Lying as a Short-Term Success Strategy

I’m going to try to NOT go on a rant here about how, “These days” no one in marketing is telling the truth, everything is exaggerated or an outright lie, lies of omission are so common they’re expected, and so forth.

Okay, maybe that was my rant.

My point is, there are plenty of marketers out there streeeeeetching the truth until the truth is completely lost.

And yes, these marketers often do experience short term success. If a person wanted to make money and run, this is the method they would use.

But they better keep running, since government agencies are getting a lot better at not only monitoring what happens online, but also apprehending and charging people when they out and out lie to customers.

In my opinion, a far better strategy is to look at the long picture and tell the truth.

Marketers and businesses who tell the truth might not make as much money up front, but in the long run their businesses will survive while so many others fail.

They’ll get recommended by their clients to other prospects. They’ll get more repeat business. And their proprietors can sleep at night, too.

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” – William Bernbach, cofounder of international advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), director of many breakthrough ad campaigns.

I don’t know when William said this quote, but I do know he died in 1982. Yes, truth has been scarce in advertising and marketing for a long time – perhaps as long as its been around.

Yet people want the truth. They crave the truth. And when they find someone who will tell them the truth, they will do one of two things: Either look elsewhere for the “quick fix,” and eventually come back to the person who told the truth, or recognize the truth as being what they need in the first place.

Either way, if you’re in it for the long term, the truth is the way to go.

Here’s a classic example: You teach people how to make money online. You tell them it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work. There is a learning curve. They’ll need to invest both time and money. They’ll make mistakes along the way and get discouraged, and that’s okay, because it’s part of the process. But if they stick with you, and they do the work, in a year’s time they’ll have a very real, viable business that replaces their current income.

Or, you tell them they will make a gazillion dollars by Tuesday with no work.

But they don’t make a gazillion dollars, or whatever you promised them. And they’re mad. They want their money back.

Hopefully at that point you’ve pulled up stakes and you’re running (just kidding) or you still have their money and refund it (that’s the right answer.)

And when they get their money back from you, where are they going next? To the person who told them this takes time, effort and money. Because that person told them the truth, and they realize that’s exactly what they need.

Look, I understand how tempting it is to stretch the truth, to lie by omission (yes, that is a lie when you don’t tell them something they need to know) or to make things “rosier” than they are.

It’s all a part of marketing and advertising. But should it be?

Only you can decide.