Does Your Company Marketing Language Create Unnecessary Risk?

May 15, 2014

When you release a new product to market it’s only natural to want to “brag” on how great it is to create interest and excitement. Phrases like The Best on the Market!, All New Design!, or Totally Unbreakable!, are thrown around all the time for a reason…they WORK on consumers.

In the world of truck towing accessories, it’s all about strength, towing capacity, problem solving and durability-the consumer wants to feel confident that the product they’re purchasing is super strong and will last. We all want to find creative ways to highlight all the stuff that sets our product apart, so we choose adjectives and phrases to entice the customer to buy.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Is the language in your marketing campaign creating unnecessary risk or potential liability for your company?

Here’s a real life example:

Montana Hitch is a premium hitch that folds under the user’s truck with the push of a button, and is meant to replace the standard factory hitch. Before we could bring it to market, it was engineered, tested and certified to meet SAE J684 Standards. The product was designed to solve towing problems, but we still had to be sure our hitch was strong and safe. Testing revealed that our hitch not only met the requirements, but exceeded them! We have one model that is rated for 20,000 lbs, but the manufacturer of the truckthat the hitch is installed on recommends not towing any loads over 12,500 lbs. Anyone picking up on where I’m going with this?

The hitch can handle more towing capacity than the truck (woo-hoo!). The hitch is “stronger than it has to be!” which is a really awesome benefit of our product and definitely brag-worthy.

We wanted to plaster it all over our marketing campaign and use it a selling point.  But we chose not to. Why?  The last thing we need is for someone to tow a load too heavy for their truck based on those numbers. If we focus on that high rating, customers might disregard the truck manufacturer’s towing recommendations-not good. In the end, we realized that although we’re proud of the towing capacity capability and would LOVE to brag about it, doing that might inadvertently encourage an uneducated truck owner to create a risky and dangerous towing scenario, something we definitely don’t want.

So what’s the solution?

For us, it was choosing other words and phrases that still convey the selling points of our product, such as “Strong, Heavy-Duty, Easy to Use”…language that gets the point across, but doesn’t require explanation or disclaimers, and doesn’t create liability issues.

No matter what type of product you’re selling, it’s wise to highlight features and benefits in such a way that doesn’t leave your company wide open to a situation that could lead to a lawsuit should somebody misuse your product or take your claims too literally. Analyze words and phrases for potential risk exposure, and of course, consult your legal team for help if you aren’t sure.

Just remember, we all love to brag, especially when we KNOW we’ve got a terrific product to sell. Just be sure that you choose your words carefully, and brag wisely.