My wife has been trying to convince me we should get an above-ground pool for our family to enjoy this summer, and was doing some research on her phone.
Suddenly, she burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" I asked.
She handed me her phone, and said, "Have a look at this one..."
I immediately saw what had caused her outburst.
"Check out the house in the background! Like someone who lives there would be looking for a tiny above-ground pool," my wife said.
"You're absolutely right," I replied, "And I know that for sure because if you look in the bottom-left corner of the photo, you can see the corner of that family's actual pool!"
We laughed again at the terrible (and terribly photoshopped) image being used to promote this product.
But this post isn't about terrible photoshopping.
It's about the importance of being authentic about who you are and what you're trying to promote.
It's obvious why the seller of that pool would want to equate the product with an aspirational lifestyle, but it's equally obvious this doctored image went too far to be credible.
And if the photo of the product was a clear exaggeration... what else might not be true?
Is the pool really as spacious as the photo makes it appear to be?
Will two adults and three children really fit into the pool with room to spare?
Is the material as strong and sturdy as the description claims?
Too many questions, and too little trust in the seller to be comfortable with the answers.
The image didn't just invite ridicule, it caused me not to trust the seller.
And in this case, it all could have been avoided by placing the above-ground pool in a more realistic backyard setting.
Making claims is a natural part of the sales process.
But if you sacrifice authenticity for style, be prepared for your audience to notice.
And perhaps to even laugh at you.