Marketing Shouldn’t Feel Sleazy

Are you ashamed to show your kids?


I ventured into the world of YouTube last month. It was daunting and scary. My first several videos are embarrassing. The video quality is poor, the audio is bad, and my delivery is what you’d expect from a new YouTuber.

What my videos aren’t is sleazy. As bad as they are, I genuinely worked to provide value to the world with these videos. I may be embarrassed by the first few, but I’m not ashamed. That’s a huge distinction.

Here are the boxes to check before you push send on your marketing. These steps will prevent you from putting out something you’re hesitant to share with friends and family.

Provide Value To The World

Great marketing connects a person with a problem or desire with the right company to solve that problem or fulfill that desire. There’s no need to trick someone into a purchase. If you’re selling a quality product, you’re doing the world a service by making it easier to find for the right people.

I welcome the marketing message that sends me to the right product when I have a problem. I want the website I visit to have the answer. There’s no need for a hard sell if the marketing is providing value. Put the right message in front of the right people and sales will happen.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein

The best marketers and most successful brands are often prolific content creators. They’re obsessed with providing value to the world. Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck, Hubspot, Andre Chaperon, Ramit Sethi, and countless other successful marketers are evidence of this fact.

All of these examples focus on providing value to the world and they’re rewarded with loyal audiences who purchase what they sell. None of these brands have to shove their product down your throat. Learn from their example, but don’t try to be them.

Be Yourself

Don’t copy the style of someone else because it took them to fame and success. Gary Vaynerchuck is a content marketing machine. I admire his content and approach, but they’d never work for me. His style and delivery wouldn’t be authentic coming from me. I’d feel like a fraud if I tried to copy him.

Watch successful marketers, learn what made them successful, gain insights and tips, and then make it your own.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

I wish I knew who actually said the above. The sentiment captures my point precisely. You can’t be anyone else. Copying their marketing approach is going to leave you looking like a fraud. Embrace who you are and find your own path.

Study successful marketers and blatantly steal ideas, but don’t try to steal their brand. Copying tactics is smart. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to tactical aspects. However, copying someone’s brand is another story. Your friends and family will see through the facade and it will leave you feeling ashamed to show them.

Trust Your Gut

If it feels sleazy, it probably is sleazy. Ask yourself if you’d want to be on the other end of your marketing. Would you purchase the product you’re slinging? Don’t compromise your reputation for a quick buck. Trust your gut over your greed. You’ll be better off in the long run.

Provide value, be yourself, and trust your gut. That’s the recipe for successful marketing that isn’t sleazy. It’ll be scary putting your genuine self out there, but it’s the only way to look back with pride on what you’ve contributed to the world.


I’m proud of the email I send every Friday. I strive to make it the most valuable email entrepreneurs and ambitious brands get each week.