What’s Wrong With Online Marketing (And Why We Must Take a Stand)

What’s Wrong With Online Marketing (And Why We Must Take a Stand)

It’s time someone came out and said what everyone is already thinking.

Something is really wrong with the way business education and marketing works online.

You know the drill…

  • Viewing people as ATMs, not living beings with dreams, hopes, desires and problems.
  • Lots of hype (not so much service).
  • Heavy marketing, disappointing delivery.

The list goes on. And unfortunately, this is the norm.

If you’ve spent any amount of time perusing the business info product world, these qualities are unfortunately all too familiar.

Yes. Something is clearly wrong.

But don’t despair, there is good news.

I, and many others believe this trend is starting to shift. A new guard of leaders and teachers with authenticity and transparency at their core are showing up and making the old operators uncomfortable.

Things are beginning to move in the direction of authenticity, truth and a genuine desire to serve the best interests of all.

Together, we can make it harder and harder for the old way to survive. A smarmy way that’s all about…

  • Fear-driven campaigns that capitalize on the pain of others.
  • Selling as the first priority, and respecting the art of teaching as a bothersome afterthought.
  • Profits over the results of customers they’re serving.
  • False scarcity.
  • Big on the surface, yet shallow on the outside (bait and switch).

But alas, don’t worry, there is hope! If we support the new wave that’s emerging, the old inauthentic business practices of the past will be forced to retire and disappear for good.

Leaders like Danielle, Jadah, Chris, CorbettMike and others are refreshing examples of a new way of doing business with love and integrity.

So in stark contrast to the old world of douchebaggery, the new way is about…

  • Honesty-driven marketing that acknowledges the pain and fear, but moves beyond it into love.
  • Communities demonstrating results that speak for themselves.
  • Case studies and real-world examples, not philosophical what-ifs from those that have never actually done what they’re teaching.
  • Us, us, us vs. me, me, me.
  • Under-promising and over-delivering.
  • Serving everyone’s best interest. The Good of All is the highest priority.
  • Giving courageously and trusting that you’ll receive abundantly in return. Tweet.

At its core, what it comes down to is a fundamental shift in the perspective of marketing.

The old way views marketing as: manipulating people to buy your stuff by any means necessary.

The new ways views marketing as: the simple effective communication of value to those that are in most need of it. Or as my friend Dustin says it best: Giving bravely.

Fear vs. Integrity.

So… why am I saying all of this now? (the BIG news)

Why go on this rant about business info products and marketing online?

Allow me to practice what I’m preaching here. :)

Within the next week, I’m going to be sharing with you a project I’ve been working on with my friend and business partner Dustin Lee for the last six months.

Our aim is to incite a revolution in the way business education and teaching happens online. To our knowledge, no one has done what we’re about to do in this space.

It’s scary as hell, and freaking exciting.

We’ll be sharing case studies from honest business owners and breaking down exactly what they’ve done. We’ve got some rad folks like Corbett Barr, Tyler Tervooren and Steve Kamb lined up. (Don’t worry, we’re working on recruiting the ladies too.)

We’re building this to help more of the good guys win. We want to help the everyday entrepreneurs get their gifts out into the world to make an impact, without being marketing experts.

I’ll be sharing more about what this actually is with you this Thursday after we put together some final touches and force ourselves to stop being OCD. :)

With that said, we believe that the times are a’changin’. Love always wins in the end, isn’t that what they say?

But, what do you think?

Do you think a shift in online marketing is happening right now?

Share your thoughts below and let’s start a new conversation about business with integrity, openness and love.

Sharing is caring!

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65 Comments on "What’s Wrong With Online Marketing (And Why We Must Take a Stand)"

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Brian Terry
Guest
Hi Jonathan – great post and a call to arms to all the good people out there. You’re the first I’ve seen to really talk about this as eloquently as you have. Promise nothing, deliver everything! I think it’s also important not to look at people as commodities as too many marketers do. They call them customers, users, buyers. All these things make them sound like there’s nothing valuable about them and there’s always another to take their place. A better word to use I think is “client” because this has a much greater sense of value and respect. At… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

I agree. Some really awesome things happen when something simple as our language changes.

Viewing people as real human beings, it Just-Feels-Good.

