Turn on the tube late at night and they’re easy to see — lies everywhere. Like the super towel that “Olympic divers use to dry off” or the sandpaper that will keep your legs smooth with just a few swipes — yeah, right. Yet somehow these poor-performance product peddlers pack powerful profits into their companies with exhilarating pitches that sell, sell, sell.
Don’t get me wrong — not every infomercial product is a cheap piece of plastic manufactured in Taiwan, and not every claim is a lie. The super towel will indeed clean up spilled soda, and though I have the convenience of not having to shave my legs I’m sure the sandpaper does remove some hair. But Olympic divers and 100 percent hair removal? These claims are dubious at best, all-out lies at worst. And I’m tired of it.
Why can’t marketers simply tell the truth? Isn’t the fact that something does one thing correctly good enough? How many computer processors hold the honor of being the “fastest;” how many cars get the “best gas mileage;” and how many media outlets are the “No. 1 source” for news? They can’t all be the best, but they’d all like us to think that they are.
I want to make money just like the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to lie about my products and services to get there. In the end, everyone loses: The customer does not get what he or she ordered, and the company is stuck with returns. For some businesses, this is OK — the business of lies is set up so that products are so cheap, a few returns won’t significantly affect profit margins. Plus, they understand the psychology of people — most will not spend hours jumping through hoops just to get $20 back.
More substantial claims are difficult to prove. Who really knows what kind of gas mileage their car gets (reading the owner’s manual doesn’t count), or how fast their processor is in comparison to competing brands?
I don’t think that any product is the be-all-end-all best for everyone; but some products are the best products for their customers. QuickBooks claims to be the No. 1-rated accounting software for small businesses, and it probably is per its survey. It is probably the most popular. But for some small businesses, the software is not the best. For example, my accountant reviews my books remotely and it’s cheaper for me to use Clarity’s product than QuickBooks simply because I don’t need many functions — just money in, money out. So, for me, I would rate Clarity better than QuickBooks. Others undoubtedly would disagree.
The point is that if you’re seeking a product or service, you shouldn’t buy into the hype. Make decisions based on the features you need and not the features you don’t. Do you really need a towel that Olympic divers use to dry off when the rag hanging from the oven door will do just as well?