A few weeks ago, I saw a real estate agent post an interesting offer on a local Facebook group.
The headline read, in all caps, "LIST WITH ME & EAT FOR FREE!"
Directly underneath it, in a slightly smaller font (but still in all caps), it continued, "LIST OR BUY YOUR HOUSE WITH ME AND RECEIVE 1 YEAR'S WORTH OF MEALS AT", followed by the logo of a new Indian restaurant that had just recently opened in town.
Now, if I were to offer you, "1 Year's Worth of Free Meals", how many meals would you expect to recieve?
Keep that number in mind as you read what was written at the very bottom of the advertisement, in a mixed-case font approximately 10% the size of the headline:
"List or buy your next home with [Agent] And receive 1 meal per month for a period of 12 months (12 meals total) Maximum value allowed for each meat $100 including taxes. Total value of all 12 meals $1200 including taxes. No cash value. Some restrictions apply. Please inquire to [agent] for more details."
My eyebrows raised when I read that, unsure if the agent was intentionally trying to be deceptive with her marketing tactics or if she genuinely believed 12 meals was equal to a "year's worth".
Willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, I left a comment below the ad:
"Partnering with a local restaurant for a promotion is a really great idea, but saying you get "1 Year of Free Meals" and then have the fine print say it's actually only 1 meal per month is a really bad idea. People need to trust their real estate agents... And would you trust someone who made a seemingly great offer in bold print and then significantly limited it in the fine print? Don't do that to yourself... There are better ways to word your offer that position you more favorably."
The agent sent me a private message to thank me for my comment, then proceeded to explain that she, "would never let any clients go in blind to any offer I present", and assured me, "before they sign anything with me I let them know all the details needed."
She missed my point.
When you're a business, everything you do is a reflection of your brand.
If your product is poorly made and breaks down after just a few uses, that's your brand. If one of your employees is rude to one of your customers, that's your brand. If job applicants are treated poorly throughout your recruitment process, that's your brand. And if you say one thing in the headline of your advertisement but something different in the fine print, that's your brand too.
Everything is your brand.
And your brand is everything.