What is Good Marketing? (aka Avoiding Bro Sales)


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Good Vs Bro Marketing

If this were 2016/2017, I’d be writing to you at length today about the perils of what has since become known as “bro marketing”.

Because, truth be told, it’s an important conversation to have — especially when one is stepping out of the dazzling haze of online biz world newbie-ness…

“Whoa! Look at all these awesome and cool people! They obviously know more than me, and are probably smarter and better looking, too. Let me learn all I can!”

… And into a zone where you realize: not everything in this industry is as it seems.

Online Biz Ain’t All Lambos and Roses

“Wait what? People are bold-faced lying about client results, stealing content, creating false premises as a means of forcing people into decision making? YOU’RE TELLING ME THEY DON’T OWN THAT LAMBO AND PRIVATE JET?!?!?!?”

It’s a rude awakening for most online biz owners, and a necessary one.

As a matter of fact, it’s an awakening that’s spawned an entire cottage industry of “anti bro marketers” (of which I have proudly taken part in in years past and present), creating content about its perils, and positioning themselves against the alleged onslaught of phony “8 figure earners” peppering the internet airwaves.

This entire movement was designed to help marketers, business owners, and consumers become more discerning about the content, products, and offers they invest in.

And on some levels, it serves that purpose.

H o w e v e r.

However however however.

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See…

As with anything — if you spend too long in that zone as a marketer who gives a damn… something less-than-fabulous starts to happen.

If you fall into the trap of consuming “online biz bad, actually” content all the time, it can ALSO send YOU into a spiral you don’t deserve to be in.

A spiral that tells you all marketing is nonsense, nothing in the industry is real, and in order to be successful you have to auction off roughly 30% of the integrity portion of your soul to the highest bidder, and another 60% to Facebook ads.

Suddenly your feeds become a doomscoll reminding you that most things in marketing are terrible and toxic, and to be wary of anyone talking publicly and proudly about their success because they’re probably lying to you, too.

And then, something ELSE happens — something I see in my own work every single day:

The “good marketers” — the ones who really care, who are wholly invested in client results, and who want to help people AND create businesses they’re truly proud of?

They start to scare themselves out of showing up.

Marketing Your Product Doesn’t (Necessarily) Mean You’re a “Bro”

“What if they call me a bro marketer???” they worry.

“I feel like there’s just no way to sell that feels real. I don’t want to lie to people and manipulate them into buying my stuff!” they sigh.

“I don’t want to play that game. It’s just not worth it,” and they shut down their laptop for yet another night running.

And so they stop creating.

They stop selling.

And they stop thinking beyond the stuff that’s bringing home the bacon (aka client work), or pondering how to get their ideas out there to help more people, because they’re so scared of being “like them”, they decide it’s not worth it to show up as they are.

And you know what the bro marketers are doing while all of this is going on?

Bros Gonna Bro

Absolutely nothing.

They’re continuing to market.

And bro.

And post pictures with someone else’s lambo.

It’s not that they don’t see the thinkpieces and posts, I’m sure.

It just doesn’t stop them.

So, the question we, the non-bro marketers should REALLY be asking ourselves is: what IS non-bro-marketing, anyway?

And how do we move forward with our own goals, and continue to sell and serve — and YES, make mistakes in public — in a way that aligns with the level of integrity we feel we possess?

7 “Good vs Bro Marketing” Lessons to Share

Ohhhh, do I have good news for you, my friend:

The amazing Margo and I are digging DEEP into that question (and more!) on today’s episode of #HAMYAW.

Catch the episode now to explore with us:

  • A review of the fact the “bro marketing line” ISN’T REALLY THAT THIN
  • A helpful flowchart, created by yours truly, to figure out if you’re actually bro marketing, or if you can maybe let yourself relax a little bit
  • The ethical “gray area” of persuasion, and how to understand and move within its inner workings with grace and gumption
  • How to check in with what’s true about your claims, so you can avoid getting seduced by the “Increased results by 23498273%” one-liner hack, and set reasonable-but-powerful expectations for your clients (and how I personally track client process and results in my coaching)
  • Where does “sell them what they want, give them what they need?” fit into this whole dance?
  • How an overabundance of caution in my own marketing (and “I DON’T WANNA BRO” fears) actually held me back
  • How to sell and share stuff when you don’t have testimonials, or you’re selling/sharing for the first time

AND MORE!

