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How to Lie With Statistics

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You can manipulate statistics to prove just about any point you want to make in your copy.

A case in point: the TV commercial for Senior Lending Network, a company marketing reverse mortgages to senior citizens.

It’s a direct response spot with a strong call to action: phone the toll-free number and get a free educational video on reverse mortgages.

When you think about it, this is like a local plumber telling you, “Yes, I am a very good plumber — I get many calls from my Yellow Pages ad.”

That’s only proof that he runs a big ad. If 90% of his service calls are repeat business from satisfied customers, then THAT’S more convincing proof that he is a good plumber, because his customers are happy.

The on-camera spokesperson, actor Robert Wagner, intones in a serious voice: “over a million Americans have already called Senior Lending Network to get this important information.”

Sounds impressive until you realize that it says nothing about how many customers have actually completed transactions with Senior Lending Network for a mortgage.

What it really means is that their copywriter wrote a really persuasive TV spot with a really strong free offer.

Impressive, yes, but hardly a reason to do business with them, wouldn’t you agree?

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