Don't Be Something You Are Not
In today's digital world it is tempting to add a few extras to your resume, to pad your title, to enhance the role you play in the company or the impact you have on the day to day business. Maybe you fudge the education you have or add information to appear as if you know more or do more than is reality. It makes sense, in today's world, where everyone is judging you from the safety of their computer screens, to make yourself stand out, to appear knowledgable and superior. You want to land the big customer, make yourself more legitimate or stand out in a sea of the same. The problem when you use puffery in your business, the customer will demand to get what you advertise. If you cannot deliver, you may have done more damage than if you were just honest in the first place and admitted your shortcomings.
Are you really the chief marketing officer, do you really work hand in hand with distributors, have you really closed $10M in deals in 2020, if not, be prepared to either figure out how to be those things fairly quickly or be prepared to suffer the fallout. The customer can now easily research you and your business. They know what you've done, where you've been and how you've gotten there. The world is no longer full of secrets so if you have done $10,000 in deals in 2020, not $10M it will likely become pretty clear pretty quickly that you do not have what it takes to close out those larger deals.
If the customer hires you it is because they are relying on the information you supply. They are relying on the education you claim to have and the title you hold. You mention being an expert in a field, they expect you can answer their questions truthfully and with expert knowledge. What happens if you do not. What happens if the puffery gets so out of control that the VP of marketing is just a title you have made up to sound important and you now suddenly have to explain to the client why their campaign did not work. What likely happens is they sue you for breach of contract among other things.
Your company will likely face expanded scrutiny into all claims that have been made and work you've completed. You will likely have negative reviews about the work you completed and the lack of truthfulness in conducting your business, the client may reach out to the press to discuss your poor business dealings, maybe the press is already talking about the deal and now sees you're a failure. You will likely have to answer to other clients demanding to know if the same misrepresentations happened in their case and if those misrepresentations caused a negative impact to their company. You will also likely see a downturn in business as word gets around that you are not as good as you claim to be. And let's not forget that breach of contract claim that is likely to follow.
You have to preserve your integrity and your reputation in business. Sometimes it is better to be honest and correct deficiencies than to pretend to be something you are not. A semester of law school does not make you an attorney; an assistant on a ad campaign does not make you a marketing guru; watching someone else do the task does not mean you can do it yourself. The difficulty of rebounding from the negative publicity and the shoddy business dealings may be enough to close your business or cause people not to want to engage with you.
This may seem like an odd topic for a business lawyer's blog, but the reality is that you have to protect your business from all sides. You need to make sure you have considered all of the aspects of running a business so you do not need me to clean things up for you in the future. I would not be doing justice to my clients and potential clients if I did not warn of the pitfalls of selling fake news. It is key to business to preserve your reputation and avoid costly litigation that will likely end the business before it begins. Keep in mind, if you have to use puffery, the consumer likely can recognize it and you simply sound foolish not impressive. If you find yourself in trouble, schedule a consultation today.