Does sleazy marketing make you wanna run for the hills?
Are you frustrated by all the manipulative sales techniques that keep showing up in your email inbox? Do you ever wonder if there’s an easier, more compassionate way to warm up your leads and sell your offers?
I have good news, friend! YES! Sales can be so much simpler and so much more human than we’ve been taught.
Today I want to tell you about the coolest ethical persuasion resource I’ve found. It’s called The TARES Test!
The TARES Test is a simple, 5-step ethical persuasion evaluation tool. It was created by Sherry Baker and David L. Martinson in 2001.
I use this test whenever I plan a new piece of marketing content, write sales copy, or create a new offer. The concept is so easy to understand that it quickly become second nature to me!
As you might have guessed, TARES is an acronym. To use it, you need to know what it stands for.
T - TRUTHFULNESS OF THE MESSAGE
Your message isn't deceitful, info is not distorted, solid evidence isn't withheld or committed, and consumers aren't led astray. Facts are accurate and true.
A - AUTHENTICITY OF THE PERSUADER
You genuinely believe in the offer you are selling and would be willing to vouch for it without reservation, even to your loved ones. You are loyal to telling the truth, not the offer.
R - RESPECT FOR THE PERSON YOU ARE PERSUADING
You treat consumers like human beings instead of means to an end. You value their dignity whether they purchase or not.
E - EQUITY OF THE APPEAL
Your persuasive techniques are fair to the people you are trying to persuade. You don't target vulnerable populations using "insider" knowledge, but instead level the playing field of information so everyone can make a wise, reasonable choice.
S - SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE COMMON GOOD
You understand that your marketing choices impact your greater community, and that you share in the responsibility of making your industry a safe place for everyone. You value caring for others over profitability and this is reflected in your persuasion choices.
If your marketing content passes the 5 pillar test, you're good to go!
Practical Ways to Know if You're Selling Ethically
The TARES Test is already pretty simple but sometimes it's helpful to talk about strategy in a more conversational way.
So to put legs on that concept, I've written up a list of reflection questions you can ask yourself to practically evaluate your marketing content, offers, and launches before you share them with your audience.
Evaluating Your Marketing Content
- Have I provided true value to my audience with this piece of marketing?
- Are there any areas where I have been a bit manipulative?
- Am I stretching the truth or overselling the results of working with me?
- Do I really believe in what I’m selling or persuading my audience to do, and would I say the same thing to a loved one?
- Have I treated my readers as human beings with hearts, hopes, needs, and fears?
- Have I manipulated a vulnerable population without realizing it? How can I level the playing field between us so they have the same information as I do before making their decision?
- Have I omitted important facts anywhere, or lied outright about something?
- Do my persuasive techniques, email sequence, and offerings contribute to building a better world... or do they just serve me?
Evaluating Your Offers and Launches
- Does this offer make the world better or is it destructive, harmful, or discriminatory?
- Does my offer mislead someone to believe something dangerous (i.e., "anyone can make six figures" or "anyone can achieve overnight weight loss results") as if privilege and differing circumstances don't exist?
- Have I publicly listed pricing options for this offer on my website so any potential customer can find it? To learn more about why I believe public pricing is so important, check out this post.
- Am I truly providing value or did I slap something shoddy together just because I wanted a quick cash injection? Releasing something quickly is not the issue, releasing a weak-sauce offer is.
- Does this offer contain my best expertise or does it hide important information to "tease" customers into purchasing more from me?
- Did I include enough "teaching" where it was needed, so customers understand what my offer is and how to do the things I'm telling them to do?
- Did I tell my customers about my price early enough prior to launch so they could be prepared and save up, or did I blindside them on the day of launch?
- Does my launch "doors open" length give my customers enough time to make a wise, informed decision based on the cost of my offer? Is my countdown timer limit appropriate to the cost?
- Is this launch rushed and sloppy, or have I put effort and value into it to serve my clients well?
- Does my launch content include enough info for customers to accurately understand my offering, what it includes, and if it’s right for them before they make a purchase?
If these questions bring up something in your marketing content that makes you pause, don't beat yourself up! Take time to process and make revisions as needed. We're all learning how to do better and be better!