Nadine
Guest
I think you’re both right and wrong on the same time. When looking at the majority (and unfortunately it seems to be a majority) of businesses, they only focus on profit and satisfying the needs of their customers is merely a chore they need to do in order to maximize their profit even further. They even manipulate their (physical) products in order to ensure they break in time to make their customers buy some more (planned obsolescence). Sadly I don’t think they’ll ever change. They live and die following the scent of money. On the other hand I do see… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Thank you Nadine. I agree that it starts with people demanding and wanting a change. We all vote and shift the collective consciousness with our daily choices.

Derek Murphy
Guest
It’s a nice call to action. Something I’ve been noticing for the last year of so however is that bloggers have stopped creating content, and instead they interview each other (because it’s a lot easier than writing). So we get a lot more of seeing the same people all over the place talking about the same things, rather than really unique voices (like yours). This move doesn’t seem like taking a stand to me… it seem like following the new pattern of online business strategy… sorry for being critical, I’m up way too late, I really enjoy what you do.… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

No worries man. And I do think that it can turn into just another shill, another strategy. So we have to be careful that our intentions stay sourced with depth and having the best interests of the world at heart. If we come from that place, we can have real authenticity, not authenticity just motivated as a desire to succeed.

Schuyler
Guest
Right on man! I do think there are small business owners out there that are more interested in the money than the customer. But in my experience most just don’t know how to market their business… So they look to all the marketing CRAPtics that have been used to play with people’s emotions, fears, and dreams. I will help people share their story in a way that embraces vulnerability/authenticity, and it’s effective because it builds trust that you aren’t one of those businesses just trying to make a buck. Looking forward to seeing some more real life practical examples because… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Hell yes. And you’re right, we don’t have to choose one or the other. We can be smart, clever and authentic and heart-centered.

ed
Guest
I don’t think that it will ever change, simply because Emotional Triggers are what they are. ( People buy because of their OWN fears, greed, insecurities, vanity, curiosity, pride, envy, laziness, desperation, embarrassment etc etc ) Products solve problems and try to end pain. Good marketing simply meets them at their point of pain and problem, offering a solution. You will always have those who deliver and the snake oil salesman who don’t That hasn’t changed in over a billion years and I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon, no matter what people convince themselves It’s a bit like… Read more »
Cedric
Admin
I agree that you definitely will never end marketing focused on people’s pain. Nor should that ever end, imo. A good doctor treat’s a patient because they come in with a pain. However, they shouldn’t just give them a pill and send them on their way (unless that’s what they need which is rarely the case). So it’s a matter of balancing addressing the pain, but also bringing them to something better. Unfortunately a lot of people are dishonest and capitalize on other’s pain for the sake of *only* money, not for the happiness and success of those they serve.… Read more »
Ritu
Guest

Yeah, the false scarcity thing does my head in. It’s just low and manipulative. I love what Danielle Laporte is about and it is obvious she works to give not to get. Her sales page is titled “See what I made for you”. ‘Nuff said.

Cedric
Admin

Ahhhh, I love Danielle. Yep, she’s a great example.

Amanda Sue
Guest

Thank. You. I am so tired of people analyzing my site, and telling me that I didn’t rub people’s noses in their pain. No, I don’t ignore it…but I don’t feel the need to drown people in it. I just changed my home page to my blog, because I want the focus to be relationship & community, instead of slapping them with sales pitch.

Cedric
Admin

Good for you Amanda. I think it’s also good to remember that selling or offering your gifts is always something that we’ll do. It’s a part of being human. And I think there’s a way to do it with integrity and honesty, and a way to do it without it.

Just my thoughts!

Jason
Guest

Yes, you are damn right about it. Integrity will always strive compared to those hype marketing players that promise the sky for you. Love the new marketing ways!

Cedric
Admin

Integrity wins. It’s that simple.

Oh, and it’s also a way easier way to live. :)

Ashley
Guest
Not long ago, I hired a business coach to help me with my startup- Health Coaching. She proclaimed a lot of “love and light.” When I pressed on, inquiring details into how to handle sales conversations, her advice was (paraphrasing,) “Make them feel how awful their lives are/make them feel their pain, then give them the dream/how perfect their life will be, be brutally honest with them about why they are failing, then sell them your program.” She also had gems for handling objections like, “When a woman says she needs to discuss a program with her husband, ask her:… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Hmm, it sounds like she was kind of connected to her heart, but not fully, not quite all the way. I think getting someone to own their pain and offering a solution is one of the kindest things you can do sometimes. However, you have to be fully honest and in integrity while you do it. It’s not always easy, but it can be done.

