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Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Is it okay to list an 'invited' speaker in the marketing for a conference?"

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Is it okay to list an 'invited' speaker in the marketing for a conference?"

November 21, 2008

Last month's dilemma

Is it an ad or an editorial?

In just about every magazine or newspaper you can find an ad that looks and reads much like a traditional news article. It looks so much like an article, that publishers require 'Advertisement' to be placed prominently above the article to distinguish it from the other articles. You may not even realize you're reading an ad until you get to the end where a call to action appears.


My response: I can't decide this one for you. But I'll give you both sides of the issue so you can decide for yourself. The very essense of an advertorial is deceptive. It's designed to deceive readers and trick them into thinking that the article was written by a third party. But the truth is, it wasn't.

A good advertorial must look legitimate. The font, tone and layout must look and feel like a news article. So what happens is that you spend a lot of time and energy trying to trick the reader so it carries with it a sense of falseness. But this strategy is also one of the most powerful sales techniques you can use.

So if you use this strategy, make sure that you state openly that it is an advertisement. Give real value and make sure it's interesting and offers helpful insights. Offer a free report as an incentive to respond. Above all, make sure you tell the truth.

Creative or Deceptive? You decide ...

The desire to increase sales often leads us into some very gray areas where there doesn't always seem to be a clear right or wrong answer. I tackle a dilemma each month and then I want to hear what you would do. Send your comments to me at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com. Then, next month I will give you my take on whether it was creative or deceptive.

This month's dilemma ... Is it okay to list an 'invited' speaker in the marketing for a conference?

Perhaps you've been the victim of this marketing strategy. If so, I'd like to get your reaction. One marketer I know was working at a company in which they invited Sen. Hillary Clinton to speak about health care to medical professionals at a time when the debate over universal health insurance was at its peak.

With Clinton on the agenda, the conference producers knew they would have a record-breaking crowd. So they invited her and included her picture and background on the materials. And they indeed did have a record-breaking crowd. Closed-circuit TVs had to be added to handle the overflow because one conference room couldn't seat the thousands of people who attended.

Clinton never showed. It was announced the morning of the conference that Clinton would not attend. It was unlikely that she would speak for a for-profit event and the organizers knew that so they simply listed her as 'invited' and continued to try to get her to speak to no avail.

What do you think? Savvy marketing or deceptive marketing? Send an email to jongoldman@brandlauncher.com