- 12/19/2013

Ecommerce, Social

How NOT to Be a Really Bad, Not Good Marketer

Don’t buy a marketing for dummies book.

Never mind why we’re reading marketing for dummies in the first place. We are, after all, professionals and our methods of research are beyond question. We take a holistic approach to mastering our craft here at SumAll and no potential source of knowledge is too shallow or pedestrian. Except ‘Marketing for Dummies’ as it turns out. It’s bad. Seriously though, don’t buy it.

Let’s say you bought this book. You’re not entirely sure why you did that, are you? I mean, sure you want to learn a thing or two about marketing, social and, otherwise, but you just bought the Atlas Shrugged of marketing manuals – a book you bought out of some vague duty to cultivate your worldliness or knowledge but that you really couldn’t imagine anything more masochistic than reading.

Think about it: in every office you’ve ever visited there was somewhere an ugly yellow volume of  ‘How to Deep-Fry a Turkey or What-Have-You for Dummies’ collecting dust. Like so many before, you noticed it idly on the bookshelf without really acknowledging it. That book, like yours, will go untouched perhaps forever, conveniently keeping the rest of the books on the shelf from toppling with its substantial heft but serving no other purpose.

One of the first passages in the book tells you to use Comic Sans if you want give your site “an informal look” for the “more causal audience”. A web marketing book is actually telling you to  use the most hated font in existence. No need to read further. Save yourself the money and buy a Roomba. Your place is a mess.

Don’t use a meme, ever.

So your marketing team has a brilliant idea: the so-bad-it’s-good approach. We can advertise with those images that all the kids are into these days: advice animals, the hottest interwebs trend of 2009. It’s inexpensive and it shows how laid back and hip we are.

The main problem with this is that you’re going to end up looking like a fool.

Crappy and low rent though they may appear, the advice animals are a sacred temple that no business is welcome to defile. No matter how hard you will try, you and your cupcake store are not in on the joke. Any attempt to commercialize doge or actualadvicemallard and especially success kid will be looked upon with disdain by the internet community. You will befuddle your older audience (“why is this dog talking funny?”) and alienate your younger audience (“Insanity wolf would never sell chili, unless it was Tenorman chili).

While there are rare occasions where it has been done successfully, most businesses invariably wind up looking like Steve Martin going undercover at an inner-city high school by dressing up like Run DMC. “What it is, cuz?”



Lil’ Kim came out with a new record recently. A lot fewer people would have known that than a few years ago because of that whole relevancy thing if it hadn’t been for Kim’s brilliant marketing strategy surrounding the artwork for one of her singles. The problem is the press she generated with it is all bad and now she’s been branded a thief.

Allegedly, whomever put together Lil’ Kim’s album cover did so without permission of the artist, Samantha Ravndahl (who is also the subject of the artwork that was stolen).

The term starving artist is still in use because for most artists it is very difficult to make a living with your work, especially when millionaires are stealing it. Granted its doubtful Lil’ Kim personally found the image and took it herself or even knows what a Reddit is for that matter, but someone at her label did.

In conclusion: Hire reputable people who make their own work. Pay them well. Inquire and learn about their process and let them earn your trust.

Updated November 17, 2017.