Why marketers lie.
Seth Godin’s great book “All Marketers Are Liars” was retitled to “All Marketers Are Storytellers”. Seth didn’t say that marketers are liars, but are often perceived to be lying as they try to grab market attention. Godin reinforces that marketers often try and tell to good story to publicize their product. Seth reminds us in the book about framing the conversation in the world view of your audience, telling them a story that they can relate to about your product.
Far too many marketers take the line about lying to heart, too often. Marketers that have a product to sell in a relatable story don’t need to lie to get the message across. But there’s a whole business segment the needs to find the next sucker, as PT Barnum said, so they are constantly lying about their products.
A 2013 research article by Michael Luca of the Harvard business school and Giorgios Zervas of Boston University found that 16% of Yelp restaurant reviews were fake, put on the website by small restaurants or people that the restaurant hired to help counter the bad reviews that they received at review site. The problem extends from Yelp to Trip Advisor, to Amazon.com, and to all review sites. Some marketers think that they can game the system and get more stars and more attention. More stars mean more revenues, more customers coming in. But in long-term it won’t work.
A colleague recently asked me how to improve his ratings on Yelp with social media. The answer is simple, the execution hard. The only way to improve your ratings on review site is by consistently and constantly delivering good products and good service to customers. The wisdom of the crowd will eventually overwhelm those that are gaming the system. The real reviews, good or bad, written by actual customers will eventually overwhelm the fake reviews. The very definition of marketing is developing and creating good products or services, promoting them to the target market, pricing them competitively and profitably, and positioning in the right place for the consumers to purchase, in order to establish a satisfying and sustained a long-term, ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship between the business and consumer.
It’s the last part of this definition that the scammers and poor marketers forget. They think if they can just find a new customer to replace that one they just lost. They lost that customer because the product that they promoted, what they marketed, the story they told about it in their advertising and promotion, did not match what they delivered in product or service to the customer. So they lost that next sale to the customer and have to find a replacement customer. It’s like the infamous quote from PT Barnum, “there’s a sucker born every minute”. Some marketers think this way and are always looking for the next mark. But sooner or later the customer figures it out. Doing business with the lying marketer is not satisfying. How many bad meals will you eat at a restaurant before you stop going to that restaurant. It does not matter how good the reviews are, your own experience states otherwise. Who are you going to believe, the great reviews online or your lying eyes?
Good marketers deliver a good product or service, at good market price with good promotion and positioning that will appeal to and sell to the target market. Not every review will get be good, business will have bad days and get some bad reviews. If they consistently do the best job they can, the good reviews will sooner or later outweigh the bad. You have to address the bad reviews, openly and fairly, there is a place on Yelp and other sites to respond and respond appropriately. It’s not a matter of when a company will make a mistake, they all do. It’s a matter of how will you deal with the mistake we accompany is made. Will the business deny it, hide it, obfuscate it? Good companies will you try make it right.
Another star on Yelp, Trip Advisor or Amazone.com increases business. If you want to increase your ratings, consistently work to provide the best product or service that your business can. The crowd view will win out. Want to make an end run and jump the ratings now to get a little more business? It will work in the short term, you can fool some people once, get them to be your customer, but the poor product or service will drive the away in the long term, they won’t come back to your business for a second time. If you have to lie and game the system, you will have to keep on lying and gaming to find new customer to replace the ones your service has driven away.
Marketers don’t lie, they tell compelling stories about their business framed in there consumer world view, and then deliver on the story, they make sure the customers expectations or met or surpassed. Those are the customers that will come back again to the business.