51 replies
Being somewhat new to the business world, I've been caught up time and again with the same moral problem. And that is if I'm deliberately lying to potential customers by what I say in my ads.

In sales you necessarily paint your products in the best possible light- demonstrating the benefits and ignoring/discounting the negatives. Isn't doing this inherently deceptive? Car ads will say "best fuel efficiency in it's class". Do they really have numbers to back this kind of claim up? Or do they just figure people won't check because it takes too much work, and that if they repeat the claim enough times people will believe it anyway?

How can any business claim they have the "best" product, when "best is so subjective? Value itself, the stuff money comes from, is completely subjective and can seemingly be inflated/deflated at will (based on how you frame the wording/imagery in the ad.) Do we just ignore the fact that we may frame things incorrectly in an effort to get things sold? It's no wonder most of the population views "salesmen" in such a negative light.

And what about using psychology? Quickly you find out if you're in business that human beings respond to certain emotional cues. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. We have things like vanity and superiority that drive us. Ads almost seem to get to the point where they become the same, because everyone responds to the same emotional "tricks" again and again. Maybe the person who knows the most just has the power in this world, and we should accept that people won't know what we're doing. (I personally have become much more aware how society "manipulates" me through advertising since I started studing what people want.)

I guess the only thing you can really do is be as accurate and as truthful as you can. But it seems to me no matter what you do you really either end up lying or manipulating people when you try to sell something. Maybe that's just the way it is.
#lying #marketing
  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    I did an article for my newsletter on this very question, based on a thread I started here a while back.

    Here's the whole thing. (Note: there are no sales links or promotions in the piece.)


    "Lose The Hype!"
    ==============

    You've probably had that thought at one time or another,
    right?

    "Lose the hype!"

    It's a common response to some salesletters. An even more
    common response to barrages of identical emails from 27
    different publishers, all claiming to have "just gotten off the
    phone with my friend Joe Schlabotnik, and twisted his arm to
    get you this special deal."

    Yeah. That's hype. In almost every case, that's an outright
    lie. (Where it's not, you won't see it, verbatim, from 27
    different people.)

    On the flip side, have you ever heard someone describe
    something as hype and wondered what they meant? Something that,
    to you, seemed perfectly reasonable and believable?

    Happens a lot, if you hang out in marketing playgrounds.

    That happened recently, when I listened to a group of highly
    skilled technical people describe what I saw as a very
    reasonable public comment as "extreme hype."

    As a writer, I find subjective words endlessly fascinating.
    Most people couldn't care a lot less, and they're right not to
    waste their time on such things.

    This word, though, is one that should be interesting to anyone
    who sells anything.

    I mean, if people see your sales materials or presentation and
    respond with, "What a bunch of hype," do you think they're
    likely to buy from you?

    So yeah, it's an important word.

    Without getting into too much navel-gazing, let's see if we
    can't come up with some practical ways to use it to our
    advantage.

    ....

    Instead of just guessing, I started a thread at the Warrior
    Forum, asking people what they mean by the word. As of this
    moment, it has 144 replies and 4019 views.

    A very handy bit of research indeed, with a lot of well
    thought out responses. You can see the whole thread at:

    What is hype?

    That's a redirect to the thread at the forum. The original link
    is way too long for most email software to display correctly.

    If you want the nuances, you can get them there. It's also a
    pretty good lesson in doing research on forums in a way that
    people appreciate, rather than objecting to. That's handy all
    by itself.

    I'll summarize it here, for folks who don't want to read
    through the whole thing.

    The goal of the thread was to get a sense for what most people
    mean when they use the word 'hype,' and to develop a working
    definition that you can use to remove the negative impacts
    associated with it.

    Basically, to make more sales.

    The discussion got interesting.

    ....

    It's a marketers' forum, so it wasn't surprising that some
    people had positive meanings for the word. Those relate
    primarily to the effect: Getting people interested in and
    excited about your products.

    That's a legitimate definition, to be sure. We can safely
    ignore it, though, since it doesn't cause problems and isn't
    likely to lose you any sales.

    Notice that having a specific goal in mind allows you to
    acknowledge differences and still move forward without having
    to argue about them.

    That's a trick that Jim Lanford showed me years ago, when
    discussing the best way to get the results you want when
    dealing with programmers. He summed up the process in three
    little words:

    "Define your output."

    Remember that phrase. It's useful for a lot more than dealing
    with programmers.

    ....

    The people for whom the phrase had negative connotations can be
    broken down into three broad categories. They defined 'hype'
    as:

    1. Attempts to evoke emotional responses that lead
    someone toward buying the product.

    2. Any claim which isn't proven in the message.

    3. Lies or exaggerations.

    There were a lot of different ways of saying those things, but
    they were the majority of the responses, by a large margin.

    Let's look at them in order.

    ....

    1. Emotional language.

    This is one that a lot of people have trouble with. You'll
    often see people claiming that they only want the facts. A list
    of features, the guarantee, and the price. They claim to buy on
    pure logic.

    If you believe them, you're screwed.

    Logic can support and regulate emotion, but it does not cause
    action. All voluntary human action is the result of emotion.

    Buying is, despite what some copywriters will tell you, a
    voluntary action. People buy things because of some
    expected/desired change in their internal state. Often that
    change will be the result of external changes, but the internal
    change is what they're after.

    Remember "Myers' Marketing Maxim":

    Benefits exist in the head and the heart.
    Everything else is a feature.

    ....

    You can't just remove all emotion from your communication.
    That's a disaster in even the most logical markets.

    There are some folks who are uncomfortable with any noticeable
    level of emotion. We don't need to get into changing our
    communications to appeal to those people, no matter what their
    reasons, because that would put us in the dead zone, sales-
    wise.

    We need to recognize that most people who object to emotion in
    sales copy are objecting to exaggerated or non-associated
    emotional content. These are legitimate objections.

    By non-associated, I mean things that don't relate to the offer
    in any meaningful way. The most common example is the attempted
    use of fear when there's no actual threat involved.

    This is most commonly used by suggesting that not getting some
    potential benefit that you don't already have is the same as a
    crippling loss.

    Wrong tactic. The way to promote something that offers a new
    benefit is through rational optimism, not fear. If you use
    fear, you're going to trigger the "inappropriate emotion"
    filter. That causes a disconnect, and can lead to the "hype
    response."

    Exaggerated emotion is a different story. That's pretty
    obvious. Making a bigger deal out of something than it really
    is turns almost everyone off.

    It's also unnecessary. Rather than going for one big response,
    the better approach is to find a whole lot of benefits your
    product offers and go for an appropriate level of response for
    each one.

    This has a number of benefits. The biggest is that it tends to
    be much more believable. It also creates the same total
    emotional desire for the product, while giving the logical
    rationalization needed to support the decision to buy.

    Much better results, and much easier to do. Copy written this
    way tends to be easier to craft and a whole lot more powerful.

    ....

    There's another circumstance where emotional content becomes a
    problem: When you misread or inaccurately assume what really
    matters to your market.

    Do this in a technical market and you're doomed. That's the
    most common source of the "I buy on pure logic" response, by
    the way. Technical types actually believe that.

    They don't respond well to direct emotional appeals, but
    phrases like "set and forget" are music to their ears.

    Selling to this crowd is an art, and way past what this issue
    is intended to cover. The key is that these folks are not
    motivated by the same language and "feature sets" as people in
    most other markets. Ultimately they want the same things, but
    they have a very different internal syntax for achieving them.

    If you aren't completely sure of the things that are genuinely
    important to your perfect prospect, you need to keep digging.

    Don't stop until you hit bedrock.

    ....

    To illustrate the point differently, a story...

    I spoke at a conference a few years ago, and mentioned the
    concept of "Ultimate Benefits." One of the people there asked
    me for an example, so I started asking him questions about what
    he wanted to achieve with his online efforts.

    The end result: He wanted to feel like a good father.

    Note that the guy already IS a good father. What he wanted was
    to feel like one. Those are two different states, and it's not
    useful to argue with someone about subjective desires. Just
    take them at their word.

