How deceptive advertising hurts businesses

Ever deal with a company that tries to sell you a bogus deal or a poor quality product? Or maybe you have seen they just aren't being truthful? If you have, from the customer perspective, you know deceptive advertising is poor business practice.

Companies that engage in this type of false promotion illustrate questionable ethics with the goal to either boost sales or attain some sort of financial benefit. 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some consumers to initially fall for some of these deceptions, but those lies and misrepresentations almost always come to light. And, in the end, there are a number of ways deceptive advertising hurts the business.

Image credit: Pixabay

Only short-term 'benefits'

Different kinds of deceptive advertising that include but are not limited to:
  • Bait and switch techniques
  • Fake testimonials
  • False promises
  • Vague descriptions
  • Unsubstantiated claims
  • Distorted photos and ad-copy
Any of these kinds of deceptions can do serious damage to a company's reputation when brought to light and exposed. When marketers and advertisers engage in shady advertising they only focus on short-term and don't think of the long-term consequences. Big mistake.

Consumer trust matters

The primary reason why deceptive advertising is harmful to a company is trust. In order to be successful, a business has to build a reasonable level of trust with consumers. Without attaining customer confidence a business is bound to falter in the long run and engaging in false advertising is a surefire way to lose consumer trust – fast.

Attaining a solid reputation is the goal of most ethical companies. This is because these businesses realize that a good reputation is a tremendous asset to have. As the company grows and becomes known for honest and reliable business practices, this reputation will spread in both the online and offline worlds.

Word-of-mouth is one of the best kinds of advertising, and customers who have been burned are going to spread negative reviews based on their being deceived through false advertising. As a result, people will shy away from those companies that have been exposed to be businesses that operate on false pretenses as this does not set well with most, if not all, consumers.

Best to think in the long-term

Before engaging in false advertising managerial decision makers would be wise to consider both the ethical, financial and even legal consequences in engaging in such acts. There are many laws in place to protect consumers and businesses will undoubtedly suffer if proof is rendered to show the deceit. Consumers who have based their purchase on the false advertising often have legal recourse for the fraud.

Unfortunately, some businesses have learned how to circumvent laws and tweak their claims to be just honest enough. One example of this would be bait and switch techniques that keep one or two items in stock, but no more than that, then they work to convince consumers to purchase the more expensive items which do happen to be in stock. Another example would be in food labeling, i.e. "made with real fruit", but come to learn there is only 2 percent fruit content in the food. Or the overused “natural ingredients” which really, means nothing.

In these cases, there is just enough truth to avoid breaking laws, but it's not exactly honest either.

The bottom line

The bottom line is deceptive advertising might fool some people and these crooks can make a quick buck initially, but in the long run, slow and steady wins the race. Honesty will eventually trump deceit every time.  Successful businesses focus on quality and guarantees and stand behind their word; these companies will prosper for much longer than scammers who are looking to cheat and profit off others.


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