We've all seen ads that make us think, "This sounds too good to be true". Most of the time we find out that it is. I have wondered what makes businesses think that potential customers can't read between the lines. I also realize that there are people who actually send money to foreign countries because they got an email from an official sounding person. The problem with false or leading advertising techniques is that it may bring a customer in the first time but they are unlikely to return.

There are a number of "bait and switch" tactics within the market place but none more blatant than the "quick oil change" places. I have a college age son whose car is usually running on fumes and maintenance on his car is the very last thing on his list. He constantly reminds us that he is a poor college kid.

He recently was home for a visit and we asked him to take his car to get the oil changed and warned him, "Make sure you tell them you ONLY want the $19.99 special". One hour later he returns with a receipt for $150.00 worth of service. His father was furious and shook his head and said, "I knew this was going to happen and I should have gone with him. I told him no matter what they said just tell them you want the basic oil change."

It seems as though the employee intimidated him with big words and a scary tone and proceeded to do work that even the dealership said didn't need to be done on that car. Needless to say I was fuming too. Not because he gave into their sales tactics but because they did not do what they were asked to do by the customer, based on the advertised price.

There have been many television shows on such businesses and they aren't just limited to the car industry. I would bet that most industries push the envelope of "truth" to avoid losing the customer. Have you never been told before that , "This is the final day of the sale", or "I bought this extended warranty and you should seriously think about it", or "The base price is "X" but of course that doesn't have all the features the one has that you are looking at".

The customer is made to feel inferior. If they don't upgrade to what the employee is suggesting then in their mind they are either too cheap or too ignorant, and employees who have been taught to look for those signs can then go in for "the kill". The problem with the "kill" is that the customer has lost their confidence and will power and the employee is thrilled because they are finally making a larger sale. It however, may be the last sale that person makes to that customer.

A smart customer will stop doing business with companies that make them feel that they are a dollar sign with feet. I will guarantee you that my son learned a very important lesson that day. I am not sure he will ever return to one of those oil change places again, and if he does he will become the nasty customer that yells and stands his ground just to get what the company advertised.

So, how do you develop a compelling advertising campaign that is truthful and that motivates the customer to take action? Look at your advertising or marketing efforts through the eyes of your customer. Ask yourself the following three questions each and every time you develop any type of advertising or marketing campaign that you want your customers to react positively to.

1. Why should I care? - We all get bombarded with tons of advertising every single day. If the ad is for a "15 minute oil change for $19.99", it will get my attention because it is a quick and inexpensive way to get my oil changed. If you change what the customer ultimately receives, which is a $150 complete service that took one hour, you are guilty of false advertising in the customer's mind.

2. What's in it for me? - Bottom line for all advertising is that the customer needs to know that they will get value for what they are exchanging; their hard earned money. If there is no value, in the customer's mind, to counteract the price that they pay for the product or service, then the customer feels like they have been duped. In my sons' case, I will guarantee you he questioned whether or not the extra service that was done was necessary. Not placing enough importance on the level of real "value" that your customer will be receiving within your advertising can cause a customer to scream buyers' remorse.

3. Why should I believe you?- You may be wondering why we didn't go complain to the manager at this oil change place? When I suggested it, my husband's comment was, "That is the way they all are". Trust is the basis for any good relationship, business or otherwise. In this case, the trust had been broken over many years of using similar companies. It does not make it right, it makes it an negative experience that the customer does not forget. How do you work at building "trust" with your customer? How does your advertising build your brand to such an extent that you become the vendor of choice?

How many customers did you lose last year? How much did it cost your company? How many other people did those lost customers influence? How many of your "best customers" are now customers of your competition? Your advertising might just be driving them away.

About the author:

Anne M. Obarski is "The Customer Service Spy!" As a professional speaker and trainer, Anne will work with your company to provide you with the clues to keep your customers coming back. Anne presents keynotes, break-out sessions and customized training, nationwide, in the area of customer service.

You’ll want her two new books, "Surprising Secrets of Mystery Shoppers" and "Real World Customer Service Strategies That Work". For a limited time get her free, "10 Big Secrets to Giving Mystery Shopper Feedback and Get the Changes You Want", by faxing 636-922-2696 on your letterhead and write the words, BIG SECRETS.

For more info go to: http://www.merchandiseconcepts.com or email Anne at anne@merchandiseconcepts.com

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