Let’s fight vanity scams together

Let's fight vanity scams together

I’ve been intrigued by the legs Awards for sale: Not a rewarding experience has had since I posted it on July 22nd, just under a month ago.

The Ballard Agency received an award from the U.S. Local Business Association that was clearly a deceptive marketing tactic similar to the phony domain name and Yellow Pages bills that are sent in hopes your A/P department will pay them in error.

To date, there have been 22 comments from people that received an email notification of the award, thought something was fishy, then pulled up the blog post after doing a Google search.

Tim Brosnan from the Centre Stage summed up what it was like to receive the award well:

A quick visit to the USLBA Web site dispelled any excitement I might have felt about our professional theater in Greenville, SC winning a national award.

Who else in Greenville had won awards?
No answer.

What’s the history of the USLBA?
No answer.

Who runs it?
No answer.

Is there a phone number to call?
No.

Now what do we do?
Buy a plaque.

What’s the plaque cost?
Enter all your contact information to find out.

Now I have a new term to toss around at cocktail parties: “vanity scam.”

“Vanity scam” is my favorite phrase of the week.

A few takeaways:

  • Social media powers word of mouth and illuminates questionable marketing and business practices. The #1 response when Googling “US Local Business Association” is the USLBA, but #2 is my blog post. It takes seconds to reveal the truth.
  • Just because a business doesn’t participate in social media, doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about it. The USLBA hasn’t weighed in to defend their actions yet. The conversation is happening without them.
  • Together, we can make a difference.

Please share any vanity scams or other questionable marketing practices you come across. Whenever possible, I’ll post them, and we’ll do some good—together.

Where have you seen questionable marketing practices such as false advertising, bait and switch, vanity scams and such?

Comment below to share your story.

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