opinion

Is It True? Or Is It Exaggerated Marketing Spin?

Is It True? Or Is It Exaggerated Marketing Spin?

If Edward R. Murrow were still alive in 2017, he would no doubt be shocked at how communications and technology have changed. The famous broadcast journalist, who died in 1965made his mark in an era of AM radio, physical newspapers and black-and-white television.

Imagine Murrow’s shock upon seeing a rapidly evolving digital landscape in which music is stored on a micro pod that attaches to your body, books are consumed via small flat screens that can fit in your bag, and one can purchase everything from cosmetics to furniture to vacuum cleaners via a small portable mini-computer known as a smartphone.

In this new digital world, one is bombarded with a wide variety of information, opinions, spin and propaganda — and savvy businesses and consumers often find themselves asking, ‘Is it true?’

In this new digital world, one is bombarded with a wide variety of information, opinions, spin and propaganda — and savvy businesses and consumers often find themselves asking, “Is it true?”

Plowing through so much spin can be challenging. If a product is being sold online — whether it’s computer software or household cleaners — one can find hundreds or even thousands of reviews ranging from scathing to glowing to lukewarm. One review posted on Amazon might exalt the product as amazing, while the next will dismiss it as a complete disappointment. After reading a variety of reviews, consumers might still be unsure what to believe.

With politics, similarly, one can easily find a wide range of commentary being sold as “news.” In Murrow’s day, there was no such thing as 24-hour cable news, political websites or Twitter and Instagram. But today, one can find conservative analysis, as well as liberal analysis, delivered around the clock, on their preferred news channel.

For the sake of convenience, it can be easy to embrace news sources or online product reviews that validate opinions one already holds. Liberals can watch MSNBC and set bookmarks in Safari or Google Chrome that take them directly to Mother Jones, Salon, Daily Kos and other liberal websites; conservatives can have their views validated by Fox News or right-leaning websites such as Breitbart, Newsmax, Townhall and the Drudge Report. Even when shopping online, consumers can seek validation in the positive reviews of products they were likely to buy anyways.

As a consumer and as an executive, I personally feel conflicted by the barrage of nonstop spin that I am exposed to in this digital age. And when I am analyzing all this information, I have to tell myself, “Hang on: look at the facts. Look at the data. Does this product deliver what it claims to?”

I ask myself, “Is it true?”

The smart consumer or businessperson should not become overly cynical, as cynicism can be self-defeating. But, a certain amount of skepticism can be healthy in order to determine whether a product delivers what it says. That also applies to the vast world of online payment processing.

Online merchants have numerous options when choosing a payment services provider. Because online payment processing is so competitive and such a crowded field, processors often make grandiose claims in the hope of standing out. When merchants are choosing a processor, they must conduct a thorough cost/benefit analysis of provider’s offering, in order to assess whether or not the processor can meet their needs.

If a payment services provider offers a particular rate, it is important for merchants to ask as many questions as possible and try to understand what they are truly receiving for that rate. At first, an initial rate quote might look like a bargain. But does the processor really meet all of the company’s needs? Exactly how many services are merchants getting for their money?

If processors are promising to deliver X, Y and Z … is it true? — or is it exaggerated marketing spin? The more questions that merchants ask and the more they analyze, the more likely they will be to find a payment services provider that truly helps their business grow.

When choosing a bank, consumers often have to read the fine print. A bank might offer, “free checking,” but … is it true? The fine print might reveal that the checking account is only “free” if one maintains a balance of $1,000 or more.

Or, a bank that advertises “unlimited ATM use without fees” is really saying that in order to avoid ATM fees, one must exclusively use that bank’s ATMs. If a consumer has an account with Bank A but uses Bank B’s ATM, there are likely to be two fees: one from Bank A, another from Bank B. Similarly, with online payment processors, merchants must read as much fine print as possible to understand what is really being offered.

Online merchants who want to maximize their profits need to think globally and understand the billing and payment needs of different countries. Can a payment services provider really offer billing in as many different currencies and languages as possible? Does a provider really offer merchants skillful customer service in many different parts of the world?

Consumers around the world like to be billed in their own currencies with their own payment methods in their own languages. If a payment services provider insists it can help merchants close the deal whether a consumer is based in New Zealand, Brazil, Germany or the Czech Republic, can they really deliver? Can a processor really make it easy for a merchant in the U.S. to offer a Japanese-based consumer billing in yen, customer service in Japanese and billing in their preferred payment method? Is it true?

Technology has always evolved, but as we approach 2020, it is evolving at a much more rapid pace than it was in the 20th century. Even the mobile devices, operating systems and software programs that were exalted as cutting-edge and innovative in 2007 or 2008 are considered antiquated by today’s standards. In a crowded digital marketplace, the barrage of opinions, spin and propaganda isn’t likely to become less deafening anytime soon.

Remaining well-informed will continue to be a challenge for entrepreneurs who are earning their living online. However, cutting through all the noise and operating a successful online business is certainly doable, and choosing the right payment services provider can be one of the best ways to make that happen.

Cynicism is unproductive and demotivating, but a good dose of skepticism can empower the right questions, which can lead to the truth. Ask yourself, is it true?

Gary Jackson, managing vice president of sales at CCBill, brings nearly two decades of experience in the online media and commerce markets to the industry. Since joining CCBill in 2006, he has been a champion for CCBill’s business expansion for merchants and partners of CCBill, as indicated by the launch of a number of pioneering software innovations and traffic tools, including FlexForms, Merchant Connect, Integration Partners and the industry’s first stored payment service, CCBill Pay.

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