Unfair /= Dishonest

As I mentioned recently, I’m a big supporter of a movement called Honest Marketer. I believe most marketers are liars and stretch the truth to support their efforts. 

As a result, I’ve become more and more sensitive to dishonest marketing and instances where a marketer has obviously fudged the truth a bit.

Some of the most common and egregious examples include:

  • Subjective Copywriting - “this is the best product ever,” “the easiest solution of all time,” etc which have claims that are no verifiable. Subjective copywriting is typically full of claims that can’t very verified and stem from a specific perspective

  • Fake Countdown Timers - these create a sense of urgency (generally centered around “special” pricing), but you can spot a fake pretty easily because if you see one on a webpage, just open an incognito browser window and go to the same website. If the timer resets to what you saw initially, it’s fake. If it’s aligned with the countdown timer in your non-incognito browser, it’s real. Spoiler alert: most of them are fake.

  • “Most Popular” Label - One of the most common pricing tactics to steer people away from what they really need, which is likely your starter tiered plan (aka the cheapest plan), they label the middle or higher tiered pricing plan as “MOST POPULAR” to drive interest and sales towards the higher revenue generating plans. BUT, none of those companies are willing to verify those claims with data to prove that the plan labeled is indeed the most popular plan. Because they’re lying.

There are others, but you get the point. A plethora of choices and increased intelligence/awareness have made it so customers are better than ever at identifying frauds and liars. Marketers who lie do so at their own risk and the clock is ticking.

But my main point here is that there is a difference between dishonest and unfair. I've seen some confusion around this because when things are unfair and dishonest people can get emotional and clear, logical thinking can go out the window.

Just because something is unfair does not mean it is dishonest. In fact, usually, in order for us to know feel or know something is unfair we have to be aware of the truth and that brands are being honest with us. Even if we don’t like it.

This happens with customer price increases, changes to services, etc. We may not like the changes and they may seem unfair or inconsiderate, but that does not make them dishonest (unless of course we were promised this would not happen, then it’s dishonest…but for this case you understand my point).

On the other side, things that are dishonest are unfair. Dishonest marketing is inconsiderate of prospects and customers while breaking the rules of trust that exist in a buyer/seller relationship.

When website copy misleads prospects, that unfair. When fake countdown timers trick people into buying at a price that may not actually be in their best interests, that's unfair. When a "most popular" label coerces a prospect into paying more than double for features they don't need, that's unfair.

Customers and prospects will figure out the truth. Those banking on this not happening are making a risky bet that could ruin their brand. Be careful.

Be honest.