Thursday, January 04, 2007

Want to Sell More? Tell the Truth

I came across an interesting article which should be a cautionary tale for marketers.  

It seems that makers of some popular diet pills were hit with $25 million dollars in fines for false advertising.  If you’d like to read the whole thing, you can go here.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again, when you put out an ad, any ad, you need to be able to back up your facts.  

Diet pills aside (I don’t have a very high opinion on the diet pill industry and do not write copy for this industry),the marketers in this case got hit for making false claims.  

But I have a more radical idea…

…and this is a good lesson for all business owners and marketers…

…know what it is…

…tell the TRUTH!  

That's it.  Just tell the truth.  Adn you know what?  When you do tell the truth, people do respond.  

If the diet pill companies wanted me to write their copy, I might consider it if I could write something like this:

“Our pills will NOT “magically” suck the excess fat from your body while you eat junk food every night and the only form of exercise you engage in is walking to and from the refrigerator.  

If and, only if, you change your diet and exercise regularly will you lose weight.  Our pills are not a substitute for diet and exercise but are an aid to help you along the way and help you get there faster.”

OK.  Now, I am positive this would not work.  Most of these types of ads are sure to make the claim that someone can lose weight without diet and exercise.  But I think my version is honest.  

And honest has been known to sell. A famous story about advertising legend James Webb Young is how his crop of apples was hit by a hailstorm one year causing the apples to be scarred.

These apples were only damaged cosmetically.  So, what does he do?  He tells the truth.  He put a note in all the crates of apples shipped saying that the fact that these apples are scarred proves that they were grown in high mountains in a cold climate that produces hail storms.  In fact, he added, these imperfections only made the apples firmer and sweeter.  

The result?  

Not one order was returned.  

So, there you have it--truth in advertising.  It’s powerful.  It works.  And it’s the law.  

To your continued success,

Carlon Haas

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