Marketing Shenanigans

Something that I talk about in my training is “inflated marketing claims”.

I’ve been a professional student of marketing for over 20 years, and have been exposed to some outright dirty and disgusting tactics. It’s been kind of a love/hate experience with this. On one hand, I love marketing because it helps good products, services, and movements get exposure - and some techniques JUST WORK. On the other hand, I’ve become jaded to the manipulative tactics that are overly misused and abused and victimize unsuspecting people on the buying end.

But I don’t play that game around here.

My promise is to give it to you straight.

I am a real person, and I’ll do my best to give you as much value as I can before you ever make a purchase from me. So that when you finally do, you will feel good about it because it was an educated decision.

If you have questions I will answer them (within reason).

And if any of my courses or services are not for you, then I’m not going to manipulate you into buying them.

So in this lesson, I will go over some of these shenanigans, what they mean for you, and how you can identify when they are being played on you so that you don’t buy into them.

As Public Enemy says:

“Don’t believe the hype”

This is going to piss someone off, so let’s get at it in no particular order of importance…

  1. The Hot Shot
  2. Marketer Math
  3. Our Secret Club
  4. The Fear Monger(s)
  5. Ivory Tower Language
  6. One Click Solutions
  7. Problem creators, that solve the problem.
  8. Fake Testimonials
  9. Fake Social Media Followings
  10. Robo Clicks
  11. False Scarcity
  12. The Bait and Switch

The Hot Shot

This one by far has to be the one I find the most entertaining to laugh at.

It’s the guy who shows up in the videos wearing his fancy watch, standing next to his sports car or jet, surrounded by beautiful women, and he tells you how he was once a drug addict on the street {{or insert extremely difficult life situation}} - but now he’s a rockstar {{insert life accomplishment}}.

They always finish #1, and hang with the creme de la creme.

A business professional.

The most interesting man in the world.

He’s got it all figured out, and wants to tell you how to do it, for only $37.

I understand that there are some guys and gals out there that REALLY DO live that lifestyle, but this kind of marketing is doing nothing more than selling you the HOPE and DREAM that you can be just like them.

And it’s easy, man!

The hero’s journey is an underlying theme in most story telling and marketing. And it works. We love stories. I use it in my marketing too because I really have had life trials that I can help others overcome.

We all have.

Just keep it real, and don’t be fooled by the rented lifestyle and movie set marketing guru that sells you crap that you’ll never use, or that you’ll forget about and let your credit card get dinged every month.

Marketer Math

That brings me to marketer math. I can not emphasize how important it is to run your numbers thoroughly. I’ve seen so many claims over the years about making millions of dollars in sales, or $10k in a week, etc. Many of them even supported by screenshots, or the user logging into their account to show you their earnings statements.

Most of these sales claims are bogus simply because these sellers have often spent that much or more to produce those sales, and there is little to no profit. If you make $10k in sales and spent $9k in Fakebook ad clicks, you didn’t make $10k. I doubt you even made $1k because you had to pay for your Photoshop and Infusionsoft bill, or for a virtual assistant to create some neat graphics for those ads (which the majority were probably fake clicks anyway).

My lesson here is - get your customer acquisition costs figured out so that you can price your products or services profitably and actually be able to help yourself, so that you can help other people.

I’ve shared in my webinar that I’ve earned as much as $48k on single web design projects. I also could tell you that to get whale projects like that cost me a LOT from failures and mistakes up to that point.

Factor in time, learning the skills, sunk costs, etc. and it was nothing to brag about.

Our Secret Club

This is persuasion marketing at it’s finest.

Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something, and we can wonder about what it would be like if we were accepted into “special” groups of people where we had access to influential connections and opportunities, secret knowledge, and untold riches as a result.

It’s so intriguing and makes us so hopeful, that we will open up our wallets to join.

It is true that even if we don’t care about status, that status cares about us. And there are, without a doubt, financial benefits and rewards to being connected and surrounded by likeminded, uplifting, ambitious, and REAL people that actually get life done.

Just don’t fall for the malarkey that if you join some online group, that you will have direct access to the special elite superstars that are going to guide you over the finish line. Often the “superstars” only appear in the advertising.

Once you are inside your coach will usually be a hired helper following a pre-defined script designed to keep your monthly payment plan active.

Before you join any paid clique, or mentorship - ask questions, do your homework.

