We spend a lot of time in these posts talking about and reinforcing the basics of good marketing, because we know there are an awful lot of bad players out there who will lie straight to your face and deceive you just to make a sale. So much so that many potential clients don’t know where to begin to find an honest business that will respect their business and its goals.

In this two-part article we’ll first discuss things from a customer’s point of view and what snake-oil salesmen do to sell you poor products and services that don’t do what they’re supposed to do. And when you try to hold them accountable they slither off under the rock where they came from.

In the second part we’ll examine what a business like yours can do to vet a marketing agency before you hire them, all in the name of getting what you pay for.

PART 1 – Big Promises, Little Results

Marketers continually seek innovative ways to captivate and engage their audiences. Yet – amidst the majority of genuine products and services – there are always examples of exaggerated claims, deceptive tactics and empty promises.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as snake oil marketing, referring to the late 1800s when dubious concoctions were peddled as cure-alls.

In the digital age, the successors to snake oil salespeople have evolved, leveraging sophisticated techniques to manipulate consumers into buying products or services that fail to deliver.

The Con of Deceptive Marketing

Snake oil marketing thrives on exploiting the vulnerabilities and desires of customers. It employs a range of psychological triggers to lure people into purchasing products or services that sound too good to be true. Key tactics include:

  • Exaggerated Claims: The promise of extraordinary results that seem too fantastical to be realistic. It capitalizes on people’s hopes and dreams – rapid weight loss, instant wealth, or life-changing transformations without any substantial evidence to back up their claims.
  • Lack of Transparency: Vague information about products or services. They give limited details about how their offerings work, making it difficult for potential customers to make informed decisions.
  • Limited-Time Offers and Scarcity: Creating a sense of urgency is a common tactic. They might claim that their product or service is available for a limited time or in limited quantities, pressuring customers into making quick decisions without proper research.
  • Fake Testimonials and Reviews: Manufactured testimonials and reviews create a façade of credibility, despite providing little to no actual proof of a product’s effectiveness.
  • Pseudoscientific Jargon: To lend an appearance of legitimacy, scientific-sounding language that lacks genuine substance is incorporated. They may reference obscure studies, complex theories, or proprietary technologies that are difficult for customers to verify.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tactics: It’s a compelling offer but what is ultimately delivered is a different, less valuable product or service. This switch can leave buyers feeling cheated and dissatisfied.
  • Overemphasis on Emotion: Playing heavily on emotions, often using fear, insecurity or aspiration to manipulate customer decisions. They create an emotional connection that clouds rational judgment.

And Finally

In a world saturated with marketing messages, it’s essential to be discerning and vigilant as a buyer. Lying marketers rely on deceptive tactics to prey on individuals’ desires and vulnerabilities, but armed with knowledge and critical thinking, you can navigate these treacherous waters.

By demanding evidence, researching thoroughly, consulting trusted sources and employing your critical faculties, you can avoid the snares of bad marketers and ensure that your hard-earned dollars are invested in products and services that deliver on their promises. Remember, an empowered customer is the most effective defence against the allure of snake oil.

Click here to read Part 2 of this two-part article on deceptive marketing practices and how to avoid them

Infinity Reef is a small, nimble agency that outperforms for its size and responds well to client engagement and collaboration. Contact us and we’ll be happy to have an unhurried, in-depth conversation with you.