Transparent Marketing: Do your campaigns sound like North Korean propaganda?


I know, I know. Your product is super fantastic. The best in the industry. Perhaps the best ever. In a word – infallible.

Except, well, I don’t know how to break this to you, it’s not. No product is perfect. And not every product is right for every person (while we’re at it, you’re really not that special and there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny).

The only challenge is, when you make your offer sound like it’s too good to be true, no one believes you and you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. Let’s look at an extreme example …


Overhyped marketing from the North

According to The Wall Street JournalPyongyang Myth-Builders Step It Up – here is some of the official line from the other side of the Northern Limit Line …

About Kim Il Sung, founder of North Korea: He once made a hand grenade from a pine cone to blow up an American tank.

About his son and successor, Kim Jong Il: When he was born, the sky was filled with lightning and thunder, and a rainbow.

About the new leader, Kim Jong Eun: He is ‘an excellent general who displays the extraordinary talent of hitting the center of the target no matter how many times he fires.’


Your product should not have a cult of personality

OK, that’s obviously ridiculous. So your product might not be mythmaking for the Dear Leader, but, I ask you, are some of these lines really any more believable?

Huge Savings! Exclusive Deals! Limited Time Offer!

70% Off! 80% Off! 90% Off! (this will eventually hit 100% off, right?)

Decision Management Solutions research identifies the ultimate real-time predictive marketing solution requirements (and exhale)


Don’t believe the hype

Your own, that is. Because, frankly, nobody else does.

As Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, has said in Transparent Marketing: How to earn the trust of a skeptical consumer, “While this writer has no desire to demean the work of another professional, the Postmodern Consumer couldn’t care less. He actually despises hype and anything else that insults his intelligence.

“He is armed and dangerous. With a single click, he can terminate a company’s opportunity.”

However …

  • If your marketing campaigns (and especially your content marketing) elucidate and don’t obfuscate …
  • If in a hype-filled world, you actually live up to Dr. Philip Kotler’s value-focused definition of marketing – “A social and managerial process by which individual groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and exchanging products of value with others” …
  • If you help your customers find true value instead of grabbing a quick hit sale before they figure you out …
  • And if you focus on serving the customer instead of your own dictatorial ego

… then I was wrong about you after all.

You really are special.


Related Resources:

The Last Blog Post: How to succeed in an era of Transparent Marketing

Transparent Marketing: A slice of honesty from Domino’s Pizza

Transparent Marketing and Social Media: Twitter and Facebook are the new Woodward and Bernstein

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  1. Chandler Turner says

    Great post! The Web has made us smarter consumers because we have more information than ever before within a few clicks. But give the reader fluff, and you are one more click from failure. There should be some engaging or motivating value proposition to greet the reader in order to hold attention and not repel it. At this point in the maturity of our internet education, we have begun to ignore old, worn out, overused, marketing-speak phrases. Human beings are cognitively set up to ignore certain things. We tend not to revisit decisions we have already made. Overused phrases nor bore us to tears. We have heard it all before, so we ignore it.

  2. Shade Wilson says

    Thanks, good post. I’ve filed this under the sad but true. I wonder if the continuing trends in buyer’s online research and checking ratings will eventually eliminate the overhype language.

    Hopefully, but I’m not ready to put any money on it just yet. Afraid the circus hawkers are with us for a while.

  3. Ariel Geifman says

    Great post. Unfortunately, so many marketers fall into the pitfall of trying to make their product look so much better than it really is, that it loses all credibility…

  4. Jack Martin says

    I love this comparison. Puts those ridiculous advertisements in perspective.

    We’ve learned to avoid anything that’s ‘too good to be true.’ Ads need to feel real.

    Shade, unfortunately, I still don’t think that wild language will go away. The world will always be 90% full of bad copywriters.

  5. Renee says

    Fab post. Online ads are littered with “‘mo, better, best, ridiculous” hyperbole. “Huge Savings! Exclusive Deals! Limited Time Offer!” still works (but NOT in one line, lol!). Deals & scarcity can still tip the scale in favor of a purchase if the item appeals to that increasingly rare, emotionally primed shopper. Merchants have to realize that they can’t all stand around bleating the same tune & expect to grab a shopper’s attention.

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