Let’s say that you are someone with a dream of working for yourself.

Having this dream, you feel…excited, thrilled with what’s possible, inspired to get going.

Also? Very vulnerable and afraid. You know that you need help. You know that marketing might not be “your thing.” You might feel inadequate when it comes to the task of how to build a business.

Here’s the thing that you need to know: Choose your masters, wisely.

Fear Tactics

I see a lot of people market their businesses by using fear tactics. I recently had reason to need to review a few years worth of sales pages for a litigation case I was involved in. Over and over, I saw a particular online proprietess invoking scarcity by saying “Only one spot left!”

The thing is, she was probably lying. The chances that over and over, for the past decade, she’s literally only had one spot left absolutely every single time she was running a course? Yeah, I’m thinking not. She also kept talking a lot about “secrets” and “cracking the code.” (Any time someone is selling something based on “secrets” that should send your red flags blaring, because honestly, ain’t nothing a secret when it comes to marketing).

Then there are the content titles: “What you should no longer be saying in your blog posts” or “The 20 most over-used words / phrases/ job titles” or “Quit trying to market yourself like _________” –all tinged with just a hint of the snarck, riding this line that’s something like:

“I’m phrasing all of this as if I’m helping you, especially because I want you to read this and then decide to buy something from me, but you won’t buy something unless I make you feel inadequate, first!”

There are names for this, in marketing. It’s called “pushing on pain points” or “emotional triggers.” It’s an actual thing that some marketers sit down and think about whenever they sell a product. They want to use fear of missing out, scarcity, or making people feel bad about their lives so that people will hustle to buy the product.

There is another way

There is, of course, another way. Instead of trying to get people afraid and intensifying the pressure through fear tactics such as scarcity, speak to solutions for problems. Do it without making people feel bad about themselves (which is often done through finger-wagging, sarcasm, condescension, or the vague case study of the “clueless person” who made all the mistakes that you are asked to pity).

A great litmus test, is this: if you sound like an Inner Critic, you’re probably pushing on pain points.

But now, self-responsibility

Unfortunately, marketing tactics like this are unlikely to change, any time soon. People use them because marketing based on fear actually works. People get scared, so they buy. We’ve all done it.

So since the marketers who do this probably aren’t going to stop, here’s what we do: WE STOP.

I’d like to ask you, now, to do yourself the kindness of not reading another blog or website that has either content or a tone that puts you down before it raises you back up. Whether it’s “X number of ways that you suck” or “Why no one cares about your blog” or tortured-artist whining about how “just anyone” can put out an e-book these days, I’m asking us all to just stop the madness–which means, stop reading those blogs.

I’m not saying that anyone who presents a solution to a problem is in this category–it’s legit, for instance, to know that some industry jargon is over-used, or that a particular marketing strategy isn’t likely to build your business. I’m talking about a very specific sub-set of bloggers out there who are writing posts that are laced with sarcasm and arrogant astonishment at how you “don’t get it.” I’m saying that we stop passing this attitude off as if it’s “cool” and quit buying in.

Really. Don’t just stop reading temporarily, either.
Un-freaking-subscribe from their announcement lists.
Delete them from social media.
Do not gobble up one more word.

If you see anyone, over and over, claiming to have “secrets,” having cracked any codes or wanting to show you the thing that no one else knows about, presenting case studies of people who are clueless who are meant to be pitied, and the like? Move on.

Understand that they are telling you that you fundamentally suck and pretending as if they’re helping you, all while taking your time, attention, or money. They are not simply saying, “Here’s a problem that many people face, and here’s a possible solution.” No–They are manipulating fear around your vulnerability over starting a business and learning about marketing. It’s wrong.

Stop handing anyone money, time, or attention who is telling you that you fundamentally suck and are clueless, and that they have the answer.

They are not internet revolutionaries.

They are people, just like you. They are playing the game of “Trust me! I’m not playing a game.”

But duh–it’s a game called “Trust me as I pretend not to be playing a game.”

They are not fostering connection.They are not using the internet to disseminate information that lifts people up–they’re indirectly telling you about how you don’t fit into their clique.

You deserve better.

I have far more respect for anyone who tries and “fails” (in the numbers and money and web traffic sense) than I do for any of the people who have “made it” and who now use their energy to prop themselves up and put others down (while pretending to be trying to “help you.”).

Going Renegade

After you’ve unsubscribed from lists and stopped reading the “I’m just telling you that you suck for your own good” blogs–get back to it.

Launch your blog.

Start your e-course.

Write your e-book.

You’re not going to somehow avoid failure because they have manipulated you into thinking that paying them money equals “avoid failure.” Just get out there. Learn, make mistakes. Get back in there. Consider your flops the “first pancake,” and then get back to it–you can do this! Notice what needs work. Try again. A keen eye for noticing and being present to what your business needs, combined with perseverance and persistence, will actually take you quite far.

Someday, when you are finding yourself getting more traffic, pay it forward–be a stand for encouraging people to try, to put themselves out there. Write blog posts on “X ways that it’s great that you have the courage to try” and “10 things you can learn from failing” and “How to support one another rather than tear one another down.”

And finally? Keep your sense of humor, and just stay present to your stuff. The snarcky pro-blogger behaviors are just a distraction–one that you can choose not to allow into your life.

Choose wisely.