Fine Print is Becoming More Important Than Ever

Remember when you were a kid and you saw those toy commercials where at the end you’d here some guy saying something really really fast that always included something like “blank is sold separately?”  It would be some guy reading out a disclaimer super quickly so you could barely understand it.  The message is “just enough” for a company to cover its ass in case of any backlash it received from consumers.  Some angry mom might call in and say, “hey, the commercial said my son would be receiving BOTH cowboys, not just one,” to which the company would replay, “but didn’t you read the disclaimer at the end of the commercial or on the box?” And the angry mom thinks to herself, “who the hell reads that?”  Exactly, barely anyone does.  When you see all of those commercials for pharmaceuticals and at the end you see potential side effects that are 8 miles long, does it stop you from buying the product?  Hardly.  Especially if a doctor recommends the product to you.  The point of all of these disclaimers is exactly what the word says, “to disclaim.”  In other words they are disclosing additional truths about products that you might not pick up on in the advertisement.  While this is rampant in commercial advertising, it’s also extremely rampant with people trying to beef up their qualifications.

Now that social media is such a massive part of our culture, not to mention social media expressed through video, a ton of the messaging out there runs in a very similar fashion to those old toy commercials you saw as a kid.  They bottle up the product nice and pretty for you, make it look unquestionably awesome but there’s no disclaimer anymore.  You just see a minute of greatness and are presented the product in the best possible way.  The advertiser doesn’t even have to have a disclaimer anymore.  They’re just hoping you buy.  What do I mean by all of this?  Glad you asked.  There’s some serious fine print you should be looking for before buying any product or service you see being sold anywhere.  Here are four examples that are extremely common today.

Net Income over Revenue

“I generated over $1 million in revenue my first year!” Congratulations.  Our program has helped students generate 6 figures in revenue in their first year!”  Congratulations. Revenue means nothing.  Let me repeat that.  Revenue means absolutely nothing without context.  What kind of revenue are your competitors doing?  What are your margins?  What is your NET income?  Revenue is just how much money is generated.  It means absolutely nothing in an of itself.  If you’re a company that generates $1 million in revenue but you spent $2 million to get there is that a success?  Maybe, maybe not.  If you’re in a business where you’re expected to lose $1 million a year for the first five years before becoming profitable then perhaps those numbers are justified.  But what if you spent foolishly and those numbers represent a colossal failure?  I personally choose net income as a better barometer than revenue.  Net income is the money made after all expenses have been paid.  If someone is touting just their revenue then you should be asking them more questions.

Actual, real, growth numbers

“I grew my business 100% year over year!” Congratulations.  What does that even mean?  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  I mean, 100% is fantastic growth.  But from what starting point to what end point?  Did you make $1 in revenue last year and then $2 this year?  Because if that’s the case I’m gonna need more of an explanation.  Sure, you grew 100% but those numbers seem kind of low.  What’s behind the growth?  What’s the average growth rate in your industry?  You can’t just tout massive growth numbers.  Well, you can’t just tout them to me at least.

Awards and Accolades

This one probably pisses me off more than almost anything.  “I was the #1 real estate agent last year!” Congratulations.  “I’m a 6 time award winner!”  Yay!  Of what?  Where?  Who gives out the awards?  How many people are you competing with for said award?  How hard is it to actually get this award?  Did you pay for this award?  If a real estate agent is touting that they’re the number one real estate agent in a town with 2 agents that’s not exactly impressive.  If someone has won award that was simply the result of them paying to attend a conference is that something you should be counting on when assessing their credibility?  Blanket statements like these need to be examined further.  You’re the number one real estate broker in the country?  OK, now we’re talking.

Is this all you’re offering?

Here’s a situation you might be familiar with.  You come across some awesome content by someone on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, wherever.  You become an avid follower of this stuff because you think it provides you with some solid value.  You want to get more out of it and decide to sign up for a newsletter.  The newsletter’s pretty awesome.  You enjoy the content there.  After a little while you’re eventually told that there’s a course available if you want to learn some of the stuff not being mentioned in the newsletter.  You decide to buy the course because it’s only $199.  Not a huge investment.  You then take the course.  The course is decent.  Not the greatest thing in the world.  You learned a lot but you feel like they didn’t tell you everything to put you on your way.  Don’t fret!  When you get to the end of the course you’re pitched on this amazing program that only a select few will be chosen for.  That select program costs a whopping $5,000.  Do you buy it?

Look, I’m not saying you should buy the thing or not.  But I will say that millions of people have been duped by sales funnels like this.  And while I think some are innocent, I think there are plenty who could have avoided this quite easily.  I get it.  Sales is sales.  To get a person from point A. to buying what you truly want them to buy (the big upsell), you’ve got to truly convince them and that convincing takes time.  But for me personally?  I just think it’s off putting.  If you’re ever thinking about a course, always inquire about an upsell and if that course is “it.”

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