Marketing with Integrity

Marketing with Integrity

I have to say, I’ve had my fill of false claims. Yes, I love the idea of a magic pill to solve all my problems as much as the next person. But here’s the thing: EVERY TIME I’ve invested in one of these supposed cure-alls, I’ve been disappointed.

Not because they were necessarily horrible (some have actually been good), but  because it sucks to feel the letdown when “X” doesn’t happen (the weight doesn’t come off, the bank account doesn’t budge, and my skin still doesn’t look like that model’s …). In short – I’ve been brought back down to reality.

As a consumer, you might feel duped … but you can get over it. What about the other side of that coin, though? What if YOU are the one conveying false hopes to your buyers?

How do you market or write your copy with integrity, but still compete with people who will say or do anything for your clients? Well, it’s a struggle. But here are a few helpful tips:

Lead with Benefits, but Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep- For example, in my new course Idea to Empire, I promise that in 10 weeks you will have taken your idea and turned it into a business (because if you follow the steps, you will!). But what you don’t see me promising is that this biz will be bringing in $5K your first month. To promise that would make me a liar. Sure, it CAN happen, but can I REALLY promise that in good conscience? It involves the buying decision of others and many other factors that are out of my (and your) control. If you COULD really do this for people, you would have truly broken a secret code, you would be famous, and you would be swimming in Scrooge McDuck dollars!) — and please invite me to your money pool if this happens!

Highlight Past Results- If you don’t have past clients or testimonials … GET THEM! You need to display social proof that what you do has worked for others. So while you can’t necessarily claim to get people booked out or making $5000 in their first month working with you, you can highlight clients for whom you have done this or something similar. It’s one thing to say “I have done this with clients,” and entirely another to say “I WILL do this for you”… because again, that is out of your control! Actions speak louder than words … so highlight the good ones!

Make the Less Tangible … More Tangible- Depending on your industry, the results your clients get may feel on the less tangible side (stress relief, reduced anxiety, increased self-esteem, etc). So you can still say these things, but make them tangible and relatable. What will a life with less stress DO for your clients? Will they be able to attend more parties, have more distraction-free playtime with their kids, get 1 extra hour of sleep a night? Break it down and paint a picture of how life could look different (be creative, but be honest for crying out loud!).

And don’t worry – if you lose a few clients to magic pill claims, they probably weren’t a good fit for you at that time anyway (or they’ll come back around when reality hits). I know from my years in skincare and my time as a biz consultant that “steady eddy” pays off more in the long run.

So even though it’s tempting to fall for the magic pill or sell a few extra packages using this method, don’t do it! Your reputation is on the line when you fail to keep promises that you had no mind making in the first place.



15 Responses to Marketing with Integrity

  1. I’m so glad you’ve pointed out the difference between “magic pill” marketing and trying to be honest. I get so jaded by all the crazy claims. It seems like they’re everywhere. I really think the best way to show a client what you can do is by example. I need to get on those testimonials! But I also think the portfolio is great for this too (that’s always the first place I look when considering someone.)

    • Glad you can relate Megan. I feel like it’s becoming more and more commonplace and it’s a little irritating. But yes, you are a designer and a portfolio says a ton! Testimonials will back up your character and copywriting will convey your personality!

  2. Spot on with this one! It can be tempting- but oh so not worth it. Great tips to make sure your marketing doesn’t come off in a magic pill way! Also, being clear about who your product is NOT for is a clear sign to me that the person cares about really helping me see results and is not promising results to anyone and everyone who walks through the door.

    • Good point Leah. I’m doing this for a new program I’m creating and I felt a heavy sense of burden lift off me as I did my “this ISN’T for you if…” list. I can’t do everything for everyone. Stating who I can and can’t help is good for me and potential clients 🙂

  3. Those “magic pills” are so annoying – I know I’ve been disappointed a few hundred times and don’t want to ever do that myself ! You’re right about testimonials being a biggie too! Great points! 🙂

  4. Oh yes yes yes. Marketing with integrity is so possible and you’re living proof! It’s about building a sustainable business- making false promises is a lazy way to make a quick buck. Plus it just isn’t sustainable- you will be found out and you will be back to square one. Slowly slowly catchy monkey is one of my favourite mottos- build slowly and consistently, concentrating on getting great results for your clients.

    I’ve turned down 3 clients in my first 3 months in business- not because I was booked up and didn’t need the money, but because I’d rather be honest if I don’t think this is the right program for you right now.

    • That’s why I love you Rebecca you are all about quality, quality, quality! And it DOES pay off (even if you have to say “no” once in awhile or work a little harder to convey value) 🙂

  5. Damm it, I have no problem with the integrity, I have all the rest!

    It annoys the hell out of me when I see programs (I saw this today) say: 6k i 6 weeks, and a little foot note saying: we can’t promise this. Oh well, then freaking don’t title the program that.

    Do you think the softies will end up conquering the world our own way or that we will have to learn to play with these other types?

    • Yes we will conquer, but it takes longer 🙂 I think it’s a fine line to tow. I’m creating a new program and I’m asking my participants to STEP UP and create their own goals and I am providing (X,Y,Z) to help ensure that they REACH them (because I can’t reach these goals for them). There is no “quick fix” to becoming successful in biz…what works for one person may not work for another.

      We have to constantly stay on top of the creative flow (which YOU know all about Maria). I have turned down some great money this year, because I KNEW that what the client needed (or wanted), wasn’t what I could offer…and even if what they wanted was something that no one could truly promise. They can take their dollars and invest in the magic bullet solution and come back to me when they are ready to tackle biz growth from a grounded perspective.

  6. I get so worn down reading the same ‘marketing copy’ over and over and over and over….. It quickly becomes disingenuous and has zero impact. I love what you have to say about leading with the benefits and not making promises you can’t keep. Thats a good benchmark to keep in mind.

  7. This is why I avoid a lot of marketing with strong emotional pulls in it … it’s just not my style and I don’t want to hype up anyone and then let them down. I’m not going to promise a revolution or catharsis to anyone … but hey, if your site is broken, I’ll fix it speedy quick. 🙂

  8. Anna,

    Thanks for this wonderfully refreshing post.

    Nowadays, it ‘s rare to find people who are willing to turn down money for integrity ‘s sake. I really respect you for that.

    I come from the world of mental health ( I’m a trained therapist) and making claims/ promises/guarantees is a BIG NO-NO. So in my business, I certainly err on the side of caution when discussing expectations. In fact, before someone officially hires me, I send them a PDF about my ethical standards. Intense for some? Maybe. But at the end of the day, they know I have their best interest (not their bank account) at heart. 🙂

    Keep ’em coming,


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