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Tales from the dark side...

Tales from the dark side...

May 29, 2016

Why did Subway, Hyundai, Q-Ray, and Kellogg's get sued?

Pay attention because this isn't just about the big brands, it happens to small companies like you all the time.

They used deceptive marketing.

We've all seen it and we all hate it.  Those hamburgers just don't quite look like the ones advertised on TV.  The magical weight loss pill does nothing except shrink your wallet.  You don't feel more energetic after eating the the cereal.  Your anti-aging cream is nothing other than an expensive lotion.

We've become more and more resistant to believing those big, bold promises.  And it's not for nothing: we've been burned!

I'm here to tell you what it's like on the dark side, the marketer's side.  But it's not just a marketer's problem, it's an anyone-trying-to-sell-anything problem.

I've spent years facing the challenges of honesty and integrity when promoting a product, and I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And let me tell you, it's tempting. Our natural desires tell us, "it's ok.You're not lying, you're just tweaking the story a little bit. It's just a slight exaggeration. Everyone does it like this. It works..." We find a way to rationalize what we're doing. And our society doesn't help much. White lies are normal and accepted.

Let's get real. When you're the one responsible for making the sale, you'll say whatever it takes. You have a devil on your left shoulder and an angel on your right and you're caught in the cross-hairs. It's a lot easier for those sitting on the sidelines to preach about honesty and ethics.

There's a very fine line between being persuasive and manipulative, and it's a line that I and many of our members struggle with frequently.

In the moment, it's a hard call, but what I've discovered over the years is this one golden rule: honesty pays. Literally.

Even if you can temporarily get away with deceptive behavior, you'll ultimately loose out. And I'm not talking about big lawsuits. I'm talking about your customer's respect and trust. You can't fake a relationship, and ultimately that's what will attract and retain your most loyal customers.

What your customers say behind your back is more important than what they say in front of you... Find out how to build a reputable name in 4 simple steps

But honesty pays on an even higher level. It gives you peace of mind. You can sleep well at night knowing that you're making money and doing it with integrity. Ultimately, it's worth it just for that.

Here's the deal:

I fervently believe that you can and should be creative, persuasive, and honest. So, I've boiled down my years of experiences into the 3 Laws of Integrity to help you increase your sales while being truthful and honest:

1. Can you follow through with your promises?

One of the best techniques to overcoming a prospect's hesitation before buying is using something we call POOBA, Promise Of an Overt Benefit Always. It's where you get tough and promise a big benefit always. Period. Domino's Pizza promises '30 minutes or less guaranteed,' FedEx, 'Next day delivery guaranteed.'

If you can't live up to your promise, it's worthless. It's not a meaningful POOBA!

To quote Jerry Seinfeld in a hilarious episode at a car rental booth when he discovered that they had no more cars left, "so you know  how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation. And that's really the most important part of the reservation!" Check it out here for a good chuckle.

Bottom line: Make bold promises, but be sure you can live up to them.  There will always be a fight between the sales and fulfillment/product delivery teams.  And that's HEALTHY.  Embrace the dynamic and use the struggle to keep the sales team honest and fulfillment team pushing.

*CLICK HERE to see our 3 minute video of the 3 most common ethical challenges marketers face and how to navigate the hard waters and STILL be profitable without sacrificing your integrity.*

2. Is it really scarce and is there really a deadline?

Creating a sense of urgency and scarcity is one of the most common and powerful tools to motivate prospects to act NOW. It's an emotional hot button to press, which taps into their fear of losing out. But it must be used wisely and honestly.

eBay does this brilliantly with their biding feature. For years, they've been touting limited quantities of auction items for a limited number of days. They create a real sense of urgency. There's only a certain amount of time left during an action, and then it's really over.

But, I've seen it work the other way. We once had a member who crossed the line on this issue. They ran a “scratch & dent sale” where they discounted products with slightly damaged packaging. That part was real. But then they made a big mistake. They claimed there were only a few left… and they were lying. You simply can’t say there are only 15 left when it’s not true. You’ll lose all credibility when consumers learn that your stock room was full of 300 more of the same item.

The movie Don't Mess with the Zohon, pokes fun at this fake urgency and actually names a store "Going Out of Business."  You can't perpetually be going out of business!

Bottom line: Use scarcity and urgency to push people to act, just make sure it's real. When you make a deadline, keep to it.

3. Have a "truth checker" on your team

You can try and try to determine if something is persuasive or manipulative, but sometimes you just can't figure it out. That's where a mentor comes in.

You must have someone to bounce your ideas off of and another pair of eyes and ears to look at what you're doing. Find someone on your team or someone you trust who will ask you the simple question, "is it true?" Obviously, this should be someone with experience and a solid moral compass.

I personally have people on my team who will ask me this simple question, and when I know it's coming I think twice before saying something questionable.

We do it with clients too. I often here, "we're sharing this because we've had so many requests" so I'll ask them the simple question, "is it true?" And I usually get the answer I'm expecting- of course it's not true!

*CLICK HERE to see our 3 minute video of the 3 most common ethical challenges marketers face and how to navigate the hard waters and STILL be profitable without sacrificing your integrity.*

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman