“A backlash is coming against marketers who demand copywriters paint vivid pictures of bliss filled, green pastures of gain against horizons of unending wants… but who in the end deliver up plain old dirt.”
I’ve got to get this off my chest.
Here’s something that has been on my mind for a while now. I’ve been reluctant to post it because, well, it paints me and my entire peer group in a bad light.
The thing is, we copywriters are called upon everyday to uncover latent desires, to create new desires, to articulate blissful green pastures of gain upon the horizons of want. Who are we targeting? The earth’s billions of unhappy unfulfilled guilt-laden greedy lustful prideful selfish lazy consumers — in b2b and b2c markets.
How do we do this? By promising the sun, the moon, and the stars. What is often delivered?
Plain old dirt.
Millions of consumers feel jaded. Have become overly sensitive. Skeptical. All because of marketers constantly overpromising and under-delivering in this way.
Whose Fault Is It?
The consumer is not to blame though. At least not directly. Consumers demand marketers do what consumers want and expect — promise to do the impossible, fulfill their every want. Lie to them.
Sadly, marketers are only too willing to do so — for a profit.
Despite consumers bearing responsibility for pushing marketers to chase after consumers who are feverishly waving fists full of dollars to attract cash-starved marketers, in the end advertisers and copywriters are to blame for consumer skepticism. Here’s why.
When a person is promised that they will gain more happiness and satisfaction in life by buying some new fangled bobble, both the copywriter and the advertiser are lying. Yes, you heard me right. If that was not clear let me spell it out for you…
This is because buying more and more crap does not lead to more and more happiness. It never has. And never will.
Soon as an object is obtained, soon as the chase is over, a big letdown sinks in. No Utopia. No doves floating in from parting clouds. No nothing. Just one more rust-attracting, erosion-ready, depreciating, maintenance-required thing added to the list of acquired goods. Now to move on to something else to chase after in an attempt to fulfill yet another unhappy unfulfilled guilt-laden greedy lustful prideful selfish lazy desire.
Truth In Advertising — Demanded!
One of my favorite movies that fully discloses truth in advertising in this respect is, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Despite its high Amazon reviews, the movie is highly underrated among the rest of the planet. Almost no one I know has watched this movie. Watch it. Especially if you have anything to do with sales or marketing.
Here’s why the movie is important. In one segment of the movie a psychologist openly admits that acquiring things never leads to true happiness –despite what marketers promise. His thoughts are not new. Over 2,000 years ago an even wiser man was reported to say, “…even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.”
I suspect it is not acquiring things that leads to happiness or a sense of fulfillment. It is the pursuit itself that makes people feel good. Feel alive.
For most people I’ve spoken with, acquiring turns out to be a letdown. Once acquired it is time to add something new to the list to pursue.
So, if acquiring ‘stuff’ never leads to happiness how does one go about selling and marketing products or services ethically? By being authentic. By telling the truth. By authentically pointing out the value and benefits your product or service can deliver to the purchaser, without overpromising.
The One-Legged Marketer
Lean towards softer selling. And by all means be truly honest. Not just honest to the extent of limited liability.
In other words, not the kind of ‘honest’ that stretches to the border of legal loopholes that allow getting away with misleading people. Weasel words. Hidden clauses. Vague or otherwise misleading claims that border on fraud and dishonesty but are so close to being legal that those who make the claims can weasel out of liability.
Obviously there can be a huge gap between what is legal and what is ethical. Few copywriters measure up on both scales.
Because of this barrage of marketing dishonesty mankind has never before lived in an era of such widespread skepticism. And I suspect there has never been as many laws specifically designed to protect people from false promises. Who pushed for these laws? Fed up consumers who’ve grown tired of getting burned.
Do-not-call lists. SEC smack down of misleading guarantees, false claims of scarcity, and the new anti-fraudulent business opportunities laws are just a few of the ways consumers are fighting back.
I predict that over the next few years we are going to see an ever greater backlash against unethical, deceitful copywriters and marketers.
Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself
Am I worried?
Nope. I say it’s about time. Bring back ethical marketing. Then guys like me can continue to prosper without being stomped on by those who think nothing of lying to get ahead.
Come now, let’s be honest…it is hugely attractive to stand in line chasing ‘that copywriter’ who promises the sun, moon, and stars. The sad thing is you should ask yourself, if a scammy copywriter is willing to make false promises to your target market for a buck, what low depths would he be willing to go to get money out of your pockets?
How far would he or she be willing to go to uncover latent desires, to create new desires, to articulate blissful green pastures of gain upon the horizons of your unsatiated wants?
Remember when they are making an implied promise to create a package guaranteed to bring you untold wealth…they are probably lying.