Head on over there to catch it right now, and let us know in the comments:

How do YOU make sure your marketing and sales strategies stay in integrity?

Have you ever found yourself sliding into “bro marketing” territory, and then course-corrected?

We wanna hear about it.

But at the end of the day, I want to remind you: what it comes down to is this:

Are you lying about what the thing you’re selling actually does and can do — and preying on people’s insecurities (i.e. “If you don’t do XYZ, you’re a loser!”) to try and move units?

Are you inventing or exaggerating results?

Are you stealing other people’s content?

No?

Then quite honestly, you’re probably fine.

Go forth and market the heck out of yourself, my friend.

After all — the bros will always be out there.

But then again…

… So will you.

Write on, H

Episode Transcript

Good marketing to me feels like we’re having an esoteric conversation on what is marketing. If you keep…

What is marketing? But what is it? 

Yeah. Yeah.

What is the truth? Is it postmodernist marketing? Is it neoliberalism marketing?

Is it Marxist marketing?

(laughs)

Marketing.

(upbeat music)

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world. It is time for another episode of HAMYAW. And today we wanna talk about good marketing, specifically, that type of marketing that’s in opposition to something a lot of people are talking about right now, again, which is this idea of bro marketing. So this is the typical allies and enemies branding folks.

But right now the posit out in internet land is that there is a divide between the marketers and the bro marketers, and the bro marketers are a very bad thing and they do bad things. And I think that bro marketing is what? Tied into dishonesty. It’s tied into lying. It’s tied into false scarcity and all these things.

So it’s creating kind of an experience right now for a lot of marketers, this is at the forefront of the conversation right now for so many people it’s making people wonder, “Oh my gosh, am I a bro marketer? Is this bro marketing?”

Sending them into an existential crisis. And most of these people are good marketers, are ethical people in integrity, but of course, it’s gonna send you in a spiral, ’cause you always wanna check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

So Margo and I wanna talk a little bit about today, and I’ve also created a helpful bro marketing flow chart, which I will show you in a moment. But before I do, Margo, are you a bro marketer?

Oh my God, bro.

(laughs)

As a bro. As a bro. I don’t know why this suddenly erupted, because I feel like you and I have been crusading against bro marketing for like 15 years. So the fact that it’s popular in conversation now, I’m like, “What happened?” 

For 15 years!

“What happened?” Like, why now people? But like better late than never.

Come join the party. Yeah, no. I mean I started my career being like, “Y’all.” People would say things like, “Well it’s a really blurry line.” And I’m like, “I don’t think it’s a blurry line.” It’s really not.

And I think I’ve shared this on the show before, but there are certain ethical gray areas around persuasion and manipulation that we can have a really wonderful conversation about. About like how you choose to use scarcity, for example. There’s ethical ways to deploy that. And there are deplorable ways to deploy that.

But when it comes to the issue of claims, like what you say about a product or service, whether that’s through a testimonial, whether that’s through a feature or a benefit, whether that’s through the promise you make in your brand, or your sales page. I think the line’s pretty damn clear that if you are lying, if you are consciously, or unconsciously, deceiving your audience to believe something is true that is not true, it’s bro marketing (laughs).

And it’s bad.

Wait, wait. I have a flow chart for this. Okay. Let’s go to the chart.

So is it real marketing?

Are you exaggerating claims, lying about results, stealing someone else’s content, creating false scarcity, preying on insecurities, or charging an absurd amount for stuff that doesn’t do what people say it does, or doing any shit you’d be ashamed to admit if you got found out?

If the answer is yes, it’s probably bro marketing.

If the answer is no, it’s probably not bro marketing.

Chill.

So here we have the definitive answer and the end to the bro marketing debate. You’re very welcome everybody. I’m a genius.

I laughed so hard at this.

First of all, it has never crossed my mind to be insecure about whether or not I’m participating in bro marketing. So that’s number one.

But number two, I think where it gets really confusing is if you’re in a service industry, and you are serving other clients who want you to do things that they now think are the status quo. And that’s another place where it gets really scary.

