What is “guaranteed”? Ethical Marketing Guideline.

Lately, I’ve been seeing an influx of FB targeted marketing ads making ridiculous claims. Today, I went so far as to comment on one by popular reading curriculum provider: Hooked On Phonics. They made the claim that your child would increase a grade level in reading comprehension GUARANTEED and in a correlating graphic that your child would read within 30 days, again GUARANTEED. When I commented that I had in fact bought this package, and my son had not even been given the opportunity to read by their material, they responded that what they MEANT was that you’d know within 30 days if the curriculum was right for your child. I went on to point out that those are very different claims they refuted that because they offer a money-back guarantee this advertising is honest. It’s not. It’s unethical. It’s misleading and it’s far too common.

The word “guarantee” is thrown around far too much in marketing. I don’t use it, and honestly, you probably shouldn’t either. Unless you have done market tests and have seen that your product or service is nearly 100% effective (above 99%) then this type of claim or guarantee is just unethical, misleading, drivel.

Marketing lies seem to be the norm these days, especially on popular social media sites where there is little to no regulation of what’s “legitimate”. How many ads do you see daily for overseas clothes where the photos have been snagged from popular American companies?

I, for one, don’t want marketing to be synonymous with lying. I want it to mean putting your best foot forward and honing a brand that MATTERS. What do you stand for? What are your goals? What makes your culture unique and important? Start there. Answer those questions. We can build a whole strategy around who you truly are and what makes you great without ever falsifying “guarantees”.