Honesty in Marketing
I had been texting back and forth with my friend, Michael, discussing a webinar we both bailed out of (separately) last week.
The webinar was on low-content books and the person doing the webinar made some pretty big claims and then, when it came to the big sell, some pretty big promises. Maybe they were true; maybe they weren’t. And, quite frankly, I’ve been a copywriter. I know which words to use to make things sound fantastic and easy and how to future pace an audience, how to plant pricing anchors, add up the product stack, and all the fun tricks that are in the marketer’s bag. (Well, I don’t know all of them, but I know many of them.)
And this young lady was hitting a lot of them, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do when you’re trying to sell something. Especially when someone has offered to put you in front of their audience with the expectation that you are able to close the sale. So, I don’t blame her for doing her job and making a living.
I get it.
But I really wanted to go take a shower after listening to her for an hour.
My spidey sense was tingling. As someone who has been in the industry for almost 20 years, I sensed she was stretching the truth a bit. Or maybe not. Maybe she has had that phenomenal kind of success in the short amount of time she’s been doing things online.
What Michael and I discussed was the fact that our inherent honesty made it difficult for us to market. We know that “past performance is not indicative of future results.” I routinely tell people that they are probably not going to be able to make a living off one book, that Oprah is not going to call, that writing the book is hard and marketing it just as hard. These are not things people want to hear.
I get that. And I routinely shoot myself in the foot when speaking to a prospective client by being honest about how things really work. Michael does the same thing in his business.
And it can be frustrating to lose business to someone you know is making outrageous claims.
You think, “Oh, they’ll be found out and they will lose everything” or whatever Disney-esque ending is supposed to happen to the villain.
But the truth is sometimes bad characters (or even medium not bad/not good characters) do quite well, thank you. They make their money. They can quit working. They have no trouble sleeping at night. Sometimes they are never found out.
THE FLIP SIDE
Conversely, I had the pleasure of listening to a marketer named Anthony McCarthy on a webinar a few days after that first webinar. Again, I knew the pattern the webinar would take but he has a wonderful Irish accent and a true enthusiasm for what he does, the subject matter was interesting, so I stayed on to the very end. Here’s what won me over to him:
During the Q&A at the end of the webinar, one of the attendees asked him if she would make money in the first month of using his system. And he said (in so many words), “I don’t know. I don’t know you. I don’t know what you’re selling. I don’t know your tech skills, your sales skills, your work ethic. You might make money in 30 days. I have made money that quickly. Some of my students have made money that quickly. Others have not.” He went on to say that many marketers used (and some still do) the sales close that you will make enough money to pay for the course by the time the credit card bill comes in. He won’t do that. He also said, “I’m probably killing a sale by saying this, but I’m not going to lie to you. You may make money. You may not.”
YES! And thank you!
Here is someone who is very successful who is not going to lie to make a sale. And if your product or service is good enough, you don’t have to lie. You need to market well.
THE FLAW IN OUR LOGIC
On reflection, I uncovered the flaw in our logic. Being inherently honest in your marketing may make it difficult for you to compete, but not for you to market.
Marketing should focus on drawing in your people, your tribe. The flashy marketers take the easy, low-hanging fruit and we could all use that pop in our businesses, for sure. So we have to work a little harder, hang a little tougher. And keep putting out good stuff, doing good work, providing value for people’s hard-earned money. And we won’t get the huge, easy sales. But we will carve out steady, continuing business.
Dishonesty in your marketing will bring you clients, but not the right clients and definitely not your ideal clients. You will be working with jerks or people with unrealistic expectations — the unrealistic expectations that your marketing set.
To be honest, slow and steady does not often win the race. But it will get you there.
And that’s not sexy. Sorry/not sorry. :-)