“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
Not too long ago I broke down the Trump campaign as a marketing case study.
In it I pointed out all the ethically challenged tricks he is employing in his attempt to manipulate attitudes <oh, in Trump world these same tactics would be … well … trumpeted as ‘smart marketing’ and not morally irresponsible>.
And, no, I am not suggesting people are stupid for falling for it.
I cannot because having worked in the advertising business I have seen firsthand how well-crafted messaging can impact what people think, how they think and, ultimately, how they behave.
That is the power of effective communicating.
It can be done with bad intentions and it can be done with good intentions.
All that said.
Just this morning, as I searched for an image after typing in “asshat” the article “internet marketing for asshats “ popped up.
I wish I had seen it when I wrote my first article because it better articulates some of the asshat marketing maneuvers, internet specifically, that can be implemented by … well … asshats.
Ian Lurie Mar 18 2015
There are internet marketers. Then there are 100% pure internet marketing asshats. They stomp their moral compass to bits in the interest of earning more dollars (or pounds, or drachmas, or whatever). These are a few examples of their tactics:
Asshats write headlines that imply horrific things/inappropriate or reputation-destroying behavior, like ‘Is This Model Snorting Coke?’ then explain why it’s very unlikely. That way, you get tons of pageviews. All you had to do was destroy someone’s reputation. And yes, that’s marketing. It’s sure as hell not journalism.
I understand the need to write crap like this: You get paid by the page view and you have to make a living. I blame the publishers who, of course, run pageview-based compensation structures. The fact remains: You’re still doing a pretty awful thing, smearing someone’s reputation for a buck.
If you want to do it right and create great headlines that don’t tear someone’s reputation to shreds, check out Quicksprout’s guide
Create artificial scarcity for a lousy product
Asshats create offers like this: “We’re only selling 100 of The Spectacular Guide To Ranking Number One Overnight!!!” They seem to think it’s a brilliant sales tactic.
If you’re a believer in artificial scarcity, bad news for you: Your product isn’t a limited-edition collector’s plate depicting Elvis. It’s a crappy 10,000-word PDF. You can peddle as many copies as you want.
By the way: If you have any soul at all, you’ll need to sell a lot of e-books, because Ambien is expensive and if you keep pulling this crap, you won’t be able to sleep at night.
This isn’t a limited beta test. You’re not going to maintain your brand through scarcity. That’s what Ferrari does. You’re not Ferrari. You’re using artificial scarcity to boost demand for a low-quality product.
Instead, do what David Ogilvy did: Make the product the hero. If you don’t believe in it enough to do that, stop selling it.
Never mind writing your own copy. Just steal it, like this guy (apparently, he took down the page – nothing like public humiliation to boost your ethical standards), who stole all of the writing from a landing page I wrote years ago.
Show off your idiocy by leaving my company name in the stolen copy:
And top it off with some really awful edits in an effort to trick the search engines:
Nice. Note the redundant repeat redundancy.
By the way, you know search engines? They make it awfully easy to find classless hacks like you, dude. I shake my head, puzzled as to why you keep demonstrating what a moron you are.
Go tragedy surfing
I’ve talked about this one before. When a talented, troubled person dies, asshats jump on it and write things like this Huffington Post article:
Hopefully, I don’t have to explain. Again, I understand: You write headlines so tasteless they make 1970s wallpaper look like a Picasso because you get paid by the page view. Still, you have to decide when you’ve crossed the line from edgy and thought-provoking to cheap and tasteless. I’d move that line back a bit if I were you.
Go black hat, but don’t tell anyone
I have no problem with ‘black hat’ tactics in channels like SEO. Violating a search engine’s terms of service isn’t unethical, unless you’re using those tactics to do something unethical (see above).
However, practicing black hat tactics for a client or organization and not telling them is. You put that client or organization at risk of a penalty and loss of traffic/revenue. You must disclose that risk and let them decide whether it’s worth it. Part of your job as an internet marketer is trustworthy risk management. Do your job.
The dark side
There are sooo many other ways to be an internet marketing asshat. But they all have one thing in common: They screw someone else to line your pockets. And while this rant may seem funny, I’m dead serious.
In moments of sheer frustration, I’ve drifted into the asshat zone. But I get embarrassed about it. True internet marketing asshats are completely shameless. They say “hey, it works” and keep going.
Don’t say ‘I didn’t know this was bad. No one told me.’ I bet no one told you randomly slapping people was bad, either, but you know better.
Marketing is powerful. Every time we abuse it, we lower the level of discourse.
Think about it.
Consider the portent article a valuable addendum to my initial article.
I still believe this Trump campaign will go down as the penultimate case study for how marketing can be improperly implemented with bad intent and a lack of an ethical compass.
And you know what?
I think the asshat doesn’t even know that there is a “right way” to actually do marketing. To him “right” only equals “it is working.”
“Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief.”
I have always felt a responsibility for not only the message I have helped develop but also the impact of the messages. I believe we, in marketing, are shapers of society.
We can vulgarize that society.
We can brutalize it.
Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”
And that is where I believe weakTrump fails miserably.
He hasn’t learned that he has a responsibility.
He does not accept the responsibility of a shaper of society … he simply seems to want to amplify existing criticisms of society.
And that is not a leader.
And that is certainly not a good marketer.
Sanely applied advertising could remake the world.