Does Your Advertising Cry Wolf?

DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
edited February 2009 in Marketing
Are you familiar with the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf?" It`s a classic Aesop fable about a young shepherd who fraudulently called for help by repeatedly shouting "Wolf!"
Local villagers who came to his aid several times discovered that his cries were bogus, and that he had wasted their time.
Finally, when the boy was actually confronted by a wolf, the villagers ignored his cries for help and the wolf ate the flock of sheep, and the boy himself.
The moral of the story is:

"Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed."

That`s the problem with a lot of advertising these days. It`s crying wolf. It can`t be believed or trusted, and that`s a shame.
Because in my opinion, it`s wrong to use advertising to mislead customers about the virtues of a product, when you know for a fact that the product is not what it`s advertised to be.
Just imagine how you would feel if someone did that to you. You wouldn`t like it would you? See my point?
Look, I`m a marketing guy, so I understand hype in advertising. Heck, I use it myself on occasion. But if you`re going to hype your product to the moon and beyond, you`d better make darn sure that it can deliver on all the outlandish claims and promises presented in your advertising.
Unfortunately, few products ever do and that`s disappointing.
Now if you happen to be one of those "boy who cried wolf" marketers whose advertising is at best exaggerated and at worst a pack of lies, you best change your ways.
Why? Because while "you may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, you can`t fool all of the people all of the time."
And once people discover that you`re nothing more than a slick charlatan - a con artist if you will, they`ll avoid you and your company like the Bubonic plague. Even worse, they`ll tell others to avoid you as well. And that will be your death knell.
Because a bad reputation is like viral marketing in reverse. It will take your business down quicker than the Titanic! And while history suggests that most people probably won`t go through the trouble of requesting a refund, you can forget about acquiring any new or repeat business.
And you know what happens when you can`t acquire new or repeat business? Eventually, you end up going out of business altogether. So in the end, all you`ve really gained by ripping people off is a bad reputation.
When you stop and think about, it`s just not worth it!
How`s this for a novel idea? Instead of ripping people off with inferior or mediocre products, why not over-deliver on what your advertising promises?
True, it does require a little more effort to produce exceptional products. But I can assure you, it`s much more profitable in the long run.
Or in the words of the legendary L.L. Bean, courtesy of consultant Susan Walker:

"Make sure the story isn’t better than the store."
 
Let`s get a discussion started. Do you agree or disagree with this article? Why or why not?

 
David Jackson
DavidJackson2/22/2009 5:23 PM
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Comments

  • MattTurpinMattTurpin Posts: 22subscriber
    I agree with the principles. It`s never good to lie. This is true in any scenario. I`m not sure that a bad reputation hurts the con artist as much as the article believes. I mean, let`s take the epitome of the scam - the bogus emails promising a fortune to anyone who`ll help them complete some sort of business transaction that they can`t do from home. These still work. For every bad product, there`s an idiot willing to buy it. For the more traditional hype and fraud businessman, it`s easy enough to find a new product to sell. It`s also fairly easy to change your public face, especially if you never directly associate your real name with your products.
    Being a good conman is lucrative. It`s faster and easier than being honest. If it wasn`t faster and easier there wouldn`t be a draw. Slower and harder, and questionably legal to boot? I think there`s a lot of lure to dishonest business practices. They aren`t doomed like the Titanic - not more than honest businesses.90% of new businesses fail in the first year. Unless 51% or more of that 90% is dishonest business, I`d say the conman has an even match at worst. If the majority of failed new businesses are indeed dishonest, I`m pleased, because my cafe will be honest, and I like the better odds.I think if you can readily change your product to the next hype, and change your public face to slow association, you can get rich quick crying wolf. It happens so often and it still works. Einstein was quoted as saying something to the effect of: "There are two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I`m not sure about the former." If you have shady advertising, the public will fall for it. They almost always do. The Madoff fiasco that`s been in the news shows that even saavy people will fall for a good trick, and the liar almost always profits.Nice guys finish last. The perk to being a good guy is being able to compete longer. If a bad guy knows how to quit while he`s ahead, he`ll be rich long before the honest guy, and probably none the worse for it.
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    "Hype" is short for hyperbole:obvious and intentional exaggeration.
    an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as "to wait an eternity.:-) Just thought I`d add the translation, since we hear the word "hype" so many times.
        C`mon, Craig. You`ve spoiled me with your insightful comments on past articles. Even if I don`t always agree with you, I expect a lot more from you than a definition of the word "hype."  David Jackson
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    I agree with the principles. It`s never good to lie. This is true in any scenario. I`m not sure that a bad reputation hurts the con artist as much as the article believes. I mean, let`s take the epitome of the scam - the bogus emails promising a fortune to anyone who`ll help them complete some sort of business transaction that they can`t do from home. These still work. For every bad product, there`s an idiot willing to buy it. For the more traditional hype and fraud businessman, it`s easy enough to find a new product to sell. It`s also fairly easy to change your public face, especially if you never directly associate your real name with your products.
    Being a good conman is lucrative. It`s faster and easier than being honest. If it wasn`t faster and easier there wouldn`t be a draw. Slower and harder, and questionably legal to boot? I think there`s a lot of lure to dishonest business practices. They aren`t doomed like the Titanic - not more than honest businesses.90% of new businesses fail in the first year. Unless 51% or more of that 90% is dishonest business, I`d say the conman has an even match at worst. If the majority of failed new businesses are indeed dishonest, I`m pleased, because my cafe will be honest, and I like the better odds.I think if you can readily change your product to the next hype, and change your public face to slow association, you can get rich quick crying wolf. It happens so often and it still works. Einstein was quoted as saying something to the effect of: "There are two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I`m not sure about the former." If you have shady advertising, the public will fall for it. They almost always do. The Madoff fiasco that`s been in the news shows that even saavy people will fall for a good trick, and the liar almost always profits.Nice guys finish last. The perk to being a good guy is being able to compete longer. If a bad guy knows how to quit while he`s ahead, he`ll be rich long before the honest guy, and probably none the worse for it.
        Matt, I have to admit this is an interesting "devil`s advocate" argument. I don`t happen to agree with any of it, but it`s an interesting argument nonetheless. David Jackson
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark Posts: 103subscriber
    That`s why we don`t use phrases like "guaranteed income."  It is misleading at best.
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    Everyone, feel free to jump right in to this discussion!
     