The FEAR Monger(s)

Oh shit! The world is coming to an end. Let’s talk about 1983, 1987, or 1999… no wait it’s the collapse of 2008, a sign of END TIMES coming in 2012… or could it be?

The world finally came to an end in 2020 from a virus, and now we have to face the post apocalyptic aftermath?

Who knows how long that will last…

And guess what… that Secret Club…

KNOWS the answer so that you won’t face imminent doom.

You just need to tune into their 3 day live stream panel of “mind bending” experts to be “let in” on secrets that only they know. Don’t forget your credit card either, so they can sign you up for that call center coaching program.

Because guess what… you’re fucking screwed if you don’t.

And it gets more expensive, the longer you wait.

A few words of advice folks, read the Bible and get some hints.

This form of manipulation has been going on for a long time…

Ivory Tower Language

This one also gets my ears hot. I was reading recently (I think on Harvard Business Review) that most executive company promotions don’t actually happen because candidates are skilled or qualified for the job, but rather because they know how to use “Ivory Tower” language. I found that interesting, considering that Ivory Tower language is simply the usage of fancy words that describe fairly common things. In other words, a smooth talker.

We find this in marketing copy when it creates the illusion that the product solves some very complex problem, only later to discover it was really just an application of common sense dressed up with fancy vocabulary words that make you feel inadequate because you didn’t know the definition. Their language screams (in Cartman’ish voice) - “I am the authorit-I and superior to you, therefor you must listen minion”

Basically they speak in code, and make you feel like an idiot, so they can sell you a membership to their secret club that makes you just as smart as them.

Well… maybe… if you keep paying your dues.

One Click Solutions

Dude, you’re going to click that BUY BUTTON and all of your digital marketing assets are going to be instantly created for you!!!!

Website done.

Articles posted to all of the high traffic social networks.

Thousands of new followers daily.

So much traffic your web host won’t know what to do.

And you will watch in disbelief as orders flow like water into your PayPal account.

Just click the buy button now to get started, and the software will do the work for you.

I know crazy right? If you are reading this, I hope that you’ve never been a victim to this kind of dirtbag marketing. But unfortunately thousands of websites making these do claims exist. If anyone tells you that what they are selling you is EASY, and requires zero work to make money - just close out of the window and save your hard earned cash.

Problem creators, that solve the problem.

A common acronym in marketing is P.A.S. which is a framework for Problem, Agitate, Solve.

Do you have migraine headaches? >

Yes… >

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually get things done, get a good nights rest, and feel better? >

YES!!! >

We can help. Take this.

Pretty straightforward, and an excellent framework to use. But the problem comes from the jerks who use this type of marketing and are actually the ones CREATING the problems that can be prevented.

For example…

a system that promotes fast food, high sugar diets, and teaches dependency on authority to navigate daily life…

and then you end up overweight, sick, broke, and wondering what to do next…

Well, good citizen - The solution is that you need health insurance, pills, vaccines, a college education, a job, and a mortgage.

Sign here and get to work! Next…

Lesson here:

Be a detective. Ask questions.

Follow the money, and root out the cause of problem.

Fake Testimonials

Testimonials are a powerful element of “proof it works” in marketing. Buyers want to believe that others, just like them, have used a product and had positive results. And when used correctly, testimonials are very helpful for your prospective customers.

But, did you know that you can go on Fiverr and hire someone for $5 to create a video testimonial for you? Literally you can pay someone, give them a script what to say, and they will make you an amazing video testimonial that looks and feels just like someone gave you an honest review of your product or service - even though they have never purchased it, used it, or even have a clue what the outcome could be.

WOW! Might as throw your integrity out the door while you post those testimonials on your homepage.

Sadly, many a marketer falls for this and go through with adding these kinds of testimonials to their websites to produce falsified confidence in their product and get some early momentum.

Or, another one to look out for is the “buddy system” where one popular marketer promotes another popular marketers product… In most niches, you’ve likely seen or heard of these other people so it must be instant credibility! Right?

Again, do your homework. Are those testimonials real, or fabricated?

If they appear too good to be true, they probably are.

Fake Social Media Following

I remember I had a client one time who told me that he doesn’t follow people back on his instagram because he had heard that it makes you look more influential to have a high ratio of people following you vs. people you follow back.

In other words he was telling me that it made him look cooler if he didn’t reciprocate.

Maybe just so awesome, too busy, or too popular to click that follow back button?

