  • Originally Posted by perneali45 View Post

    Hi, fellow warriors...

    I often see sales letters that try to "borrow credibility."

    My question is - where does someone draw a line?

    Let's say someone is selling an email list-building course.

    What would you think of the following?

    1) Quotes from marketing gurus (with said gurus pictures) on the importance of building an email list (in general).

    2) Mention big companies (with their logos for illustration) that use list-building (again, in general).

    It goes without saying, the sales page would not falsely claim that those gurus or companies endorse the list-building product.

    I feel that most gurus or companies wouldn't want their name to be used to sell someone else's product (flattering as the mention of their name might be).

    But I could be wrong, because I often see this practice being used.

    What do you think?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback!
    If the creator and seller of the product is a genuine then I would say he/she has reached out to those gurus and asked permission to use their name and images. I never doubted that those gurus testimonial were not genuine. However, you may be on to something there.

    Stay cool and successful....
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