Recently I experienced something that I’m sure everyone who has ever used the internet for more than e-mails has come across; the con of Manipulating Hyperlinks.
You know what I’m talking about. That shiny blue or red hyperlink embedded in the article of the blog your reading which you clicked on in order to follow the rabbit trail to what you naively believed was yet more of the same.
If this had been an ad in the newspaper, or an insert in your favorite magazine, it would have been called a ‘leader’: an advertisement worded in such a way as to cause the unsuspecting consumer to shop ‘here’ to get the best prices. But when you arrived you would have discovered that the reality was something quite different (I’m sorry Ms but we seem to be all sold out>we don’t do rain checks>but we do have this other one for only $19.99 more>or yes and we take all major credit cards).
And we all know how that turned out. A closet full of hats, shirts and electronic gadgets that weren’t nearly as impressive when you got them home as they were when you bought them.
Well I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but I’ve been in sales long enough (more than thirty years) to know when something is a shame and when it’s not. But on this occasion, I got suckered in by a blatant lie. Not a slight of hand lie. Not a “Click Here – Read This – And Give Me $29.99” lie.
This was far cleverer than that. No, this Manipulator of Words, this Twister of Truth and Purveyor of Purse Strings told me up front that the Webinar and all information contained within, was Free and that the only investment required was my time, pencil and the paper I would need to take notes on.
After siphoning off more than an hour of my time with personal testimony and sketchy outlines of what the event was all about, he then lets the Con pop out of the Box with, Would you expect a surgeon to spend all that money on medical school and then operate on you for free or a lawyer to invest all those years in law school and then take your case for nothing?
I’m not sure whether I took the five seconds needed to actually exit the site or if I was so angry that I simply hit the ‘off’ button on the computer. Whatever exit move I used, the result was the same. A simmering anger that this person used their influence with the first blog site as a means of suckering me (and other’) into their ‘Acquire My Knowledge For Free’ scam.
Now you might be thinking, “Why is she getting all worked up over something that happens all the time?”
You mean it’s not a big deal to fraudulently lead some one on? That I shouldn’t be upset because someone lied to me in order to lure into their monetary scam with the promise of Free Information from a person who claims to be a frequent guest blogger on some well-known site such as Copy Blogger (and that now calls into question the integrity of that site as well)?
Well I’ve seen enough manipulative advertising that I probably shouldn’t have been taken in. But the point isn’t whether I should or should not have seen past the scam, but that there are people out there who are using the integrity of someone else’s blog, article or website as a vehicle to exploit others.
From 2003 until 2011 I worked for a company who contracted with Costco to sell Hunter Douglas Window Treatments. (Now for those hand full of people who have either never heard of Costco or are not close enough to shop in one, they are currently the largest warehouse chain in the United States, and as of July 2011 the seventh largest in the world.)
Founded in 1983 in Kirkland, Washington by James (Jim) Sinegal and Jeffrey H. Brotman, the company set a precedent for sales and customer service by making sure that the products they sold were of the highest quality, at the best prices and that everything they did modeled the highest sales and customer service standards in the nation (if not the world). For more than eight years I watched Costco repeatedly demand (and get) the same quality customer care and service from its vendor’s and contractors as it demanded of itself.
One of the most amazing things I learned during that time was that companies like Costco and Hunter Douglas, who made integrity and honesty a part of their core values (instead of the weight and size of their member’s wallets), were companies that were going to go through one of the worst recessions in American history and come out the other side not only financially solvent, but with better standards of excellence than when they first started.
Time and time again Costco looked for better ways to sell their products in a manner which demonstrated not only a higher level of honesty (if you promised the customer you would deliver the goods on Tuesday – it would be best if it arrived on Sunday [Monday at the latest]) but how to improve their overall selling techniques to reflect a measure of integrity that would result in memberships for life. (A Costco member is one of the most loyal people you will ever meet.)
Costco set the bar for You say what you mean, and You do what you say, so high that I have yet to see another chain beat them (That isn’t to say that other companies don’t have good customer service or that they are disreputable in the way they market and sell their products. Only that, in my opinion, the measure used by Costco surpasses them all.) , and that it is not Ok to tell the member one thing and do something else.
They repeatedly demonstrate that long-term growth and success is about building a relationship of trust and integrity with its member’s that in turn, empowers them with an extraordinary sense of well-being and trust in the company.
Costco believes that to even imply that a product or service might perform in a particular manner, actually then gives the member the right to demand that it do so.
So my observation is this, if these two companies did not have to use ‘Leader’s’, manipulation and false advertising to lure or dupe their customer’s and member’s into buy their goods and services, then why should you or I.
Being honest and marketing our goods and services with the highest levels of integrity may mean that it will take us a little longer to acquire our first million, but in the long run, we will still be on the internet, enjoying customer loyalty and credibility long after the shyster’s of this world have come to the end of their quota of gullible audiences.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer