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How Not To Be An A-Hole Marketer

At every business related conference I end up having a conversation like this with someone so I thought I might flesh some of my thoughts out into a blog post.

I have found that there are a couple of different types of online marketers that frequent conferences, social networks and the blogs of others.

The first group are the Online Marketer A-Holes

I know you have ended up on one of their lists before. You receive several emails a week pitching something they have never actually used before but for some reason they are passionate enough about it to blow you up with emails. This type of marketer is the pushy salesman that toutes that his product will net you tons of ROI and brag about the money he has made making “satisfied customers” with whatever product he/she is pushing. Of course this can range from the typical “get rich quick” scheme to the “download my free e-book and receive a special offer” that results in scores of spam and ridiculous emails of the guy pretending to talk to you directly when he could give less of a crap who you are.

Especially online, it is easy for marketers to exploit human desires such as the desire to make tons of money. These people are the modern day equivalent of the “used car salesman” who would sell any piece of crap to a body with a pulse.

It is easy to notice these people because of how they present themselves online. Their websites look the same, they are usually one page websites called “sales landing pages” and the biggest element on the page is the cash you “should” earn. Their videos are filmed with a consumer level camera using it’s internal microphone (horrible audio) and they are wearing a teeshirt with some sort of blogging comment on it.

Then there are the Social Marketer A-Holes

In my experience this is the person who got a small amount of popularity in some space online and in person is a total A-hole who alienates people and asumes everybody knows who he/she is. They think the world is small and that their reach is wide. You should just appreciate them because they are in your presence. This person has came about because of social media thus dubbed a Social Media A-Hole. They make the mistake of thinking that their 10,000 Twitter followers are actually fans of theirs putting them at a higher level then the rest of us. Their fame is not wide, it has came because people truly believed in them for a second and now they are exploiting that attention.

So how do you keep from becoming an A-Hole Marketer?

The number one thing you can do is just care about people. It’s not rocket science and it goes back to what all of us were told by someone, probably our Mother. If you want people to like you, be genuinely interested in them. It’s hard to juggle this correctly because most of us are in busi­ness to make money. We also want to enjoy what we do and con­tribute some­thing to society through our work all the while keeping a roof over our head and food in our mouths.

In most sit­u­a­tions, mar­ket­ing is what sells prod­ucts. Mar­ket­ing is the simple act of pro­mot­ing and sell­ing prod­ucts.

Producing great con­tent and products that actually add value is the number one goal. Pro­mot­ing that con­tent and prod­ucts in a way we can feel good about but still reach our cus­tomers is the second goal.

We want to pro­duce from the heart, but we also want to be heard, not to lan­guish in obscurity.

To me, it’s always a work in progress. We test the lim­its of douchebag­gery and then head back towards ide­al­ism, explor­ing bound­aries in both directions.

To make sure we don’t swing too far in either direc­tion, it’s impor­tant to have an anchor. This is some­thing that keeps you in check, a com­pass you can refer to when you find your­self wandering.

My anchors are:

a) Focus­ing on being as help­ful as I can pos­si­bly be to every­one I inter­act with

b) Being open to crit­i­cism and sug­ges­tion from both cus­tomers and peers

c) Ask­ing myself, would I respect some­one else for pro­duc­ing what I’ve pro­duced? Would I respect some­one else for mar­ket­ing some­thing as I’ve mar­keted it? Would I be a cus­tomer of my own prod­uct or a reader of my work?

What are your anchors? How do you “keep it between the ditches,” as a friend’s grandpa used to say (about driving)?

What’s your happy medium?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

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