10 lies you've been told about marketing

Here are 10 lies you've been told about marketing:

1) "Send a welcome email immediately after signup"

Don't. People will reflexively discard it as spam.

Instead, delay your welcome email by 15-45 mins.

The delay removes the subscriber's mental connection between signup and your email, bypassing their reflex to ignore.

This might lead to more opens.

2) "Only highlight your best product reviews"

Imperfect reviews are more valuable—and generate more sales—than 5-star reviews.

Here's why. When a review weighs the cons versus the pros yet concludes the product was worth purchasing anyway, people see the review as real and authentic.

So don't bury slightly negative reviews.

3) "You have to send a newsletter every week"

Most newsletters shouldn't be sent weekly.

High cadences force newsletter writers to rush and publish lower-quality information.

Instead, consider only sending when you truly have value to add.

4) "Your startup needs a great referral program"

Every company is different. The referral programs that grew Airbnb & Dropbox don't work for most companies.

Instead, find your social loop:

E.g. An eCom pet store should get dog owners to post photos of their dogs on IG with you tagged.

5) "Always include a message while prospecting on LinkedIn"

Try connecting without a message—we’ve found that people think you're less fake. People accept the request more often.

In contrast, a templated message looks like automation and triggers people’s reflex to ignore you.

6) “If you can't get ads to work profitably, your product is broken”

Most startups never get ads to run profitably.

They're usually worth testing because they're quick to experiment with and scale.

But if they don't work, don't be afraid to ditch them entirely.

Focus on SEO, referrals, product-led growth, and social content.

7) "You need to go viral"

Word of Mouth (WOM) is far more realistic and applicable to most startups.

WOM is the result of a product that:

  1. Removes obstacles or pain from people's lives. E.g. Slack removes the pain people feel when sorting through inefficient email threads.
  2. Gives people dopamine hits of delight. E.g. Airbnb's refreshing take on traveling like a local is delightful.

Create something that people can't help but share.

8) "You need PR for your launch"

You don't need a TechCrunch article. You need an audience — which can be built alongside your product:

  • Build in public: Post updates about your startup online and build a community of people who support your growth.
  • Add value: Focus on providing value in online communities (like Indie Hackers).
  • Publish content: When you publish, you put your ideas out there. People who agree with you will gravitate towards your startup.

A group of core fans is worth more than an article written by someone who hardly knows you.

9) "You should focus on blogging for SEO"

Most startups actually find it significantly more useful to create content (guides, social media posts, case studies, YouTube videos) to show their value and to help others.

This generosity—ironically—leads to a high-performing funnel:

Quality, helpful content (not SEO-focused content) leads to trust and sales.

10) Great products don't need marketing"


Even the best products need marketing to effectively reach the right people at scale.

Tip the first domino for the rest to fall.

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  1. 2

    #2 is so spot on. I ran an e-commerce company and no joke had customers not buy from the site because the first 50 reviews were all 5 stars and they didn't think they were legit (only 15 were family and friends)!

  2. 1

    The advice sounds reasonable, but it’d be truly valuable if backed up by data.

  3. 1

    #9 Yeah, you should focus on content and quality, and actual value, instead of doing something for 'getting users'.

  4. 1

    #3 feels right; my wife and I started a blog last year and we landed on a roughly-weekly cadence but sometimes we skip weeks when a post isn't ready. I tend to write very long (2k-3k word) posts that are more like deep dives into DIY and home renovation and it can take weeks for me to get it in the right spot.

    There might also be a difference between a true "newsletter" with a lot of links and stories vs. what we are doing which is more of a single-post publish. I think single-topic emails go over well, judging by 20-40% open rates on some of ours. Sometimes we choose not to send posts as an email, if it's a "blog" style update or if we don't think it's worth emailing about.

  5. 1

    I guess #9 was a lie of omission!

  6. 1

    #10 resonated. There's a certain narrative within startups/IH circles that a great product markets itself. Complete BS. Probably a distant comparison but if Apple with their great products, brand name and cult following still saw the need to market, then maybe we should reconsider #10. Learned it the hard way, and still not learning it well enough!

  7. 1

    I find #2 a solid point. For any negative review, it is better to respond and show the customers interest in their opinion and take it as constructive criticism.
    Also, I could not agree more with weekly newsletters! When I receive them regularly, I am most likely to ignore them and even unsubscribe.

  8. 1

    #3 is super true. Frontend Horse sends infrequent emails, but the quality of the articles released are great that I don't need a weekly email to remember them.

  9. 1

    Totally agree with #1. Sending an auto thank you email immediately after sign-up or ordering feels impersonal & will be ignored. I've found open rates with a slight 7 minute delay beats out immediate sends (except for double opt-in subscriptions).

    Here's a quick video on how to add a delay using zapier: How to Make Your Auto Email Feel Less Auto from Scrappy MarTech.

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