Like I remember having clients where I gave them a sales page, and they would put in filler testimonial stuff, and I would see it go live. And I’m like, “What?! I wrote that as like a filler for when you actually have like, you’ve collected the testimonials from your people.”

And they were like, “Oh yeah, we didn’t have time.” And I’m like, “That’s not an answer. Take that down. And I don’t wanna be associated with this.”

Those are very obvious places, but where I would hear people get into these, quote, “Ethical gray areas,” where they’re like, “Well, you know, everyone’s doing it, you know.”

Yeah. Yep.

(audio cuts out) In 7th grade.

Or like, “It’s just how it’s done, and it’s not a lie.” And if you find yourself saying, “But it’s not a lie,” and then rationalizing, it’s the same way of being like, “I can stop anytime I want.” 

It’s a lie.

You’re like, “No you can’t! You have a problem. This is really clear.”

And what we were talking about, and what we’re actually really excited to dig into in this episode is this idea of claims, ’cause that’s kind of at the core of the separation as you say like, between bro marketing and, I dunno, normal marketers, ethical marketers, sis marketers, I dunno.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

But I think that one thing that’s come up for me, especially as I sell more consistently like my one-to-one coaching Power Position that launches quarterly, you’re always kind of treading that line.

As you get in more great client results, and you get more great client testimonials, and similarly, the more people you bring through, the more people that you have in the experience, the more you’re gonna see people getting different results, and having different experiences that aren’t precisely like the testimonials on the page.

You’re gonna come into obstacles, you’re gonna run across people who may not be a great fit for the coaching after all, but you’re still doing good work with them. Like what does that look like? And how does that change the conversation?

And for me, what’s so important, and I think it’s probably the same for you, Margo, is that this act of developing messaging, always trying to find a new and fresh angle, which is part of the sales process, it’s really, really important to check in with yourself at every step of the road, and really take kind of a microscope to the claims, to the things that you’re saying, to make sure that this is true.

And I think that there’s a line between like, is it true because you always have those little asterisks on the health and wellness stuff that says, “Results not typical,” right? You know, am I leaning in that category, or is it true because I’ve seen it happen time and time again?

Is it true because people are talking about it, and sharing about this independently about the work?

So I think it’s really important that you take a look at those claims, and you check in with what’s true, and you check in about what might be exaggerated in order just to make a really good one-liner, ’cause that’s really tempting, especially as copywriters, especially as people in the space who know how important it is to have those really bold sort of assertions and have those strong conversations in the sales sort of messaging and language.

Yeah. And I’m gonna further complicate this, because…

Yes!

(laughs) It’s always good. Come here for the complication.

Nuance. Yes, Ma’am. Let’s market that. Bro-market it. We’re nuancing it.

For real, though, here’s where it gets to be an actual gray line, is that part of your marketing dictum is meet people where they are, and it’s a kind of like sell them what they want, give ’em what they need, right? So it does feel a little bait-and-switch, de facto, right?

Because some products, this is not true of all the industries, but certainly in the service space industries, brand-based, personality-based, that lifestyle, entrepreneurship, that we find ourselves in, and personal development, you see a lot of people don’t always know what they want, sorry, don’t know what they need.

And so what they think they need is different than what you know that they need.

So you have to meet them where they are. And the most obvious example of this, it would be in weight loss.

And I would get in arguments with clients all the time. And I still think the jury’s out on how to do this the right way.

But I remember friends that were like, “I don’t wanna say ‘I’m gonna promise you weight loss,’ ’cause I don’t wanna be about diet culture. I wanna be about weight loss.” And I’m like, “I know, but also, the problem your customer thinks she has is a weight problem. You know that she has a different one. She doesn’t know yet.”

So like part of it is market sophistication, and where along the line you’re gonna meet them. But if you’re meeting them in that early stage, like sometimes you do end up having to promote the values you don’t agree with, in order to Trojan-horse it, basically.

Today it’s different. But there was a time if you were like, “I’m gonna make you more body-positive.” I think people actually are kind of into that now. But like for the last few years, if not decades, nobody cared. Nobody thought they had a confidence problem. You know?

Like I have a Cheetos and donut problem. Like, I don’t have confidence, who among us, really? Yeah.

