bro marketing problems

The Bro Marketing Binary

It’s easy to think “I’m not like them. I would never knowingly manipulate people into buying from me. I’m not like those Bros!” But what if it’s more complicated than that?

It’s not a Bro Marketing Binary.

What if Bro Marketing is the air we breathe online?

You may not look like a Bro, but that doesn’t mean Bro Marketing isn’t lurking in your business and that’s exactly what we are breaking down in this episode of Duped. 

What is Bro Marketing?

Bro Marketing is the use of psychological triggers (like Robert Cialdini’s Weapon of Influence) and other persuasive hacks to shut down critical thinking without our consent.

The end goal is to sell more products through manipulation and coercion. 

Essentially, Bro Marketing is a specific type of messaging that relies on swipes, formulas, and templates to increase conversion with psychological trickery. 

And it’s everywhere. 

I’m trained in persuasion and I’ll never forget the first time I was exposed to Bro Marketing. I was on a training where the teacher was encouraging people to use invented authority to grow their business.

The Bro Marketing Binary

It’s easy to think you’re not a Bro Marketer. You think, “I can take a pass here because I’m not one of them.” 

It’s easy to look at that stereotype and think I would never market like that at all. Not me. No way.

That’s the binary. The one and zero. I don’t look or behave in that hyper-masculine way so I don’t do any Bro Marketing. 

Psychologist Matthew Fisher & Frank Keil call this the Binary Bias – it’s how we distort complex issues into two categories. Adam Grant in his book Think Again, says we do this in order to find clarity and closure.

This is highly applicable to Bro Marketing. With everything in online marketing, there is nuance and complexity. You may not look like the Bro Marketer but if you’ve ever taken an online course or program, but there’s most likely Bro Marketing tactics in it!

That’s because Bro Marketing is not a person it’s a style of marketing. It’s everywhere in online business. Maggie and I have been talking for years about how it’s the air we breathe and the water we drink in online business. 

These tactics show up everywhere, you aren’t either a Bro or not a Bro. It’s not that clear-cut. Most likely Bro Marketing is showing up in your business because that’s the only thing that is taught.

What Do We Do About It?

The question then is how do we de-bro our businesses? I think it’s important to first talk about how we got there.

Adam Grant’s book “Think Again” discusses the concept of Idea Cults. Online business is one giant idea cult.

Grant defines an Idea Cult in a cheeky way as “groups that stir up a batch of oversimplified intellectual Kool-Aid and recruit followers to serve it widely.” (Note the use of Kool-Aid are Grant’s words, and we recognize the issue with using this phrase.

In his book the Cult of Trump, Dr. Steven Hassan argues that instilling phobias is integral to the cult mindset. The phobia that these celebrity entrepreneurs instill is if you don’t market this way, that you won’t make any money. 
Honestly, every time I teach my Bro Marketing Overthrow Workshop – this is the number one fear people have .

They think, “I’m never going to make money again if I don’t market this way.”

That’s the phobia, and it’s one that celebrity entrepreneurs instilled in us.

Solutions: How to Avoid Bro Marketing  

We may have ascribed to the idea cult that is online business but how do you escape this Bro Marketing approach for good?

Deal with Your Business First

  • This isn’t a gotcha or calling out others. It’s about looking at your own business. It’s easy to complain and sensational the harm that’s been done, but we need to look at our own businesses first.   
  • Own your teachers and how you may have been complicit in Bro Marketing. Pointing fingers is easy, but actually doing the work to fix your own business takes commitment. As an industry we need to stop pretending we’re blameless
  • Show compassion and forgive yourself.

Challenge Your Beliefs

  • Realize that you can make money and marketing without the psychological garbage. The reality is that this isn’t how marketing is done in the real world. What you’ve learned is bro marketing and there are alternatives.
  • You need a different kind of messaging and it will take time to develop  and experiment. You can’t rely on the tired tropes of online business anymore.
  • Go slow as you detangle yourself from Bro Marketing. This will require critical thinking. 
  • Trust your gut. Much of the marketing and sales is weaponized in such a way that it’s designed to foster fear, and erode your self-trust.

Stop Supporting Bro-Driven Businesses

  • Vet your potential teachers before you push the buy button. Like we talked about with ethical marketing, you can’t take things at face value. 
  • Changes are coming to this industry, but we can’t rely on a celebrity entrepreneur to do the right thing. We need to focus on what we can control, and that means getting to know the tactics so we can look beyond the brand image of bro marketing.

Bro Marketing isn’t a binary. It’s a way of marketing in online business that we have been indoctrinated into and there’s an alternative that’s just as profitable.

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