“Don’t believe in advertisements” is about as profound of a life lesson as how you should look both ways before crossing the street and how kicking your caffeine addiction always seems like a good idea until morning comes.
We learn to doubt marketing before we can do basic math.
Imagine someone who’d be the perfect customer for you sees your marketing and thinks it’s dishonest. Will they buy?
Realistically, few people actually expect you to be lying. But they don’t really believe you either. They feel like you probably exaggerate or mislead somehow because that’s what they expect all marketing to be like.
So, unless you have the marketing budget of a weapons manufacturer who can tell the lies so many times that people start to believe them, you have to be smarter. You have to make your marketing easy to believe.
You’ll be surprised by how many more people will gladly buy from you when your marketing is more believable than your competitors’.
Many Marketers Believe They Need to Mislead and Manipulate
Maybe they’ve never even thought of the possibility of being honest.
Or maybe they’ve thought of it and realized people wouldn’t buy their products if they told the truth about them.
Even many marketing teachers and coaches believe that marketing needs to be misleading and manipulating (and that it’s somehow okay to rely on half-truths in marketing), so they teach marketing from that perspective, too. That’s part of the reason marketing commonly isn’t trustworthy.
Where you draw the line is your decision. I would rather err on the side of being too specific and realistic about what people can expect when they buy my coaching or training products. But as long as you don’t omit something important, being less specific isn’t necessarily misleading.
All moral and ethical considerations aside, marketing is a lot easier and more profitable when you’re honest. And that should motivate even the most morally challenged marketers.
It’s Easier and More Profitable to Be Honest
In general, it’s easier to make people believe a truth than a lie. And when people believe what you say, they’re much more likely to buy from you.
But being honest isn’t enough; people don’t necessarily believe your claims even if they’re true. Especially if you promise something many dishonest marketers promise as well, people will struggle to believe you’re different.
How many times has someone promised that you can lose 10 pounds in a week, that you can make millions with stock trading, or that you can build a hugely profitable business in weeks?
If you really can help people reach those goals – or any other goals that other less-capable people promise – you need to work really hard to make people believe you. But even if your benefits and services aren’t common, people still doubt you just because they doubt all marketing.
So, here are a few ways to make your honest claims appear honest.
1. Use Testimonials that Address the Skepticism Specifically
Most testimonials focus on hyping up the product or the results it creates. But you probably already do that elsewhere in your marketing, and if your testimonials say the same thing, they won’t really take away the skepticism.
To alleviate skepticism, your testimonials need to specifically address what people are worried about.
A testimonial from a customer who first doubted your claims, but then got the results thanks to your product, will alleviate skepticism more than the usual testimonial. (Of course, this only works if they describe their initial doubts in the testimonial.)
For example, here’s an okay – but not great – testimonial for a sewing training that teaches people how to make a dress: “I really wanted to learn how to sew, but I couldn’t even get the machine threaded. But when I bought the Ultimate Sewing Superhero training, I learned everything I needed to learn to be able to sew a beautiful dress.”
But here’s a much better testimonial that addresses skepticism: “I had tried over a dozen sewing trainings including some in-person ones, but I just didn’t learn enough. I always got stuck on something and the results weren’t wearable. But the Ultimate Sewing Superhero training changed that completely. I could follow the instructions to a tee and all of my questions were answered. I just finished my first dress that I’m proud to wear.”
So, try to use testimonials that specifically address the skepticism your prospects are likely to have.
2. Explain How You Can Enable Such Great Results
This might seem obvious, but people rarely go deep enough.
It’s not enough to glance over why your product/service can create great results. You need to give people such a clear understanding of how the results will happen that they can really believe they’ll get those results.
This is actually a common mistake not-so-experienced marketing people make; they claim to have a great system to building a profitable business but don’t really explain it in detail. Sure, some people will just have faith. But most people need to feel like they’ve understood how you can create great results.
For example, would you believe this claim? “Use my 3-step system to make your business more profitable.” I doubt you’d believe it. You might get interested, but you won’t believe it.
The problem many coaches and other kinds of trainers face is that explaining how they can help their clients reach great results is complicated. But you have to learn to explain what you do and how you do it, otherwise you’ll struggle to convince people you can help them.
I don’t mean you should be able to explain your process in five words. But if you can’t explain it in a minute or two (around 150-300 words), you’re probably including details that aren’t necessary, and people won’t believe that you really know what you’re doing.
The best way I’ve found for figuring out how to explain complicated ideas in as few words as possible is to first write the explanation down in as many words as you need, and then start editing it down.
When you’re looking at the explanation in written format, you can more easily find the unnecessary details and the simpler, easier ways to get the ideas across.
3. Give Results Without a Big Commitment
This idea isn’t just for information businesses, even though that’s the most common example. Almost all businesses can use this way of making people believe otherwise practically unbelievable claims.
Simply put, give people a taste of the benefits your products/services create before asking for a big commitment.
Here are a few examples:
- Information business (sells web design training): create free content that teaches some of the basics of web design, so people can see how well you understand and teach the topic.
- Local service business (sells personal fitness training): offer a free first session, so people can get a sense of what it’s like to exercise with you.
- Brick and mortar store (sells gardening tools): give sample packs of products that are used quickly (e.g., fertilizer), and offer a 30-day try-before-you-buy period for long-lasting products (e.g., shovel).
- Software as a service business (sells video hosting): offer a 60-day free trial, so people can test the service with all its features before making the switch from their previous video host.
- Keynote speaker (sells presentations to events): give away video clips from your past speeches, so people can see what they’re going to get.
So, consider how you could give people a taste of what your products/services really help them get. And then give it to them without asking for a great commitment.
But Honest, Believable Claims Only Work if They’re Persuasive
You can be honest and people can believe you, but that’s not enough to make you sales. People only buy if they see persuasive reasons to buy.
So, what persuades people?
When you see a great reason to do something, you’re persuaded to take action.
That’s what your marketing should do: show people great reasons to do what you want them to do (that is, pay attention to you and buy from you).
That might sound obvious, but how often have you actually heard it? And how often have you heard, specifically, how to make people feel like they have a great reason to pay attention to you and buy from you?
Your marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need all the different marketing tactics and tools, and you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by all the options you’re faced with.
When you know the most persuasive reasons for people to pay attention to you and buy from you (that’s your “value proposition”), all you need to do with your marketing is get those ideas across.
So, figure out what you need people to believe to persuade them. If you want to follow a simple exercise that walks you through the process, download it here.
And remember, when you know what you need people to believe, make sure you give them enough reason to believe it. People are skeptical, so don’t expect them to accept your claims without questions, unless you make the claims easy to believe.
Is your marketing honest and persuasive? How do you convey honesty in your marketing? Let me know in the comments below.