As a result of this kind of thinking, there are whole companies dedicated to providing you with followers, likes, views, and comments on your social media profiles. Just so that you can give off the impression that you must be someone important to lure in the unsuspecting visitors who may actually be real.

Don’t fall for this bullshit. I totally understand not following people back if they are not relevant to your conversation or mission. But to buy fake clicks, likes, and followers just to inflate your public appearance is just as sleazy as fake testimonials.

Robo Clicks

Right in alignment with fake social media followings, are ROBO clicks. These are straight up fraudsters that will eat up your Google or Facebook Ad spend, and unfortunately I have not figured out if there is a way to fix it.

It seems to me like the Advertising platforms just don’t care if the unsuspecting little guy wastes a few hundred dollars, or a few thousand dollars here and there… you know, shh… since they don’t really pay attention.

But I’ve got some news for you Google and Facebook. I am paying attention.

That $200 on YouTube Ads that I spent and got 1300 YouTube views and 6 followers, yeah… I know by looking at analytics that the majority of the views went EXACTLY to the 30 second point of watching that video, before they bounced, and that 30 seconds is what would qualify it as a view that I pay for in my campaign.

And Facebook, I know that the $150 that I spent on an ad test, sent exactly 33 likes and 33 total follows, that when I checked the profiles of these new followers they all had strikingly similar characters, that were obviously not real, or would have zero interest in my product. Keep in mind that I did target a specific set of demographics that I felt WOULD be interested, and these profiles were not a match. When I reached out to these new followers to welcome them to my page, guess how many responded? Exactly 0.

So, do I need to raise my budget for more fake clicks? Maybe I can get some fake subscribers on my email list too so that my plan jumps up to the next subscription tier.

Stay tuned guys, we’ll figure this one out. In the mean time, be sure to check your analytics, setup and target qualified audiences, and do the best you can to verify if people are real. I love paid advertising, but you can’t scale a leaky funnel.

False Scarcity

Scarcity is another powerful tactic used in marketing that that can increase the urgency and perceived value of your offer.

But it needs to be done right! And don’t buy into the claims if they appear false.

For example, if I say that I have a limited amount of spaces available for one-one coaching or onboarding calls, I do. There is only so much time and energy that I have in a day for me to do calls. So if I limit the number calls I offer, they are limited.

If I had 100 physical copies of a book printed up, and was offering to include a free book as part of my offer. It would be limited.

But if I am selling LIMITED COPIES of my digital ebook. That is false, there is no such thing. However, I could decide to take it offline.

I could limit OPENINGS to my online membership, based on a term, or if I wanted to test my ability to scale, or resource availability, etc. That is a self-imposed limit due to resources. But there is no limit to the number of openings if I had the resources to support it.

Basically, the lesson here is just to pay attention to what type of scarcity is being used. Is it a tactic to encourage you to buy, or true scarcity that brings you more value?

For example, limited openings to get one-one contact with a coach or teacher could mean a more meaningful connection and impact on your results due to a smaller group or class size. But if it’s just going to be limited as a tactic to increase price, and you will have zero direct access to get help, the limited openings are only being used as a tactic.

The Bait and Switch

Remember that $37 product I was telling you about… being peddled by the Hot Shot? Well that’s just the Trip-Wire. It’s a low budget, low commitment offer to get you to open up your wallet and take out your credit card. Get you in the door.

Kind of like going to a free seminar.

Once you are in, the real sales processes get to work…

You’ve made the commitment. You’ve proven that you are willing to take action.

Would you like some XL large fries with that?

How about upgrading to a monthly membership for only $37/month?

Oh, good… we also have the founders club for $495/month.

Or platinum for $995…

Did I mention the once in a lifetime mastermind group for only $20k?

It works. I get it.

I love marketing.

We all need to sell to survive and thrive.

BUT… make sure that what you are committing too, is actually helping you.

Are you seeing a return? Or will you just keep throwing money into the wind.

And if you are a marketer that uses these strategies - are you doing it with integrity?

Or just fleecing unsuspecting victims from their hard earned dollars?

Let me know your comments.

Have you ever been a victim to marketing shenanigans?

Or have you ever found yourself playing these games because it’s what you learned from some podcast or marketing guru telling you it’s what works?

I have. And it makes me mad to think about it.

It works so well, there have been times where I’ve been like...

“DAMN! It just happened to me again!”

But it also just solidifies the importance of calling it out, being aware of it as a buyer, and being authentic with how we sell.

Don’t fall to those levels.

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Nathan Bray

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