Puffery and inflated claims have been a weakness of advertising since the very first ads appeared. Manufacturers and providers of service want to differentiate their product or service and to establish a place in the consumer’s mind for their product. These claims are more often a race to the top than a race to the middle or the bottom, but in a world where conversation is ever present, and authenticity is the currency of trust, does making such claims hurt you more than help you?
Today’s sophisticated consumer is besieged by advertising “noise”, and they have become expert at avoiding and interpreting it. The basis of “in-bound” or permission based marketing is to attract the consumer, and to build a pre-disposition in their mind towards our product or service. Claims made by advertisers are generally met with some skepticism, and the grander the claim, the greater the skepticism – and as a result, the rest of your message becomes tainted by that initial reaction. In fact, it seems to me that there is almost a specific relationship between the sweep of the claim, and the trust it engenders. When the claim is disproportionate to the business or service, the reaction of the consumer is almost diametrically opposed to the desired result. If your small local restaurant claims to have “World Famous” anything – most consumers will smile and dismiss the claim. But if that same eatery won a “Best in the Neighborhood” award from a local media outlet or chamber of commerce, people will actually value the award.
The smallest accolade – the recommendation of our friend , has, in today’s world, the largest impact on our buying activity, and that should tell us something.In fact, we will often value their endorsement far more than the endorsement of an actor or public figure who are endorsing the product because they are paid to do so. We may not need to be self-deprecating, but we do need to think about our claims and how they will be viewed by the consumer, not by what we think they say about our service or product, or how we feel about it. All advertising lands on or near the audience at some point, and our audience is not passive, nor without voice. They will talk about the product and service, and that will determine the impact or the campaign online and offline.
Mom told you to “be yourself and be proud of who you are! You have a lot to offer” And as always, Mom was the best social media expert you will ever meet. Be proud of what you are, and celebrate that. You don’t need to be the biggest and the best - maybe you want to be the boutique service that offers personal attention to each of your customers. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, perhaps you need to define your customer and determine what your value to them can be - and then promote that for their consideration. It just might make you the leader in your niche.