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Internet Marketing Techniques You Think Are Great But Actually Suck

By Bryan Clark
44 Comments

Most of the marketers I see online make me shake my head in disbelief. I can’t believe that some of the biggest and brightest names in the internet marketing industry can be so naïve when it comes to marketing tactics in the twenty-first century.

Marketing – much like the internet itself – is always changing. You can’t take a technique that you learned five years ago, implement it, and expect the same success you had when marketers first learned about it. That’s not to say five year old techniques don’t work, but it certainly isn’t as effective as it was then.

The Hard Sell

The problem is, all but the very best internet marketers are refusing to evolve. They’re selling tired products, using the same gimmicks, and even marketing the products the same way that you would several years ago.

This is the age of social marketing. The marketers that build a name for themselves over the next five years are those that are actively engaged with their audience. They aren’t “selling” products, they are solving problems.

Here are a few things marketers are doing wrong…

The Hard Sell Is Dead

Stop pitching products as if I were the last person on earth. If I want to buy your product, it’s going to be because it fits a need, or sells me on a goal that I may express publicly, or hold somewhere deep in the recesses of my own mind.

The hard sell is dead, but it appears it isn’t going anywhere because some of the sales-turned-marketing gurus don’t realize that when a salesman pushes, clients now have multiple options. Rather than pushing back, negotiating, or even making excuses, it’s easy enough to just walk away and look for a similar product.

Those that still try the hard sell on the masses, who are faced with multiple buying decisions daily, are missing the point. You can’t pressure someone in the digital world. There are simply too many options. Although this isn’t completely ineffective, you’ll continue to see its effectiveness drop as those pesky millennials reach consumer status.

Your Email List Sucks

I still maintain the importance of having an email list, but the way most marketers use it is beyond awful. Either provide me enough value in every post that I don’t want to unsubscribe, or don’t bother me until you have something of value to give me.

One of the best email marketers I’ve ever run into was Russel Brunson. Russel doesn’t bother me often, and his mailings aren’t full of fluff. It’s an exciting headline, a short snippet of copy, and then a link that allows me to continue reading, or move on to my next email. If you aren’t on Russel Brunson’s email list, it’s time to educate yourself.

Stop With The False Promises

I don’t care about your friend that “made $6,000 in one day using this magical Google technique.”

Skip the spam bin by skipping the hype when pitching me. Tell me how it helps me, and then send me somewhere that I can find out more. Don’t send me a 750 word sales letter via email. I don’t care, and more often than not – even if it’s a good product – I’ll never click through to find out what the product is you are pitching to me.

Quit Beating A Dead Horse

The internet is always growing, and always changing. It’s only natural that some things that made us tons of money a few years ago are beginning to fizzle out now.

I’ll give you an example. Just this week, I received an email from a guy that I formerly considered a top marketer. Sadly, he was pitching a product on a topic that we’ve all known for some time to be dwindling at best, and completely dead at worst. The topic? Article marketing using directories.

With the Panda update, this approach is only going to work on your simplest keywords without much competition from others. For those bigger campaigns, you’re better off spending your time trying to invent a time machine so that you can go back in time and invest in Google or Yahoo.

Another great example of this is the “site flipping” niche. Although this certainly isn’t dead, it isn’t the thriving beast it was a few years ago when I made my mark by introducing thousands to the game. You can still buy, fix, and sell websites rather quickly, but the idea of instant profits by building a site are all but dead.

Now it takes actual work and discipline to build a top-notch site before sending it off to market. I remember when I could put a PLR book on a custom built landing page and sell it for $250. This took all of two hours.

It doesn’t work anymore. Quit trying to sell me products with old material.

Forced Urgency Is For Suckers

Am I really to believe that – even though your countdown clock says I have 16 hours – if I come back to your site in three days I can’t get the same “lower price?” Of course, I’ve been burned by this once before, but by an atypical marketer.

In general, we all know that the urgency you are trying to create is the work of a countdown script that’s just going to reset next time I visit the page, or every few hours/days. I don’t need to buy your product now, and I’m certainly not going to if I feel like you are trying to create an urgency for me to buy.