Or you could even position it differently, like, “I’m gonna help you with accountability. I’m gonna help you with follow-through.” Or, “I’m gonna help you with consistency.” Like you could lead with those benefits.

But mostly people were like, “I wanna lose the last five pounds.” There’s a reason that messaging started.

So the power of the message, this is where I do believe it gets dicey, and there is a conversation to be had, has to do with intent. And it has to do with the journey you’re bringing people on. A clarifier I like is when I work with the Akimbo folks on how they create a curriculum…

Namedrop!

(laughs) They’re awesome. If you get a chance to ever take any of their programs, you absolutely should. But they will sit down, and before they even start they’re like, “Okay, where is someone before they take this program? And where are they at the end of it? 

What do you want for them?” And they clarify that before they even do anything else. 

And then they hyper-focus on making that a reality.

Now I think that we don’t do that often. When we have a product we’re just like, “I have a widget, go.”

(laughs)

Fly. Yeah.

There’s no like looking at the widget. And so part of why I think that this is a clarifier is it could tell you like you cannot make the claim that someone’s gonna lose weight if they’re not gonna lose weight.

So you can lead with like, this is where it gets dicey, “Do you want to lose the last five pounds?” Right? You could maybe lead with that. And this is where we start doing copywriting jujitsu, where that’s not a claim, right? 

It’s an assertion that ties into a desire that makes people feel seen, right? That is different than saying, “If you take this, 100% you will lose 25 pounds,” when you won’t.

Yeah. I actually wanna go back to a point that I think Shenee Howard made on the show when she guested. Love you, Shenee! One of our faves (laughs). Check out her episode. (laughs) We mention her like, I’m sure like once an episode. We love you Shenee.

She talked about the spiral staircase, where you have the entry point, and this is the, sell ’em what they want, give ’em what they need, which could flow into bro marketing territory if you’re not careful, but it’s also human psychology.

Like it’s absolutely true that people don’t necessarily think they have a confidence problem when they wanna lose weight, but they wanna lose weight ’cause they have a confidence problem, but they’re not making that connection.

You have to make it for them.

So the entry point is, you wanna feel better or you wanna look better.

And then Shenee talks about it as this spiral staircase, where you get them in through that doorway, and then you say like, “The traditional methods don’t work because of these reasons, so we’re gonna have to look holistically at your life, where are you unhappy? Why are you emotionally eating?” All of these things. So as they get deeper and deeper into your world, you can introduce them to that messaging and those ideas, but you have to get them in somehow. 

I love that you posited that nuance, because it’s so, so important to sort of think about that, and also to know what is the right entry point, versus where’s the one that’s scaring people, or being inherently manipulative, and manipulative as opposed to persuasive.

And I also wanted to say that the Akimbo thing, so I feel really proud, because part of what I do in my coaching too is I talk to the clients that I work with, and when I put a proposal where I put their top three goals, and then I lay out session by session what we’re gonna work on.

And in my notes document for every client I have those three goals at the top of the page. And every single time I’m like, “Okay, are we in line with this? Are we doing this? Are we getting closer to what you wanted to hear?”

Did the goal change?

Exactly. Did the goal change? And I think that’s so important. And I think a fair amount of coaches do this. I’m not like, “I’m the best because I do that.” It’s a…

You’re the best.

I am the best. It’s a fairly simple thing to do. But I also don’t think people are necessarily unethical if they don’t do that, it’s just a different style.

You have some coaches who you’re like, “Okay, we’re on the call. Like what’s going on today?”  And there aren’t really those milestones. Is that inherently bad? Do they get their clients bad results?  I don’t know. I don’t know their life.

But when I think about claims, being able to look at those things and help people hit their goals, I think that’s a big part of what spurs any sort of point that I wanna drive home in a marketing conversation. It’s like, “Do I have the data to prove this. Did this really happen?”

Yes. I think this is where, I know he gets clumped in with bro marketers, but I don’t actually think Rameet qualifies as a bro marketer. 

No, he doesn’t.

Just by being in that world. He just knows how to use those tactics ethically. I will die on this hill. I think his stuff is really great. But the reason I bring him up is his whole thing is, if without the evidence, without the backing, he doesn’t make the claim. And that’s a really, really cool, I think not even cool, that should be the norm.