    "Feeling like a good father" is not the real "Ultimate
    Benefit" in this case, but it's the point just before it.
    That's the safe spot to address. Your sales copy can connect
    with that desire. That will be the benefit in your offer that
    he judges for credibility, because it's what he wants most.

    That's just one thing he wants, of course. Most offers involve
    a lot more complicated network of desired benefits. There are
    commonalities in most groups that you can work with.

    The trick is to get as many of them right as possible, without
    introducing effects that conflict with anything important.

    What has this got to do with hype and emotional copy?

    If you start addressing someone's deepest desires, you'd
    better get it right. Push the buttons too hard without
    establishing acceptable levels of credibility, and you're going
    to trigger the "hype response."

    You're getting close to home. Pure emotional drives. Balance it
    right, and show them that you can deliver, and they'll let you
    in.

    Get it wrong and they'll put out the "No Trespassing" sign.

    ....

    2. Claims that aren't proved.

    Fact: You can't "prove" anything in a sales message.

    What you can do is offer evidence. If you do so, you need to
    keep in mind that the credibility of the evidence is based on
    two things.

    First, the credibility of the source.

    If you're the source, your evidence will be subject to the
    attitude that the rest of your message evokes in the viewer. It
    works like this:

    Anything a person hears which supports an existing
    belief or preference tends to be given more credibility
    than it deserves. Anything one hears which contradicts an
    existing belief or preference tends to be given less
    credence than it might warrant.

    People will interpret any evidence presented in a way
    that leads to that evidence supporting their existing
    beliefs, even when it is, on its face, contrary to
    those beliefs.

    The result?

    It takes a lot more evidence to change an opinion than it does
    to form one. This is why the headline and first part of a sales
    letter or other persuasive message is so critical. You begin
    the process of forming opinions at that point. It's your best
    chance to move things in the right direction.

    This is also why so many of the big launches could sell out
    without any real sales letter at all. People already believe
    the claims, so they don't need to read the pitch. They're
    convinced, and that's enough.

    If the claims in your evidence exceed the credibility you've
    established with the rest of the message, the evidence will be
    viewed skeptically at best. You're verging on 'hype,' even if
    you're telling 100% truth.

    If the source is external, that is, a third party, their
    credibility is separate from yours. Examples would be
    independent web sites, testimonials from known individuals,
    confirmable media sources and the like.

    In these cases, the credibility of the source affects the
    credibility of your message.

    Choose wisely.

    ....

    The second thing affecting how your evidence is viewed is the
    reader's belief system, as based on their own experience.

    If someone believes that it's impossible to do XYZ, it's going
    to be very, very difficult to change that belief.

    If you show them a dozen people who've done it, they'll either
    refuse to believe it, claim that those people must have
    cheated, or give all sorts of reasons why they can't do it
    themselves.

    I'm sure you've run into that.

    This one's tougher than most, but there are ways to soften it.

    ....

    One of the most effective ways to encourage someone to believe
    something is to get them to say it.

    There's an old truism in marketing: If you say it, it's just
    something you said. If they say it, it's the truth.

    This is especially effective when you're dealing with people
    who simply don't believe the higher end possibilities in your
    claims.

    The technique is very simple. As an example, suppose you're
    promoting a system that shows people how to get more visitors
    to their web site. You would explain how each step affects the
    process, and ask them, for each step, something like:

    "If you were to use just 3 of these techniques, how many
    new visitors do you think you could get to your site
    every day?"

    Let's further suppose that your system shows them how to
    improve the conversion rate for each step. Ask them how much
    they believe that using your system, assuming it works, could
    increase their conversion on each step.

    Now, show them how to figure the improvement. Or, even better,
    put a calculator in the page itself that lets them plug in
    their current numbers along with the improvements they believe
    could be achieved. Let that do the math for them, and show them
    the results.

    They will believe those numbers.

    Why? The first set is what's already happening. No reason to
    doubt that. The second set is their own estimation of what will
    happen. If they didn't believe they were possible, they
    wouldn't drop them into the calculator.

    Of course, the final result is the number of subscribers
    they'd get after a year, using the current and projected
    figures.

    Things like this work. And the results can be surprising.

    For example, suppose your prospect gets 100 visitors a day, 30%
    of them sign up, 40% of those people confirm their
    subscription, 6% of those buy the offer presented after
    confirmation, and it pays a net of $25 per sale.

    At the end of a year, that is 4380 confirmed subscribers, with
    a profit of $6570 on the first offer.

    Let's say you believe that you can triple the number of
    visitors with the right techniques, increase your sign-up rate
    to 45%, your confirmation rate to 60%, and the sales to 7.5%.
    (These are very doable numbers.)

    At the end of a year, the number of new subscribers using these
    figures would be 29,565. The profit from the initial offer
    would be $55,434.

    Almost 7 times as many subscribers, and more than 8 times the
    profit.

    Think that would motivate them?

    Notice that you make no claims at all in this process. None.
    The size of the increase is set by the beliefs of the reader.
    The big jump is demonstrated by showing the result of the
    compounding of the different increases and calculating it over
    a year's time.

    There's an additional benefit to this, aside from increased
    sales. More of your customers will actually use the information
    you supply, since they'll have believable goals staring them in
    the face.

    That means lower refunds, more credibility for future offers,
    better testimonials, and more back end sales. Not to mention
    much happier customers.

    All by letting your customers set the level of expectations.

    Everyone wins.

    That's a Good Thing.

    ....

    Of course, not everything is easily converted to mathematical
    formulas. That doesn't change the process itself. It just makes
    it necessary for the prospect to imagine the feeling of the new
    results, rather than getting out a calculator.

    It has the same effect.

    As long as you're not exaggerating the potential, there's no
    more honest way to demonstrate what your product can do for
    someone than to let them make their own predictions.

    The thing that makes this work is that people tend to be much
    more likely to achieve a goal they really believe is possible.

    Simple, elegant, and amazingly effective.

    ....

    There are other ways to do this, but I'm sure you can think of
    them on your own, if you look through your current sales
    materials. For the moment, let's move on to the third thing
    people define as hype.

    Lies and exaggerations.

    This one is easy to deal with.

    If you're outright lying, stop. The suggestions above should
    provide you all the tools you need to sell without it, unless
    your product just sucks that badly. If that's the case, fix the
    product or sell something else.

    If you really are exaggerating, use the techniques above to cut
    the exaggerations and move to more credible representations of
    your product and the benefits it offers.

    You now know how to do that.

    If it's a matter of your prospect believing that you're
    exaggerating, when you're actually representing the potential
    honestly, you have what you need to fix that.

    Wasn't that easy?

    ....

    This could easily have been a complete product, but it's one of
    those subjects where getting into any more specific info would
    end up expanding the length way beyond what's appropriate for a
    newsletter issue.

    Hopefully, this will give you some useful techniques and
    perspectives to significantly increase your leads and sales.

    Test these ideas out. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at
    the results.
    Signature
    .
    Stop by Paul's Pub - my little hangout on Facebook.

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  • Profile picture of the author Gorilla
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post

    Being somewhat new to the business world, I've been caught up time and again with the same moral problem. And that is if I'm deliberately lying to potential customers by what I say in my ads.
    To be as blunt as possible, simply do not lie to your customers.

    Do not be conflicted about this at all. Just don't do it.

    In sales you necessarily paint your products in the best possible light
    Yes.

    This is perfectly acceptable, ethical, and moral.

    demonstrating the benefits and ignoring/discounting the negatives.
    Please do not forget that what you call negatives is usually a totally subjective matter of taste.

    Do not think for your customers.

    Isn't doing this inherently deceptive?
    No.

    Only deception is deceptive.

    Car ads will say "best fuel efficiency in it's class". Do they really have numbers to back this kind of claim up? Or do they just figure people won't check because it takes too much work, and that if they repeat the claim enough times people will believe it anyway?
    Maybe they have the data to back it up. Maybe they do not.

    Your business is your business, however.

    How can any business claim they have the "best" product, when "best is so subjective?
    Agreed.

    But it may indeed be the best product.

    That is to be determined by the buyer. Sellers having opinions is not a vice.

    Do we just ignore the fact that we may frame things incorrectly in an effort to get things sold? It's no wonder most of the population views "salesmen" in such a negative light.
    Simply do not behave in the way you descibe above and you will have no problems.