There is no urgency to buy. The urgency is a hunger in your pockets and it can only be filled by lining it with my cash.

7 Free Gifts That I’d Rather Not Even Spend The Time Downloading

Oh… the gifts.

I hate free gifts in most cases. The best marketers pack these areas with products from parallel markets. Generally these products are those of their friends or acquaintances and they feel that they provide real value.

Often they’re PLR (private label rights). If you don’t know what PLR is, just look up the term “junk” in the dictionary. Private label rights are products that are created and then sold with the intent of being re-branded, and re-marketed as new products. In reality, these are low-quality products that don’t create any real value, all while giving the illusion that you’re getting something extra for nothing.

What You Can Do Differently

Be honest. Be genuine, and have faith in your product.

If the world needs your product, you won’t have to beg them to buy it. You don’t have to offer additional bonuses to give the false impression of value. You don’t have to create a “buy now” mentality.

Good products are, for lack of a better term, good products. These products have value, and this value sells itself. That’s not to say you don’t need to give your customers a little nudge every now and then, but you certainly don’t need to wear a polyester suit and wear the persona of the used car salesman.

Create quality products and engage your audience. They’ll tell you what they want. Deliver that, and you have a customer for life. Simple. Right?

Bryan Clark

Image courtesy of Demi-Brooke on Flickr.

About Bryan Clark

Bryan Clark is a professional writer, blog editor and evangelist. He has contributed to leading news properties and blogs in tech, entrepreneurship, finance, and the digital lifestyle. Bryan has earned features on Problogger, Entrepreneurs-Journey and USA Today. Bryan works with Growth Partner, a venture fund and startup platform for web businesses.

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44 Comments

  • Tim O

    Calling oneself an evangelist is getting old too.

  • Great point with regards to lists. Some people definitely send a bit too many emails and then may wonder why they get so many unsubs.

  • joe

    Bryan,
    I agree with each and every word of your article. It’s well written and solid, it stills disheartens me that so, so, many businesses don’t have a clue about trying to sell/market in the new way.

    I still see jobs that want/need demand a “one call closer”, aggressive, a real people person etc, etc. …anyway, loved the article and one can hope that your world of listening, value, education and being relevant..will come about one day..maybe I’ll work on being more of the answer.

  • I rarely make it through the fold in articles, but your got me. You hit really great points about providing great value. It’s good to know that consumers have wised up.

  • Opal

    Yesss!!!

  • Problem is that half of these marketing tactics still work on those who’ve never seen them before.

    Over inflated results, False Urgency and Free ‘junk e-book’ (valued at $97 – by whom?) – All awful and mouldy ways to sell… But sadly, they still work, at least to some degree…

    Nonetheless I think there’s definitely room for more marketers who fulfil the criteria you mentioned in the last paragraph. Nicely put!

    • Pressure sales tactics work from a used car salesman too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to him next time.

  • Great information. The majority of the supposedly “gurus” out there including those PLR’s you mentioned have all been teaching the same old approach to marketing. It’s one pitch fest after another, all with the same old buy now or this offer will be gone forever type of deal. There is such a saying, “once bit twice shy”. You can only sucker someone for so long and than it’s on to the next tactic.

    It’s too bad not more marketers can offer the value you are talking about but instead teaching others all the shady little tricks they learned and passing them down. Unfortunately this is how I was first exposed to internet marketing and now it’s time unlearn all that crap and learn how to offer some real value.

    Once again great post!

  • Joe B

    I am totally with you on those hypey, hard sell, ‘get rich quick’ promises – what a racket!

    Why just today, I recoiled in horror and disgust when i saw the hypey, hard-sell headlines on the sidebar of ONE BLOG alone …

    “How you can make $500 – $1000 PER DAY online”; “$20k/MO – See how this dad cracked the code”; “Find 2,673 leads and earn $4,594 a day”; and an “internet laptop lifestyle” ad that leads to an exit pop that lands on a page that screams “How you can steal my facebook ad strategies to build a super responsive list of 1,000′s of subscribers in 30 days or less”…imagine, legally stealing!

