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Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Personal & Confidential"; Designed to Make it Look Like a Bill or Look Important?

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Personal & Confidential"; Designed to Make it Look Like a Bill or Look Important?

September 21, 2009

Previous dilemma

To tell or not to tell?

That's the question for affiliate marketers. Should they disclose to their customers that they're getting a cut of the sales for the products they're promoting for someone else?

Often, the cut is as much as 50% or 60% of the sale and commisisons can be as high as 25% on sales afterwards. Should affiliates tell their customers that they're getting a commission for their endorsement?

Are they taking advantage of the trust they've built with people on their list? Or, is it none of their business? Creative or deceptive?


My response: Creative. This isn't deceptive at all. Should we be required to disclose where our profits come from and from which marketing channels? NO!

Of course, if you're in the financial industry or insurance industry you must comply with disclosure regulations as it relates to endorsements. For most, I would argue that most consumers are savvy enought to realize in our capitalist America that anytime somebody is offering an endorsement they're getting something in return. Should William Shatner end his commercials for PriceLine by saying, 'Oh and I get paid quite a bit of money to endorse this product'? Of course not!

You should only endorse products you feel you can stand behind because your reputation and brand is also at stake. And if you do promote a product for nothing in return, say it! Simply by saying, 'I get nothing for recommending this' is a HUGE endorsement.

Creative or Deceptive? You decide ...

The desire to increase sales often leads us into some very gray areas where there doesn't always seem to be a clear right or wrong answer. I tackle a dilemma each month and then I want to hear what you would do. Send your comments to me at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com. Then, next month I will give you my take on whether it was creative or deceptive.

We've all seen these marketing pieces in the mail. The envelope is shaped in the form of a bill. It looks official with words such as 'Personal & Confidential ... Please Open Promptly - Dated Materials Enclosed.

But when you open it, you find that it's simply a marketing promotion. Caroline Zimmermann of the Zimmermann Ad Agency talked about in this month's teleseminar how effective this type of promotion has been for Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. It's one of the reasons that it helped her package beat the previous promotion by 40%. I asked her, "Isn't that deceptive?" She paused and said well, it could be considered deceptive but it's really designed to make it look important to get someone to open it.

In fact, isn't that the goal of any envelope or good marketing piece? To get you to open it? So what's wrong if it looks like something else? It obviously works!

What do you think? Deceptive or creative?