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Marketing spin – statistics

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Friday April 27, 2007 )

I love statistics, they provide all sorts of interesting and useful information; but when statistics are used in conjunction with promotional blurbs for products and services claiming to boost your sales, bear in mind the old saying: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”

For example, let’s say someone is marketing Product X and they make a claim like so:

“After purchasing product X, Fred Bloggs of experienced 300% sales growth in the first week!”

What you won’t be told is that Fred’s sales the week before were a total of 1, and that while in that first week he did achieve 4, and it’s gone back to 1 ever since. Or perhaps Fred’s site achieved short term popularity through other means not related to the product at all – it was just coincidence; but Fred’s getting some sort of kickback from the Product X company for allowing that statement to be used. Fred may not even be aware that the sudden good fortune was coincidental, or if it was the tool that helped, it may only work on a very small scale within a small sector.

The statement made isn’t a lie, but it’s deliberately misleading as it’s seeking to relay a certain impression. It also works on the premise that if you buy Product X and don’t triple your perhaps already healthy sales, then you’re doing something wrong and you’re a failure, because Fred was able to do it; as was Tom and Julie. This sense of “failure” may even discourage you from seeking the “iron clad, 100% money back guarantee” that was offered.

Turning sales of 100 units into 400 units is a little more challenging that boosting it from 1 to 4 :)

I’m certainly not saying that in all cases where these sorts of spiels are used this is what occurs; but it does happen and it’s just something to be wary of before purchasing software and services that make big claims – dig around more, ask questions. If you do buy it and it doesn’t work for you; go for the refund that was offered.

It’s challenging enough making a buck online without throwing good money and time away on junk that simply doesn’t work.


Creating need – the inner circle strategy


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