    David Jackson
    DavidJackson2/24/2009 5:11 AM
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    LOL! There`s not a lot to discuss on this topic`s article. It ultimately comes down to how you want to live your life.
    One of the more interesting premises novelists use to build up a "villain" has to do with the character`s perception of society at large. The proposed villain sees society as sheep, standing around doing nothing, just waiting to be killed, robbed (fleeced), eaten, attacked, or otherwise badly affected.
    The assumptions are that sheep don`t think for themselves, and that when they`re in a flock grazing, they`re doing "nothing."
    So too, people who perceive themselves as not being part of society, look at that society as prey. They believe there`s no difference between lying or telling the truth, being moral or amoral, using incentives or using force.
    It all stands on the assumption that one person or group can be entirely outside of and unaffected by society at large. Those are the people who use hype or outright lies in their advertising.
    To suggest that someone shouldn`t do that is fine. But other than it being "a bad thing," so what? It obviously works, a lot, apparently.
     
     
     
    This is good stuff, Craig! And believe it or not, I actually agree with you.
     
    David Jackson
  • MattTurpinMattTurpin Posts: 22subscriber
    Do you believe that bad guys never prosper? Whether you`re right or wrong, I wish I had that sort of positive outlook on life. The way I see it, good guys can only follow the rules. Bad guys can follow the rules or break them as needed. Smart bad guys simply have more tools to succeed in life. Consider how little attention law enforcement pays to white collar crime. If you pay your taxes, you won`t raise any red flags unless you get greedy and do something over the top. I`m a good guy in life because I was raised well and would feel bad doing anything else. If I wanted success at the expense of all other things, I`m almost certain I`d be a bad guy. It`s fast, it`s lucrative, and I don`t think the government wants to arrest upper class white collar criminals if they don`t have to.



    Matt, I have to admit this is an interesting "devil`s advocate" argument. I don`t happen to agree with any of it, but it`s an interesting argument nonetheless.
     David Jackson
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member

    Okay David I have to ask. What set you off?    What set me off? In what regard? I wrote an article voicing my opinion. Why did something have to set me off? David JacksonDavidJackson2/23/2009 5:47 PM
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member

    Do you believe that bad guys never prosper?    Do I believe that bad guys never prosper? Of course not.  Now I have a question for you. Do you really believe that nice guys finish last? Because if you believe that, that means you believe that all of the successful companies in the world are run by bad guys. I don`t believe that for a second. David Jackson 
  • MattTurpinMattTurpin Posts: 22subscriber
    Do I believe nice guys finish last? I do. Finishing last doesn`t equal not finishing. Good guys are successful, that much is certain, but bad guys get what they want faster and with less effort. However, they risk it all if they get too greedy.
    It`s funny you bring up all the successful companies of the world being run by bad guys. A couple of years ago, that would`ve been a preposterous accusation. With the collapse of the economy and all of the revelations that followed, it`s not so preposterous.Let`s wait a bit, see who comes begging for handouts. Then we`ll know which companies are run by bad guys. Skeletons are coming out of the corporate closet at an alarming rate. I suspect there are more bad guys at the top than previously expected.I believe the current crisis is a case of bad guys getting greedy and throwing clean business practices out the window for fast profit.MattTurpin2/23/2009 6:04 PM
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member

    David: I just got the feeling that the article was generated due to a recent personal experience that you may have had.     No, it was just a topic I decided to write about. Had it been generated by a personal experience, I would have mentioned that in the article. David Jackson
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    Hi David
    We get testimonials from past customers saying how great our flags our and that they look exactly as shown on our website. This is the way it should be.
     
     
     
    Hi Kathy:
     
    I have to be honest and tell you, I`m really not surprised that your customers love your products. I can tell from afar that you do business the right way.
     
    David Jackson
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    Do I believe nice guys finish last? I do.
     
     
     
    I pray I never become as cynical as you are.
     
    David Jackson
  • MattTurpinMattTurpin Posts: 22subscriber
    Anyhow, regardless of personal outlooks on life, I agree with the core of this thread 100%. Honesty is the best policy. I always try to do the right thing, and so will my future cafe. I just don`t believe the benefits to being good outweigh the benefits to being bad from a selfish point of view. I think the only real virtue to being virtuous is how you feel inside. For what it`s worth, that`s more important than success. My advertising won`t cry wolf. I`d be more inclined to understate than overstate. What I possess in cynicism I match in low self esteem. This is an interesting conversation, either way.
  • DavidJacksonDavidJackson Silver Level Member Posts: 143subscriber Silver Level Member
    Thanks David,
    I think that you provide a great service also

     
     
     
    Thanks, Kathy! I appreciate that.
     
    David Jackson
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