Ashley
Guest

Absolutely. I feel when you come from a place of manipulation – I’m going to make you hurt so you feel scared and react to the solution I offer it’s not acceptable. It feels and is way different than standing in a place of true, unconditional caring and service and saying to the person I can hold the space for you to do this healing work.

Jeremy
Guest
Yes, yes, YES!, but also no. I do think there’s a shift and in my book it is VERY welcome–but the best response isn’t clear to me. From the customer/student end, this also has to do with “self-help addiction,” i.e., the ease of buying all sorts of new products, reading them, thinking you’re growing, and not implementing. People (i.e., me) who buy a great program like Trailblazer and peter out after a month or two. From a “douchebag marketing” perspective, the response is easy: let ’em go–they already bought, so follow-up is irrelevant. But I’m not sure the response is… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Sooooo glad you brought this up J. It’s a dilemma I’ve often found myself in.

I think the key is to give everything you can, but without needing someone to succeed, or being attached to their success. That’s been a big help for me, but it’s still really emotional when you know someone is on the brink of a breakthrough and they’re giving up.

Oscar Halpert
Guest
I love this post. As a long-time biz-opp junkie, I can attest to the sense of being manipulated while willingly doing so through fits and starts of lapsed commitment. Two people who’ve really broached this subject in depth are Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski, therapists turned marketers who wrote “The Heart of Marketing.” They started an association made up of heart-centered marketers — those like Jonathan who are sick and tired of the old paradigm. Yes, business is about profits, no question. But if that’s all it’s about, then it’s short-sighted, in my view. There has been a shift In… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Great examples Oscar. I’ll add the book to my reading list.

Also, love what Danny Iny is doing.

Elizabeth Kaiser
Guest
I totally agree with the assessment that the way “online marketing” (but really, almost any marketing) is done is both offensive and debilitating to society as a whole. It’s geared toward encouraging and growing impulse buys & shifty deals, basically swindling the world. This is despicable. Clearly, they are trading on a basic concept of human nature= people are dumb. But that is no way to make them any better. I would love to see a shift in the “sell, sell, sell” attitude of modern business, more pulling back to what’s important and valuing integrity over a few extra dollars.… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

I think that commerce is inevitable, but there’s definitely a way to approach it with love rather than fear.

If we choose integrity and love I think our choices in business will naturally shift to a more healthy reality for the whole planet.

Leslie
Guest
Jonathan, I have been working in my business for two years through authenticity and honesty. It isnt easy and not much money. I find that people underestimate the value of teachers. Friends have given me books on the art of selling, being a salesperson but as I read I think, “I cant do that!”. I am being honest with parents on how I can coach their children to achievement but they devalue my work thinking the task is JUST relaying information. I have about one month of finances left for support from loan on car. Am I not thinking right?… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

I think that selling is natural and human. We all make offerings and requests of others naturally, every single day. Sometimes they’re for the exchange of money, sometimes for exchange of energy, emotion, affection or time. The first step is to realize that we’re all always “selling.”

However, we can do this in business with more grace, integrity and effectiveness when we approach it from a place of truth and love.

I highly recommend picking up Dan Pink’s “To Sell is Human” to help you get over the blocks you have toward selling.

Leslie
Guest
Ok I will do that Jonathan. I can sell myself on the gifts I offer. The gifts are real and the results are real. Testimonials from parents stating the positive permanent changes in their families and children. But how to sell without scaring. It is easier for people to hear “tutor” than to sell what I actually do. I hope to find some perspective in the book on this. How to convince people of the value when there is a societal view of teaching being a female carreer requiring little skills or expertise. I have to say my journey has… Read more »
Craig McBreen
Guest
Hi Jonathan, The way I see it is this: Your solution is geared to their long-term success. Your answer might cure their ills, but you must first build trust through authentic content. You build trust through this, BUT you must eliminate the bullshit. People’s BS detectors are on “high” these days. Plus … you do want a “long-term” relationship, right? And you do want people to talk about you, in a good way. If you’re selling products or services to your audience, your goal is to make them the superstar, so they love you, come back to you and tell… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Beautifully said Craig. Thank you.

William Suphan
Guest

This is so refreshing to see! I read this just after reading someone else’s post about not caring about anyone who doesn’t buy from them. We need more reciprocity in all aspects of life! If we’re not all helping each other out, we’re doing something wrong. Thanks for being one of the good guys!

Cedric
Admin

Thank you sir William. Reciprocity wins.