That should just be the norm.

But I do think it gets difficult in the beginning, right?

In the beginning, how do you sell something when you don’t have the results, or you don’t have the numbers? Or even like I say beginning, you could be five years in, and you’ve pivoted so many times you still don’t have the numbers to know that you could do a thing.

And that’s part of the growing pains.

It does not give you license to lie, right?

And I remember, I’m trying to think of my own examples that I could use here and like claims that I’ve needed to make, where, for example, I would know that someone wants audience growth, but I couldn’t make that claim.

There are ways to go into it where I didn’t promise, “We’re gonna 10X your audience,” right? Because that’s not something that I could promise yet, because I hadn’t made it happen yet. Well, I had, but for clients in a different context, the point is that these things like require, one, you be really honest with yourself. Two, you have respect for your audience.

So like there’s a difference between “I’m claiming my product does something it doesn’t do.” And, “I need to meet people where they are.”

Yes. 100%. And I’m glad you brought up that, like what if there’s nothing to back the claims?

Because especially in my early days as a copywriter, and especially like as a product creator, I actually, I kind of became a master of being like, “Hey, haven’t done this before. This is in beta. You wanna come along?” You know, and pricing accordingly. And like letting people know what’s up, so that they come in with the correct expectations.

‘Cause I think that’s where people are like, “Boom, I got bro-marketed.” If they’re told one thing and they come in and they realize it’s the leader’s first time, or they don’t actually specialize in this but they’re testing something out.

Like if your people are guinea pigs, tell ’em. Normally folks are okay with it. Like, don’t be shy.

You can frame it as like, “We’re going on this journey together. Here’s what I do.” And I love the point you made on like the audience growth thing. ‘Cause I have a lot of conversations around this too, where it’s like, my specialty is not audience growth exclusively necessarily.

Like in my case, I do positioning coaching where we get the foundation, we get the offers, we get the messaging and ideas together so that those strategies can work, so that those people can find you. And that’s a really fine line to walk, and I’m still perfecting it, because you don’t wanna say like, “Come work with me and I’ll get you clients on tap, and I will blah, blah, blah.”

I talk about like, “Okay, you have these goals. You wanna do these things? This is the foundational piece you need in place to make that work.” And I think that it’s a really, really important to anchor into your marketing base. It’s very easy, and it’s sexier, unfortunately, to be like, “I will get you clients on tap.”

(laughs)

You attract worse people when you make false claims with certainty.

This is the part that people don’t know from behind the scenes though. Like that’s when you see increased requests for refunds. That’s when you see people slaughtering your name. That’s where your brand affinity and equity just tanks.

You can fool them once, but like they’re not buying from you again. You can’t be duping people.

I think you said something really important about if you are in the beginning, and you can’t make those claims, you can’t make those claims.

Don’t. Like, don’t. Don’t fucking do that. You take a different angle. Even if you know it’s not the most powerful angle.

First of all, guys, this is marketing. It’s a sales page we’re talking about. You can reposition it in 10 minutes. It’s not forever. It’s not a sign of your failure. Put up a sales page that uses a different angle.

And then the next time you launch, use another angle.

We have to stop the scarcity thinking that it’s like reflective of who you are as a person. I mean, if you’re lying, it is reflective of who you are as a person, but it’s reflective of your lack of expertise or something.

Like, you can stay in integrity. But you do need a testing mindset.

You need to be able to come to the table, and you need to be honest. Now that’s not to say, we have had episodes, which we should link to below, on going overboard on honesty.

Like you don’t need to come to the table and be like, “Okay, y’all, I know I said we were gonna do audience growth, but I’m feeling really insecure because I’ve never done it before. And I don’t actually know what I’m doing, but I did Google it.”

Oh I know!

Right? So like that’s the other direction that goes, too honest.

Too honest.

Coaches.

Coaches. I see you. If you’re gonna do something where you wanna feel vulnerable, like own it and be like, “Listen, this is the system I use to grow. It may not be right for you. I think it’s right for you. So come and learn my system.” That’s totally fine.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But to go on and be like, “This is the only system, and it’s the secret, and it’s the way it works. And no one else knows. And I’m the only one who’s figured out the secret. Like, I don’t know why it’s called bro marketing, that’s bro marketing.

