Marketing Isn’t Lying

Today is going to be about something that’s been bothering me this week.

Marketing does not mean lying.

It doesn’t.  Stop doing that.

I’m ok with people trying to sell to me.  I understand that a part of salesmanship is persuasion and trying to convince me what you’re offering improves my situation to the point where I’m happy to spend the money you’re requesting on that advertised improvement.

What I’m not ok with is when you lie to me to try and trick me into buying from you for your own selfish gain.  That’s not cool.

Let’s do a couple of quick examples.

A few months ago, I had to have the registration on my Lexus renewed and because it’s now six years old, it needs an annual inspection.  The inspections are free by garages and dealerships and they lodge an electronic form with the government so that you can get your renewal done.

I took it into the service area of the dealership where I bought it and the guy said, “Mate, your front bumper clips are broken off and the bumper isn’t flush with the side panel.  Technically, that could be a reason to fail the inspection, but I popped it back in place and it’s good for now.  Next service, you may need it replaced, but get your insurance company to pay for it because it’s a couple grand of body work.”

That’s good selling.  He saw I had an issue, he articulated it to me and helped me get past it so I could deal with the issue on my own terms.  This is the second Lexus I’ve bought from that dealership and when I replace my car next year, guess where I’m going?

Now for the opposite example…

I have an old pair of Nike cross trainers that I wear around the house or that I slip on to take out the rubbish.  I bought them just before a trip to Germany in 2002 and they have served me well.  They are simple, plain white leather running shoes – very comfy and not at all flashy.

As you can imagine, if you’ve been wearing a pair of shoes for 14 years they’ve probably taken a bit of a beating over time.  The soles are largely worn out and a few months back I had to superglue both soles back onto the body of the shoe.  I just love these things because they are so comfortable – I keep the laces loosened and I just slip them on whenever I’m upstairs watching TV.

Unfortunately, I now know that these trusty shoes have come to the end of their working life.  On the weekend, I popped into a Nike store to have a look around because unfortunately, every pair shoes now look outrageous and/or ridiculous.  I don’t need my casual footwear to make a grand statement about my uniqueness.

While I was in the store this young girl comes up to me and asks if she can help me find something.  I explain that I want simple, single colour, white leather cross trainers – nothing flashy, don’t need them blinged out, just something the wear to the shops or to take the bins to the kerb.

“You shouldn’t wear cross trainers, they’ll be bad for your feet, you have fallen arches,” she told me confidently.

Now, I was wearing a pair of brown leather casual deck shoes as she told me this so I had no idea how she arrived at that point.  I couldn’t work out how she could come to this extremely precise position having never even looked at my feet.

So I re-iterated my simple request and she promptly ignores what I’ve said, walks over grabs a size 9 (I wear a size 11) all black, mesh, water resistant, super lightweight running shoe with a big giant electric green swoosh down the side.

“Try these on.”

I just shook my head and explained that they weren’t the right size, the right type or the right style – they represented the antithesis of what I wanted and in fact, had they been orange or some kind of neon yellow, I would have possibly beaten her to death with them.

That’s when I noticed it.  The shoes she was selling me for my “fallen arches” and based on her “in-depth knowledge” of walking style and fashion sense were a couple hundred bucks.  On the bottom shelf in the corner were the white cross trainers, on sale for fifty bucks.

I just walked out because it was obvious that she was lying to me to get me to buy a more expensive product that I didn’t want.  I will never go back to that store.

This kind of deception is rampant on the internet.  People make promises and claims that are utterly unsupported and often not even true in the slightest.  Or they use “marketer math” where they tell you that if you just get X subscribers per day paying Y (less than a cup of coffee per day) then in twelve months you’ll have Z amount of money.

I could make some kind of smarmy comment from atop my soapbox, but I’m not going to.  You need to make your own decisions.  I don’t tell lies or be deceptive to sell stuff because that’s not the type of person I am.  There’s not much more to it than that.  People I like dealing with all have a strong moral compass and these people are often the most successful.

Treat people how you would like to be treated and remember, marketing or selling doesn’t mean lying.

Leave a Comment