Marketing that is misleading or deceptive is poor business practice. Not only will misleading marketing cause distrust, but it will also damage your company’s reputation. While the following can be used legitimately, here are a few of the top culprits that can often make marketing messages appear misleading:

* Free. While the word “free” may grab attention, it should always be followed by detailed information about the offer to ensure the marketing message isn’t misleading. For example, if your promotion highlights a “free gift bag,” be sure to include expanded details if necessary regarding how to acquire the free gift, such as “free gift bag with $50 purchase.”

* Up to… Marketing messages that say “up to XX percent off” are often misleading and cause disappointment amongst customers who arrive for a sale and find very few items at the advertised XX percent discount. Not only can a false impression annoy customers, but it will also make them leery of future sales and promotions.

* Limited Time Offer. Sales and limited time offers are legit; however, low tactics to fake time sensitivity are not. For example, if your website says “offer ends at midnight tonight” (no matter which day a customer sees it on), those who rush to buy will feel cheated when they return to the site later and see the identical promotion. A legitimate sale deadline will make customers feel more confident with their purchases.

There is no need to avoid these words entirely when promoting your business or special offers. Just remember to use clarity in your messaging. Honest, straightforward communications increase customer retention and loyalty, which also means more profits for you.