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What claims do you make about your products or services? Unless you’re in the business of selling “get rich quick” schemes to a highly gullible target audience, it’s important to make sure your claims pass a basic “reasonableness” test. This month’s article gives an example of what can happen when your claims fail this test.


On a recent trip to downtown Santa Barbara I sat and watched as a man stood in front of the Gap clothing store attempting to pass out fliers. Each time someone approached he said, “Gap is killing its workers!” and held out a flier. At most, one out of ten passers-by chose to take one.

Is a major US retailer really committing murder?

Eventually I got curious, took a flier, and struck up a conversation with the man. The flier stated that Gap’s third world contractors have such abysmal working conditions that over 1,300 workers have died in workplace fires. This man was trying to motivate people to sign a petition demanding that Gap do something about this situation.

I suggested that he needed to change his line. Instead of saying “Gap is killing its workers,” I recommended he say “The shocking truth about the Gap!” He did, and for the next five minutes I watched as 100% of the people he approached took the flier – and appeared eager to read it.

Non-believable claims get ignored

So why did my line work while his failed miserably? Because “Gap is killing its workers” is not a believable claim. His line sounded like overblown hype, and saying it made him look like a nut case. It’s no wonder most people ignored him, and the few who did take the flier probably put it directly into the trash without giving it a glance!

It’s better to spark people’s curiosity

My line, on the other hand, which did even better than I expected, was intriguing and believable. People had no idea what this “shocking truth” could be, but they were curious enough to want to find out.

Bottom line: If you want to catch people’s attention, avoid overblown hype and keep it believable.


VacationClub Manager is an app and website that makes managing multiple timeshare ownerships and travel reward accounts simple. This easy-to-use tool tracks and manages everything that travelers need to know: what they own, where and when they own it, how many points or club options they have, their ownership frequency and their external exchange partners. Take a look at the website I wrote for them, and see how I used very believable claims to explain the benefits that VacationClub Manager provides.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon