Borrowed credibility. Is this right?

12 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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  • Profile picture of the author Faylor St Hilaire
    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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  • Profile picture of the author splitTest
    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!
    Other than the pictures part, there's absolutely nothing wrong with either 1 or 2. Sales pitches do both all the time.

    If you can't get an "authority" to endorse your product directly, there's nothing wrong with mentioning or illustrating how authorities endorse your product category.

    If you're selling apples, there's nothing wrong with mentioning that 9 out of 10 doctors say eating more apples is good for you. Nothing wrong with mentioning that 9 out of 10 pro athletes swear by apples too, or quoting some specific athlete saying an apple a day is key to her training regimen.

    The only line you should worry about crossing is suggesting that the authorities endorse your product specifically (unless of course, they do -- then you're golden).

    Pics are a no-no without permission though. Not sure about logos.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    If you're selling apples, there's nothing wrong with mentioning that 9 out of 10 doctors say eating more apples is good for you. Nothing wrong with mentioning that 9 out of 10 pro athletes swear by apples too.
    Not so fast!

    Those claims had better be true, and you need to be able to back them up.

    Marcia Yudkin
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    • Profile picture of the author splitTest
      Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

      Not so fast!

      Those claims had better be true, and you need to be able to back them up.

      Marcia Yudkin
      Of course. That goes without saying.

      Otherwise anyone could just claim anything.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Original text that appears in copyrighted material is subject to copyright law and should not be republished without permission.

    An exception is the Fair Use Doctrine.

    According to Wikipedia...

    Fair use is a doctrine in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder.
    So if you have a 15-word quote that you pulled out of a 100-page book, you're probably okay using it.

    A 1,000-word chapter, probably not.

    (The courts rule on a case-by-case basis what "limited use" means when there's litigation.)

    Also, using a person's name can be problematic. Some people trademark their name.

    I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The above is my opinion only and should not be considered legal advice.

    Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author Princess Balestra
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post


      I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

      Alex

      For sure I would binge-watch that show.
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      Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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  • Profile picture of the author Tmt Aba
    I agree with the above responses. There is nothing about flattering, it is just an infringement issue. Better show your skills by experimenting with different ideas together.
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  • Profile picture of the author Princess Balestra
    "Why settle for double jeopardy when you can have triple leopardy?"

    This is when my dream binge-watch Alex Lawyer takes a no-hope case to the gnarliest courtroom in the land -- wearin' a matchin' catsoot, beatnik hat & flippers.

    Tellya, I been kept awake two nights cozza way cool possibilities unleashed by this evocative concept.

    Don't no Hollywood agents look in on here for surefire winnahz?

    Gotta hope so, bcs for sure I would gladly play the plucky waitress in The Case Of The Whole Buncha Stuff Don't Make No Actshwl Sense.

    Meanwhile, anywan borrowin' no credibility offa Moi is clearly fore'er shafted less'n they slap quotes on nuthin' I say.
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    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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