Lessons from digital marketers: What to do & what not to do!

Published: August 6, 2021 at 7:46 am

In this article, I list the lessons I have learnt from following digital marketers. Since many of these lessons are about “how not to do things like them”, no marketer would be mentioned by name.

Freefincal readers assume I spend a lot of time reading about investing and personal finance news or related books. The truth is I follow no other finance blog, Twitter handle or news source. This is because I fear subconscious influence – my worst nightmare.  My primary trigger for article ideas come from the Facebook group Asan Ideas for Wealth, reader questions and suggestions and number crunching.

One of my hobbies is following developments in SEO and digital marketing. How are products are services marketed on websites and social media? What kind of advertising strategies do they employ? What emotional trigger buttons do they push? What kind of tools do they use? Are there alternatives that cost less? What kind of audience do they target, and so on.  Naturally, this leads to a set of dos and don’ts.

My second course – Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! – was particular designed to avoid many common “tricks” and deceptive practices followed by popular online marketers (IMO, of course).

The main philosophy of everything freefincal can be summed up by these two brilliant quotes by Rand Fishkin and Chris Do.


Best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy – Rand Fishkin Feb 5 2015

Don’t chase fame. Don’t chase popularity. Don’t chase money. Focus on impact. The more impact you create for others (clients, friends, family, strangers) the more successful you’ll become. This is the metric that matters. – Chris Do Jun 24 2021

Many digital marketers say something along the lines of these quotes but what they actually do is quite different. They would advertise themselves with bombastic statements to an unknown audience on social media and Google.

1 This is one of the most important lessons learnt: Do not spend time and money advertising in the hope of making a quick buck. Time and effort spent in creating useful content will not immediately be profitable, but it can higher a higher, satisfying ROI in the long run.

I have nothing against advertising, but it is best done when we understand who our audience is and what they want. Today there is a much better way to showcase our content to a new audience for free, but it requires consistent, helpful content creation.

2 The most positive lesson learnt from them is, focus on your niche, strategy and products. Do not attract unnecessary attention, particularly on social media, by commenting on social or political issues.

3 Many digital marketers tend to hold back valuable information. They will offer a free ebook or a paid email course for Rs. 199, and it will only serve as an advertisement for their main course costing 10K.

So the lesson here is, do not hold back information: share everything you know in two steps: Share 80% of your expertise for free without expectation and share the remainder for a fee. No gimmicks.

Many marketers have a tired product structure. You buy a silver level product, and all you will hear is how good the gold level is. You then buy that, and then all you hear is how good the platinum level is. This is like insulting your audience. Offer a single paid level and offer everything you have to offer there.  No silver gold platinum memberships!

4 Treat others like you wish to be treated: Do not offer a discount that you claim will only last until midnight but is actually always present! Scarcity marketing works, but one should do it honestly. Do not offer a product for 1999 and then add a “convenience fee” later on.

5 Assume your readers are intelligent and not otherwise.  Do not offer an Rs. 5999 product for Rs. 999 and claim it as a discount. Your product is only worth Rs. 999!

6 Content wording matters. This is another positive lesson. Good marketers are generally efficient communicators. They can write emails like they are talking to you a person. This is something I need to learn! Also, how you word an article title or a product matters: The right sequence of words makes a huge difference.

In summary, while I admire digital marketers for their single-mindedness and communication skills, I also detest them for deceptive product offerings and their innate belief that buyers can be hurried into a purchase with bombastic statements and fraudulent scarcity marketing.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me is, “it is not evil to try and increase our income” as long we do it earnestly.

I believe today, a salaried person looking to increase their income or a businessperson trying to showcase their products or a professional trying to get consistent clients can build trust online without any gimmickry. Thus was born the idea that one can build an income that can last a lifetime by offering value to a community with the utmost integrity.

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18), Gamechanger, Chinchu Gets a Superpower! and seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations based on money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association, IIST Alumni Association. For speaking engagements, write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
About freefincal & its content policy Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on developments in mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified from credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish any paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions presented will only be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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