I had a delightful post about working with your spouse planned for today. But it’s going to have to wait, because I’m fired up about disgusting marketing practices. I was reading this article about authors buying their way onto the bestsellers lists, and it made me spitting mad (okay, not spitting mad, literally, but really, really mad). And that reminded me of other disgusting marketing practices that make me mad. So look out, world, I’m about to go on a rant.

This is the kind of stern look that I would give to all the people who are buying their way to the top, if I was older and could give this kind of look effectively.

This is the kind of stern look that I would give to all the people who are buying their way to the top, if I was older and could give this kind of look effectively.

Why It Makes Me So Mad

We have evolved into a society of “deservers.”

“I want it now,” I hear people whining all the time. Everybody wants a shortcut. That’s why “get rich quick” schemes sell so darned well.

But guess what? Most of us who are successful earned it. We paid our dues. We worked hard to get where we are. Don’t get me wrong- there are those of us who had money to begin with and who spent it on publicists and advertising, but there’s a big percentage of us who worked our way here.

Sometimes I would like to read a really good novel. But you know what I’m reading instead? Books about business, marketing, sales, branding, personal growth…I’m working to expand my knowledge and continuously learn so I can be among the best at what I do.

And do you think breaking a Guinness World Records title is easy? No, sir, it is not. It was hard and it was scary. But I put in a ridiculous number of hours to pull it off and likewise, I’ve been putting in a ridiculous number of hours months in advance of my book launch to pull that off, too.

Work matters. Effort matters. That’s how we know it means something. When you work hard to do something, that is when you deserve it. Not when you just buy it.

Integrity and honor should mean something.

For every Lance Armstrong in sports, I can name you at least ten business “gurus” who are just as bad, or maybe even worse, because they’re conning people with hope and lies and charging a fortune to do it. I believe in a different kind of business. I believe in honor and in integrity, and in being great at what you do by studying and learning from the true greats, and by being a continuous work in progress.

Honestly, if you haven’t found a way to get to the top on your own, there’s something missing that you need to learn- maybe you’re not bringing something new to the table or maybe you just don’t know how to market yourself very well. But sure enough, if you get to the top in an illegitimate way, and you’re expected to perform for clients, what can you possibly offer to your clients?

And shouldn’t your clients care? Shouldn’t people care if a social media following was bought and paid for or if it was built with legitimate thought leadership and honesty? Shouldn’t we be bothered that someone bought their way onto a bestsellers list?

What’s Left?

The bestsellers lists, the credibility of having built an audience, all of these things used to be indicators of a certain quality- of work, of character, of bringing something valuable and unique to the table. But if anyone can buy their way to the top, what can we use to assess one’s credibility and quality? Social proof has become a flat-out lie.

The Disgusting Marketing Practices You Should Avoid

Buying Your Way Onto Bestsellers Lists

I’ll proclaim it loudly and clearly right here and now: I will never buy my way onto any bestsellers list. If your book is good, if you’ve named it well and the cover rocks, and if you’ve done your job to market it and build buzz and publicity around it, then your book can make it there anyway. Buying your way onto bestsellers lists flies in the face of what these lists are intended to do. Are they flawed? Sure. But even in their imperfection, they’re a decent measure of quality. You don’t stay on the New York Times Bestsellers lists for weeks and weeks if your book stinks. (But then, most people don’t buy their way to the list and stay there for weeks and weeks anyway, I guess.)

Buying Your Way to Social Media Giant-hood

Yes, you can buy Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and YouTube views, and they’ll even write comments for you. So what? They’re fake people and none of it is real. How about, instead of buying your social media giant-hood, you learn how to work social media and build connections and relationships? How about you put that money into Twitter and Facebook ads that convert, and tweet out genuinely useful content?

Buying Your Way to Amazon Status

Speaking of buying things, you can also buy Amazon reviews. And having positive reviews on Amazon is like gold- one five star review can make a book sell three to four times as many copies as a book without reviews. Why not buy reviews? Because they’re not real.

Did anyone ever say, “When I grow up, I want to become successful with lies?” I don’t think so.

Appearances Matter

It can’t be denied that the appearance of credibility goes a long way toward future success. If a prospective client goes to your web site and it looks like you let your thirteen year-old nephew build it for you, then you’re probably not going to get that client. If you walk into a business meeting wearing a shirt that’s stained from last night’s pizza gorge-fest, then you’re probably not going to impress (however, nice jeans in the right context are okay, FYI). We all build at least some of our credibility through the appearance of success.

But there are some ways of appearing successful that make sense and some that are just flat-out lies and deceptions that speak more about your character than anything else about you. What happens if you get gigs and jobs based on the appearance that you bought and some of those clients find out that your “success” was built on a house of cards?

There Are Enough GOOD Marketing Practices Out There

Look, there are more than enough good marketing practices out there that you shouldn’t need to engage in these shenanigans (and tomfoolery!) to build your business or sell your book. There are so many ways to grow a business legitimately, that anyone who’s buying their way to the top should just be ashamed for not doing the things we all know work.

It’s honestly not rocket science. It’s just that it’s work.

So what say you, reader? Am I right or wrong? Does it matter that people buy their way to the top? Is this just another marketing strategy? I want to hear from you, agree or disagree. Tell me what you think in the comments.