How to Avoid the Bro Marketing Trap

Stephanie Jiroch
5 min readFeb 6, 2019

My beef with bro marketing goes way back.

It started with the six-figure promises that became the new sought-after sales strategy. It then moved to hyped-up videos and images, showing online “marketing gurus” next to flashy cars and living in fancy mansions (mind you, there’s nothin’ wrong with a mansion or a nice car but it’s the way it’s used in marketing that drives me crazy).

The bro marketing era has been in full force since the dawn of the internet, when early adopters figured out ways to coerce well-intentioned people out of thousands of dollars.

Bro marketing (or Megaphone Marketing as I call it) relies on three important elements, all of which I’m sharing here so you can avoid falling in the trap of sounding like a used car salesmen…and sell with integrity instead.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

The three elements of typical bro marketing are:

  1. Falsified urgency or scarcity
  2. FOMO
  3. A lack mindset


There’s always a sense that a cart is about to close, a deal is about to expire or spots are limited. It’s rare for a bro marketer to truthfully share how many people have already enrolled or that the cart is still open well past the ‘official’ close date.

There’s always an opportunity to buy with a bro marketer but they don’t want you to know that!

In fact, bro marketers do their best to write their sales pages and website copy in a way that always has you feeling you might just get in on the special deal or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you buy right now.

As a media psychologist, I am well-trained in the seven mental triggers that boost online engagement. Scarcity is one of those triggers and when used correctly it is an effective strategy. Unfortunately the bro marketing movement has used scarcity in a way that now makes it feel dubious and inauthentic.

Which leads us to…


FOMO stands for fear of missing out and boy do bro marketers know how to use this one to their advantage!

If you don’t buy now then you’ll miss out on your ONE chance to break through those stubborn blocks and live your dream life.

You’ll miss out on a community of like-minded people or access to never before heard or seen content.

And you’ll definitely miss out on your chance to be better, do more or achieve greatness.

And from a psychological standpoint there is nothing worse than being left out! As social creatures, we thrive and survive in tribes. The use of FOMO in marketing triggers our fear of dying alone and defenseless, causing us to panic and participate even if we don’t consciously believe it’s the best choice for us.

Which feeds into…


If you don’t buy then you’ll stay a failure. You’ll never achieve your dreams. You’ll be ok with giving up too soon. And that’s all on YOU.

Fulfillment and the idea of destiny are derived from humans searching for a greater sense of meaning.

Bro marketers know how to reverse psychology the buyer to the point where if they don’t buy, they reinforce the buyer’s negative mindset about themselves and the world.

The Psychology Behind Bro Marketing (Why it works!)

We all hate being “sold to,” so why do we fall for it?

From a mental standpoint (*cough*cough* enter my nerdie media psychology self) it’s pretty simple: the entire foundation of bro marketing is built on the concepts that social and media psychologists know trigger humans to respond with either fight or flight responses.

The fear of missing out on resources, being part of a tribe or living up to our full potential all land on the social backbone of being human.

Marketers know this — in fact, they’ve known this from the dawn of public relations and modern marketing itself — and use these elements religiously to sell dreams, deep-seated desires and the forbidden fruits of capitalism (ok, that sounds super intense but basically it’s just the stuff we buy everyday out of want and not need).

It’s why the Ad Men of the 1950’s became gods: they knew the psychological (and unconscious) triggers that pushed us to buy.

3 Ways to Anti-Bro Your Marketing

Do yourself a solid and don’t fall for the bro marketing hype. In fact, I know you (and your business) are better than that!

So what can you do instead? How do you market with integrity and still generate buzz for your business?


1. Use honesty to your advantage

If everyone is bragging about nearly sold-out programs and super successful, seven-figure e-course launches then why not get brutally honest instead?

Honesty is not only refreshing but often appreciated, especially when it comes to spending your hard-earned cash.

Next time you want to white lie your way through a launch or sales page, consider honesty as the best policy and see if it doesn’t boost your bottom line (and earn you some respect along the way).

2. Quit confusing everyone

Transparency is a breath of fresh air. When was the last time you came across a hyped-up program or product and the description (or sales page) was a mile long, the refund policy somewhat ambiguous and the customer service hard to get a hold of?

Confusion is a tactic used to distract someone from the obvious lack of quality and push them to buy! buy! buy! instead.

Remember, transparency fosters trust and creates more rapport than any long-winded sales page ever could.

3. Lead with values

Integrity is more than just honesty; it’s the opportunity to define oneself by a moral code or value set. Integrity is keeping to your word, aligning yourself with higher standard of being and not cutting corners for a quick win.

For a lot of bro marketers, values come in last.

They follow a sales framework that capitalizes on coercion instead of a service mindset.

Unfortunately values are anything but sultry compared to the sales they hope to generate with their sleazy strategies.

Originally published at



Stephanie Jiroch

Chief Story Strategist @ BrandPsyche Strategies, specializing in psychology-centered & story-driven marketing for women in biz.