Make Marketing Suck Less

Is Bro Marketing Lurking in Your Business?

Do you remember the horror movie Scream?

There was a killer and he would make scary, ominous, threatening phone calls to his would-be victims. And then when the victim would call the police, the police would trace the phone call, and they would find out that the call is coming from inside the house — the killer is inside the house!

I'm noticing this same thing in the online business world right now.

Finally, after years of talking about dude-bro marketing — that manipulative marketing — there's an awakening happening in the online business world. Other business owners are finally realizing the toxic and manipulative nature of bro marketing.

They don't realize that the killer — the bro marketer — is lurking inside their business.

There could be a bro hiding out in your business!

He's sneaky, and, let's face it, how we have been taught to do marketing online has been through these tactics. So, let's root him out during this episode of the Rebel Uprising Podcast.

Listen in or read through the transcript below:

Resources mentioned in this episode

Kelly Diels
Small Business Boss

Do you remember the horror movie Scream? There was a killer and he would make scary, ominous, threatening phone calls to his would-be victims. And then when the victim would call the police, the police would trace the phone call and they would find out that the call is coming from inside the house -- the killer is inside the house!

I'm noticing this exact same thing in the online business world right now. Finally, after years of talking about dude-bro marketing -- that marketing that is manipulative -- there's an awakening happening in the online business world. Other business owners are finally realizing the toxic and manipulative nature of bro marketing.

And now these business owners are calling it out. In fact, I saw one business owner creating a post about the different types of bro marketers he sees out there, and people responded en masse to that. As I looked at the comments, I realized that most of the people responding were also participating in bro marketing.

They don't realize that the killer -- the bro marketer -- is lurking inside their business.

The call is coming from inside your house! And while it is all well and good to call out bro marketing, we have to actively divest from these tactics in our marketing and our messaging. And although bro marketing is problematic, the bigger problem is what I'm calling the “toxic marketing culture” that exists in the online business world that makes these online business owners completely unaware that they're using these marketing tactics right now to sell in their business.

There could be a bro hiding out in your business! He's sneaky and, let's face it, the way we have been taught to do marketing online has been through these tactics. So let's root him out during this episode of the Rebel Uprising. Podcast.

You’re listening to the Rebel Uprising Podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping passionate business owners become recognized leaders who make more money and impact the world by turning their messy, complicated ideas into thriving thought leadership businesses. I'm your host, Dr. Michelle Mazur. And I'll be your no-BS guide in the art of building a business that gets noticed.

Each week I share strategies, tools, and insights on how to turn your complicated ideas into great messaging and solid business structures. Are you ready to create an uprising in your industry? Let's do this.

Before we dive into rooting out this culture of toxic marketing, let's talk about what bro marketing is:

It's the use of persuasive tactics that shut down people's critical thinking ability when they're making a purchasing decision. They rely on things like social triggers. So if you're familiar with Robert Cialdini's original work on this in his book Influence, it relies on things like authority, reciprocity, familiarity, attractiveness, scarcity, and social proof.

It relies a lot on pain-point marketing, right? So make them feel really, really bad and make them feel the pain and then they'll buy your thing as the solution to it. It also relies on what Kelly Diels calls the “female lifestyle empowerment brand.” Taking all of these aspects together, I am calling this the toxic marketing culture.

The online world is swimming in it. And while it's great that we do have all of these business owners waking up to it -- because there have been a small minority of us talking about the problematic nature of basically using psychological manipulation to shut down other people's thinking when they should be critically thinking about what they want to invest in their business or in their life -- it's great that people see that it's a problem and not divesting from it at the same time is also just as insidious.

It's in people's businesses and you just don't see it. You're too close because this is how we have always been taught to market our message and we don't know another way to market without it. I mean, if you're a long-time listener to this podcast, you definitely know a different way because we've talked about that when I've talked about the client or the audience journey, but I'm going to save that for another episode.

Let's talk about how this toxic culture got started, why it persists, and how to start rooting it out of your business if you also see it as a problem.