    And what about using psychology? Quickly you find out if you're in business that human beings respond to certain emotional cues. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. We have things like vanity and superiority that drive us. Ads almost seem to get to the point where they become the same, because everyone responds to the same emotional "tricks" again and again. Maybe the person who knows the most just has the power in this world, and we should accept that people won't know what we're doing. (I personally have become much more aware how society "manipulates" me through advertising since I started studing what people want.)
    Then do not manipulate people.

    Please, however, do not confuse convincing someone with manipulating them.


    I guess the only thing you can really do is be as accurate and as truthful as you can.
    Exactly.

    We should have no interest in other people's business when we got enough of our own to take care of.

    But it seems to me no matter what you do you really either end up lying or manipulating people when you try to sell something. Maybe that's just the way it is.
    No. That is not the way it is.

    Marketing is not lying. They are not synonymous.

    We all market ourselves ALL the time...to our bosses, friends, family and even to ourselves.

    You have nothing to worry about or be ashamed about if you behave honorably and convince as many people to purchase what you have to offer as you can.

    Marketing is not lying

    God speed to you.

    ...
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    • Profile picture of the author Lance K
      With all due respect, maybe you just need to learn how to sell/advertise correctly.
      Signature
      "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
      ~ Zig Ziglar
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    Two things...

    First... do not lie to anyone to sell anything at any time.

    Second... the question about car manufacturers making gas
    mileage claims. Yes... they do have an authoritative source to
    back those claims. The numbers are published by the U.S. government
    and printed on the window sticker of every new car, light truck, van
    and SUV. In fact, the EPA puts out a booklet that every U.S. franchised
    dealer is required to make available to anyone who asks for it.

    Tsnyder
    Signature
    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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    • Profile picture of the author artwebster
      Oh. Boy!

      It looks like few tender spots were reached by enjourni with this post.

      Let's be brutally frank. Until there is some form of control over the outrageous claims and statements in internet marketing ads, lies will not only continue to be used, they will be expected. How sad is that?

      I cannot remember ever seeing an email ad from an internet marketer that gave any indication at all about the true value of the service or product.

      By using stupifying repetition, mass produced endorsements, photo shop generated proofs of earnings and smoke and mirrors, vendors create enormously long sales letters that not only don't tell much of the truth (the earnings disclaimer seems truthful) but also insult the intelligence of the reader.

      "The truth is that these long pitches are aimed at the lowest common denominator of discernement and comprehension. They are aimed at that part of the market that is still floundering around wondering what to do next because it can't sort the wheat from the chaff. They are aimed at people who buy because of the advertising and not because of the product. They are aimed at people who, having bought, will feel cheated but not have the nous to claim a refund - and then buy something equally disappointing to replace it." (Extracted from one of my other blog posts)

      Look at the prices charged for some of the big ticket items. The claim is that they are good value at $1999, or whatever. Right?
      But, hang on a minute - affiliates earn huge commissions selling these products! If they earn 50%, the product price (value) has suddenly dropped to $999.50 because the price for the producer to make a profit should be the least he will take and any commissions he will pay have to be added to the true price.
      The price, itself, is a lie!
      From there it is all down hill.

      Look at the lies gurus train internet marketers to tell:-
      Only 7 copies left
      Only available today at this price
      The price is going up soon
      My friend ruguguru telephoned me
      Offer restricted to my list
      Product xxxxx Scam? A review (search Google - see this lie in the form of a hint, everywhere).

      And these are some of the less dangerous lies.
      Before anybody gets on their high horse and tries to justify these as legitimate marketing ploys, think about what that statement would actually mean - lies are legitimate marketing ploys.
      Signature

      You might not like what I say - but I believe it.
      Build it, make money, then build some more
      Some old school smarts would help - and here's to Rob Toth for his help. Bloody good stuff, even the freebies!

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      • Profile picture of the author DougBarger
        One thing you may need to consider is that by offering affiliates commissions, it does not devalue the product.

        In fact it is an expense as the affiliates are paid advertising.

        So instead of investing the budget somewhere else, they chose to invest in the affiliates instead.

        Therefore, it's not a lie at all.

        The $1999 product is still worth and valued at $1999.

        A portion of the gross sales are paid to affiliates in return for generating sales.

        The line of thought that "if affiliates are rewarded for their work and services, then the value must not be true" is simply incorrect.

        The owner simply chose to leverage the value by compensating affiliates for generating sales, same as paying for ppc.

        Businesses must factor expenses as well as profits and paying the affiliates is a legitamate business expense.

        The value of the product priced at $1999 doesn't drop a single dollar because professional affiliates were enlisted and paid for their advertising/sales.

        Furthermore, most affiliates will be investing in pay per click ads and other forms of advertising in order to generate more sales for maximum commissions.

        They have all worked hard in order to position themselves to profit from their investments and no part of that in any way is anything but the reality.

        Not lying.

        Exchanging an item of value in demand for the equivalent value in currency.

        It is simply an exchange.

        I have your products and services in my possession and you have my money in yours.

        When we exchanged based on the demand of the products and services to meet a desire,

        the exchange is consummated and deemed the transaction.

        Nothing to complain about. You're happy, I'm happy.

        No one to blame, accuse, belittle, label or anything else negative.
        Marketing is not lying by making an offer anymore than girl scouts are breaking and entering when the doorbell rings.

        You have the choice and the responsibility for verifying claims with statistics.

        Business. truth. reality. Marketing is not lying.
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        • Profile picture of the author ExRat
          Hi James,

          In the process of meeting peoples needs it takes two to tango.

          The marketer - may lie or may not.
          The consumer - may do their due diligence or may not

          You do not need to lie to market anything. You are identifying logical and emotional needs and presenting your information in a way that is likely to get a positive result.

          Don't lie. Integrity is addictive when it comes to persuasion.
          I agree. In the most roundabout way possible, that's what I was saying

          If you can tell a story, AND happen to be telling the truth - even better.

          Hence -







          Signature


          Roger Davis

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          • Profile picture of the author James Schramko
            Originally Posted by ExRat View Post

            Hi James,



            I agree. In the most roundabout way possible, that's what I was saying

            If you can tell a story, AND happen to be telling the truth - even better.

            Hence -







            I totally get what you are saying Roger. I re-read your post and it reminds me of a professor I dealt with once. He said we (humans) are the most horrible creatures ever to roam the earth. Cunning, devious, greedy and self obsessed. He said that is why we survived over the smarter more caring versions of us (homo erectus).

            He said it was because pretty much everything we do is a survival instinct.
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      • Profile picture of the author James Schramko
        Originally Posted by artwebster View Post

        Oh. Boy!

        It looks like few tender spots were reached by enjourni with this post.

        Let's be brutally frank. Until there is some form of control over the outrageous claims and statements in internet marketing ads, lies will not only continue to be used, they will be expected. How sad is that?

        I cannot remember ever seeing an email ad from an internet marketer that gave any indication at all about the true value of the service or product.

        By using stupifying repetition, mass produced endorsements, photo shop generated proofs of earnings and smoke and mirrors, vendors create enormously long sales letters that not only don't tell much of the truth (the earnings disclaimer seems truthful) but also insult the intelligence of the reader.

        "The truth is that these long pitches are aimed at the lowest common denominator of discernement and comprehension. They are aimed at that part of the market that is still floundering around wondering what to do next because it can't sort the wheat from the chaff. They are aimed at people who buy because of the advertising and not because of the product. They are aimed at people who, having bought, will feel cheated but not have the nous to claim a refund - and then buy something equally disappointing to replace it." (Extracted from one of my other blog posts)

        Look at the prices charged for some of the big ticket items. The claim is that they are good value at $1999, or whatever. Right?
        But, hang on a minute - affiliates earn huge commissions selling these products! If they earn 50%, the product price (value) has suddenly dropped to $999.50 because the price for the producer to make a profit should be the least he will take and any commissions he will pay have to be added to the true price.
        The price, itself, is a lie!
        From there it is all down hill.

        Look at the lies gurus train internet marketers to tell:-
        Only 7 copies left
        Only available today at this price
        The price is going up soon
        My friend ruguguru telephoned me
        Offer restricted to my list
        Product xxxxx Scam? A review (search Google - see this lie in the form of a hint, everywhere).

        And these are some of the less dangerous lies.
        Before anybody gets on their high horse and tries to justify these as legitimate marketing ploys, think about what that statement would actually mean - lies are legitimate marketing ploys.

        An alternate perspective

        Yes there are some greedy lying money hungry liars out there. you could come up empty asking what has your 'guru' done for you lately...other than rape your wallet. Someone permitted it - the buyer perhaps.

        however:

        Long sales letters can help a buyer who would like as much detail as possible before deciding if the exchange is worthwhile. That is not insulting. If it were they would not be effective.

        Not all marketers use fake screen shots. I don't . Even on my header graphics I use real shots from my own sites as the watermark.

        I don't get your logic with affiliate commissions - that is a selling expense. Do you buy cars? Butter, Milk? - according to your logic you overpaid because they paid a commission to the shop.

        There is such a thing as genuine limited offers. People who fake them are worthless trash and people can tell.
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      • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
        Originally Posted by artwebster View Post

        1. Let's be brutally frank. Until there is some form of control over the outrageous claims and statements in internet marketing ads, lies will not only continue to be used, they will be expected. How sad is that?

        2. I cannot remember ever seeing an email ad from an internet marketer that gave any indication at all about the true value of the service or product.


        3. But, hang on a minute - affiliates earn huge commissions selling these products! If they earn 50%, the product price (value) has suddenly dropped to $999.50 because the price for the producer to make a profit should be the least he will take and any commissions he will pay have to be added to the true price.

        The price, itself, is a lie!


        4. Look at the lies gurus train internet marketers to tell:-
        Only 7 copies left
        Only available today at this price
        The price is going up soon
        My friend ruguguru telephoned me
        Offer restricted to my list
        Product xxxxx Scam? A review (search Google - see this lie in the form of a hint, everywhere).
        May I ask why you are even on a marketing forum if you are so cynical about it?

        I numbered some of your points so I could respond to them:

        1. Have you seen ads on TV, magazines, radio? They are all true, I guess. You make it sound as if the Internet is the only place where anyone says anything false.

        And please don't twist my answer there to make it appear I condone lying.

        2. Isn't the value of the product in the eye of the purchaser? I don't even get your point on that one.

        3. The price is a lie? Where do I start with this one? If you were charged the stated price, then the price was not a lie! A lie would be charging you more than the stated price. As for commissions, it's none of your business how much the seller pays his affiliates (unless you are one of them).

        What if the product costs $1997 and the affiliate gets $10 of that? Would that make you happier?

        I guess you don't know how retail works and how many levels there are of people getting paid: manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, the retailer, or you'd see how silly your point is.

        4. Who is training people to lie? And why do you assume all of those statements are always lies?

        Sometimes quantities are limited, prices are increasing, and some people may even use the phone.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nonny
    I hope someone with more knowledge than I have will chime in, but I thought that under US law false or deceptive advertising was illegal.

    Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: Rules of the Road
    Frequently Asked Advertising Questions: A Guide for Small Business

    While not all Warriors are doing business in the US, I believe that those of us who are need to follow the FTC's advertising rules.

    Peggy
    Signature

    ~ Peggy

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    • Profile picture of the author ExRat
      Hi,

      If you are struggling with this concept, I would suggest doing some study.

      The best material I have discovered can be found under the subject 'persuasion'.

      It gets a bit 'skewed' when you relate it to internet marketing, so I find it better to view it for everyday physical products, then look at totally tangential (and in the first instance, seemingly unrelated) subjects - for example, all of the things around you and how they interact (EG the animal kingdom).

      Then come back to internet marketing.

      Everyday physical products - let's take shampoo as an example. When I was young, they appeared to use very simple imagery and connections to help to sell their products - EG - they would put a picture of an apple on it, make it green, make it smell of apple and use wording like 'natural' to describe it.

      Nowadays, they have really gone to town! The imagery they use on TV adverts involves little 'bad guys' all over your head (dandruff). Then the shampoo releases 'good guys' who jump all over your head, zapping the bad guys with lasers.

      They use long words and clever associations in any way they can to get one up on the competition. They spend fortunes testing all manner of trickery and imagery on the packaging in order to compel you to pick their item up in the supermarket instead of the others.

      But here's the kicker - being confronted with all of this BS, is it so ridiculous and manipulative that you refuse to buy shampoo and use it to wash your hair?

      No! You ignore the BS and you make an educated decision in order to find the shampoo which is most likely to -

      a) do the job

      b) provide value

      But at the end of the day, it's still just a simple detergent that washes your hair. There are no little 'good guys' all over your head and most of the sales stuff that they spend millions testing and creating is pure BS.

      As marketers who think about these things, we are the least likely to be in the 'cross-hairs' as the target of the promotions. The people they are targetting are the huge majority who never have the time or inclination to even ponder just how much BS is involved. The people who's decisions might be tipped towards their product by a subtle insinuation of value, of a product being slightly better than the rest.

      It's a crap-shoot for the marketers and the tools of their trade are also crap - or BS to be precise. Like it or not, that's where we're at.

      The animal kingdom - I just came back from taking some photos of the sunrise on the beach. I also observed some seagulls and crows squabbling over a fish that had been washed up on the beach overnight.

      How does this relate? Every bird on that beach was staking a claim for that 'free-lunch'. The ones who got the most were the ones that -

      a) made the most noise

      b) made the most aggressive assertion that it was THEIR lunch

      c) were the biggest

      d) were the smartest (EG when the big boys were fighting, the little boys stole in and grabbed a mouthful)

      Conclusion - it isn't pretty. In fact, it's pretty damn ugly. The bullies won. The loudest ones won. The most aggressive and assertive won. BUT they won. They got a free lunch. They were the winners.

      Ultimately, the winners were the ones who have driven the survival and evolution of their species. The ones who didn't, may die. Extinction.

      That's not pretty either.

      Why was I taking pictures, while those birds were fighting over scraps of dead fish? What gives me the right to go back to my concrete 'castle' and cook fish, meat, or veg or whatever I have conveniently residing in my fridge in my centrally heated home?

      Simple. It's because I am a human and I belong to a species that is the most aggressive, most capable, most powerful. It's because my species will kill and destroy and eat and tame and use anything that gets in it's way. If you think marketing can be distasteful, take a long hard look at your dinner plate and ask yourself how your dinner got there.

      So why do I mention this seemingly obscure connection? What has it to do with marketing?

      I mention it to point out that we have choices. If you find the idea of being the loudest or most aggressive distasteful, then be the smartest. If you're not the smartest, be the most aggressive. Be the most productive and widely-spread.

      If the whole marketing thing baffles you, be the most well-read. Read, read and read again and study and absorb UNTIL you find a groove that suits you.

      The only losers are the ones that get no lunch.

      Let's swing this right back to internet marketing.
      I guess the only thing you can really do is be as accurate and as truthful as you can
      IF you find that when trying to sell 'make money' products that you find it very difficult to succeed because the ones that do are telling lies and you don't want to operate in this way - then avoid make money products. It's as simple as that. In general, I do.

      If you feel that you find it hard to sell anything in any market, because the competition is full of BS, then ask yourself this -

      If you dropped out of the game and went to work for someone else, and you became just a small cog in a big machine - IF that company uses spin and lies to prosper, does that make it better?

      Do you feel more comfortable because the lies are not coming directly out of your mouth?

      Can you see the reason why that is the way of the loser? They are deciding their fate based on one thing - that they can't come to terms with the world that we live in and are prepared to sacrifice riches in order to ease their conscience YET they are still part of a huge lie. They just fool themselves that because they don't directly instigate the lie, that they are good-to-go and will be shown mercy when 'judgement-day' comes.

      Wake up call - this IS judgement day. What you do when you are alive is what matters. And it's down to each of us to educate ourselves and find the balance between living life in a way that we are proud of and comfortable with, BUT at the same time surviving and prospering.

