A Short Rant on Overpromising

Every day we are bombarded with hundred of ads promising to solve our deepest worries, some sincere and some ludicrous. Have wrinkles? Don’t worry, we can solve that! Need a loan? Sure thing, we’ve got you covered! Need a new spouse? Oh boy do we have a solution for you! All you need to do is sign up for a monthly payment of $99.99 and your problems will immediately disappear, guaranteed.

Many ads don’t just promise to solve your problems; they also promise to solve them immediately, right here right here. They sound good and make us want to buy the advertised products but there’s one big problem: they overpromise and under-deliver. We’ve all heard jingles along the lines of “Buy now and never again worry about your body weight” and “You want it, and you want it now” and so we buy but quickly discover that the products fail to deliver the promised results.


if there’s a large discrepancy between what the product could actually do and what was promised it, then to “overpromise” is to “deceive”.

Overpromising is a marketing technique used to attract more viewers and engage more people to purchase the advertised product. Overpromises manipulate customers’ trust by telling them how great the product is despite knowing it’s not nearly as good as claimed. Some people say that “overpromising” is the same as “exaggerating” and so it shouldn’t be so bad, but I think that if there’s a large discrepancy between what the product could actually do and what was promised it, then to “overpromise” is to “deceive”.

Here are some common sources of overpromises:

  • Clickbait titles, such as “This one man can save the world” and “This girl did something nobody has ever done before”. These titles are certainly catchy but more often than not, the quality of their articles don’t live up the expectations set by their titles
  • Pompous self-help articles. I support self-development and the pursuit to grow. However, I don’t enjoy reading articles that start with titles like “Do This Hack and You Will Become a Millionaire” or “This Single Trick will Make You Successful” because the advice, although occasionally reasonable, is usually one-sided, too exaggerated, or simply impractical. I would rather read from Steven Covey, Jack Canfield, or Jim Rohn – people who actually know what they’re talking about – than a snobby article about success
  • Resumes. I support putting our best foot forwards and polishing the way we phrase our accomplishments; however, it’s extremely annoying to read an overly-exaggerated resume. Please don’t write “Proficient in C++” if one has never heard of templates before, or “Excellent with Linux” if the only Linux experience come from a 30-minute school lab, and above all, for the love of Mother Earth, please don’t self-proclaim to be a “Guru at Technology X” unless others truly believe you are one. Do put your best foot forwards when writing a resume, but please make sure that it’s still your foot
  • Grossly hyped exaggeration. “Our product is ground-breaking and innovative. It is the future of customer billing”…..uhhh, I’m not so sure about that, it looks like another advertising platform; “Our AI uses bleeding edge technology so that it can build any software on its own”……uhhhh, I understand you work in marketing but can I speak to someone from engineering instead? (not trying to insult marketers!); “The end goal is to change the world by doing X, Y, Z!”……uhhhh, that sounds nice but didn’t you tell me last week that your real end goal was to get investors, IPO, become rich, and then quit the company?

I’ll stop my rant now. What I’m trying to say is: don’t overpromise when you know you won’t be delivering the promise. And if we do accidentally overpromise, at least put the effort to try to deliver through.

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