Advertising is an important aspect of the business. After all, there’s not much use in a product if nobody knows it exists. Products exist to be used, and advertising is what gets people’s hands on these products.
It is well within your best interest to invest in great advertising. However, these should always be done morally.
False advertising is a temptation that might pass your mind. Maybe your product isn’t quite up to the standards you wished. Still, you firmly believe that it’ll eventually get there.
But you need funds, so you change a few details here and there in the marketing. Next thing you know, the negative reviews are flooding in. All that and more are what you should expect from a false advertising campaign.
The Destruction of Trust
The most important commodity you have with customers is not their money. It is their trust. Trust dictates everything that a customer does with a business. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty builds retention and word-of-mouth. Destroying customer trust is practically the same as destroying your business.
The first reason to avoid false advertising is just how dangerous it is. It may mean short-term gains, but your lie will come to light sooner or later. Especially these days, with the internet being as fast as it is, false advertising gets revealed very quickly. One of the best examples of this is the advertisement for Juul E-Cigarettes.
Despite its claims of being a safe, non-addictive alternative to cigarettes, they still contain trace amounts of nicotine. The resulting revelation led the CDC to ban the products altogether from the market. While it’s debatable how likely Juul would have succeeded even with proper advertising, their false claims sealed its fate.
In addition to being a practical risk, false advertising is unethical. Unethical practices, unfortunately, do result in some significant gains by unscrupulous businessmen. However, for every conman that gets away with immoral practices, dozens get caught and blocked forever.
Going back to the Juul cigarettes example, they are now not only banned in America but also seen as incredibly irresponsible. By advertising their product as “safe,” they might have tricked many former smokers and teenagers into smoking their “safe” product. This likely resulted in struggling people relapsing. It’s not a good look, and it’s nothing to be proud of.
How to Avoid False Advertising
False advertising is surprisingly easy to do accidentally. While you might be lacking malice, ignorance is still your greatest enemy. Here are some tips on avoiding accusations of fraud.
Test Your Products Thoroughly
Rushing a product’s release is a surefire way to get negative reviews. This is especially true for software such as apps and video games.
It’s very important to test it thoroughly, no matter the product. Never cut corners on Quality Assurance. This is to ensure your products are useable and safe for the user. Hulk Hogan’s Ultimate Grill is one of the best examples of a false advertising campaign fueled by lack of testing.
The grill was advertised as an oversized indoor grill at an affordable price. It even showed kids using the product. However, upon release, it became apparent that the product was the ultimate fire hazard. It was recalled from stores, and people continue to use Foreman Grills instead of Hogan’s poorly conceived product.
Be Completely Honest
In advertising your product, be thorough in showing off your features and risks, but no more than that. Using colorful adjectives like “one of the best products you’ll use” is part and parcel but making concrete, unbacked claims is dangerous. For example, claiming that a supplement acts as a good protein replacement for normal meals.
Doing that paints an eventual target on your back. As noted above with the Juul cigarettes example, there are legal repercussions for any lies in your advertising. Even “bending the truth” (i.e., saying something is a good source of vitamin D despite only having trace amounts) is open to consequences. Worse, it might endanger customers, which leads to more lawsuits and weight on your conscience.
Check How Original Your Brand Is
No matter how original you think, your idea or product name is, make sure there’s no other business using it. This happens more often than you might think.
For example, George Harrison, one of the Beatles, wrote a song titled “My Sweet Lord” that had striking similarities to “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons.
Although Harrison claimed it was accidental, the court ruled that he did it subconsciously, as he had heard it before. The lawsuit cost the musician half a million dollars. Although he led a successful career (being a Beatle), these stumbles cost him a lot of money and shame.
Advertising is a finicky practice, and it’s crucial to remain truthful. Even the smallest mistakes could cost your business thousands of dollars. The most important takeaway is to be thorough and informed throughout the advertising campaign. Don’t be caught unawares. Stay ahead of any possible cases of misinformation. Make sure to train your employees to do the same.