How to Be an Honest Business in a Sea of Fake Advertising

Aug 3, 2023

IBA, as the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is firmly established as a respected professional service firm in the legal, accounting, banking, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, and financial planning communities.  Periodically, we will post guest blogs from professionals with knowledge to share for the good of owners of privately held companies & family-owned businesses. The following blog article has been provided by Riley Jade.

How to Be an Honest Business in a Sea of Fake Advertising

Standing out from the crowd can be challenging in a world saturated with businesses selling various products and services. As such, advertising is crucial for marketing what you offer to consumers, building brand awareness and identity in the process. However, it’s not always an honest practice. Fake advertising involves omitting information or exaggerating claims and messages regarding products or services, misleading consumers into purchasing something. While this can lead to more sales and profits, people are becoming more aware of false ads and calling them out. Digiday notes that even more prominent names on the market, such as luxury hair care brand Olaplex, aren’t immune to these complaints, and many instances like these have led to lawsuits. It can be tempting to dramatize or remove certain details from your ads to gain more attention, but being truthful will be more beneficial and satisfying in the long run. Here’s how to be an honest business in a sea of fake advertising.

Avoid Advertising on Fake News Websites
Fake news and fake advertising often go hand-in-hand. Fake news uses clickbait headlines and sensationalist stories that have a high chance of going viral and starting discussions online, making these articles seem truer. Fake adverts drive traffic to the content and use bold claims or shocking statements to direct users to the website. A write-up by Ayima on fake advertisements points out that these adverts are very easy to make and often slip through the net of social networks and websites. Because they often look like actual adverts, it becomes harder to distinguish them as false. If you use the help of a third-party specialist, you might be at risk of having your ads placed on fake news websites alongside fake adverts. Though you may be creating authentic material, the sites your adverts are associated with can harm your brand reputation. Be careful where you place your ads and who you partner with to avoid getting mixed up with false news and advertising.

Strive for Authenticity
With so much fake advertising and content online that’s exaggerated and misleading, consumers are looking for authentic and down-to-earth marketing that is honest in its claims. Forbes’ insights on brand authenticity note that younger generations, in particular, prefer real and organic brands that align with their values. They’re more likely to view a business positively if they promote a social cause. However, some brands take advantage of this, claiming that products are eco-friendly or inclusive, even though that isn’t true. This only misleads customers and damages a business’s reputation. The easiest way to build brand authenticity is to be authentic. Make your vision and values known to consumers, and don’t try to label your product as something it is not. When creating adverts, be truthful about what the product does, how it reflects what your brand stands for, and how it can serve your intended audience. You won’t need bold statements and too-good-to-be-true promises to drive views and sales; consumers will come to you on their own through your honesty.

Be Careful with Messaging
The statements, claims, and promises you put on your adverts are crucial, and wording is critical in pointing out the positives. The line between highlighting the good parts of your products and lying about reality can easily be blurred. Overexaggerating, making sweeping statements, minimizing essential effects, and more can easily mislead and confuse people looking for something your product cannot give. There’s no harm in drawing attention to the benefits by using terms like “all-natural, “eco-friendly,” “better tasting,” and the like, but make sure you have the facts to back these claims up. When consumers can verify these statements for themselves, that also contributes to your marketing strategy when people spread the word about a genuine product.

Advertising is critical in today’s business landscape and helps your brand gain attention. However, dishonesty in practice can lead to more bad than good, even if it yields traffic and sales initially. As IBA’s “Motivating Forces in Life & Entrepreneurship” post details, the desire for recognition is not uncommon, even in business. But it can easily veer towards falsifying the truth for attention. Being an honest business may not bring about results quickly, but real growth based on authenticity and quality can make all the difference.

Article contributed by Riley Jade

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.