Slippery slope examples in advertising

How many ads or marketing campaigns have you watched where the salesperson or the vendor walks up to a prospect and makes vague or off-base statements that are not based on data or facts?

Most of us have probably heard the phrase “The salesperson is the king of deception.”

A salesperson’s job is to sell the product or service to the prospect. In the digital age, that means selling to the consumer.

Even though salespeople are paid to sell products and services, they often find themselves using a technique called “slippery slope” advertising.

What is slippery slope advertising?

Slippery slope advertising is a form of deceptive advertising where a company makes dubious claims and then makes further claims based on the results of the initial claim.

Slippery slope advertising is not a new practice and has been around for decades.

The modern version is a variation of the “sales ladder” where the company makes a series of unsubstantiated claims that eventually lead to a conclusion that the claims were correct.

Examples of slippery slope advertising include:

  • “We help you sell more in less time.”
  • “We help you generate more leads for your business.”
  • “We help you attract more new customers in less time.”
  • “We increase your sales with little effort.”

Slippery slope advertising is not about making misleading claims. It is about using misleading claims to support a conclusion that is not based on facts.

How to spot slippery slope advertising?

The easiest way to spot slippery slope advertising is just to watch how the product or service is presented.

When a company makes a deceptive claim, they often do so by making an exaggerated presentation of the product that is being sold.

For example, in the slide above, the vendor made the claim that all the products are made in the USA. The truth is that there are some made in the USA and some made overseas.

The second claim is that the products are priced correctly.

The truth is that the price point is on average higher for products made overseas. As a result, the price point can be misleading.

The third claim is that the products are superior.

The truth is that the products are generally inferior, and most customers consider them to be lower quality. It is also the case that most customers consider the products to be expensive.

The final claim is that the products are of a superior quality.

Again, the truth is that the products are generally inferior, and most customers consider them to be poor quality.

The “sales ladder” is a classic example of slippery slope advertising. It was a term coined by salespeople who used it to make their sales pitches as simple as possible.

The sales ladder was a sales technique where the salesperson promoted a product using the following formula:

  1. High-ticket item
  2. Low-ticket item
  3. High-ticket upgrade
  4. Low-ticket upgrade

The salesladder was often used to sell the “best” items.

Then, the salesperson went on to say that the high-ticket items were the best and that the low-ticket items were actually inferior.

The salesperson would then go onto to sell the high-ticket items.

In reality, the salesladder was misleading and deceptive.

It is obvious that the salesladder was deceptive because it mislead the customer from making a decision based on the information presented.

The salesladder is deceptive because the salesperson presented the information in a way that made the salesperson sound reasonable and knowledgeable.

But, the salesperson then presented the information in a way that made the customer think that the salesperson was correct.

Is the “salesladder” still used today?

Yes.

Today, the salesladder has evolved into the “slippery slope” advertising technique.

The “salesladder” is used by companies to make unsubstantiated claims and then make further claims based on the results of the initial claim. The end result is that the company makes a conclusion that is not based on facts.

The “salesladder” is one of the most common examples of slippery slope advertising, and it is easy to spot since it is based on a logical fallacy.

Even though “salesladder” is based on a logical fallacy, the practice is still prevalent.

The practice is a combination of a logical fallacy, and it is often used in marketing.

The practice is also popular with marketers because, at first glance, it appears to be true.

Companies use the “salesladder” to sell products and services using the following formula:

  1. Product
  2. Service
  3. Package
  4. Price
  5. Benefit
  6. Claim

For example, the company makes the claim that the products are better than the competition.

The truth is that the products are generally inferior and not as good as the competition.

The company would then sell the “best” products and use the salesladder to sell the “best” package that is also “lower” in price than the competition.

The customer would then be led to believe that the company made the best purchase.

The salesladder is deceptive because it mislead the customer from making a decision based on the information presented.

Is the “salesladder” always a slippery slope?

No, not always.

Companies are often successful in making sales using the “salesladder”.

A recent example occurred about a decade ago.

The company that produced products used the slippery slope technique to sell their products.

The company called their products “The Super Cars of the Future”.

The customers were encouraged to buy the “best” Super Cars of the Future and then upgraded to a better Super Car of the Future at a higher price.

The customers thought they were getting the best Super Car of the Future.

In reality, the Super Cars were generally inferior and not as good as the competition.

The company used the “salesladder” to sell their products, even though it was false and misleading.

Conclusion:

Slippery slope advertising has been around for decades. It has been used by companies to make unsubstantiated claims and then make further claims based on sales results.

Slippery slope techniques are deceptive, and this results in people making decisions based on erroneous information.

Slippery slope techniques are deceptive because they mislead the consumer from making a decision based on the information presented.

Images by Freepik

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