Wiping off the Marketing Tricks Slime…

Last night I opted-in for a free report on building website credibility (it’s something I talk about on my blog so I was curious what others were saying).

I actually feel the need to wipe the slime off me after reading it. It just felt wrong to me, and relied on little “almost illegal” (their words, not mine) tricks to build credibility in the eyes of website visitors.

The perspective wasn’t how to BE credible, it was how to APPEAR credible – and I realize after reading it that those are two completely different goals.

There were a few good, honest suggestions like adding your contact info to all your pages.  But among the other suggestions:

  • Add a live chat box, but add it with the knowledge that you won’t make it active or actually allow customers to contact you with it.
  • Fake testimonials from gurus by making it look like they endorse you when you’ve really just used something cool they said without asking their permission.
  • Buy a cheap ad in Newspaper X and then add “As Seen in Newspaper X” to your sales page.

There’s more but I’ll stop there.  Maybe those aren’t technically lies.  You might change your mind and decide to login to be on the live chat sometime (even though you have no intentions of it).  A guru might like some aspect related to what you’re promoting (but has never seen your product).  If you have an ad in the paper technically you could be seen there.

Do these tactics work?  I’ve never tried them.  Clients probably won’t realize what you’ve done to sway them to purchase.  But do you want to make sales at the expense of your ethics and honesty?

Live Chat That’s There Only for Looks

What happens when customers start to notice you’re never on the live chat?  Don’t put it there if you have no intention of allowing customers to use it.  What rubbed me wrong on this suggestion was their clear intention to fool customers into feeling secure that they could be contacted when they had no intentions of being available for contact.

Don’t add live chat if you’re never going to login.  If you’re too busy, then have your virtual assistant login while they do other tasks and be available for customers.  Or use a combination chat/contact box that really does let people contact you.  Or just offer the other contact methods that you are available through.

Positioning Guru Quotes as Real Testimonials

What if that guru you quoted sees you’ve used his/her quote and positioned it as an actual endorsement of your product?  Do you think he/she will ever say anything nice about you or be willing to work with you in the future?  I’m not even sure this one is legal if it’s done with the intention of making it look like a testimonial where the guru has endorsed you or your product.

If you want to quote gurus, go for it.  But don’t make it look like an actual testimonial for your product.  Don’t put it in a box with formatting that makes it look exactly the same as the real testimonials on the page.  Distinguish it from the testimonials and make it clear that you’re quoting something the guru said–it may still be worth quoting and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Just don’t be tricky in how you do it. Or, ask permission to use their quote and photo.  And ask them to review your product.

If you’ve got a quality product you’ll get testimonials.  Your testimonials might not be from gurus, but if you’re helping people you’ll get their sincere testimonials about you and your product.  If you don’t have product-specific testimonials yet because it’s a new product/service launch, then offer something like “What People Are Saying About Me…” and include testimonials from those who you’ve actually worked with.

Making it Look Like You Got Real Press When You Just Bought an Ad

What if clients realize that you’ve not actually done the work and gained the credibility to be featured in the news and just took out an ad instead?  Will they think it’s a “cool trick” or will they feel deceived?

If you just took out an ad then why not say, “Did you see our ad in Newspaper X?” and go on to show the ad with your selling points.  You’ll still be building the credibility by using the paper’s familiar name, but in a more transparent way.

    If you want to say “As Seen on TV” or “As Seen in Newspaper X” then send out a press release, get to know your local media contacts, and sign up for HARO or PR Leads and get yourself some real press.

      Don’t go for the easy shortcuts to make a quick buck off someone who buys one product.  Get out there and do what you need to do to BE credible instead of just trying to APPEAR credible.

      While we’re on the subject, if you want to build your credibility, check out Felicia Slattery at Communication Transformation, and if ethics matter to you, go read something by Shel Horowitz (start with Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green).  (Since we’re talking about transparency here, some notes: I own a product or two from Felicia, have been on her mailing list for years, and have met her in person; I’ve worked for Shel Horowitz for the last 10 years as his virtual assistant, and he’s in no way one of those slimy marketers, he gets consistent, legitimate press coverage.  None of these are affiliate links.  I just like them as examples of good communication, honesty, ethics and marketing expertise, have learned a lot from them, and am confident you can, too.)

      If you don’t agree with this post, that’s okay, but I should tell you that you’re probably at the wrong blog.  I’m more on the “from the heart” side of selling than the “get rich quick” with internet marketing side.

      Smart tactics I’m fine with, and with just a few little twists the ideas above are smart since you want customers to know they can contact you, that your solution is great, and that you’re out there in the media–it’s the intention to deceive that bothers me.

      Or, am I missing something?  Am I overlooking an obvious justification for these types of tactics?   Hit the comment box and share your thoughts.  Maybe I need to open my mind but I’m not feeling that.

      And now I’ll step down off my soap box and go shower.