Cassie
Guest
I’m an online marketer (both for clients and for my own business). I’m also someone who has “Integrity” at the #1 spot in her values list. As you can probably imagine, I’ve experienced a lot of conflict. For as much as I’m personally able to influence for my clients, I implement transparent and truly-helpful (for ALL involved) marketing practices. For my own business, that’s 100% of the time. I’m hopeful that a large scale shift is happening, but I’ll be honest in saying I have my doubts. I’m grateful, though, for people like you and those you mentioned who are… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Thanks for being one of the Good Girls, Cassie.

Karen McCormick
Guest

Mike Klinger is a leader in the area of delivering honest business experiences on the Web via his School o Online Business Mastery.

Karen McCormick
Guest

Sorry- it’s Mike Klingler- not to be confused with the mlm guy.

Cedric
Admin

Good example. :)

Wanda
Guest
I agree with Nadine. I am so tired of receiving emails from the ‘experts’ that promote other products even MORE than they do their own. No one seems to give anything for FREE any more. Free is only a carrot to get you into the ‘funnel’. Yes we all have to make money, but building a relationship, giving to those who can’t afford it and just offering uplifting advice also builds loyal customers. Answer some emails personally. From people who have not bought a premimum product. That shows you care more about them and not their money. Give of yourself… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Ahhhhhhhh. Love this Wanda. Thank you for sharing your experience honestly and openly so we all can benefit.

Paula
Guest
Jonathan! Oh my! All I’ve ever done is work for these kinds of companies and despised them. I am even working for one now! I want to show ‘ no not like that’ it’s all a front the customer service and one gets me is that the most important people for me are the employees. But that’s another story. If the company treats their employees badly how are they going to treat their customers? exactly the same that’s what! You got to give before you take and even better if you don’t take at all – well no much anyway.… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Thank you Paula. Yep. You gotta give to get.

Jo Casey
Guest

Great idea Jonathan. I agree that online marketing CAN be done differently – in fact, it needs to be done differently. I can testify that people like Corbett Barr are really doing something different – I’m a member of Fizzle.co and it’s so refreshing to be part of a smart, honest and genuinely supportive community of online business builders. Up the revolution brother!

Cedric
Admin

Up, up, up! Thank you Jo!

lynnette
Guest

hi!
i’m very new to this world of wanting to become an entrepreneur, however, i totally see where you are coming from. from personal, and not business, experiences i can see how marketers manipulate you by using the fear/scarcity tactic as consumers but also as employees. Simon Sinek even discussed that manipulative tactic from businesses in his book “Start With Why. i look forward to the shift of businesses “sharing” their products/ideas based on true consumer care rather than it being all about the money.
great post!!!

Cedric
Admin

Simon is pretty awesome. Why, why, why. It makes perfect sense. I honestly can’t live any other way.

Shannon Lagasse
Guest

Thanks for writing this, Jonathan!

I think times are definitely a-changin’. We’ve been stuck in a fear and lack mindset for so long and more people are raising their awareness, consciousness, and vibration to a state of love. More people are attracted to the message of love and hope than a campaign based on scarcity and fear.

Cedric
Admin

Helllll yes!

Dubem Menakaya
Guest

Man I love this article! This is what’s inspiring me to get into the online marketing game – to help people with what I know and hopefully they can help people I ca’t reach and w can change the world like that.

However there are so many unscrupulous products out there that give people false promises that they remain permanently skeptical. I think it’s awesome what your trying to do to change that Jonathan and I look forward to seeing what you guys are cooking up!

Cedric
Admin

Thanks Dubem.

Tai Goodwin
Guest
I absolutely do think there is a shift happening – for those that really want to serve from a place of integrity. The world is in need of entrepreneurs that see their business not just a way to make money, but as a calling to serve more people with their gifts and talents. I’ve seen so many people taken in by the big promises based on half truths about how people achieved their highly visible status. I just said to someone yesterday, I want to see the list of people that have really made six figures not from teaching other… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Tai. Much appreciated and much needed.

Paul
Guest
Hi Jonathan, yes I totally agree. I believe people are becoming more distant with reading the bog standard sales letters & landing pages . Marketing always evolves and the reason why I believe Youtube is certainly a worth while avenue for business growth & promotion is because people want to see the real person behind the message & idea. I believe the internet has grown in such a way that people have become more confident to openly express their true selves to the world. This has opened up a new way of connecting for sure. So inspiring life stories which… Read more »
Cedric
Admin

Yep, video is a powerful tool for showing your truth. You’ve done a great job with that Paul.

