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February 25, 2013


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Tracy Lewis

Love the nose! That picture just made my day. :)

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Tracy. I took a dozen pics by myself in my office. This was the "best". Wait... maybe that's a lie.


That nose is, of course, "heavy duty" right? :)

(or, would THAT also be a lie?)

David Meerman Scott

Joseph - Ha!! "heavy duty" - good one. Of course it is!


Add "New York Times Bestseller" to that list?? http://www.leapfrogging.com/blog/

David Meerman Scott

Mark - I've been following that story. I read the WSJ article. Thanks for pointing me to this.


"Your call is important to us. We love our customers." - sure, those things are while lies. But the customers kind of expect you to tell them. I mean, imagine if you were to turn the honesty dial to 11 and answer requests with "Sorry man, you're just one of our thousands of customers, we're trying our best here but you'll wait in line just like everybody else". It would be carnage.

So it'd be interesting to hear some suggestions of yours on the subject, if you're willing to give them?

P.S. Love your stuff. No lie.

David Meerman Scott

PlamenDDimitrov - I disagree. Saying "Your call is important to us." is just filling time on hold and annoying. Why not just tell the truth and say: "Your wait is currently six minutes. You can continue to wait or try back later."


Wait, that oil minister's wife ISN'T going to send me the $20 million? Naw - she wouldn't have asked me for my bank account number if she weren't serious.

Raúl Colón

I get very annoyed when I see companies put these things put into practice in a weak attempt to brainwash their audiences (clients or prospects).

I wonder if they see it that way. The same way everyone hates spam but some people decide to send it. I am sure the same individuals that make the decisions to publish those lies hate them as much as everyone else.

David, will you be at SXSW this year?

Rodney Goldston

Hi Dave - regarding PlamenDDimitrov comment - it's easiest enough these days, it actually has been for years, to add a piece of call center software that will allow callers to enter a phone number to receive a call from the next available agent when a line opens up. No need to wait on the line for the next available agent.

Of course this will only work for those companies large enough to be using call centers. For the rest of us - just answer the phone. See my rant on this from earlier this month http://www.rodneygoldston.com/how-to-improve-customer-service/

Many companies don't get it - every department is now part of the marketing department - especially the customer service department.

David Meerman Scott

Raul - No SXSW this year. I've gone 4 years in a row and am taking a break. If you're going, have fun!

Rodney - I haven't experienced that call back feature yet. Thanks for letting us know about it. I certainly agree that everything a company does adds to its brand.

Doug Weil

I disagree.

Lies work, but only when they are carefully targeted to appeal to the emotional needs of the target audience. Likewise, I believe you are seriously underestimating the portion of any given audience that is gullible -- if it were as small as you suggest, not even an Internet roboscammer would bother with the relatively cost-free, automated effort required to unearth them.

One in million? I'd say it's more like one in five, with the trend toward the gullible share expanding. By all available evidence, the public at large is getting more gullible, not less. I would take this one step further and say that even among the remaining non-gullible, recognized lies are often nonetheless embraced because they reinforce pre-existing sympathies.

We either can't recognize lies for what they are -- or we won't.

The fact is, lies work, and they will continue to succeed so long as the audience hearing the lies has been appropriately conditioned to believing them and that they find emotional comfort in hearing them and having them repeated.

The moral tone of any organization or group comes from the top, and there's no higher level than the Presidency in the US. The President, among his many other roles, sets the moral tone for the country, and the recent track record, over the past couple of decades but particularly over the last four years, demonstrates that lying is a perfectly acceptable means to a political end. Of course, this is not a new trend, but it is one that is becoming more formalized and more actively orchestrated.

So, I would expect that use of lies in marketing and advertising to increase, not decrease, for the simple reason that lying works and we are treated to daily demonstrations of that fact.