(laughs)

Shouldn’t it just be called lie marketing? Like, poor bros. I have bros in my life who I love very much.

Me too. 

My husband is a bro, I married one (laughs).

Your husband is a bro.

Yeah.

It’s very, you know, will no one think of the ethical bros here?

But anyway, and I love that distinction. It’s funny because what gets to me, and Margo and I were talking about this before we started filming…I’ll relay the story to you guys, where I fell down a little in marketing my copywriting business.

And this is, as you say, like on the other side of the spectrum from all this. Where I fell down a little bit in my copywriting businesses, I was working with some of the biggest names in the industry. I made pretty good money pretty early.

People knew I was successful, but I would tell people the project that I was working on, and what I was doing, and I was going on speaking tours, but I didn’t really talk about it that much.

And so when I did talk about it privately, people were like, “Why isn’t this in your marketing?” And I’m like, “Oh, you know (indistinct) ’cause I felt insecure. ‘Cause I didn’t want to brag.”

I didn’t necessarily wanna be seen as somebody who is doing this just for show because I loved my work and I didn’t wanna be a bro. I didn’t wanna be a lie marketer. And my friend Meryl pointed this out to me. She was like, “I need you to just crank it up just one notch. Just one notch. Like if you have a really great month, talk about it. Like if you have client success, put it to the forefront, put it on your Stories, post about it, share about it. People wanna know.

Because otherwise, they don’t know what you’re doing. They don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.”

And I was like, “Okay, you know what, point taken?” And I’m like, “Last year I think around August I had a 40K month, and I was like, “Okay, is this it? Do we one notch? Okay, here we go.”

So I’d crank up the volume one notch, and I posted it. But here’s the thing, guys. I also posted my expenses, because I think it’s really dumb to just be like “I had a 40K month. Ta-da! All profit. Yeah, totally.”

Like it leaves out half the story, and discerning business owners who are the people that I work with, know that.

So while I was really proud, and I wanted to celebrate, and I wanted to share, because it was a really exciting moment for me in my business, I was also like, “By the way, I had like 11 or 12K expenses. So technically, like the margins are good, but I think that that’s sort of how you come at that from this, you know, “I’m celebrating. I want people to know that I’m doing well.”

Because that’s what builds that trust and brings people to me.

But I also wanna be honest and as transparent as possible because I don’t want someone thinking, “Why am I not making that amount of money?” I don’t want someone thinking, I want someone to know how much goes into creating a moment like that.

Well, there’s a lot of, also, like intent behind what you share. And like you have values that are clear.

You have brand guidelines that are clear.

Like there are certain things you share online and certain things you don’t.

And I think a lot of people don’t have those lines set for themselves, of like “I share these things. I don’t share these things.” And I think that’s a conversation worth having with yourself and how you show up online.

It’s reminding me of Brene’s quote about, “You share from the scar, not the wound.”  If things are still new, good or bad, like don’t share till they’re a little bit more in retrospect. 

On the other side, you’re like, “Share from the victory party hangover, not the victory party.”

(laughs)

Yes. Yes. I love that. I love that.

Sober up a little, and then talk about it, because if you’re, ♪ I’m the shit ♪ And then everyone’s like, “You are.” But then you bring in those people who are like, “I heard you’re the shit,” versus the people who are like, “I saw what you did. I saw that you posted.”

“I’ve been with you for the journey.”

Exactly. “This is really cool. Can we talk about it?” That’s the line there for me personally. 

Totally. I totally agree with you. And I wanna put a footnote on this. I’m going down like an Armchair Expert dive right now.

Yeah. You are so. She texts the group chat about Armchair Expert, like every day. Like I know Dax Shepard.

I know it’s super late too. Like everyone was into him like five years ago, and I just am like, I’m into it. I go through stages, whatever.

Yes. There we go. I binge-listen to podcasts. So I’m over my last person. I’m into my new one.

There we go.

But he had Justin Timberlake on talking about how when you don’t wanna brag, you get falsely humble. And we’ve talked about false humility before on this show, because artists, academics.

