Hype and Puffery in Web 2.0

pufferyMirriam-Webster defines puffery as “exaggerated commendation especially for promotional purposes.”

As I mentioned earlier today, the manufacture of slogans and phrases are, unfortunately, central to traditional marketing theory, and I don’t sense that is about to change.

Mike Arrington says puffery is a recipe for being ignored.

For as long as I can remember, likely due to my mathematical approach to most things, I have been irritated by hype.  Even my kids know that I call out for a footnote every time I hear an ad claiming to be “America’s number one” this and that.  Not only do I ignore unsubstantiated claims, I mentally penalize the offender.

But I also know that my complaints are drowned out by decades of marketing where the lack of hype is seen as doubt.  Lots of purchases are emotional ones, and a scientific study is less emotional that an authoritative voice telling you what to do.

So can we collectively demand a higher standard in the Web 2.0 space?  Certainly Mike can as far as TechCrunch goes (and that’s not an insignificant hammer).  Sending out a reconstituted and hype infested press release as an email seeking coverage is ineffective and disrespectful to the recipient.

I’m not selling anything, but if I were, here’s how I would approach bloggers and other web authorities.  I’d simply tell them what my product does, factually and briefly state what distinguishes my product from other similar products, give them a link, and ask them to take a look.  If I wanted to go into more detail, I’d put it onsite, in a guided tour or tutorial.

Oh, and I would avoid stupid, Web 2.0 sounding names, but that’s a topic for another post.

The winners and losers get separated for many different reasons.  You only have one chance to get someone interested in your project- don’t blow it with bullshit.

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