Laying It on Too Thick

Overselling Marketing Messages

Have you ever received one of those ridiculously effusive apologies from a company's customer service representative? For example, say you sent an email to tech support about a login problem you've been having, and the response begins:

I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you're experiencing with logging into your account. Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you experienced.

"Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you experienced." Really? With this groveling, the company is likely trying to show how much it values your business, but isn't it achieving the opposite result? A minute or two of password frustration does not merit such an over-the-top apology. It feels canned and even sarcastic. This insincerity diminishes the company's credibility with customers.
Consumers accept and even expect a certain amount of hyperbole from corporate communications, but in marketing copy, companies again can go too far and oversell their products or services. This appeal was adapted from a wedding venue website:

The Ultimate Experience package was designed to include luxury services and designer details to complete the perfect wedding day of your dreams. We've combined the vendors with upgraded products and years of experience to make sure your day includes the best. [Venue] is the perfect backdrop for an elegant, custom wedding that includes upgraded inclusions to make your wedding one your guests will never forget.

An engaged couple looking for a wedding venue will have to wade through many websites with boastful clichés such as "the perfect wedding day of your dreams" and piled-on superlatives like elegant, ultimate, and luxury. Of course, the couple will want their wedding day to be wonderful, but too much gushing about it won't connect on an emotional level and can obscure the information the couple is really seeking.

Marketing messages that cast a flattering light are well and good, but again, some dangers of overselling include:

  • diminished credibility
  • omission of useful or significant information
  • failure to make an emotional connection
  • poor differentiation

 In other words, when the message is laid on too thick, it becomes drippy and goopy.