    Can you imagine – all on ONE screaming sidebar. Whew, I’m with you – that’s tough to take.

    Oh – what? That was THIS blog?

    Whoops…
    :P

    • Yeah Joe, our EJ editor pointed out the irony that many of our sponsors use those exact techniques.

      Of course they keep working on some people, even if they annoy many too.

  • Raj

    The best sales people are the ones who complete the sale without us having the slightest feel that we have spent our money on it! They actually make us look forward to the next deal.

    There is no point in planting needs in people’s minds. Just look for their existing needs and try to satisfy them.

  • Thanks for this great article, but it bothers me that it is written in negative context. It brilliantly says what is bad and obsolete, but it does not says much what should we do instead. I find your last two paragraphs say something like: make a new Google and you’ll never have problems to market it. Thanks anyway!

    • Marketing isn’t a science. Knowing what doesn’t work is often just as important as knowing what works. If you want to know what to do instead, it’s in the post. Stay away from gimmicks and work on creating a superior product and building relationships rather than “clents”.

  • There are thousands and thousands of people, those that i will term internet gullibles who believe in those marketing tactics, and so they work to some degree. But I must confess, having subscribed to Yaros newsletter and seeing his emails every 2/3 days a week was a complete turn off at first, but with time, i started reading them and I saw value in them. I hate false marketing and this practice has existed from a long time even before the inception of internet

    • You can email me as often as you’d like, as long as you are creating value in every post.

  • I’ve used some marketing techniques like some of the things you’ve mentioned into my business plans but actually they have not done any good. Thank you for informing everyone about this matter which is very important because the progress of one’s market lies in the techniques on how to deal with it.

  • I believe at the root of this self-centred, selfish and uncaring approach to marketing is the challenge of miss placed priorities.When we all come to discover that there are things more important than money, this urge to get money by ALL means will stop. There will be a paradigm shift in our approach to life…..those who embrace the win – win perspective to issues of life will be primarily concerned with adding values to others, not a rip off. Every genuine business deal should be a win- win thing. Customers are getting wiser!

  • I agree with you when you say that many big names keep using old techniques and they should really think about it.
    However, the end of your post is disappointing. If you have a good product it will sell itself… really?
    How will people know your product is good? You don’t give any good alternative. I was expecting a little bit more of the last paragraph.

    • I’m not understanding what you are saying here. You can’t tell the difference between a good product and a bad one? Send out sample copies and respond to feedback. I wish there was some technique that was a bit more mind-blowing, but that’s really all there is to it. Maybe Yaro can comment on this.

      • Bryan,
        my comment wasn’t about good or bad products. What I meant is that it’s not enough to have a good product. You have to know how to sell it. If you have a great product but don’t know how to sell it you won’t make much money. And the opposite too. There are great marketers making a lot of money with awful products.

        Your article seems to suggest that having a great product is enough.

        Thanks for your reply.

        Cristina

  • Thanks for your post Bryan,

    Yes, a lot of such techniques for me personally usually are ‘red flags’ and also an indication that it probably will not be a very good or
    authentic offer.

  • Can’t argue with any of that, being yourself is so much easier and more efficient, people will support you because they trust and/or like you, everyone wins.

  • Love this post Bryan. I can relate to pretty much everything here. “Forced Urgency Is For Suckers” – how true! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this used.

  • I agree with everything you say except your take on PLR. Can you honestly say that each and every PLR out there is of poor quality? Maybe you have had the misfortune of buying those. PLR meets a need especially for those who are just starting out on the internet (like work at home moms) and who cannot afford to pay for quality ghostwritten articles. I sell PLR and I stand by every single word I write. No junk.

    • I’ll never say that every piece of PLR is junk. It’s overwhelming how much of it fits the bill though.

  • Phil Ammendolia

    Thanks for a great reminder. I actually loved the irony of the ads on this site. Very funny coincidence. As mentioned, many of these techniques DO still work. But as was pointed out in this post, we need to be leaders and innovators. You really nailed it with this line: “Create quality products and engage your audience. ” Thanks again.

