Steve Schramm

March 14, 2022

“Sleazy Marketing” vs “Sleazy Pontificating”

I am bothered by the term “sleazy marketing.” 

The main reason, I think, is because very little information is communicated in the phrase. Worse, it gives the reader too much interpretive leeway. They get to decide for themself what the term means, and that is dangerous anytime you’re trying to communicate something meaningful. 

For example, two specific instances that are usually referred to as sleazy marketing are used car salesmen and MLM companies. But why? The used car salesman is serving a need and making a living for his family. My wife and I have been, over the years, involved in three different MLM companies. One of them did pretty well for us, considering. Regardless, there was nothing sleazy about it, even if pepople find it annoying. We were trying to scratch out a living just like everybody else is.

When you have a product you believe in, that also serves a need, why shouldn’t you market the ever living crap out of it? Why shouldn’t you be pushy and do your best to make a sale if it’s really true that your product is better than the competition’s?

If I’m right about this, then truly “sleazy” marketing is selling something you:

  1. Don’t believe in
  2. And/or is a legitimately bad investment for your customer

To me, though, this isn’t sleazy marketing. This is straight up dishonesty!

The problem is that most of the time I hear people refer to marketing their own products, which ARE great, and they DO believe in, as potentially being sleazy!

So, who am I, right? Will I ever be able to affect change on this? I don’t know.

But one client at a time I am going to fight for ethical marketing. In my business, we will unashamedly help our clients market and get the word out about their products and services. 

Marketing is not sleazy just because you don’t like being sold to. 

Steve Schramm
IG: @swschramm

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About Steve Schramm

I write about marketing, design, business strategy, and productivity. This blog is my personal “cookbook” to help you design a healthier business through self-directed learning. I'm the CEO of NorthMac Services, a small digital marketing and web design agency.