Are you tempted to use hype and exaggeration, so you can cut through the noise and get your audiences to pay attention?
“Double your profits in 7 days or less, guaranteed!”
“The best CRM software in the world!”
“10x your website traffic with just a few clicks!”
If you find yourself veering towards claims like that, restrain yourself. Hype annoys prospects and customers.
Up to 76 percent of survey respondents think that advertising is exaggerated and 32 percent of the total respondents say they know what ads are “trying to do.”
Prospective customers can smell hype from a mile away. They’re aware of the manipulation tactics of marketers.
If the offer is too good to be true, sounds like a scam, or is too pushy, customers already know what to do: will leave and never come back.
In the early days of marketing, hype and exaggeration worked. Businesses got more sales within a short period of time. However, customers felt disappointed when they found out that the claims were false, after all. The companies’ reputation suffered; they lost many customers.
When You Remove the Hype, What Should You Do Then?
How can you then market and sell effectively without resorting to hype?
The answer is to be helpful and authentic.
“Authenticity becomes a much more desirable property than exaggeration,” this Harvard Business School article says.
Being helpful is the core of effective content marketing:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
Being authentic and helpful also makes your statements more believable. Customers feel you’re thinking about their best interests.
This also sets your business up for sucess in the long term. That’s because you’re building trust among your customers.
Authenticity can also help you stand out, because being authentic is not common. Many businesses feel the pressure to make the same promises and use hype. Authenticity brings a breath of fresh air to audiences.
Build Authenticity by Being Straightforward
One way to build authenticity is by being straightforward. Instead of saying “We’re a company that is committed to delivering 100% customer satisfaction,” you can just say “We offer a money-back guarantee.”
The latter is more concrete and straightforward. The customers know what to expect.
In contrast, “100% customer satisfaction” is vague. What does it even mean? Does it mean the company will do everything to make the customer happy? Don’t make the customer think.
With a clear and straightforward money-back guarantee on your landing page, customers know exactly what you’re guaranteeing.
Being straightforward removes both hype and abstraction.
Here’s an excellent example from Basecamp:
Write the Way You Talk to a Friend or Family Member
Another way to build authenticity and remove the hype is to write as if you’re talking to a friend or family member.
“The consumer isn’t a moron,” advertising legend David Ogilvy said, “She is your wife.”
What Ogilvy said is just as relevant today. That’s because customers now have the internet where they can easily find out if your claims are true. They can also read online reviews from other customers about your business.[clickToTweet tweet=”“The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.” – David Ogilvy” quote=”“The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.” – David Ogilvy”]
What happens if you use hype when talking to a friend or family? It’s likely they won’t believe you. They won’t take you seriously. But if you stay authentic, they will believe what you say.
Imagine you’re talking to your family when you’re crafting your offer or writing your landing page. You’ll tend to use straightforward sentences and make believable promises.
You will also tell your background story. Your approach would be more sincere, approachable, and helpful as a result.
Notice how internet marketer Pat Flynn sounds human and real when he tells his story:
Anticipate Your Audience’s Questions
Aside from being authentic, being helpful will make your customers trust your business. To be helpful, you must first figure out what specific kind of help they’re looking for.
You can figure that out by anticipating your audiences’ questions. Say, for example, that you’re selling an online course about marketing automation. Prospects might wonder, “Do I get access to updated versions of your course?”
You can answer their questions in your website’s FAQ section or right on your landing page. The key is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. Then ask yourself what would be your main concerns about the product.[clickToTweet tweet=”Customers will always have concerns before buying a product. Address them before they look for answers elsewhere.” quote=”Customers will always have concerns before buying a product. Address them first before they look for the answers elsewhere.”]
When you address their concerns, audiences perceive you as being helpful.
Here’s a good example from Wistia:
Tell the Truth About Your Business
Believe it or not, honesty in marketing pays off. This applies to both huge companies and small businesses. Let’s take the example of Avis, a car rental company.
Avis was losing money. They hadn’t been profitable for over a decade. They were only number two in the car rental service in terms of market share.
But things started to change when they ran the campaign, “When you’re only No.2, you try harder. Or else.”
They admitted they were only second in the market. The amazing thing was they took advantage of their second-place status and reframed it as a strength. This campaign made $1.2 million within a year.
Small businesses can also make their (lack of) size a strength. Instead of pretending to be a huge business or being No.1, small business owners can emphasize how being smaller makes them better.
For example, small businesses value each individual customer. That’s because they don’t have as many customers as huge corporations do. Small businesses need each and every customer to survive, and they can give better attention to each one.
You can take advantage of this when you’re promoting your business. You can offer personalized services (in contrast to the cookie-cutter approach given by large companies) and treat each client as a VIP.
Tell True Stories from Your Satisfied Customers
Why do you think Amazon and other e-commerce sites feature user-generated reviews? The reason is customers look at them first before they buy a product.
Using testimonials is a way to take advantage of the power of word of mouth marketing. According to a McKinsey study, 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions are mainly driven by word of mouth. Customers value the opinions of other people.
Customers don’t want to make mistakes when buying anything, so they look to hear and learn from other people’s experiences. So if you add testimonials to your landing page, your prospects will feel at ease. They will realize that your product or service, in fact, has worked for others.
Instead of using exaggerations, let your satisfied customers do the talking. It sounds more genuine and your prospects can relate more than when you toot your own horn.[clickToTweet tweet=”Instead of using exaggerations, let your satisfied customers do the talking.” quote=”Instead of using exaggerations, let your satisfied customers do the talking.”]
What if your business is still new and you don’t have any testimonials yet?
You could offer free products or services first, in exchange for a testimonial from those who are genuinely pleased. Do this for a limited time and ask what results they got. Aside from gathering new testimonials, you also get useful feedback about your offer. You can use that to further improve your product. You hit two birds with one stone.
Always ask your clients how they felt working with you. Their recommendations will build up your credibility. You can highlight their statements on your website and landing pages.
Don’t Try to Please Everyone
What do some of the hyped ads have in common? They try to please everyone. They say their product is good for everyone no matter who and where they are. Worse, they try to please even the audiences who won’t find any use for the product.
Even if you manage to snag clients this way, it will only work in the short term. You won’t generate repeat sales. According to a Bain & Company study, repeat purchasers spend more and generate larger transactions.
Repeat customers also often refer more people and bring in more business. If you try to please everyone, you won’t get many repeat customers. The reason is you won’t hear again from the customers who bought because of the hype and false promises.
What works is to become clear and specific.
Let’s look at this example:
Instead of saying “This is the ultimate guide for ALL men to attracting women,” the author became specific by implying “This is for introverted men.”
Only 16-50 percent of the total population are introverts. That means the author is turning away up to one-half of potential customers. However, the message is more targeted. Introverted men are more likely to respond because it speaks directly to them.
Removing the hype and being specific also focuses your marketing efforts. It means you’ll only reach out to people who are most likely to buy. You’ll spend less money in ads. You’ll also spend less time and effort reaching out to people.
When people who really want your product buy from you, they are likely to become repeat customers. They’ll feel that your product was specifically designed for them. They’ll be ready to listen to your next offers.
Remove the Hype and Sell More
Here’s a quick recap of what you can do instead of using hype in your marketing:
- Be authentic and helpful.
- Write like you talk to a friend or family member.
- Anticipate your audience’s questions and answer them.
- Own up to your shortcomings.
- Use testimonials to let happy customers do the talking for you.
- Be clear and specific.
Do you struggle to be authentic in your marketing? What do you do to be more helpful to your audience? Tell us in the comments below.