Are you frightened by all the sales hype on the Internet these days? If you're not, you certainly should be.
During the past several months, I've noticed a rather unsettling trend taking place throughout the Internet. I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but it basically boils down to sales copy that has only one purpose in mind... making the sale.
Now, I realize that for all intent and purpose, that's exactly what sales copy is supposed to do. Make the sale. But what has me most concerned are those marketers who intend to make the sale regardless of the cost. Not the price of the product or service, mind you, but rather the cost of conducting online business without benefit of integrity and honesty.
Here's a classic example of what I'm referring to. Just recently, I purchased an ebook. That in itself isn't unusual since I often purchase electronic products, either for resale purposes or simply to expand my online knowledge.
The problem was, the sales copy, the testimonials included on the website, and even the word of various respected newsletter publishers who recommended this product turned out to be pure and utter hype.
Of course, the fact that this ebook was void of most (if not all) of the information it promised to contain isn't the issue. As we all know, there are plenty of lousy ebooks floating around. And since there's no way to determine whether or not an ebook is valuable prior to download, you basically have to depend on the sales copy and/or recommendations of others in order to make a purchase decision.
But therein lies the rub...
The sales copy for this particular product was definitely top notch. So much so, that even a somewhat wary buyer such as myself couldn't resist the offer. Add to that several testimonials from Internet marketers I have come to respect and admire (and depend on to always supply me with quality recommendations) and I was right there whipping out my credit card, anxious to receive the one ebook that was finally going to fill in the gaps that had been lacking in my previous knowledge.
No big deal. It's not the first time I've purchased a product that didn't live up to my expectations (or the sales copy promises) and I'm sure it won't be the last. But here's what frightens me right to the bone...
At what length do we as marketers and Internet business owners go just to make a sale? Do we outright lie to consumers? Do we lead them to believe certain things about our product that the product itself can't possibly live up to in hopes that enough sales will be generated, at which point a few disgruntled customers shouldn't warrant concern?
Apparently, that's exactly how some marketers feel. Make that sale, no matter what the cost to good old honesty, integrity, and fair business practices.
Granted, with all the fierce competiton online business owners are up against, creating "killer" sales copy is undoubtedly a necessary option. And no one's disputing the fact that it takes exceptional sales copy to prompt the average viewer to actually purchase a product these days.
Unfortunately, the fine line between exceptional sales copy and total hype for the sake of making a sale has been crossed. Have we reached a point of no return? Is there no going back?
Don't get me wrong here. There are online business owners who present quality sales copy without all the hype (or at least only include what is absolutely necessary). Sadly, these highly respected individuals are fast becoming a dying breed, replaced by unscrupulous money-grubbing snake-oil salesmen.
And the worse part is, many well-known and familiar online names have jumped aboard this sell-it-at-any-cost bandwagon. Basically, they say whatever is necessary in order to get consumers to purchase their product, even if that means stating an outright lie.
And maybe they wind up having to refund some money here and there. So what? What's a few measily refunds compared to thousands or tens of thousands of sales where consumers don't bother to complain or ask for their money back?
Once upon a time, these types of deceptive sales practices were not only fairly easy to recognize (and could be avoided like the plague), they were few and far between. More recently, countless variations of pure sales copy hype are cropping up all over the world. In fact, it's not only become the norm to "lie" to consumers, it's almost fashionable to do so.
Trust me. This is an extremely damaging trend we're facing. But the good news is, I truly believe in the intelligence of the average Internet consumer. Sooner or later, this sales hype will be exposed for exactly what it is... a blatant deceptive fraud.
And just so there's no misunderstanding, I'm not talking about the usual hyped-up sales copy, the kind that lights a fire under the consumer in a professional manner. I'm talking about telling the consumer (or leading them to believe) that your product is something it's not.
So the next time you're preparing that "killer" sales copy, think long and hard about whether or not you're deceiving the consumer just to make the sale. If not, if you're one of those increasingly rare individuals who merely uses the proper amount of hype to fire up your consumers, then you deserve a round of applause.
On the other hand, if you're one of those characters who's only in it for the money and have crossed the line into snake-oil salesman territory, then be forewarned. That kind of deceptive "business" practice definitely bites back!