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Are you making marketing claims that don’t stand up?

I hate to pick on a company in particular, but I honestly think that many companies cross the line. From time to time, we all do a little manipulation of the facts to make our claim look just a little bit better. As Seth Godin says, “All Marketers Are Liars.” But just because that is normal doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. I would argue, that because it is normal, it is actually imperative that you do something different. You need to go out of your way to ensure that your claims stand up. Do you?

Today’s victim is Match.com.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am happy that Match.com and all of its competitors exist. I am an old married guy, but one of the things I tell people is that the best thing about being married is that I don’t have to date anymore. I found my wife and thank God she puts up with me, and I don’t have to be as excruciatingly awkward as I was when I was single.

Liar, Liar (song)
Photo credit: Wikipedia

But I can’t help but wonder about these Match.com marketing messages. They just rub me the wrong way. What exactly does it mean that “People who join match are three times more likely to end up in a relationship as those that don’t”?

Gee, could it be that the vast majority of people who do not join Match.com are already in a relationship? Or they are children? I mean, what does that mean exactly? I would expect that the folks who join Match.com are looking for a relationship, so wouldn’t that mean something?

But I would have let that go. I mean, really. One commercial is no big deal. But then I saw the next one: “More people find relationships on Match than any other service.”

Um, OK. Is it possible that more people are ON Match.com than on any other service?

Now maybe I am just an overly-analytical nerd who doesn’t trust anyone. But all this stuff reminds me of the auto insurance ads–“People who switched to us saved $492 in premiums.” Yeah, well, sure. Do you think the people who were given higher quotes actually switched to you?

But this is the problem with over-the-top claims. It could be that Match.com is actually a great service that is better than all the rest. Thankfully, my wife hasn’t thrown me out yet, and I don’t have to find out. But the claims I am hearing sound just a little too hard to pin down. (“It depends on what you definition of is is.”)

Take my advice. Stop trying to fool your customers. Start feeding them facts. Don’t say, “We’re the best.” Say, “We won the J.D. Power Award.” Give them real facts to believe in and reap the rewards. Try to fool them and you will sow what you reap there, too.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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