The genesis of toxic marketing culture really goes back to people like Frank Kern, who is a copywriter who has influenced so many online business owners, and also Jeff Walker's product launch formula. My first ever experience with bro marketing was right when I started my business. I ended up in Jeff Walker's product launch formula video series -- his three-part video series that he teaches other people to do -- and I'll never forget how he was advocating that if you don't really have expertise, it doesn't matter. You can tell some type of rags-to-riches story and make it up.

Jeff Walker and Frank Kern basically use social psychology research from Robert Cialdini and they weaponized it. And then they taught it to people like Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, James Wedmore, Ryan Lavesque, Stu McLaren, and Russell Brunson to name a few.

Then these people taught it to the rest of us. And this is why it's a cultural phenomenon in the online business world, because this is how online businesses market, period. We market through this lens of the toxic marketing culture. People don't even know that they're doing it.

Yes, there are alternatives. And if you worked in corporate, studied marketing or communication, or listened to this podcast for awhile, you know what they are. But despite all of the uproar about these online marketing tactics, I think it's still going to persist. So let's look at why it persists.

The first rebel truth is that these tactics? They work.

I am not going to lie to you and say social triggers aren't effective. They are effective. Social triggers are designed to help us make quick decisions so our brain can save energy. And now we're being asked to use these social triggers or rely on these social triggers when we make high-risk decisions or investments in our business. And when I say high risk, I mean you're investing several thousands of dollars. These marketers are teaching people to use all of these social triggers that shut down your thinking. And I think in a business that whenever you're making a large investment of several thousand dollars, you should actually, I don't know, think it through and think, “Hey, is this the right next step for my business?”

Scarcity works. Manufacturing authority works. Pain-point marketing all works. It's effective. It brings in sales. I will say the alternative also works, but we're getting there.

The second rebel truth of why this persists is they don't know that an alternative exists.

So it's one thing, as you know, to rebel and say, “I'm against online bro marketing tactics,” and “Look at these bro marketers,” but it is quite a different thing to figure out a different way to market your business. Since they don't know the alternative, they keep relying on these bro marketing tactics. They can rationalize it. Oh, you know, a countdown timer -- how bad can that be? It's not all that bad. Charm pricing? Not bad. I'm not part of the problem. But all of those things are part of the problem!

The final rebel truth of why it persists: it means more work for these business owners.

It means you have to rework your messaging to root out using these social triggers and these other signs of the toxic marketing culture. You have to change up your marketing and how you market your business and the strategies you use for launching products, launching your services. So it's gonna be some work if they are committed to it because they have to de-program themselves basically and learn a whole new way of marketing.

How do you, dear listener, begin to root out toxic marketing culture in your own business?

The first thing I want you to realize is that this is not your fault. If you have been using scarcity and authority and social proof and pain-point marketing, and you've never felt really great about it, or these tactics are something that have held you back from marketing your business, know that it's not your fault. There is not an alternative out there to the culture of toxic marketing, right? This is what is taught. It is the air we breathe. It is the water we drink.

Here are some reflection questions for you if you want to begin the process of finding those hidden places where bro marketing exists in your business.

The first thing is to look at who your teachers are. I've mentioned some of the big celebrity business coaches during this podcast because they are the peddlers of this style of marketing, but even if you aren't working with Amy Porterfield or James Wedmore, look at who your teachers’ teachers are. Who have they been influenced by? Who have they learned the business ropes from? And if they can be traced back to some of these other business coaches and marketers, then there's probably a hint of bro marketing lurking in your business. And, once again, it's not your fault. It's okay.

I also want to say that not all of the teachings by these people are bad. I own multiple of Amy Porterfield's courses and she has some great learning on there about how to build your audience or to do a webinar, but for me, what I ended up doing when I took her courses is I stripped out all of the bro marketing tactics, all of the social triggers that I was seeing in there so that I could implement her teaching in a way that felt good and in alignment with myself. So look at who your teachers are and look at who their teachers are.

