by Tom Ruwitch
This subject line in my inbox caught my eye the other day:
“Uncle Sam helps pay for websites”
That’s cool, I thought. A new tax credit? Federal grant programs for small businesses? I need to learn more.
I opened the email and was greeted by this headline in bold, red letters: “Uncle Sam Will Help Pay for Your New Website (and Your Survey Project, Too)”
I was still intrigued so, of course, I kept reading...
“The end of the year is right around the corner and it’s time to think about taxable income and potential deductions. There is no better time to invest in the future of your business than now!”
Then...no more tax talk. Just a marketing company’s pitch for website development and other services.
I emailed the guy who sent it and said, “Sorry if I’m being dense... But how does the government help pay for websites? Is there some new tax deduction I don’t know about?”
He replied, “No, just standard marketing deductions that you get for business expenses. See your tax guy for the full scoop.”
He included one of those smiley-face emojis for good measure.
I’m not smiling.
Uncle Sam doesn’t pay for website...or surveys...or anything else this guy is pitching.
This guy knows that. So why did he say otherwise?
Just guessing here, but maybe he bent the truth because he wanted me to open his email.
Maybe he implied something that wasn’t so because he wanted me to read past the headline.
Maybe he wrote a big, red, false headline because he wanted me to read to the part where he pitched his products and services.
What do you think?
Here’s what I think: I’m not buying what he’s pitching.
This is a recurring theme in this column: You don’t need to trick me to get my attention.
If you trick me, you’ll lose my trust and blow the sale.
By the way, I don’t need to “see my tax guy to get the whole scoop” on how my marketing spend affects my taxes.
I emailed the guy back to tell him: “The only ‘deduction’ in taxes results if your net income goes down. Isn’t the point of the marketing investment to generate greater profit?”
His reply: “Good point”
He didn’t add a smiley face this time.
Maybe he should send an email with the subject line, “Hire me. Reduce profits. Shrink taxes.”
I doubt he’ll do it, though. His open rate would plummet.
Tom Ruwitch is the president and founder of MarketVolt, an interactive marketing firm. For more business-building marketing resources by Tom Ruwitch, go to MarketVolt.com/resources