Truth in Advertising

I am inundated with sales pitches at both the day job and my creative arts biz. I am skeptical of anything that claims to solve all of my problems, so I frequently hit the delete key or throw the mailer in the round file (a/k/a trash can).  Occasionally, I find value in a promotional pitch and look at the item/service a little more closely.

Recently, I received an invite to join a professional directory. For an annual fee, I could be listed in this directory and be “ranked” on certain attributes by the self-described “world’s leading expert” in this industry. My Clark Howard radar immediately went off!

I realize this organization/person obviously thinks there is a “need” for this sort of product, or else the marketing email would not have shown up in my inbox. I’ve had some interactions with the “expert” and yes, the person is quite knowledgable about the subject under discussion, but to bill themselves as “the world’s leading expert?” –  I think not!

I realize this is nothing more than marketing hype using some hired-gun verbiage at best. Hopefully, the “expert” is well aware of the claims made on the website and in the advertisement. My guess is this was done to raise the ire of others in the community and to get people talking (thus, driving people to the website).  Some of my friends and I certainly had a fun discussion about this tonight.

I am all for businesses promoting themselves and trying to increase business. However, when you make the claim that you are “the world’s leading expert” on ______, you’d better have the credentials and data to support that claim.  This is one of the major discussions I have with my students about evaluating information. (Can you see a future library skills lesson coming?????)  IMHO, this person does not have said credentials nor the data to make that claim.  Nor does this organization’s ranking system make a lick of sense to me due to the fact it is so highly subjective. 

Once I feel I have all the details and facts surrounding this “promotional offer” I may post links to the website and other discussion on the subject.  Then again, I might not!

The takeaway:  Be sure you are truthful in your advertising and that the claims made can stand up to public scrutiny.