The next step is to spend time evaluating the bro tactics you're currently using, because this is not black and white. Social triggers naturally exist in the environment. And I've said this before on other podcasts -- like scarcity. If you only have 30 spots in a workshop, then that's what you have, right? That's the number of students you can handle. If your workshop starts on a certain date, your workshop starts on that date. There's natural built-in scarcity. So you have to think, is this tactic naturally occurring? Is what I'm offering a low-risk product? So you can evaluate for yourself because it isn't black and white and I am not your moral or ethical police on this.

You can start looking to some of the biggest culprits and see if they're existing in your business -- things like charm pricing. This is when you see something that's $97 or $497 or $1997. That's charm pricing. There's tons of research that shows that our brain actually thinks it's cheaper ($1997 is cheaper than $2000).

Scarcity is one of the most abused social triggers -- the countdown clocks, the disappearing bonuses, saying “I don't know if I'm going to offer this again ever.” All of those little ways that we can ratchet up the urgency to make this offer that we have feel scarce. And like I said, scarcity can be naturally occurring. This is not black or white.

Another place to look is at your authority stories. How are you establishing credibility in your business? Are you telling a story that is tugging more on the heartstrings than really doing the job of establishing your credibility. I see this all the time where it's like, “Oh, my uncle's father's cat passed away and it devastated me and then I started this business because it gave me the freedom to be there for my family.” And you're like, “What does that have to do with you being credible to teach me this thing? What does that have to do with anything that is manufacturing authority?” I'm a big believer that you just state your credibility with confidence and then move on.

And also looking at pain points instead of empathy. Are they pressing on your pain points? When you read something in their marketing or sales copy, is it making you feel worse about yourself instead of better? Or social triggers -- just remember they're not all bad, but you do have to consider the risk the person, your future client or customer, is taking buying your product and if these triggers are naturally occurring.

The final thought I want to leave you with is that there are people you can learn from, follow, and pay to help you market and message your business in a different way.

There are people out there who have been doing this battle cry for years now. We are not new to them.

So obviously there’s me -- please follow me! I'm also on Instagram @drmichellemazur -- but Kelly Diels, who talks about the female lifestyle empowerment brand, she is someone to follow if you want to learn to untangle your business from this culture of toxic marketing.

Also Maggie Patterson at Small Business Boss who works with service-based businesses and agencies. She is actively working with people to help them untangle this from their business.

Look for others. We are out there! It isn't your fault. Like, this whole mess of toxic marketing, these bro tactics? It's not your fault. This is what we were taught. We grew up in this culture, but now you get to decide how to market your business. You get to decide if, when, and where you should be using these tactics. And, hey, if it doesn't feel good to you, then let your gut be your guide.

And before we sign off, if you want to learn how to market and create messaging for your business that is devoid of bro marketing and you want to learn how to do that from me, I'd love to invite you to my upcoming live, virtual workshop called Marketing Uprising: Create a 30-Day Marketing Plan that Actually Results in Sales. This is being held the week of September 28th and you can get on the list at to be notified when I'm opening the doors for this.

In this workshop, we're going to learn how to connect your marketing with your sales so that your marketing actually leads people to paying you. You don't need any bro marketing tactics for that! We'll also be talking about how to create content that engages and connects with people so that they respond and you're able to build relationships because relationship building is key to defying the bro market culture. And finally, we're going to develop a simple marketing plan that you'll be able to stick with and you'll even get a marketing planner.

So if you're interested, get on the waiting list for Marketing Uprising at and you'll be the first to know when I open 30 spots. Yes, 30 spots -- that's all I can handle in this course. That's

Just remember -- you don't need bro marketing or the toxic culture of marketing to be successful in your business. Untangle and divest -- there's a better way to market your thought leader business.

Thank you for listening all the way to the end of the show. Your support means the world to me. Did you know, the Rebel Uprising Podcast has a quiz that can help you pinpoint the number one way to build an audience of super fans while staying true to your unique personality? We do, and it's called What's Your Rebel Roadmap to Exponential Impact and Influence, and you can take it at

If you're loving the podcast, do us a favor? Rate and leave us a quick five-star review wherever you listen to your podcasts -- it helps more people like you find the show.

Until next week, remember: your ideas matter. And now get back out there and cause an uprising in your industry. You got this.

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