Paid Sponsor…Helpful or Harmful?

We have all seen them, right? We still hear it with radio personalities. TV commercials still use this style, to an extent. They were called infomercials and they were a big deal, years ago. Today you cannot be on any social media platform without seeing someone stating they are an influencer, a paid sponsor, or are using their platform as a paid sponsor of a particular product. Then of course those who advertise their business incessantly. You know the one. You see their ads about every 5-10 posts as you scroll through your feed.

What is wrong with that you say? You are a marketer, you be promoting that kind of stuff, right? You are right. I am a marketer and that is my business, but I feel we have lost our way. We have got caught up in everything being fake. People are always showing the best in everything. I don’t know about you, but my life is not always perfect.

Recently, I started seeing old Pontiac ads and dealer promotions for various Pontiac models, on Facebook. I am not sure why. Admittedly, they are incredibly corny, but they caught my attention. Partly because I’m a car nut; partly because I grew up in the late 70s and 80s; and partly because it was a bit of nostalgia. They are also genuine. They were filmed out in the real world. Not with a green screen projecting a particular scene in the background. They were filmed at the beach, at a park, or place of business. Yes, if you look you can tell when it’s a green screen, most TV and Movies are done in a studio anymore, not on location.

Back in the day, before social media, these types of things were equivalent to infomercials. Did you enjoy infomercials more than a simple commercial? Did the star of the moment, influence you to buy? If they did, fine. That was what it was intended to do. Today, it’s the same thing, just on different (many different) platforms. That said, it’s become the norm. So much so, that it’s become incredibly annoying. Personally, it lends to less credibility.

What do I mean by less credibility? Whether it is the latest star du jour, or the latest influencer’s 15 minutes of fame, do you believe they really use the product or service they are pitching? I am sure some do, but I guess that most do not. They just collect their paycheck or free merchandise. I am going to date myself here, but if John Wayne had pitched pig shit to shine his boots, do you really think he used pig shit to shine his boots? Of course, I am being facetious, but it makes my point. Just because someone famous, or perceived to be famous, pitches a product/service, doesn’t mean they use it. I have a problem with paying people to tell others to use a product/service. You have lost all credibility with me.

I feel a more effective way to advertise a product is to simply advertise it. Good marketing and advertising will sell the product/service. You should not need someone to endorse the product. If it’s a good product people will buy it. Customer reviews are a great way to promote a product/service, in my opinion. It carries more weight than someone being paid to promote it. I am not blind to the fact that you can have bots do reviews or just plain unethical people giving false reviews. That comes with the territory. People can typically see those types of posts. As a business owner, you can address, or delete those frivolous reviews. If it’s on a platform you don’t own, you can request the review to be taken down. My point is seeing good and bad reviews give the product/service credibility, more so than a paid sponsor telling you how amazing the product is.

Another great way to promote your product/service, is just you being you. I love watching business owners talk about their business. Whether it’s promoting a product/service, or giving meaningful tips on things in their industry. That is more meaningful than paying someone to tout a product or service. Again, I’m not talking about the ones that are staged. You know where everything is perfectly staged. The backgrounds and space in general are fake. I’m talking about a genuine promotion of a product or service. Do you want the space that is going to be in the ad to be a mess and cluttered? No. Do you want to look like you just got out of bed? No, unless it is appropriate. Do you want to sound incoherent and be all over the place? No, but it doesn’t have to be scripted or sound robotic either.

Perhaps I’m old fashion, and these days I do not think that is a bad thing. In a day and age where our whole world is made up and fake, being genuine and original is more of a stand-out than going with the flow. We don’t know what is real or fake anymore. Video, pictures, backgrounds, etc can all be staged and faked. I can tell, can you?

Do you want to stand out, or do you want to be part of the pack? I prefer to stand out and do what no one else is doing. That is a good marketing strategy. The point is to catch the viewer’s attention, not annoy the living hell out of them. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your feedback.

Geoff Cummings is President of On The Level Marketing & Consulting, LLC. Successfully helping businesses with all their marketing needs by branding their businesses and keeping marketing simple and straightforward. 

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