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#106 Are funnels toxic marketing? (How to sell without being sleazy…)

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Want to know how to sell without being sleazy, pushy or annoying? And how can you use the amazing world of funnels and automation and not be gross? This episode will give you some points to ponder. Toxic marketing. Let’s go there. 

Don’t rip yourself off, listen to the full episode.These notes are just the sprinkling on top of the whipped cream. The episode is the whole cup of milk, chocolate down the sides of the glass and the whipped cream. 



In this Episode of Doing it Online:

  • We’re sharing a few guidelines for non-toxic marketing automation…(AKA: how to feel good about how you’re selling.)
  • Plus, we’ll look at deadlines and whether or not they should be real in the online world…
  • And we’ll chat about how to sell without the icky, sleazy feelings… (yay!)

Why this topic now?

Heads up: this is not a soapbox episode. I’m just sharing a few thoughts about what I see happening in the online marketing world and also offering some of what is working (and feels good!) for us.

It actually came up recently on one of our calls in eCourse Empire, (side note: I love that people feel safe enough in that space to chat these things through)…

The thing is, at the moment there’s a bit of chatter and a lot of people getting mad at what they perceive to be toxic marketing. Some of it absolutely is toxic, but some of it is just marketing. 

And marketing on its own, isn’t toxic, sleazy, pushy or annoying. 

And Funnels aren’t toxic marketing, either. Just because something is automated, doesn’t make it sleazy, or worse, *evil*.  

In the eCourse Empire call I could hear there was a bit of an internal struggle going on for some members who could see that as their courses were selling, (on autopilot) not only was it having a massive impact on their businesses, (giving them more time, more freedom, more income) but also helping change their clients’ lives… 

…and they were wondering, how can all this be bad, just because it has a countdown timer on it?

How to sell without sleaze in an ever-changing marketing landscape…

Will you make mistakes or miss the mark in your online marketing journey? Probably. This beast is constantly changing and evolving, and we’re all learning all the time. And sometimes, you might miss it, sure. But when we know better, we do better. 

So, as I said before, marketing itself isn’t toxic. 

Marketing is made up of a bunch of different tools, essentially. And HOW those tools are used is what determines where they sit on the ‘ick-gross-no’ toxic marketing scale. 

Facebook ads, countdown timers, and webinars are all examples of marketing tools. And each one of these can be used to create a great customer experience and help people find the solutions they’re after. 

They can also be twisted slightly to feel manipulative, pushy or sleazy. 

Does selling make you feel gross and salesy?

It’s worth saying that if you feel bad about asking for fair compensation for the value you bring, then every kind of marketing is going to feel sleazy or gross to you. 

So, sometimes if you see someone out there selling well and not holding back, you might be at risk of projecting your own fears or icky feelings about selling because you’re too scared to do it. 

This is a tricky topic to navigate through, and there’s a few layers to it. But it’s probably worth checking in on your relationship with selling in general. 

And as you work your way through it, here’s a few guidelines now for how to avoid being salesy with your non-toxic marketing automation…

Avoid being salesy with these guidelines…

1.Never do anything that feels gross to you… 

Unless it’s just discomfort from challenging yourself to be out of your comfort zone, that’s a different story, and sorry this guideline doesn’t apply here. Go and do the thing. But if you genuinely feel gross, pushy or sleazy, don’t do it. 

A great way to avoid feeling sleazy when you sell is to ask yourself, how do you like being sold to? People that are attracted to your brand and your offers are probably quite similar to you, and most likely enjoy being sold to the same way you do. 

2. You have to know that your offer is great…

If you can’t truly say that your offer is amazing and believe it in your heart of hearts, then it doesn’t matter what you are doing to sell it, it will always feel sleazy because you don’t believe in the outcome. You don’t believe you’re truly helping people and you’re gonna feel like you’re tricking them. 

(Don’t confuse this one with perfectionism, that’s not what we’re talking about here. It needs to feel like a fair value exchange. So if you know the value isn’t there, you’ll need to work on that.)  

3. No fakes

An online deadline is no less real than an in-store deadline. Stores have deals and special offers all the time! No-one complains about not being able to get a ‘Taco Tuesday’ deal on a Wednesday. That’s not a fake deadline. It’s a deal that lasts for a certain moment in time. 

Black Friday sales? They’re not on Thursday. Or Sunday, because that’s the only day you could make it into the store because your cat got sick and you lost your left shoe… doesn’t matter. If you’re not there on Friday, you miss the deal. 

And people don’t get mad about that… They just accept it.  

Online offers should be no different. Some people just have a mentality that they are, because it’s a virtual world that is less tangible. 

As an online example, say you offer 20% off for the first 72 hours after people jump on your email list, and someone comes to you at hour 73 and says they want the deal… they don’t get it. 

Game over. The offer has expired. 

Is that toxic? No. It’s just marketing. 

That’s why we use a program like Deadline Funnel, because it sets the deadline and then when the timer is up, it will redirect the offer. So the deadline is completely real. 

I go into this guideline more in the episode, so like I said, go listen and get the full scoop.

how to sell without being sleazy

4. Keep an eye on your refund requests

Firstly, with this one you want to make sure you have a refund policy in place that feels good for you and aligns with your business values. You don’t want it to feel unsafe for you, or your clients so put some time into getting this right. (We have an episode on whether a refund policy is right for your offers and what you need to consider.)

As long as your refund or cancellation requests are below (preferably well below) the industry standard of 5%, (we aim for under 2%), and yes, you might still get someone who’s terribly offended by something you’ve “done”, but that’s usually a reflection of them, not you. 

Not to say it’s not worth always checking in with yourself, your team and making sure you haven’t stepped out of your values and integrity, but if you have, don’t let the 1% make you doubt your whole business.

How to sell without being sleazy: In defense of countdown timers

“I love big countdown timers and I can not lie. I like it when they tell the time…”

Had to. 

Countdown timers are awesome because I live in Australia, a timezone that no-one seems to be able to translate to or remember exists! I love it when other people use the timers on their pages too, so much easier!! 

It also means we don’t have to break our brains saying it’s 5pm our Thursday which means it’s 1am your time on whatever day, we just add these guys: 👇👇👇 and let the timer give them the information they need. 

Remember to check out the episode on refund policies if you need to and if you’re still feeling gross about selling check out this episode right here. 

Tools mentioned:

Deadline Funnel 


how to sell without being sleazy how to sell without being sleazy

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