Buyers beware when it comes to soft-sell advertising pitches made in the Treasure Valley this week.
A group from Florida is promoting a directory focused on the golf courses in the area, but the courses mentioned are not apart of the magazine. Elite Exposure Marketing, Boca Raton, has sent emails and follow-up calls to businesses making offers to discount the prices on advertising if they acted immediately and provided payment.
Dan Clark of All-Pro Pool and Spa Service received an apparent upgrade notification email, in regards to an ad reservation, he wrote back right away.
The ad was to appear in a directory for Crane Creek Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club, Plantation Country Club and Meadow Lake Village. All four are exclusive, private golf courses and facilities.
Course management was unaware of a specialized directory featuring their courses, and none was contracted to distribute the magazine.
BBB says this type of information raises red flags for business owners. Frequently advertising sales and publications present opportunities to reach unique and specialized groups. Unfortunately they also present opportunities for fraud. These companies generally work independently as middlemen between your and a publisher and work on a straight commission.
When considering advertising your business, be wary of companies or publications you are unfamiliar with or have not seen before, BBB says.
If a business decides the offer is truly a good buy and a unique opportunity to reach potential customers, get a written contract with precise details: distribution locations or circulations details, date, frequency, and final copy appearance approval.
Get sample copies of other clients’ advertising. Obtain a written guarantee of the company’s policy about cancellation or advertising misprint. Confirm the brick and mortar addresses and contact information both solicitor’s company as well as that of the publisher’s address.
Special mention should be made of phone book cover advertising. Ask how the covers will be distributed: whether by mail, door-to-door, or advertisers’ business locations. Oftentimes the advertiser is the person responsible for distribution. Don’t do business until you check out all references, confirm distribution locations, and talk to publishers. If a company claims to be affiliated with another company, be sure to verify any and all affiliations. An offer good today can wait until tomorrow.
Consider the following:
- Verify the type of organization selling the ad. Even though it might have a name that sounds charitable, when in fact the publication could be for a for-profit company.
- Do not hesitate to ask for more information about the publication. How many copies will be printed? When will it be published? Will the publication be available to the kinds of people your business wants to reach?
- If applicable, find out what part of the amount you pay for advertising will benefit the charity.
- If you decided to buy an advertisement, ask for a copy of the draft and final published version of the ad.
- If you received an invoice for advertising space without having placed an order, you are under no obligation to pay or respond to the invoice.
Also, ask questions about printed or electronic publication. There are a number of directories that publish electronic versions and no printed versions are distributed.