Paul
Guest
Thank you Jonathan, just to add to this I have found the creation of videos to be an excellent tool and practice for improving my communication and presentational skills. I believe such skills and experience are essential to help attract more business growth and opportunity . Its cool to see how I have grown over the year with every new video I have created & posted onto my website. I find video production fun and very rewarding for sharing my ideas to the world. It’s also extremely easy to share videos online :) As usual look forward to reading more… Read more »
Kevin Cole
Guest

The shift is steadily progressing. It’s taken a long time but we are getting there.

Like you said, the old days of marketing were profit-driven marketing tactics, attacking people’s insecurities. When the internet became a new world of business, a lot of those same tactics carried over.

But times are changing and people are realizing that they can live off their passion. This creates a new community of individuals who genuinely love what they do and couldn’t give a shit about profit margins.

The world is changing. I look forward to seeing what your new project is!

Cedric
Admin

Thanks Kevin, glad to see you pop up here. I think you’re a great example of integrity and courage.

Benjamin
Guest
This issue has been something I have wrestled with internally and it was cool to hear the way you described it. I often wonder about the effect the language of sales pages has on people… I know I’ve noticed insecure thoughts or buying shit I don’t need in a moment of unconsciousness only to later see what had happened. And I’ve made it a priority to study marketing and have dabbled with some questionable sales techniques myself at times (regrettably). In this post I heard a promise and I’m making myself that same promise. To put telling the truth and… Read more »
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[…] Modern online marketing is all about relationships and teaching, not selling. For your audience to like, know and trust […]

Duggy
Guest

I hate the fear/insecurity tactics especially when the end products from such entrepreneurs stinks! I truly believe in HUMANITY. We’re all connected! Lets respect that fact in all we do, including marketing. I really want more love and meaningful connections, it serves both ends well.

Ragnar
Guest
I think one issue is that it’s an environment that encourages people to fake expertise. There’s a saying in sales psychology about the need to establish yourself as an expert in the eye of the customer through knowledge, not necessarily credentials. But the internet as a platform is so anonymous that it can often lead to dubious decisions appearing less immoral. If you were going to try to teach people to lose weight in person, and the only experience you had was from reading articles other people had written, I would imagine most people would have second thoughts. Somehow it… Read more »
Kathy L.
Guest
Hey Jonathan: I think one of the first things you should do to love your audience is to stop using profanity and distasteful imagery (i.e., douchebaggery) in your blog posts. If this was just a personal junk website, I say go for it (because I wouldn’t be reading what you have to say). But it isn’t! I know you want to make a point but I’m sure as an intelligent person you can find better words that make the same impact. That language detracts from your message and makes you seem less credible. Just some advice from a girl who… Read more »
Cedric
Admin
Thanks for your comment Kathy. I’ve struggled with this and gone back and forth on it. I’m choosing to consciously use strong language that many consider profane when I believe it to be appropriate. I understand that might offend some people and turn them away. In some cases I might just be triggering people’s unconscious biases. In other cases it might be that they’ve just chosen not to use that language at all. In any case, I feel in order to be real and true to myself, I use profanity sparingly in my writing and work. If you don’t want… Read more »
Teresa
Guest
What you’re saying is true and is happening. BUT, in order to be really transparent, let’s talk about the fact that your company and other fine people you mentioned, aren’t exactly “struggling” along with those you mention, that conduct their businesses with less-than favorable practices. I don’t agree with everything others do who have the numbers, cache, and flaunt their every success online in various forms of media. Now that you’ve let cat-out-of-bag, let me just say that there’s a lot of us who’ve been at it a few years, invested heavily, including in programs like yours and we’re fed… Read more »
M. Catlett
Guest

Rock on, this post articulates a lot of the struggle I’ve had with many of the various marketing techniques I’ve read about. Your comments go a long way towards articulating that the profession of marketing doesn’t have to have the greasy underpinnings of a car salesman mentality.

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[…] There’s an abundance of human-debasing business out there, and the media, government, and organized religions are heavily contaminated with it. It may be the norm, but it’s not the entirety – marketing and business can both be about uplifting. Paid to Exist put out an excellent article on this alternative, saying it’s a trend, that is worthwhile to read: What’s wrong with online marketing (and why we must take a stand). […]

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