Let’s get real about digital marketing experts and their BS marketing

Campaign Del Mar founder and marketing strategist Mia Fileman looks at how legitimate marketers can cut through the noise of so-called 'experts'.

You’ve seen their ads pop up with their outrageous promises and rags to riches narratives. ‘Stop trading time for money and scale your business to seven figures’. ‘1-hour marketing strategy’. ‘Earn seven figures working 10 hours a week’. ‘Sell high-end courses on autopilot’. ‘How to make seven figures from a $27 offer’. They would be laughable, were it not for the fact that small business owners and entrepreneurs have bought into these false promises and sham marketing — and have been left wanting.

It’s not possible to buy a marketing strategy for your business off the shelf. A cookie-cutter template like the “one-hour marketing strategy” or the “content marketing bundle” can not consider individual budget or skills, address the needs of your customer, or understand your industry and its trends and challenges. And that’s why these are not strategies.

But wait, there’s more. The $27 bundle is a tripwire. Its sole purpose is to put you in their funnel and it is an aggressive one. Daily emails, upsells galore, and three months later you’ve spent far more than the $27 that you were initially hooked by, with nothing to show for it. Shitty templates lead to shitty marketing.

The nitty-gritty of the tactics

There is more to the story than the experts will have us believe, so let’s take a look at some of the all-too-common tactics the gurus used to grow their “empires”.

Growth for them usually starts with aggressive sales funnels, with daily, sometimes twice daily emails, FOMO, false authority, false scarcity, predatory and shame-inducing language, inflated value, income claims, worthless bonuses and a false sense of urgency. Then there’s the huge expenditure — like tens of thousands of dollars — on Facebook and Instagram ads. While they may earn six or seven figures, their costs are very high. And they often have hundreds if not thousands of people doing their programs at once and therefore cannot offer tailored support.

This model is also very reliant on evergreen courses and digital products, which is now a highly saturated market, or creating a personal brand akin to celebrity status, which is by no means an easy undertaking. Most experts have spent years establishing their personal brands, launching podcasts, showing up on social media daily, being prolific on Clubhouse, and appearing on each other’s platforms. There is no such thing as passive income.

Customers have tried these courses and been left wanting, so the appetite for another online course or digital product has waned substantially. We all now have a pile of unfinished online courses because the truth is, what we seek is accountability and support, not just lessons.

The stuff they don’t want you to know

I haven’t even got into the downright shady part of the model.

Their methods usually rely on cheap offshore labour; a heavy reliance on plug-and-play templates, copy-paste formulas and one-size-fits-all advice; and recommending expensive funnel and LMS software for which they receive an affiliate kickback.

And then there’s shame-provocation, leading people to believe that the only issue is them, their mindset, their limiting beliefs so that they can sell their coaching and mentoring that takes no consideration for real-world marketing economics. If that doesn’t get people, there’s the self-loathing: they erode self-trust, making small business owners and founders feel like they’re failing and creating problems that they didn’t even have in the first place. All so they can sell the cure.

Marketing amongst the minefield of experts

The experts are eroding trust in marketing professionals, ruining things for the legitimate experts, educators and consultants. So how can experienced marketers stand out amongst the noisy sea of those trying to make a quick buck?

While you may see straight through their flimsy strategies, your average person may not, so don’t underestimate their power to get in front of mass eyeballs and convert. Instead, create your own noise to dissect and debunk their outrageous promises and false claims.

Treat them as you would with any competitor. We’ve all had clients come to us after being let down, so remember the power of social proof, and get busy sharing your own case studies. Highlight your legitimate qualifications and experience. Compare and contrast your own expert approach with their quick-fix strategies, and let others be the judge for themselves.

For all the expert’s false authority, prove your legitimate authority. For all their inflated value, show your real value. For all their publicity, chase down your own publicity. But play the long game and stick to your own values — don’t fall into the trap of their bro marketing.

You can see straight through the tactics of the digital marketing expert, so now is the time to expose it for what it really is: crap marketing.

Mia Fileman is a marketing strategist and the founder of Campaign Del Mar.


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