    • “Work” is a relative term here. It might sell a product, but is it creating future business? Is it making you remember them as anything other than the people who used the gimmick that I bit on?

      Every bit of the things you “shouldn’t” (and that’s just my take) do still work. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best way. I’m also not sure what the best way is… I’ll keep testing and tweaking.

  • Some very good points raised Bryan. I agree entirely that these days the only way to make is to give good honest value and solve current problems that people are experiencing – and this is what I am now endeavouring to do.

    I am going to opt in to Russel Brunson’s list as I feel that I could brush up on the messages that I send to my subscribers. The last thing you want is to be annoying people and being placed straight into the spam bin.

  • I agree with you that article marketing is dead since the Google panda update. It’s better to focus on guest posting as this will definitely increase your site traffic and at the same time strengthen your online presence.

  • This article is the desperate plea that every marketer needs to take to heart. Let’s catch up with the times and even forge new territory with marketing. Thanks for this article!

  • There is no doubt that the internet has forever changed the world in which we live. So it can only be expected that it would change the way we sell and marketing our businesses globally.

  • I would disagree to some extent. Certainly, quality and relevance are the two most important characteristics of any marketing program. But, if you have both of those then some of these other tactics are simply proven ways to address human behavior and influence it on a fundamental psychological level. It is in the absence of quality and relevance that these tactics become slimy and ineffective
    Thanks
    Mark

  • Amen Bryan! It is kind of like stopping at a interstate truck stop restroom in that given a choice, you go elsewhere. What I like to see are the ads or pitch pages that say something like: “If you have x issue with y problem then z here will do the trick. If you do not feel like it doesn’t take care of business within 30 days, you can have your money back because I don’t want it that way.”
    Good article.

  • I agree with you when you said that “Hard Sell is Dead”. I’ve learned that if you really want to sell something, make them want to get it from you by teaching them something valuable or by explaining to them how it can solve their problems.

    Great post Bryan. =)

  • As I wrote in my previous reply about using such Internet Marketing Techniques….., Today on my – Home Business - Lifestyle Blog I wrote a post about how you can use your time productively with a Laptop during commercial breaks on tv, and in my offer (pre) selling Laptop Computers I also did mention something ‘No Time To Waste’ (since the topic was about Time Wasting) so do you think that with that I crossed the line? or do you think that it’s more the ‘Little Nudge’ ? Feel free to write your comments and let me know what you think.

  • Great article Bryan. What you have pointed out are all valid. They are all dead and annoying marketing techniques that can only trick a naive customer. A product will sell itself if it’s good, of course with some level of soft marketing techniques.

  • The problem as I see it is. That most of the top so called marketing guru’s. Are not bloggers. They are sales men. Who were fortunate enough to make most of their money. Before the spectacular rise of social media.

  • Good article, thanks. It’s probably frustrating for a novice blogger to find out the killer actions are simply ‘be good’ which must feel pretty loose signposting for success, but your right. When you discover what you are absolutely the very best at it’s really not hard to be convincing, interesting and relevent (long or short copy – takes yer pick)

  • Just loved your post. this is exactly how I feel when I get sales pitches and people trying to push me to quickly buy their fantastic product which will make me a millionaire by the end of the year. For once why don’t they use it themselves and get rich! And the $499.95 value pack at $17.95 just for 3 days! Can anyone tell me who assessed their garbage at that value? How can these people be taught a few lessons in real marketing?

  • Agreed!

    Ha ha! This is freakin’ hilarious and awesome! Too many people out there relying on old techniques thinking that magic will occur. How many small companies have folded because of it? Must be high…

    I agree with one of the posts here, a good product will sell itself.

  • Some marketer just try every methods to find out which marketing technique still working and effective.
    It depend on their niche anywhere while different target market may need different marketing techniques to reach them.
    Sometime they try hard sell just because they in desperate situation.

  • I agree. I really dislike the harsh sell and after awhile you get blind to this type of approach. When working with clients (I am a web developer) I always suggest taking this approach. This does vary on the country though as the UK is not quite as bad ;)

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