      Spread the Love


      1. I believe that what comes around goes around. Credibility like that is built with cardboard legs and it won’t build lasting relationships. Thanks for sharing the slime AND sharing the good stuff!
        Rhonda Hess recently posted… 4 Steps to Create a High Demand for Your CoachingMy Profile

        1. Love that comparison – cardboard legs!

      2. Hear! Hear! (I was the lady standing two rows further back in the crowd.)

        Well, anyway, I do agree with you. To pretend that some gurus made a testimonial for your product when that was not what happened is to lye. I saw it done on a site, btw, who sold a service for making articles into movies. That made me run away from that site, very fast. I know that some people don’t care, and some people don’t care about buying stolen goods. That’s their problem. Not mine.

        Hey, the plugin you use for putting the commenter’s last blog post in the comment – that’s neat. What’s the name of it? #blog30
        Britt Malka recently posted… Do You Have Personality? If You Don’t Dare to Be Yourself, Be Somebody Else FirstMy Profile

        1. It’s Comment Luv – http://www.comluv.com – awesome plugin!

          Yes, it’d make me run, too!

          1. Thanks for the tip about the plugin :) I’ll try it on my blogs.
            Britt Malka recently posted… Do You Have Personality? If You Don’t Dare to Be Yourself, Be Somebody Else FirstMy Profile

      3. Remember reading this in Jr. High School? “What a tangled web we weave, when at first we do deceive.”
        It’s such a powerful statement, I’ve never forgotten it.

        I’m with you on this one, Michelle. Once you start using “trickery”, your reputation is tainted … for good. As far as I’m concerned, people who use these kinds of tactics and have the nerve to proudly teach them to others, just shows me how “desperate” they are. Really sad.

        I’m sure there’s a lot of less-than-stellar practices going on in the internet marketing industry. We just need to be careful and do our best to discern what is above board and what is SLIMY!

        Melanie Kissell recently posted… Tweet Longer and Add Some OomphMy Profile

        1. Good quote and so true. I tend to follow and learn from such great marketers and mentors that this report just blew me away. I guess I had on those rose-colors glasses.

          I’m encouraged to know that so many feel the same way. :)

      4. You go girl! I think you are so right! I often wonder how those people sleep at night. If people would just realize that by building a good relationship with someone – taking the time to care about others and for others you gain the type of credibility that is tried and true! I guess that isn’t the get rich quick way though but I would have it no other way!

        Great post and I appreciate you being so open and honest – it is what has given you the credibility that you deserve, in my eyes and the eyes of a lot of others I know.

        Michele, The Results Lady
        Michele Scism recently posted… How to Get Targeted Web Traffic to Your BlogMy Profile

        1. Thanks Michele. I rewrote this 5 or 6 times then finally just hit publish (well, schedule LOL) and knew others had to agree. It’s crazy the “tricks” out there to push people to buy online.

      5. You make excellent counterpoints, Michelle. Long ago, I made the decision to let everyone know my business ethics by posting them on my website. I’m with you; if I need to trick people into thinking I’m some great guru that other gurus notice, I’ve missed something about honesty in my business. I’ll take the high road with you and others and hope others will see who’s real and who’s not.
        Outstanding post, Michelle!

        1. Oh exactly – I love the way you said that – that you don’t need to trick people into thinking you’re a “guru” that “gurus” notice. Perfectly said.

      6. I agree completely, Michelle! I don’t want to trick anyone. Even if they don’t know, I would, and I think only con men can live with that kind of trickery and still play full out.

        You need all your energy to put yourself out there and people will respond to it. But if you’re faking itm, I think they will feel that, too, on some level and you will make it harder for them to trust you. So I’m with you ~~ build credibility the honest way!

        Jeanine Byers Hoag recently posted… Heal Your Fear of Rejection, Part TwoMy Profile

      7. There are reasons that the old adages like “What goes around comes around.” “Honesty is the best policy.” and “You reap what you sow.” are still adages. They are the basic truths.

        Someone who would tell you to use deceit knows it’s wrong but they do not understand the basic truths of life.

        I hop you let the person promoting the deceitful marketing know just what you think.
        Sheila Atwood recently posted… Swipe File For Internet MarketersMy Profile

        1. Ain’t that the truth! If we’d just remember what our mothers taught us… :)

      8. Would you mind telling me what plugin you use to get the Twittername on the comment, too?
        Britt Malka recently posted… Do You Have Personality? If You Don’t Dare to Be Yourself, Be Somebody Else FirstMy Profile

        1. Sure – that’s Twitterlink Comments. There’s a bunch of really cool comment related plugins in this post, and discussed in the comments after. :) https://www.michelleshaeffer.com/are-you-rewarding-your-blog-commenters/2010/06/11

      9. I totally agree Michelle. I’d rather get one sale or one reader honestly than 100 sales or readers through deception.

        Thanks for the great article!

        ~Amy Sue
        Amy Sue recently posted… Chicago 2010 – The Last EpisodeMy Profile

        1. You’re welcome, and thanks for leaving a comment!

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