Hearing Justin talk about it was really funny. ‘Cause he was like sharing how there are these moments where people will give a compliment, and he’ll be like, “Oh no.” And then he’ll turn around and be like, “No, no. I did totally deserve that. And I totally did that.” And then you look more shitty because you now look like a liar. So, coming full circle…

Oh, what tangled webs we weave.

So it all comes back into checking in with yourself in integrity.

If you really did do something awesome you deserve to celebrate that. And that’s different than being braggadocios.

But like as far as it goes into your marketing, and in far as it goes into what we’re talking about with bro marketing, I think the line for me is if you are presenting yourself to have a life that you don’t have, or a business that you don’t have, or success that isn’t real, that is bad, right?

Now, let me caveat again, more nuance.

There is an element in the beginning of acting as if, right? That is real. Like function follows form.

But I think that that is the belief that should guide your behavior, in the sense that you go into a room that you don’t feel like you belong in, believe you belong there, right? That’s what that means, acting as if.

It doesn’t mean, if someone says that you had a $5-million-month, and you didn’t, that you don’t correct them, right?

Like it doesn’t mean presenting on the internet that you have this outrageous life when you live in like a one-bedroom with your mom. Like, own it.

Your mom might be awesome. I don’t know her.

Listen, I’ve definitely been there, where there were moments where I haven’t corrected an error of omission and allowed the implication to just lay.

Yeah, I’m like, “That sounds way cooler when you say it.”

Yeah. You said it. Sure. “I didn’t say it. I’m not condoning it.” You are condoning it.

Just letting that fly by. Yeah. And then afterwards I’m like, “Fuck.”

Yeah, you have an imposter syndrome hangover, ’cause it’s not true.

And let me tell y’all, I’ve experienced when it is true. It feels so good. Like getting to it yourself to the point where you’re like, you can make these claims and they are true about you…

Yes, I did that. 

Like Bryan Holliday’s comment that like, “You don’t need faith, you need evidence.”

So it’s really nice. Like I don’t need to bolster myself up with feel-good stuff. I can just be like, “No, I did that. That’s a thing I did.” 

Yep.

To kind of bring it full circle to talking about like if you’re at the starting line with something, how do you make claims? And I think that one thing that’s been really a gift in my life as well, is that I am not afraid to test something two or three times before it gets a sales page, before I’m publicly selling it, and I can make a claim.

So if you’re worried about that as well, like I think going through that process of testing, seeing what happens, then making claims from reality. But when you’re in the testing phase, painting a picture of what they can do.

Like what, painting a clear process, showing them what the goal is, and then allowing them to decide whether or not they wanna come on the journey with you, ’cause you’re speaking about it honestly.

Totally, totally. I will echo that with just a little personal story.

Like I have a workshop coming out that’s gonna look like it’s starting from scratch, right? ‘Cause we’re gonna beta test it. But it has been like pre-beta-tested so many times over the years.

So like I have the testimonials, I know what works and doesn’t work. So like, and this is another problem with comparing your journey to someone else’s, you don’t ever have the full backstory.

So like people are gonna see this beta test and think like, “Oh, you just like came out that way.” And like, “Why would I tell you about all the other stuff on the sales page? You can talk to me about it on a podcast, I’ll go into it, but like, you don’t know, judging from me promoting it, what it’s been through, and how we got to that point.” So just eyes on your own paper, staying on your own journey.

God, it seems so silly to say out loud, but like don’t lie. 

Yeah, don’t lie. And also check in with yourself. Because I think it’s easy to say, like if you’re asking like, “Oh my God, am I bro marketing?” Ask yourself, “Am I bro marketing?” Or are you just feeling a little uncomfortable with selling? 

Yes.

I think it’s probably not bro marketing. Chill.

(laughs)

Listen, my general theory is if you’re justifying to yourself, like, “It’s not totally lying,” then get out.

Get out.

I also wanna make this general point, is that again, and Shenee Howard said this to me, where she’s like, “And here’s the thing, actual bro marketers don’t worry about whether they’re bro marketers.”

That’s it. Like that’s just the reality.

So if you’re concerned about it, if you’re thinking about it, if it’s on your mind if you’re cross-checking your claims, you’re good.