      Only you can decide where this will lead you and what standards you will live by. But if you are struggling to find this balance, please do these things -

      a) take it upon yourself to study these things and as quickly as possible make decisions about where you stand and how you will move forward and then GET BUSY doing it.

      b) don't wake up every day and question yourself about whether you have made the right decision. If you do, stop everything, go back and study it again, make decisions and then boldly go forward and do what you do.

      Sorry for the rant/lecture/sermon. This is not meant to give anyone any answers, but to provide food for thought.

      If you find yourself stuck, go study the animals and ask yourself how long they spend mithering over whether their actions are wrong or right. Then just remember that we might just be monkeys who stood up and consequently our brains got so big that they are 10% efficient, but 90% of our brains are completely useless and if we allow that 90% to control us we will spend 90% of our time mithering, bickering and worrying about whether what we are doing is right or wrong and consequently we will FAIL.

      And in the meantime, the people who have won the fight with themselves and with their own brains will be cleaning up and sipping cool margueritas while the confused monkeys will be working their proverbial nuts off to pay for those margueritas for the smartest monkey (XTC quote.)

      Don't be a dumb chimp, be a smart monkey. That's why you're here (this forum) in the first place. (Beats chest and gets to work)
      Signature


      Roger Davis

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  • Profile picture of the author NaomiDunford
    Is marketing lying? That's a question that can't be answered. Is marketing inherently lying? No.

    Whenever you want to persuade someone to do something they weren't planning to do anyway, you paint the offer in the best possible light. When you go to a Meet Market type bar to pick up members of the opposite sex, you make yourself look as good as possible and you highlight your best features. In so doing, you're not denying the not-so-great features' existence. You're just showing the best bits.

    Best Fuel Economy In Class? Yes, that's required by law to be true. Best taste? Entirely subjective, and a pretty lame marketing line anyway. Not very many people are sitting at home watching TV saying, "Oh really? It has the BEST taste? WELL then. Honey, get the car because we're heading to Wal-mart." "Best" when unproven and unquantified doesn't convert very well anyway.

    On the same token, "Some people think it tastes good and it's not actively bad for you" probably doesn't convert very well either, unless you're going for the contrarian effect.

    As Gorilla mentioned, only deception is deception. Highlighting benefits is good marketing. Only 7 left? Well, if it's not true, then it's a lie. "Don't leave this page because when you come back it won't be here"? Ditto. "Price goes up at midnight"? Same again.

    Each person needs to examine what they're morally ok with, but it's just like our mama's told us. If it ain't true, it's a lie.
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  • Profile picture of the author James Schramko
    In the process of meeting peoples needs it takes two to tango.

    The marketer - may lie or may not.
    The consumer - may do their due diligence or may not

    You do not need to lie to market anything. You are identifying logical and emotional needs and presenting your information in a way that is likely to get a positive result.

    Don't lie. Integrity is addictive when it comes to persuasion.
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    • Profile picture of the author Norma Holt
      Originally Posted by James Schramko View Post

      In the process of meeting peoples needs it takes two to tango.

      The marketer - may lie or may not.
      The consumer - may do their due diligence or may not

      You do not need to lie to market anything. You are identifying logical and emotional needs and presenting your information in a way that is likely to get a positive result.

      Don't lie. Integrity is addictive when it comes to persuasion.
      I have only gotten down halfway through this thread and was turned off by the hype.

      James, you and I think alike. I market my products online and do not use any lies or hype to do it.

      People who are swayed by such tactics may join the programs and may even become successful but chances are most of them loose their money and fall by the wayside. The one who duped them is possibly laughing all the way to the bank but what has he god really.

      If it is his/her desire to be rich at the expense of making someone else poor then they are not worth much in my book and I have blacklisted all that operate in this manner. Emotions run high when people think they can make a quid by following some so-called expert and paying out their hard earned dollars on affiliate programs that do nothing except extract their money every month. Down the track they wake up and back off. Or they buy sub standard programs that simply don't work or are not worth the money. Either way it is fraud in my book.

      That's why the failure rate, some say it is as high as 95%, is so high in Internet Marketing and why it is so tragic. The scammers are making it at the expense of those poor suckers who believed their lies.

      Personally my integrity and ability to look anyone in the face who deals with me is more important than any amount of money.

      enjourni
      I'm of the mindset that it's all controlled by how you choose to present yourself internally, and to be grounded in what you do. Language itself is subjective and highly personal. Thus the only "solution" is to make what you choose to support helpful, honest, and empowering. You focus on making it that way, and it is so.
      You are on the right track with this way of thinking and you need not be swayed otherwise. Do your own thing and don't follow others into dark places.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Stigson
    Marketing without manipulation is impossible... All marketing is manipulation...

    Good or Bad, in order for you to buy you need an emotional change, thus got

    manipulated...

    Exapmle:

    "You're about to discover a system that earn people as much as $20,000 a day..."

    I know, sounds like some type of illegal investment system with borrowed money

    or stolen cash. It's not.

    It's true... I didn't belive it either until I made my first $2,000 in a single

    day using this little-known online sales formula.

    If you saw it you would understand the potential of my formula is unlimited, and

    judging by previous results, there is no reason why you can't make $15,000 a day

    following my blueprint.

    Of course I guarantee nothing, but you have an honest ablitity to make as much

    as $15,000 a day if you fully take advantage of the system... There are

    thousands doing it as we speak.

    Sounds like hype? Yeah... Really does... BUT, I know people who use part of my system on various occassions to make $1,000,000 in a single day, ALL online, and they do it with just some of these techniques...

    They use the just some of the amazing tactics you're about to discover today.

    I've personally used them to earn as much as $1,900 in one day myself... And

    you'll get a step-by-step blueprint of how I'm doing it, and how these people are making this much money.

    Proof:

    Testimonials... Bla bla

    More Proof:

    My average client who half-assed plants the first seed of my proven formula,

    waters it consistently, experience earnings between $5,000 and $8,000 a month...

    Therefore it's in your best interest to do what I say, follow my lead and take

    action now, because only a fool would ever expose how they are making this kind

    of money.

    Today You are lucky that I am that fool!

    Trust me... would you show people how to make $30,000 a day or would you keep

    making $30,000 a day, telling nobody?

    I'll tell you what...

    I would actually take my $30,000 a day to $40,000 a day showing people how I

    made the $30,000...

    Therefore... I'm about to unleash a new way of thinking about making money that

    most people have never seen before... And if they have, they don't use it in

    this way.

    Bla Bla Bla... Testimonials, Proof, Income Proof, Images of other stuff...


    You can safely secure a copy of "superduper system" for the remaining part of

    today, because I cannot guarantee that this offer will be here tomorrow.

    I guarantee you can safely secure Your Copy By Midnight of (date)!

    Click Here to Send Me $9,997 now.

    Ps: If you don't believe me, then you have no reason being down here... so go

    click on "secure your copy today", becuase that's the link that will change how you see your life.

    PS: I never knew how little money I had, until I started making some..."

    Analysis...

    Me saying that they can too is not false, nor is it deceptive...

    Is it out of reach for them? Maybe, it's all up to them... I have outlined the

    potential, and guaranteed results, conditionally if they FULLY utilize the

    system.

    All was truthful in this pitch... About almost ANY internet marketing product I could sell right now, because all of these things would be explained...

    Since all of this reflects in reality... but still sounds relatively hypey in my opinion... I feel that it wouldn't be deceptive to put this on a sales page.

    May be a bad example, but I've seen worse and it usually isn't as deceptive as you may think.

    It's interpretation, perception, but most definitely manipulation...

    -Chris
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    • Profile picture of the author bigtex
      "Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that don't have brains enough to be honest."

      -Benjamin Frankilin
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  • Here's Seth Godin's take on the subject: All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
    Signature
    "The will to prepare to win is more important than the will to win." -- misquoting Coach Vince Lombardi
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  • Profile picture of the author TeamGlobal
    Hi enjourni,

    Interesting topic.

    re: "But it seems to me no matter what you do you really either end up lying or manipulating people when you try to sell something. Maybe that's just the way it is."

    It may certainly seem that way when you look at how certain products are marketed. Please keep in mind that we can't control what others do to sell their products, but we can control what we do and say.

    Marketing itself does not equal lying.Remember that lying is a choice. Truthful marketers will tell the truth regardless of the circumstances or which product or service they sell.


