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When I first start working with a new client, I often ask what their competitors do better than they do. People are often upset by the question. “You’re not going to put something in our marketing materials that says others do this thing better than us?” they ask in a panic. “Of course not!” I assure them. “I just need to know what to avoid talking about. Your marketing materials need to be truthful, but they don’t need to include every fact that exists about your company.”

As I discuss in this month’s article, there is such as thing as too much truth.


Scam Likely - edited.jpg

When my phone rang on a recent morning, I was surprised to look down at the caller ID to see the following: SCAM LIKELY. I don’t know if the phone company somehow made those words show in the caller ID or if the caller had actually chosen this phrase. Either way it got me thinking: While truth in advertising is important, there is such a thing as “too much truth.”

Don’t be so truthful that you kill off sales

Am I advocating lying to prospects? No, of course not. What I am suggesting is that you focus on the benefits and results that people can enjoy if they purchase your products or services. Gloss over the aspects of the process of getting there that might be less desirable.

Remember, all people care about is “what’s in it for me?” If you want to motivate them to buy, you must answer that question—and make achieving these results look easy and doable.

For example, some of the benefits of successfully working with a marriage therapist are a renewed and successful marriage, and the happiness that this brings. That’s the “what’s in it for me” part that will motivate people to buy. The process of getting there, though, might be difficult. Which is why a marriage therapist is not likely to succeed with a headline like this:


While this is most likely quite truthful, it is too much truth!

Likewise, the marketing materials for a plastic surgeon shouldn’t talk about long, painful recuperations. A general contractor’s website shouldn’t point out how difficult it is to live without a kitchen after they demolish yours. And a telemarketer should not announce that their product is a scam. Those things might be true, but they certainly won’t help sales.  

What Others Are Saying

"Geez, Linda, you sure write well!"

Ray Johnston
President, Lido Property Management