How to Avoid Being a Sleazeball Marketer

Queues for Comforting Lies and Unpleasant Truths

There’s something very honest in the image you see here — people queuing up to offer everything they have for some comforting lies, whilst the unpleasant truths go ignored.

Yet we all know it’s behind the unpleasant truths that true improvement and true growth lie — not just personally, but also in business… and in marketing.

See, all too often on the shadier side of internet marketing you come across copywriters and self-styled gurus selling their products on the back of comforting lies.

You know what I mean…

Push-button profits
Instant client queues
Viral traffic overload
The secret wealth formula

All that kind of shit, peddled on the back of unrealistic, hyperbolic claims that this particular piece of software wizardry or genius one-touch system is going to be the one that’ll send your business to the stars. All you have to do is buy it and hit “Go”.

(As an aside, I just made all of those names up for illustrative purposes. This isn’t meant to call out any products in particular, but if I did then I extend my apologies… and recommend the creators take a few moments to think about the laziness of their marketing.)

Of course you and I, who’ve built our businesses through hard work, sweat, tears, maybe a bit of blood (and definitely haemorrhoids) know that all of this is a crock. Hype that preys on the unwary, seeks to tap into the need for instant gratification and aversion to effort in order to gain access to your bank account.

You know it. I know it. And they know it.

This isn’t to say that any number of such products don’t provide value to the buyer — there are definitely some that do (though I’m yet to hear of anyone turning into an instant A-list entrepreneurial billionaire through push-button viral traffic overload), but there are an overwhelming number that don’t.

If you can back up your claims to the letter, then by all means be hyped about it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Yet when I speak to some of those involved in writing and producing the marketing for these campaigns, here’s how the conversation usually goes:

“Hey, here’s the new squeeze page I wrote for [product name], wanna check it out?”

“Sure thing…” (checks it out.) “… isn’t it a bit hypey? Feels dirty.”

“Nah man, it’s all good, converting like crazy and we’ve just launched.”

“But… did you test out the system? I mean, I assume you haven’t just made countless millions by following it?”

“Hahaha, dude, you’re so funny.”

“I’m not joking. If you can’t be sure it works, then you shouldn’t be making the claims.”

“Well, how am I supposed to sell it? This works, man.”


Less of the hype, more of the…?

Just like the ineffective comforting lies versus the harder, but ultimately more beneficial unpleasant truths, an overload of hype is the quick way to make bank. Launch, cash in and get out. Because there’s always another horde of confused easy marks waiting just around the corner.

Those sad little hopefuls, just craving a little of taste of success.

But if you don’t want to be a sleazeball marketer selling snake oil, there’s a word in the previous sentence that should stand out as something you can harness that bridges the gap between unpleasant truth and positive motivation.

Guess it?

It’s hope.

Success takes work. A bloody good lot of it — and you aren’t truly helping your audience if you’re lying to them about that at every turn. But with smart copywriting you can make the truth work without being a sleazy piece of shit — by offering hope.

Hope is one of the most valuable unseen commodities in our daily lives. The hope that something will happen. The hope that she’ll come back. The hope that with time this loss won’t hurt so much each morning.

Even just the hope that maybe tomorrow will be a little better than today.

Condense that hope, talk to your prospect like the real person they are and show them how your product brings that hope to life, realistically. Bridge the gap… and when you do that, you’ll also naturally see the story of your copy emerging — the journey from beginning to end, overcoming the unpleasant truth with the assistance of what you’re selling… not necessarily because of it.

Ah, but that doesn’t convert as well, does it? Maybe not… but take one more look at the image at the start of this post and tell me that it doesn’t pang in your gut.

Because there’s nothing worse than looking at your own copy and knowing, right in your core, that you’re overpromising. That you’re spewing hyperbole you can’t possibly live up to. That you’re going to let buyers down.

That you’re lying.

If you have even a tiny remnant of a soul, this will eat you alive. Probably before your own market does.

So, you can continue to run in the wake of the countless internet marketers out there who ride the hype train, making quick cash and then getting out of dodge… or you can understand that being honest with your market is what leads to a lasting position of respect and profitability. The real success.

The tools to do so are right here. It’s up to you to use them.

Otherwise, there may come a point where you’ll be forced to confront your very own Dorian Gray portrait.

And it won’t be pretty.

Hype or hope? You decide.



Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in Nottingham, UK. With close to a decade of experience writing content and copy within the film industry, and a background in Enterprise IT administration, he specialises in conversion copywriting and case studies for the Tech, Gaming and Software/SaaS industries. He's also a dab hand at generating leads for locally-focused SMEs through Facebook ads, connecting business messages to their target audience, increasing response and driving revenue. Contact him today and boost the impact of your marketing -- he might look angry, but he's a very friendly bloke. Honest!

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