5 Examples of the Worst Marketing Advice Ever

The internet is packed with articles attempting to convince you that they know the best internet marketing advice ever. But in the rapid-fire online universe, everything can change overnight.

When you're trying to establish yourself or your business in the competitive marketing industry, one of the best ways to figure out the ins and outs is to look at just what advice is objectively terrible. Once you know what to avoid or fear, you'll know the true direction to take your business.

Which is why a recent thread on r/entrepreneur caught my eye. The post, which calls the entrepreneurs of Reddit to drop in with the worst marketing advice they've ever received, offers more insight into the industry than a dozen positive marketing articles could. And it's entertaining, to boot. Here's a look at the worst of the worst.

Email Marketing Is Dead

From the original poster:

“I'll go first:

‘Email marketing is dead, it's all about social media.'

Being in the info product/online course market for the past 8+ years I can tell you that email marketing is FAR from dead and actually outperforms our social media campaigns.

I'm sure it depends on the industry, but don't shy away from email marketing just yet.”

Put 80 Percent of the Budget Into Radio

Radio is a fine medium, but might not be your first choice, as one commenter explained:

“I was very uncomfortable, but our marketing firm convinced me to spend ~80% of my grand opening budget on radio. Complete. Waste. Of. Money. I was only able to track 1 sale from the radio ads. To top it off, they negotiated a local radio station to set up in front of my store for a few hours which seemed to scare people away vs attract them.

[…] This definitely would not have been my 1st option, however, I own a franchise and with that comes certain turnkey things. I was not required to take their advice, but the external and internal firms agreed on the recommendation so that’s the direction we went.”

Don't Market

You can't get more blunt than this for terrible marketing advice:

“Build it and they will come. Hah.”

Yeah, that commenter's derisive laugh is all the explanation this example needs.

Focus on the Product

Sounds like good advice, right? Not so fast.

“The worst advice was to focus on the product.

Whilst it is important, it's much more effective to focus on the customer. Then, you'll know whether or not the product fits. So you'll be able to sell it better.”

In other words, the features aren't as important as the benefits that they'll provide to the users who are willing to pay.

Lowball It

This tidbit is just as useful for a freelance worker in any field: When you're setting your own prices, don't assume less is more.

“Start with crazy low (we're talking below minimum wage) prices and don't increase until you have several references praising you. Wrong. You don't market yourself as being cheap, you focus on your value and charge what you're worth (or at least close),” this commenter explained.

Another commenter followed up to clarify, agree, and add a little humblebrag:

“In consulting start out charging double what you're worth. People respect expensive and assume you're actually good. This tactic grew my engineering company to 5 guys working for me.”

There you have it. Now you just need to triangulate the correct marketing moves based on the complex formula of “do the opposite of the above advice.” Good luck.

Read more about the right marketing moves on TechCo

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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