Are Your Marketing Claims Believable?

Today’s post was motivated by an unsolicited email I received from an outsource payroll company, that made the following two claims:

  • If your business has fewer than 20 employees, statistics have shown that you can save money by outsourcing your payroll operations.
  • On average, 40% of the entire administration time of a small business deals with payroll processing.

Both of these claims suffer a credibility gap because neither is attributed to any independent source.  The company sending the email could claim that the moon was made out of green cheese, but since they are not exactly an unbiased purveyor of facts, their claims cannot be taken at face value.  Unless the claim is obvious on its face (e.g. for most small business owners payroll is a pain in the rear), you should always provide an outside source for statements that
involve numbers or statistics.

My second problem is that only the first of these claims is believable.  Most business owners would probably agree that money can be saved by outsourcing a specialty task like payroll.  However, based on my own experience in doing small business payroll, it was unpleasant but did not take 40% of the entire administration time of our business.  In my opinion, unless the author of the email had outside attribution for the claim, she would have been better off using a more realistic and believable number, perhaps expressed in a range such as 20-40%.

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Myron Berg, partner and web marketing guru at Fusion Marketing Partners, is effective at creating trust and credibility on our clients’ websites.  He accomplishes this with customer testimonials, industry trust references, and security credentials like SAS 70 and SSL.  However, all of these credibility boosters can be busted with even one unbelievable and unsubstantiated claim.  In our personal lives, we all realize that catching a friend or family member in one lie often leads us to suspect everything else they say. This is equally true when dealing with companies.

I started with the example of the payroll company but there are many other specious claims that come across our websites, email inboxes and television sets:

  • Use our software and double the productivity of your workers.
  • Buy our bottle of pills and lose 30 pounds per month.
  • Use our SEO outsource service and immediately vault to the top in search rankings.
  • Buy our clothes, cologne, sports car, beer, etc. and have a great love life.

As a long-time marketer, I know how important it is to aggressively sell benefits and put everything in the best possible light. But you and I need to remember that there are only two major rules to ensure that our marketing claims are believable.  First, they really should be believable.  And second, whenever possible, they should be substantiated by an independent authority.

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  • Nate Warren November 8, 2011   Reply →

    Good post. Glibly made claims can come back and bite you — if you can’t stand on those claims, you’re essentially saying that your core value is a hoax. Knowing what makes you different — and knowing why it’s true — brings the credibility, referrals and repeat business. A good reputation is a sales and marketing machine unto itself.

  • John Leavy November 8, 2011   Reply →


    I could not agree more about attribution…if you’re making a claim…you had better be able to back it up with facts/stats from another, independent organization. Great post.

  • Christopher Ryan November 8, 2011   Reply →

    John and Nate, thanks for your comments. Believability is an important factor in establishing the credibility necessary to convert your website visitor into a customer.


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