    All The Best,


    Tony
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    • Profile picture of the author naruq
      It is no need to lie in your marketing. You can just explain the benefits of your products and services to your potential Prospects.
      Signature

      Please do not use affiliate links in signatures

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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post

    In sales you necessarily paint your products in the best possible light- demonstrating the benefits and ignoring/discounting the negatives. Isn't doing this inherently deceptive? .......


    .....And what about using psychology? Quickly you find out if you're in business that human beings respond to certain emotional cues. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. We have things like vanity and superiority that drive us.
    It's a mistake to think that marketing only applies to business.

    Most people seek to present themselves in the best light. it's unusual for someone to volunteer negative information about themselves at first meeting.

    If you've ever witnessed a kid trying to get something from a parent; a wife or husband from each other or if you've ever simply tried to convince somebody to do something, you'll be aware of the part that psychology plays in our daily lives.

    We're all engaged in personal marketing. And not always completely honestly.

    It's called human interaction. AKA: life.

    Nobody's suggesting that you apply different morals to your business activities than you would to any other part of your life.

    Do whatever makes you comfortable. It's your conscience. But don't turn this into a peculiarly "business marketing" issue.


    Frank

    PS Roger, mithering? Is that something I'd have to get Ms Standerline to translate? :confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author George Chernikov
    Speaking as someone who has a relative working in External Relations and is actively involved in helping develop and phrase advertising claims, I can assure you that major companies, at least, all have the data to substantiate their advertising claims.

    The real question is the way it is worded. If you look, for example, at pet food advertising carefully, it rarely says on the packaging that the particular food "slows down your cat's aging". Instead, it would say something like "helps slow down your cat's aging".

    It's just one word but it's makes all the difference - particularly if you consider that what really keeps advertisers in check are the competition, who are always waiting to file a legal challenge if they believe an advertising claim cannot be substantiated by available research.

    Marketing is not about deception; it's about phrasing the benefits of your product in a way that describes them in the best possible light without running the risk of legal challenges.
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    • Profile picture of the author ExRat
      Hi Frank,

      PS Roger, mithering? Is that something I'd have to get Ms Standerline to translate? :confused:
      Well I used my 'right-click-dictionary search' and yes, it appears to be a slangish word of British origin. And yes, it appears to have northern roots, which I believe are more Kim's 'neck o' the woods' than mine

      mither definition |Dictionary.com

      I've always believed 'mithering' to be along the lines of 'verbalising and demonstrating the tendency towards excessive and unnecessary worrying'. Spoken as a reformed ex-mitherer of course.

      Hi Dick D,

      Never judge a book by it's cover.

      Hi George C,

      Again, I agree with most of what you say BUT I would add that in my opinion, taking this part -

      Marketing is not about deception; it's about phrasing the benefits of your product in a way that describes them in the best possible light without running the risk of legal challenges.
      ...it's one thing to avoid legal repercussions. But I would also add that if you truly respect the power of words, then you will know that it is entirely possible to 'lie without lying' - in other words, you can write words that can be defended adequately in a court of law in most circumstances. But it would be impossible to prove to the 'common man' that your words are not deceptive and that you didn't set out to deceive - because a true wordsmith can work miracles with their words.

      In other words - it's possible to avoid any legal challenges and still deceive.

      If you can create hope with your words, when there truly is no hope (and we all should know that this is entirely possible) - then it is no great achievement (in comparison) to use words to mislead/deceive - it's easy.

      As has (kind of) been pointed out, there is a big difference between totally misleading and 'phrasing the benefits of your product in a way that describes them in the best possible light'.

      For example - it's not just about the words that you use. It's about how you use them, where you use them, how big or small they are, what surrounds them, context, repetition etc etc.

      Personally, I believe that every single person knows where certain lines are and when they have crossed them. If they tell you that they didn't realise they had crossed them, they are a bare-faced liar. Plus, if they find themselves in a position where they have to use that excuse, then they have plenty to learn about persuasion.

      A true master of persuasion (good or bad intentioned) never has to use the 'I didn't realise' excuse because they never get questioned in the first place.
      Signature


      Roger Davis

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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    So someone knows that a controversial title will sell books- what does that really have to do with anything?
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  • Profile picture of the author najmiyusoff
    Look at the lies gurus train internet marketers to tell:-
    Only 7 copies left
    Only available today at this price
    The price is going up soon
    My friend ruguguru telephoned me
    Offer restricted to my list
    Product xxxxx Scam? A review (search Google - see this lie in the form of a hint, everywhere).
    This is the lie I hate the most. It is almost impossible to find an honest, unbiased review of a product without being linked to an affiliate page.
    Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author 2bwealthy
    I say give all the benefits you can without lying. I have been fed the crap in the past and now just laugh when I see it. I admit , in the ist of it all there are genuine limited time offers and great bonus offers, but unfortunately a lot of it now is just hype.
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  • Marketing is not lying... as long as you act with integrity.

    "It takes 20 years to build a good reputation and it takes only
    3 seconds to ruin it."
    -Warren Buffett

    So think before you act, and always act with honesty.
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    learn how to make as much as $30,100.71 in just 2 weeks from other people's products without breaking a sweat.
    For more info, visit: http://www.SuperAffiliatesWeapon.com

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  • Profile picture of the author artwebster
    "I don't get your logic with affiliate commissions - that is a selling expense. Do you buy cars? Butter, Milk? - according to your logic you overpaid because they paid a commission to the shop."

    My logic is stunningly simple.

    If I buy direct from the supplier, in 9 cases out of 10 off line, I can get a significant discount - this does not happen on line.

    A commission is a totally different concept to a mark up to cover costs and selling expenses. No real world legitimate sales people earn 50% commission yet many real world autonomous sales people pay for advertising.
    Signature

    You might not like what I say - but I believe it.
    Build it, make money, then build some more
    Some old school smarts would help - and here's to Rob Toth for his help. Bloody good stuff, even the freebies!

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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Peters Benn
    Just sell things that you are happy with, and make sure you effectivly communicate the best points. No lying needed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Okay, I am going to answer your question the only way I know how...with
      an example. And I am leaving my sig out of this post so nobody sees it as
      self promotion, but it's the only way I know how to do this and get the point
      across.

      I have a product that teaches copywriting.

      My selling point is that paying a copywriter can run into thousands of
      dollars, so why not do it yourself.

      I go on to say that the book will teach you everything you will need to
      write copy that sells.

      Now, will EVERYBODY be able to do this?

      No, because some people simply will never be able to develop the talent
      for writing, no matter how much book reading they do.

      Do you say this in your sales letter?

      Of course not. That's just poor salesmanship.

      I mean you don't put a line in your copy that says, "Hey buddy look, you
      may not be able to do this if you have a third grade education and can't
      write your way out of a paper bag."

      Now, if you want to look at that as lying, so be it. I look at it as being a
      smart salesman. You point out the positives, don't make false claims that
      you can't support, and leave out anything that may discourage your
      prospect.

      Bottom line:

      You have to wrestle with your own conscience as to what is right and
      wrong for YOU. Nobody can do that for you.
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      • Profile picture of the author Terry Ma
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        You point out the positives, don't make false claims that
        you can't support, and leave out anything that may discourage your
        prospect.


        Bottom line:

        You have to wrestle with your own conscience as to what is right and
        wrong for YOU. Nobody can do that for you.
        I think Steve has pretty much given the best summary of
        the answer here.

        One example i had spotted many companies use, large or small,
        is this one.

        Take the cogate tooth paste example. The other day I was
        in the supermarket, and saw this written on the cover of the
        tooth paste as one of the biggest selling points:

        Proven to whiten your teeth.

        Is it lying? Well...consider this, if it even whitens your teeth
        by 0.000001%, then it is NOT lying.

        BUT, the marketer who wrote this line clearly expected the
        prospect would look at it and imagine it will whiten his/her
        teeth and helluva lot!

        Now, I clearly don't know how much this tooth paste will
        whiten my teeth, but you can see that whether it whitens
        just 0.000001% or 99%, it is still perfectly legit to say
        that promise in the marketing piece.

        But it also comes down to your conscience.

