Are You Catfishing Your Customers? Don't break the hearts of your clients by pretending to offer something better than what you really have.

By Stacey Alcorn

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a catfish is a person who pretends to be someone he (or she) is not, using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

MTV has created a show around the phenomenon as apparently millions of singles have been duped online by believing that the person they are cajoling with is everything they are cracked up to be.

Those who've tuned in to the show know it's painful to watch as people have their hearts broken when they realize that the person they've been interacting with online has no resemblance to the actual person behind the facade. The question for entrepreneurs is this, Are you catfishing your customers?

Are you breaking the hearts of your customers by pretending to offer something better than what you really have? Are you hiding dirty little secrets about your company or outright fibbing about your value proposition? Is your company everything you purport it to be in your advertising, social media and marketing or is it something else altogether? Massive empires cannot be built by catfishing your clients.

Here are three ways to ensure you don't catfish your customers:

Related: 5 Sure-Footed Steps Toward Earning Respect and Loyalty as a New Entrepreneur

1. Evaluate your promises

When was the last time you analyzed your advertising, marketing pieces, and social media posts? Pull together your team and make a catalog of the promises you make about your company such as providing fast service or offering less expensive or high quality products. You make promises about your company every day. Evaluate each promise and be honest about whether you follow through or whether you are catfishing customers.

2. Overdeliver.

There's a lot to be said for under promising your value proposition. By under promising, you have the potential to create massive social media buzz when your customers are delighted by the unexpected value proposition received once they choose you. When your customers rave about their experience with your company and consequently when they market for you, catfishing is impossible because your marketing is no longer in your hands, as you have confidently placed it into those of your raving fans.

Related: Gaining Customers' Trust Can Be Your Checkmate

3. Feedback.

The most effective way to ensure that you are not catfishing is to poll your customers. Inquire about their experience with your business. One simple question can assist you in evaluating whether you're the real deal when it comes to your promises. Ask every customer, "Was your experience what you expected based on our promises?"

If the answer is no, it's time to evaluate the promises you make as compared to the value you offer. Sometimes business owners don't even realize they are catfishing. They believe that what they are marketing online is the true. That's why taking a look at the world through the customers' eyes can be a game changer. They have the unique ability to interact with your business in a way in which you can't -- as a customer.

Here's the bottom line; evaluate promises, overdeliver and listen to feedback and you won't find yourself in a predicament where your business is responsible for catfishing customers. Empires are built on honesty and authenticity. Your business doesn't have to be perfect -- just real.

Related: The Savvy Business Owner's Guide to Honesty Via Social Media

Stacey Alcorn

Author and Entrepreneur

Stacey Alcorn is CEO of Boston-based Laer Realty Partners.  She owns and operates several businesses in the Boston area including a consulting firm, a law firm and a fashion line. She is the author of REACH! -- Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence.

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