Most marketing reflects existing values rather than trying to redefine new values, particularly at the macro level. Internet and social media will not retard the trend toward rewarding lies, but rather those media will be used to prepare target audiences for the lies to come and reinforce and "validate" them once delivered. By no means will marketing "lies" come to an end -- they will become more artful and more sophisticated, because they work and are rewarded.

The clear trend in our society is toward more lies, less truth.

Damned lies? Not anymore.

David Meerman Scott

Doug -

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I do agree that one in a million is too low and I also agree that people find emotional comfort in hearing lies and having them repeated.

I do hope that we're not going to see lying increase. And I'm adamant that there is a place for truthfulness in society. People and companies that don't resort to lying have an advantage in my opinion.


Chad Stewart


There is one thing you have to consider. While lies work in the short run, real businesses don't flourish on the power of a slew of one-time customers.

You can't rip off everyone who you do business with - especially in this age of blogging, social media and online reviews. Every consumer has a voice.

It's only a matter of time before the companies whose delivery doesn't match the promise will find that there's simply no one left to sucker in.

Great post David!


Lies may work, but it's a question of whether they are ethical, or if they do anything good for the company's integrity.

Doug Weil

I hope you guys are right that companies have sufficient incentives from the marketplace to be truthful, but my concern is that as rewarded lies become more common on the public stage, the incentives to skirt the truth will grow.

The sort of lying that I would expect to see more of is something like overpromising on after-sale support or warranties on product suitability or durability. Maybe you can think of these as "small print" lies ("The large print giveth, the small print taketh away..."), and the sort of thing that help elevate a message in the short term with minimal long-term risk.

Take a company like Apple, for example. While Siri is wonderful and remarkable functionality, by most accounts that I've read in the computer press (I'm an Android user), when it was rolled out it was quite rough around the edges. But Apple commercials at the time for Siri (and much of their product placement) showed the product working perfectly and (more importantly) intuitively every single time.

Maybe that's not a outright lie, but it is a highly artful misrepresentation of the reality of using the product. I think Apple gets away with the misrepresentation, in part because they call Siri a beta (I suspect a good chunk of the Apple target market isn't clear on what that means until later) and in part because the overall value provided by an iPhone is excellent.

But that doesn't counter the fact that Apple has knowingly mislead the market about the performance of their product when it comes to voice control. Apple can get away with that lie, because they gain more than they lose, particularly in creating new demand and new prestige for its brand.

As calculated risks go, it's a pretty good one, and it's the sort of thing I would expect to be used more aggressively in the future.

Thanks for the comments.

Nancy - Release Liners

I feel like you're lying to us, due to your Pinocchio nose there! Just kidding! But I would tend to think that people who read these things don't believe them. It's like hearing "#1 movie in America" for every movie that comes out. We all know it's not true. Whether you allow it to affect your decision or not is on you at that point. Good read!

David Meerman Scott

I agree with the Siri thing, Doug. When I used it, the app was terrible!

John Running

Looking so funny nose. That picture just made me happy !!

Plumber in Seattle

I love this post David. I agree with the Siri thing too!


Hi Dave,

I wonder if you've ever come across this problem.

What if the true description of a product or service "sounds like" a lie? In other words, it's so different from the personal experience of most people that they tend to dismiss it as a scam?

Then the other problem is when you attempt to describe it in a way that "sounds believable," it doesn't come across as unique enough to attract customers because the market is already dominated by the old guard with established customers.

David Meerman Scott

Steve - I have noticed that "sounds like a lie" thing, particularly when I skim something quickly. I still think honesty over time builds long term customers.

Sheetal Sharma

Lies are a part of marketing business, one look at the latest claims of marketers be it on television or internet, anyone can make out that the claims and pitches are laced with lies, however i think marketers specially in order to survive the knife of cut throat competition promises deals which offer client satisfaction and delight.I work for a It solution provider company Synechron technologies where all the claims made by the company are in line with the core values of company and offer realistic solutions.

Cygnis Media

David you look different and so funny as well ...

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