Hill, you have no idea how many people I’ve had drinks with that are selling like penis enlargement and freezing off your fat. And like, God don’t even get me started on the mattresses. The mattress industry is just a whole sham. Or cancer stuff, where they’re like, “Take these pills. They’re not FDA-regulated

“Take these wheat germ supplements.” (laughs).

And they have so much mental gymnastics they go through to justify it to themselves because it’s illegal.

They know it’s not. Like, they’ll sit there and be like, “Here’s why it’s okay for me to take this job.”

And I’m like, “You need the money to pay rent. I understand why you’re rationalizing it. That’s not the right reason. But like at least be honest that that’s why you’re taking the job. You don’t believe that this cures cancer and just no one knows about it, but they happened to be reading this trade journal.”

(laughs)

Like, what?

You know who we’re talking about.

But yeah, that’s what it comes to at the end of the day. Like there are companies and industries out there, yes, who basically claim anything that they can legally claim.

They have giant legal teams cross-checking and making sure it’s all okay, so they can tell you, “Oh, we suggest that you quit your chemo for this wheat germ supplement, however, technically it’s not our information, and we’re not selling the supplements, so it’s all okay.” So that’s that thin line.

Selling wheat germ and getting people off of chemo, is not the same as you coaching someone and they’re not getting the results you want them to get, despite your best efforts. Like these are not equivalent, okay.

Thanks to you.

Yeah, it’s okay.

And like even in those cases, it is up to the people, ultimately, but we have powerful tools here at our disposal that we need to be careful with.

There’s no shame in taking your time getting to the finish line.

Our motto here on HAMYAW, and also just between Hillary and I, we text each other all the time, like long game, long game. We are in this for the long game.

So if you need a short hit you’re more likely to participate in nefarious activities that you don’t respect yourself for, and that you know are wrong. So considering all this stuff in the long-term, take that long view, understand who you wanna be, how you wanna show up, and check yourself.

Like, is the claim a lie? Yes or no.

Sorry, I’m being flippant. But anyway, Hillary, final thoughts

Be kind to yourselves. If you’re edging into bro marketing territory, forgive yourself, love yourself, in spite of, or because, of it, and just come back to earth.

It’s not a big deal.

This is always the test to figure out where you wanna be, who you are, how you wanna come across. What’s real. What’s not. Stay the course. This is a long game. You’re gonna be alright. And you’re not a liar marketer.

And even if you’re a bro, we love you. I mean, if you’re a good bro, but, no, not one of the bad bros.

(laughs)

Also, it doesn’t mean we like you, husbands. 

(laughs)

Hey! On that note though, Margo, any closing thoughts?

Yes. All right. So.

We’ve talked about the difference between meeting people where they are, and making a claim that is objectively not true.

We’ve talked about how there are tools of persuasion that are neutral, that you can use both positively and negatively.

And then we talked about the discomfort that comes with having to talk about yourself, and your success, or lack thereof.

And when we go too far in the false humility piece, or we go too far in the not correcting misconceptions piece.

So I wanna bring this back around to nefarious business practices coming in and seeping into your marketing.

If you are listening to the show you are probably not one of them, but if you are worried, or feel pressure to be in that category, trust that you’re in it for the long game, don’t cut corners. It will bite you in the ass later.

There always is a bill that comes paid due. Always. In ways that maybe you can’t see. 

So stay in integrity. Things can still sell. You can still be a really freaking good marketer.

But we do wanna hear from you. I wanna hear all of the things that you hate about bro marketing.

Things that you have felt you had to do.

Things that you wish you hadn’t, or the things you definitely would not touch with a 10-foot pole.

I also wanna share that like we don’t believe in cancel culture here. So if you have participated in something that you think is shitty, and you’ve learned from it. Awesome.

Yeah. Good for you.

Awesome. And share it below. Let us know how you’re better. Sometimes we have to violate boundaries to figure out where they are, so. 

Yep, gotta find the edge to find the middle.

That’s right.

That’s right.

Anyway, so I am Margo Aaron.

And I’m Hillary Weiss. This has been Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites. If you like this episode, please like it below. Subscribe to our channel, and share it with your friends.

We will see you in two weeks.

Bye for now, guys. We love you. We love you too, bros. We’ll see you later.

(laughs)

♪ Hey ♪

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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