        I see this sort of marketing tactic being used everyday,
        whether it is in the Internet marketing arena, or everyday
        companies.
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        • Profile picture of the author ExRat
          Hi Terry,

          Proven to whiten your teeth.

          Is it lying? Well...consider this, if it even whitens your teeth
          by 0.000001%, then it is NOT lying.

          BUT, the marketer who wrote this line clearly expected the
          prospect would look at it and imagine it will whiten his/her
          teeth and helluva lot!

          Now, I clearly don't know how much this tooth paste will
          whiten my teeth, but you can see that whether it whitens
          just 0.000001% or 99%, it is still perfectly legit to say
          that promise in the marketing piece.
          Agreed. That's what I was getting at when I said -

          For example - it's not just about the words that you use. It's about how you use them, where you use them, how big or small they are, what surrounds them, context, repetition etc etc.
          - and the rest of that post. The average beauty/food product has about 20 of these wordplays on them. It's become the norm.

          It's not really an issue on a shampoo that costs $5 - and the shampoo does what it says on the bottle.

          But when IMers try and sell me recycled thin-air using wordplay for $497 or $997 or even $97 - that starts becoming an issue.
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          • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
            Marketing = Lying?

            Appearently so...

            "WARNING! You will never see this offer again."

            Yea right, so much for credibility. I guess I'll be looking at this lie all day.

            KJ
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            Roger,
            ...it's one thing to avoid legal repercussions. But I would also add that if you truly respect the power of words, then you will know that it is entirely possible to 'lie without lying' - in other words, you can write words that can be defended adequately in a court of law in most circumstances. But it would be impossible to prove to the 'common man' that your words are not deceptive and that you didn't set out to deceive - because a true wordsmith can work miracles with their words.

            In other words - it's possible to avoid any legal challenges and still deceive.
            That's not necessarily true.

            The FTC uses a standard that's very different from dictionary terms. They apply a simple test. What impression would the typical viewer of the ad get, and is that impression supported by the facts?

            A bit subjective, but it does the job most of the time.

            A lot of people think they can outsmart the consumer and use slippery language to get around legal issues. Those folks usually end up in trouble.


            Paul
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            • Profile picture of the author ExRat
              Hi Paul,

              {sidenote - it's tickling me that whenever I read a thread the first thing I see is 'Warning! You will not see this offer again!' = 20 times so far. Yes, I know what its saying }.

              I did actually consider your point when I made the statement in the quote. But that's why I used the bit about the 'common man' -

              it would be impossible to prove to the 'common man' that your words are not deceptive
              ...which I chose because it is deliberately vague. Take Terry's teeth whitening example - that's what I mean. The common man feels deceived when you tell him the product is 'proven to whiten teeth' when it is only proven to whiten teeth say, 0.001%.

              The effect would not be visible to the naked eye, therefore the 'common man' feels that it has achieved nothing, hence he is not satisfied.

              Technically though, it has done what it says on the tin.

              Similarly, if someone sold me a product that was guaranteed to skyrocket my sales, and I achieved an increase of 0.001% over a decade due to the product - I would be disappointed. The use of the one single word 'skyrocket' is obviously the key to the problem.

              Of course, I never buy anything on the basis of skyrocketing (except perhaps fireworks ) - but I'm me. I'm the 'common man' with a healthy sprinkling of cynicism.

              But I have also seen proof of your point, in the way that the FTC deals with wording in continuity deals, for example.

              PS Just did the card trick ;-)The first time I was intrigued...the second time, I used a process of elimination to deduce that there was a dirty trick going on. But I get the point - get them to focus on one thing, and everything else remains in the periphery and can't be recalled ;-)

              When someone asks me for money, even $2 (yes I saw it was for a good cause) my brain switches into 'spot the BS' mode.

              PPS for anyone confused by this, you need to be on Paul's newsletter - why on earth aren't you?
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  • Profile picture of the author Clark
    Not really, I still have my pet rock and its exactly what was sold to me... a rock that is now, my pet.

    My pet rock is conveniently placed on a stack of power of persuasion printouts... go figure!
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  • Profile picture of the author BlogBrowser
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author TreborRevots
      Great thread.... ancient debate...

      Socrates railed against the sophist and rhetoricians of his time (the professional persuaders) because their arguments and persuasive devices were effective, but not necessarily the "Truth".

      The best way of stating ethical persuasion/influence I've seen was from an agency from 20 years ago...

      Advertising: The Truth - Well Told.
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      • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
        Roger,
        PS Just did the card trick ;-)The first time I was intrigued...the second time, I used a process of elimination to deduce that there was a dirty trick going on. But I get the point - get them to focus on one thing, and everything else remains in the periphery and can't be recalled ;-)
        That's a big part of it, yes. That simple little trick is going to be the basis for explaining the much more dangerous ways a deliberate attention shift can be used.

        Marketing is more about the focus of attention than most people ever begin to consider. A lie, to bring the point back to this thread, is a direct way to focus attention on something that isn't there.


        Paul
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  • Very simply. DON'T DO IT! Eventually they, or at least someone will catch you at a lie or gross exageration. They may post that fact on a blog somewhere and your dead, your credability is gone!

    I suggest you learn good copywriting from a Copywriting Mentor (see my mentor list below) then you won't need to exagerate the truth.

    Yoda
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  • Profile picture of the author DougBarger
    This is a really great discussion.

    I'd like to chime in about the focus, attention-shifting aspect that has been raised by interjecting how much of business is built on good faith or the reasonable expectation that the intent to deliver on the promise made is the result that will be delivered.

    Faith, in itself, (as pertains to business) expects the best possible outcome within reason and works in combination with simple trust and hope that the promise made will be fulfilled upon the fulfillment of the action required in order to initiate the transaction.

    Obviously, whoever is doing the investing or "the buyer" can't fulfill the order him/herself, so at some point, there has to be the trust and belief that what was advertised is what will be received.

    This is why it is so important to mirror the promise made with the service/product delivered.

    Peculiarly enough, usually focusing on the needs of the client takes care of fulfilling that expectation and builds upon that trust earned with future transactions in the relationship.

    That's when consistency comes in as a factor.

    Most business owners know it's much more cost effective to continue business relationships with clients who've already entered into a business relationship before, because expectations for both are that the process will at least be consistent with the previous transaction, if not improved upon.

    With this in mind, adhering to a mirror-image of the word
    or words used in advertising
    becomes critical for continuing business and increasing business with satisfied clients who appreciate their trust invested was returned in like with value delivered. This is the client satisfaction department and should be continually improved.

    Again, most of this is taken care of by focusing on the needs,desires,objectives and experience of the individual,company and/or entity(ies) responding to the advertising.

    By focusing on the one receiving the goods more than simply fulfilling the order, the spirit fulfills the law and letter as the natural by(buy) products and creating the perfect transition from delivery, follow up to future business.

    Of course it's wise to safeguard with necessary disclaimers in the event that the unforeseen transpires, but that's merely a formality and should only prove the advertiser is serious enough about his business to take it seriously enough to preserve and protect it...which in most instances, is best for the buyer anyway because it means they're usually just as intent on order fulfillment and client sastisfaction as well.

    You know those drink commercials where the best looking people are having the time of their lives?

    It says just as much to the person viewing the commercial that the advertiser expects the best for the person buying the product.

    For instance, what would it say about his opinion of the viewer if the people consuming the drinks were made to look like imbecils and then showed horrible events happening?

    That wouldn't be any more or less truthful.

    It just goes to show that the essence of the good faith in action is that not only do you believe in the quality your new clients will get out of your products/services, but also that its very creation and purpose was to help make your life better in some way after consuming or using it.

    Now when it is significantly different than described or advertised once received, that's when there has been a breach of trust which destroys that foundation necessary to continue business on the good faith.

    Actually, the truth alone can either be glorious to behold by those who receive the truth or despised by those who reject the truth.

    So the good faith principle in advertising is the simple trust that what's said is also what is done.

    The exact delivery of that is a solid business foundation that can't be shaken and can be repeated again and again in a predictable way that is consistently providing value.

    This is the same business principle at work that proves more business will be done with existing clients because of the trust, predictability and consistency.

    So the advertiser who fails to show the best possible light has not only failed himself, but also his client!

