Okay. Bear with me here:
Lying is bad.
Gasp! The controversy!!
But, no, seriously:
Bad is the opposite of good.
And I bring this up, in preschool-friendly terms, because when you start down the path of learning how to sell your product, you will be confronted with lots of ra-ra exuberance for #GROWTHHACKS that are straight-up lies.
Lies about scarcity.
Lies about social proof.
Lies about numbers.
But here’s the thing: Lies are not only bad in an absolute moral way, lies are toxic to relationships! And that includes commercial relationships. Especially after you’re already in one. But also beforehand, in that will-we-or-won’t-we dance that we call dating when it’s romantic and a sales funnel when it’s not.
Think about it…
You have a certain amount of money, and a couple products to choose between. Do you choose:
- Product A, where the seller has always been a straight shooter in things both great and small?
- Or Product B, where the seller dissembled in order to lure you in — even if said lies were transparent, and incidental, not about the important stuff, like whether the product works?
Things being equal-ish, most of us will go with Product A. Firstly, because most of us believe that cheaters shouldn’t prosper. And secondly, because we’re pissed off at Seller B for thinking they could pull one over on us.
Lastly — the icing on the cake-is-a-lie, if you will! — holding it together while someone lies to your face takes emotional labor. You have to consciously sit there and do nothing, biting your tongue, rolling your eyes, hoping the bullshit will be over soon, wondering if it will be worth it.
That shit is tiresome. Nobody likes it.
Artifice is like a too-strong perfume: You may spritz it all over yourself thinking it will make you irresistible, but in reality, you just stink.
Then once you’ve lied — once your customer, or potential customer so much as suspects it — that stink will cling to you forever.
Even if your customer eventually buys the product slathered in untruths, they will never fully trust in it. After all, if it were so great, why would you invest in so much fakery? Even when the product works, will they ever feel good about recommending it to friends and fellows… knowing that they, too, will end up sniffing the perfidy?
The whole experience is ruined.
Even the good parts.
And such were the thoughts swirling in my mind as I watched a REAL LIVE WEBINAR at 9:15 at night.
A totally, genuinely, unabashedly LIVE! webinar miraculously scheduled to go live just 2 minutes after I indicated my interest!
The webinar was fake. A lie.
You see, there are tools to make recordings “run” as if they were live. Some even re-run “live chats” in the audience section, with presumably once-genuine comments appearing at the same timecodes they were originally posted during the one, true live broadcast of the event. You’ve probably come across these yourself, if you’ve done any research into marketing, startups, growth, and so on. (And don’t even get me started on dietary information.)
Blessedly, the host of this particular fake webinar didn’t use that extremely squicky yet popular feature. The “chat room” was utterly empty. And I mean utterly. Nary a peep was there.
That didn’t stop him from verbally asking questions, though — nor getting “answers” to which he then responded.
I wasn’t joking about that emotional labor. I was so aggravated I had to rage-tweet:
watching a fake live webinar rn. from a scammy sketchy mccrapperson? no, someone supposedly reputable. y'allllll. nobody is fooled by this. it just looks thirsty.— Amy Hoy ✨ (@amyhoy) November 6, 2018
Here’s the thing:
All this anger and odor could have been avoided.
I really was eager to watch the video right then.
I wanted to get my hot little hands on the content inside the webinar. (Although, as it turns out, it wasn’t great.)
I actually thought the reminder emails that started after I “signed up” were helpful, and effective.
I’m also a big fan of striking while it’s hot. Give me what I want when I am most desirous of it!
There was no need to lie.
But now this guy I had thought was an aboveboard creator will forever be branded in my mind as Thirsty McFakerpants.
In the faked presentation, he told a story about how he came up with the product. Do I believe it? No. He also gave some case studies with conversion rates. Do I trust them? No.
Dudebro faked audience ask-and-answer. He literally claimed a recording was live, and in that recording he asked fake questions and responded to fake answers. (How embarassing!)
What else was he lying about?
Homeboy’s rep with me is now ruined. Which is too damn bad because he could have gotten the same positive results while being honest and aboveboard.
The lies undermined every positive aspect of the experience.
As I was watching this guy lie, I thought to myself:
Well, self, I probably wouldn’t have watched this at all if it were just a link to a Youtube video. It would have gone on my Watch Later List, but when I, bored, went to that list to find something to entertain me, I probably would have chosen a new crochet video instead.
There are just so many advantages to the canned webinar format:
- the live feeling — like a live album
- the architectural experience of watching it in a special viewer for just this purpose, and not embedded amongst a sea of words (blog post) or a sea of suggested Lizard People videos (YouTube)
- the commitment to watch it right now, with a bevy of reminder emails to keep you on track
- the potential to show clickable links, etc, at just the right time during the presentation (some tools do this)
I want to offer that to my readers (you!).
None of those benefits require the lie.
So as I was tuning out his actual presentation (cuz this guy is #CANCELLED), I thought about how Alex and I could deploy the power of commitment-when-you-need-it without catching our pants on fire.
Here’s the rough — and perfectly truthful — sales pitch I am planning to use:
- Hey, I did a live workshop on JUST this exact topic!
- And you really ought to watch it right now, because you know if you stick it on your Watch Later list, you never will
- Treat yourself to 35 minutes of focused attention and you’ll come away smarter and more empowered to XYZ — just like a real, live conference talk
- Do it now, and I’ll also email you a worksheet to use to take effective notes during the event, a cheat sheet, or some other goodie
- Click here to enroll in the workshop now!
In short: I will disclose from the first word that it’s a recording, and sell the reader on how the format will help them. No tricks.
Because when you understand your audience’s pains — especially their self-sabotaging behaviors — and you offer them a compelling, truthful way to overcome those pains, everybody wins. And this applies to format and presentation, not only content.
Lying is everywhere. It’s easy to start, and hard to stop.
A lot of tempting startup advice boils down to, “A little lie or exaggeration won’t hurt anyone.”
You may be able to lie your way to temporary success, but unless you’re cult-leader charismatic (newsflash: you’re not), it’s going to wreck you in the end. A little lie for a little advantage today will lead to a complete lack of trust and disadvantage tomorrow.
But honesty works forever.