deceptive marketing practices, deceptive marketing, bad marketing practices, bad marketing, clickbait

Taking a Stand Against Deceptive Marketing Tactics

After a few weeks “off” over the holidays and new year, I’m back at the mic this week with a brand new season of Marketing Without the Marketing for 2017. The first episode of the new season is called, “A New Direction for Medium: Can Ev Williams Save the Web?

With the recent spotlight on fake news (finally!), it’s calling into question all sorts of shady tactics that marketers are using to steal our attention. There’s been a race to the bottom when it comes to producing and distributing Web content:

  • Click bait: Anything that attempts to trick you into clicking (“…and you’ll never believe what happened next”).
  • Content farms: Pools of penny-a-word freelancers writing cheap content to trick search engines.
  • Attack bots: Swarm around a topic or keyword with the intent to drown out a conversation.
  • Click farms: Armies of people paid to click links to mimic a successful post or site.
  • Plus a ton of other stuff: Spammy automation, pop-ups, “hide-the-opt-out,” and so on.

All these are cheap tactics that go for the cheap click. It shows what these folks think of us. They think we’re stupid. And even if they do trick us into clicking, do they think that we will actually buy something from them?

What Can We Do About It?

People buy from whom they trust. In today’s world, awareness is cheap. Anyone can pay for attention. But trust is precious. Trust takes time. And it starts with respect.

That’s why I’m interested in what Ev Williams is doing at Medium. Even though they have some gaudy growth metrics, he’s taking a very critical look at his own platform. In an announcement last week (entitled Renewing Medium’s Focus), he expressed worry about “becoming an extension of a broken system.”

What’s interesting to me is his response to his own critique. Quoting from his statement:

“We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative.”

Taking the proven path doesn’t help — even if it’s generating “success.” As I’ve learned first-hand in my startup experience, you won’t get anywhere if you only make the easy decisions.

So I tip my cap to Ev Williams and the whole Medium team. Trying to rid the Web of deceptive marketing is a big goal, to say the least. The odds are not in their favor. But I love to see smart people try. Innovation owes a lot to people who stand up and defy the odds.

The first episode of the new season is devoted to the issue — enjoy!

What Can I Do About It?

I like to think that I do my small part in fighting against deceptive marketing tactics — by teaching small business owners (including writers and other creative professionals) how to do better marketing. No lies, no tricks, no whitewashing. Just forming honest connections with their customers.

My primary instrument, as you may have guessed from the opening paragraph, is my podcast. If you’re new to Marketing Without the Marketing — it’s all about using respectful, soft-touch marketing techniques to build the trust of your audience little-by-little until you have earned the right to ask for the sale.

When I bring guests on the show, I make sure that they share these beliefs. Business is personal, and we can all be nice to one another while we’re chasing our version of success.

Like most business podcasts, I share my methods and experience for free — all the strategies and tactics that I learn and use every day with my clients. I have some great new episodes planned for this season. Here’s a rundown from last season: On the Horizon: A Preview.

Where to Start: Ask My Audience

If you want a good place to start, here are last season’s top 5 posts — the ones my listeners downloaded the most:

  1. How to Get Publicity and Other Media Coverage: Interview with Chris Well
  2. How to Create Brand Advocates
  3. Building Your Online Authority
  4. Optimizing Your Content for Searchability and Discoverability
  5. Social Media Strategy for Brick and Mortar Businesses: Interview with Laura Nunemaker

And while we’re doing lists, here are my all-time best episodes. Some of these surprised me, but data are data. I can’t argue with my listeners!

  1. Introduction to Content Strategy
  2. The Three Core Elements of Content Marketing
  3. How to Run a Successful Kickstarter Campaign: Interview with Bruce Myren
  4. Ideas vs. Execution
  5. The 3 Types of Content Every Small Business Needs

You can subscribe in iTunes here:*

*Though the show is syndicated in every other podcast app out there, 96% of my downloads come from iTunes. It’s Apple’s world, we’re just living in it.

Originally published by Michael Boezi on Control Mouse Media.