    For if the value of the product/service wasn't shown in the advertising,
    then the client who would benefit the most from it would be denied the pleasure!

    It's the experience we're looking for, sometimes even more than the benefits gained.

    Show me I can experience that "time of my life" by using your product, deliver on the words you use and you've more often than not, netted a repeat buyer. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author ItsMoneytime
    I personally think people would rather have the real deal. People can only believe what they see, and I think that even in the business world....thats the most effective way of marketing. Lets say you advertise they comply only to find out that it's not what was portrayed in the beginning. In most cases people will be disappointed and want the money back. In a way it kinda makes it bad for the honest marketer because after being scammed so many times the customer wonder is the vast majority of online business a joke? Honesty+Quality Product=$$$$$$
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    • Profile picture of the author TreborRevots
      What's interesting about this is the ramifications to honest marketers as more and more of the population learns they've been lied to with traditional forms of "proof".

      Cynicism and trust will rise to even higher levels.

      The more they rise, the harder marketers will try to use proofs to persuade them.

      And the less effective traditional proofs will become.

      On the other hand, if you do purchase and find out you've been told the truth about a product, loyalty and trust will rocket even higher. After having been burned often, one isn't likely to jump ship on a trusted relationship.

      So, ultimately, the ones telling the truth gain power. Power to make repeat sales and the power to direct their customers to other offers that they have vetted.

      At the end of the day the wealth formula works like this...

      Truth >Trust > Power > Wealth

      One of the truly great copywriters is little known today - his name was Ed Mclean. He would intentionally down play promises and hype in his sales letters. Why? He new the most important sale was the second sale. And that is where he aimed his focus.

      I've got a few of his swipes - when I can post links - I'll get them into your hands.

      (Oh, he wrote the famous Newsweek 15 year control letter... "Dear Reader,
      If the list upon which I found your name is any indication, this is not the first -- nor will it be the last -- subscription letter you receive. Quite frankly, your education and income set you apart from the general population and make you a highly rated prospect for everything from magazines to mutual funds")
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        "Most people seek to present themselves in the best light."

        It's really important to distinguish this from lying. One way I help my copywriting students determine whether or not to eliminate a statement from their copy is by asking, "Is this factually true?"

        Let's look at a couple of examples.

        1. "Just fifteen minutes from town." I saw this in a real estate ad. The house was 15 miles from town, with a speed limit of 40 miles per hour and two stop lights. Since you'd never legally drive that distance in that time and hardly ever make it in 20 minutes, that's not factually true. It's a lie.

        2. "So and so is a highly credentialed expert in industrial design." Normally this means So and so has out-of-the-ordinary degrees or certifications in industrial design. If So and so is self-taught, that's not factually true. It's a lie.

        3. "Some graduates are making six figures." If at least two graduates are making six figures, this is factually true and perfectly fine to say.

        To read comments about the effects lying has on customers, see selected responses from a survey of my newsletter readers a few years ago: The Importance of Truth in Marketing .

        Interestingly, asking "Do we know this to be true?" can also be a technique for spurring personal growth. Byron Katie (www.thework.com) uses this question to free people from a story they made up that has them in a viselike emotional grip.

        Here's to honesty in marketing!

        Marcia Yudkin
        No-Hype Marketer
        What is Hype? Is Hype Necessary? The Rationale for No-Hype Marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post

    Being somewhat new to the business world, I've been caught up time and again with the same moral problem. And that is if I'm deliberately lying to potential customers by what I say in my ads.

    In sales you necessarily paint your products in the best possible light- demonstrating the benefits and ignoring/discounting the negatives. Isn't doing this inherently deceptive? Car ads will say "best fuel efficiency in it's class". Do they really have numbers to back this kind of claim up? Or do they just figure people won't check because it takes too much work, and that if they repeat the claim enough times people will believe it anyway?

    How can any business claim they have the "best" product, when "best is so subjective? Value itself, the stuff money comes from, is completely subjective and can seemingly be inflated/deflated at will (based on how you frame the wording/imagery in the ad.) Do we just ignore the fact that we may frame things incorrectly in an effort to get things sold? It's no wonder most of the population views "salesmen" in such a negative light.

    And what about using psychology? Quickly you find out if you're in business that human beings respond to certain emotional cues. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. We have things like vanity and superiority that drive us. Ads almost seem to get to the point where they become the same, because everyone responds to the same emotional "tricks" again and again. Maybe the person who knows the most just has the power in this world, and we should accept that people won't know what we're doing. (I personally have become much more aware how society "manipulates" me through advertising since I started studing what people want.)

    I guess the only thing you can really do is be as accurate and as truthful as you can. But it seems to me no matter what you do you really either end up lying or manipulating people when you try to sell something. Maybe that's just the way it is.
    On your car example: That can definitely backed up by EPA numbers (where do you think those gas mileage numbers come from), and if someone lied about that, I'm sure a magazine like Motor Trend or Consumer Reports (not to mention a dozen other magazines) would pummel them in seconds.

    Your problem is actually a lot deeper, because you seem to be a tad ignorant on what real marketing really is. It's about filling an actual need want or desire they already have, not giving someone a sales job.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Maloney
    I would like to say thank you to all of you who posted replies, your responses are highly appreciated.

    Don't mind me, I think too much!

    I'm of the mindset that it's all controlled by how you choose to present yourself internally, and to be grounded in what you do. Language itself is subjective and highly personal. Thus the only "solution" is to make what you choose to support helpful, honest, and empowering. You focus on making it that way, and it is so.

    In other words, don't fear who you are. Or more specifically, what is. Embrace what is and emphasize it truthfully, and you can't go wrong. (And even if someone else doesn't like it at least you stayed true to yourself!)
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Long
    So many coherent, well thought-out answers! My pithy little contribution seems a little pathetic by comparison.

    Being as ADHD-riddled as I am, I have to keep things like this uber-simple in order to keep my mind from going into an endless loop and accomplishing nothing. So I keep my set of rules on this one pretty simple.

    Here they are:

    1) Don't worry about what other marketers are doing. You have no control over them. You only have control over yourself and your own marketing methods.

    2) Make sure you can comfortably sleep well at night, and look yourself in the mirror each morning by answering 'Yes' to the following questions:

    a) Did I put my absolute best effort into everything I did?
    b) Did I treat everyone with courtesy, honesty and respect?
    c) Did I deliver everything I promised?

    After wrestling for years with this subject, that's what I've boiled down to - 2 rules and 3 questions.

    They give me plenty of room to operate and sell in my own unique way, while ensuring that I never have a reason to feel guilty over anything I create online for the purpose of selling.

    ~Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author Norma Holt
      Originally Posted by Mike Long View Post

      So many coherent, well thought-out answers! My pithy little contribution seems a little pathetic by comparison.

      Being as ADHD-riddled as I am, I have to keep things like this uber-simple in order to keep my mind from going into an endless loop and accomplishing nothing. So I keep my set of rules on this one pretty simple.

      Here they are:

      1) Don't worry about what other marketers are doing. You have no control over them. You only have control over yourself and your own marketing methods.

      2) Make sure you can comfortably sleep well at night, and look yourself in the mirror each morning by answering 'Yes' to the following questions:

      a) Did I put my absolute best effort into everything I did?
      b) Did I treat everyone with courtesy, honesty and respect?
      c) Did I deliver everything I promised?

      After wrestling for years with this subject, that's what I've boiled down to - 2 rules and 3 questions.

      They give me plenty of room to operate and sell in my own unique way, while ensuring that I never have a reason to feel guilty over anything I create online for the purpose of selling.

      ~Mike
      Well put Mike, good on you. You will leave others for dead with this approach.
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  • Profile picture of the author obiswill
    Marketing is only lying if the marketer is a liar! There's no such thing as a perfect product, because there are no perfect people. If you develop a product, you probably think it is perfect (even if only in your mind) and therefore only see the 'good' in it. It takes other people evaluating it to tell you the possible 'cons' with it. Now here's the kicker...just because someone tells you a 'con' doesn't obligate you to talk about. Thou it may be good business to mention it, and overcome the 'objection.' At the end of the day, each individual is responsible for their own due diligence so they don't get dupped.
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