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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

The Info-Crap and Slimy Internet Marketer Not-So-Secret Decoder

Written By: Carol Roth | 48 Comments

I am a big advocate of getting advice, as long as it is from someone credible who gives you a good value with good advice.  However, I am really appalled at the various antics of many of the “Gurus of the Interwebs”.  Some of the things that I have seen are beyond ridiculous.  Even worse, it totally undermines experts that have solid experience and valuable products.  Plus, I think it is highly offensive to their “customers”, which is why they end up serving the bottom-feeders.

Since I believe that information is power, here is a “Secret Decoder” (yeah- some of it is not so secret…) for some of the best terms and phrases being thrown about by Internet marketers and peddlers of info-crap.

Phrase:  I have spent 10 years studying consumer buying behavior

Decoded Phrase:  I bought a book about consumer buying behavior ten years ago.  I skimmed through it last night before I wrote this email.

Phrase: If you buy today, I will include $5000 worth of bonuses!

Decoded Phrase: My product is so lame that I figured by having other people give you their crap, you won’t email me for a refund.  And since I have included so many damn “bonuses”, the fact that half of them (like how to read your horoscope or the secrets to colon cleansing) have nothing to do with my product will be totally lost on you.  Oh, and please ignore the fact that my free gifts are the same stuff that I overcharged you for six months ago…

Phrase: My dear friend Jane has an amazing new product!

Decoded Phrase: Jane, who I had never heard of before she emailed yesterday, offered to pay me an affiliate fee of $50 if I would push her info-crap on you.

Phrase: I built a six-figure business

Decoded Phrase:  I have a business that has made $10,000 a year for the last ten years.

Phrase: I built a seven-figure business

Decoded Phrase:  I did seven figures in revenue one year by spending almost that much on marketing.  I didn’t make a profit and I currently don’t have a dime to my name.

Phrase: I am only making 100 of these available and when they are gone, they are gone!

Decoded Phrase: I think you are dumb enough to believe that if, by some miracle, 200 people want to buy my workbook, I am going to tell 100 people no.  Ha!

Phrase: I have built a large following on Twitter

Decoded Phrase:  I spend 20 hours a day on Twitter, but since I can’t figure out how to make any money from it, I live in my parent’s basement.

Phrase: I have built an enormous following on Twitter

Decoded Phrase:  I got 80,000 people to re-follow me, proving that you can fool some people all of the time and lots of people some of the time.

Phrase: Let me tell you the secrets of how I influence my customers to buy anything within 24 hours.

Decoded Phrase:  I think that you are so incredibly dumb that I am going to ask you to pay me to tell you how I have been tricking you for the last 12 months into buying my shit.

Phrase: Who loves ‘ya baby? (Aka: I am giving you the hook-up!)

Decoded Phrase: I really only care about you if you buy from me and hope that my weak attempt at flattery will make up for my lack of substance.

Have any favorite info-crap and marketing phrases that you need decoded (or that you want to share the translation to?)   Comment below and we will keep the list going…

…And a special thanks to Rieva Lesonsky of (and guest blogger for many other prestigious outlets) for helping add to and refine this “decoder”.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • Michael Fortin and Ryan Healy have recently shed more light on the marketing tactics of some Internet marketers, especially those in the “syndicate.” It’s a good conversation. Glad to see you – and others – pushing the subject forward. Honesty, it’s a competitive edge. Who’da thunk it?

  • We can put you at the top of the search engines for pennies a click…

    ….850 pennies per click.. lol

  • Telling it like it is — an advantage in blogging and in info marketing. If everyone marketing online had to sit across a table from their potential customer and deliver their sales pitch, it’d probably sound a bit different.

  • Don’t forget:

    This price won’t last for long – in a few days it’s going to go up by X!

    AKA. Never. Just a lame deploy to get you to buy right away and trick you into thinking it’s worth more than it actually is.

  • Received a tweet just today? “Make easy money…”
    Translation: “…for me.”

  • Carol,

    Now this is the post I have been waiting for! This very subject has long been a painful topic in my business and the marketing meetings we have. Not everyone wants to run a slimy stereotypical info-marketing business. This is like the most difficult dance to master, how to get your customers to buy your stuff. Every once in a while, some marketers actually do provide some good value, most are just scammers looking to make a buck.

    These tactics which those of us trying to be above it all known as bottom feeding, talking someone out of their last dollar by dangling the carrot of the promised land in front of them, are repulsive to just about anyone you ask. But here’s the problem, they work. Now, the examples you gave are probably the extreme, but companies big and small have been using these same marketing tactics for years, they may look a bit different, but they are the same. It’s the advertising game.

    Look at department stores when they have their “sales”, or car dealerships, or just about any other company having a “sale”. Hell, having a sale period is just a way to create urgency in the marketplace. I mean, if they can sell it for that price today, why not every day. But consumers don’t think that way, they are whipped into a frenzy when a sale happens.

    Consumers will pay 10 times the normal price of a product just to wear the name (that’s influence baby), take expensive shampoo for instance, it’s really just the same watered down soap and perfume that generic brands use, they just make it sound better and attach a big name to it. Our entire culture has become a popularity contest, and while many of us that are trying to run respectable businesses are constantly trying to figure out ways to get customers while trying to feel good about our marketing tactics, our competitors are stealing all the cheese, because at the end of the day, consumers are for the most part dazzled by these very claims.

    I think at the end of the day, whatever marketing you decide to use, if it works and you are comfortable with the presentation and the message then do it. Where the rubber hits the road is whether or not you deliver on your promises.

    @Joe – Everyone wants the dream of easy money… There’s only one way to get that, be born with it.

    A piece of advice for anyone buying from the so called Guru’s: Pay more attention to what they do than what they say. And ask yourself just one question, if that guy/gal is making that much money from doing “x”, they why the F$#* is he/she selling me his/her secrets?

    It’s a constantly evolving art form this marketing thing. Don’t be sleazy for the sake of making money, because you will never be able to change that and your business will never be self sustaining. But, also, don’t go broke trying to be above it all. If your product/service truly rocks and you believe in it, your customers rave about it then do what you need to in order to get more customers. After all, you are helping them in some way right? Most people are followers, they don’t want to be first, and they need to be led.

    Decoded: People need to be told what to do! lol

  • Tao

    Great additions & original post. Here’s one I see a lot too: “We’ll show you how to make a fortune in X days” but don’t ask us about the risk factor / leverage you’ll need for this.

    Also @Andrew – companies with physical products go on sale for a variety of reasons. Including overstocking & inventory clearance. Selling all products at everyday sale prices is a great way to kill your margins.

  • Pingback: Anonymous()

  • @Tao

    I totally understand, I was merely pointing out that the marketing principles employed are much the same, just packaged a little differently is all.

  • Great article! had me chuckling all the way. It always amazes me that people actually fall for schams like these.

  • @Randy

    Thanks for the comments and I will have to check out what Michael and Ryan have said– very interesting.


  • @steveplunkett

    Love that one! Thanks for the add.


  • @Kristi

    Great point- let’s call that the “sit across the table test”. You get the coining credit 🙂


  • @Murlu

    LOVE this one. So true, so true… and so sad.

    Thanks for the contribution.


  • @Joe

    Classic. It’s amazing how long this list is getting. Thanks for that one!


  • @Andrew

    Interesting thoughts. I do think there is a difference between have a sale and being persuasive and out and out lying. It’s one thing to say something is limited, it’s entirely another thing to say it’s limited to X number when you know it is not.

    I agree, we all have to market, I just think that a lot of people are doing it in a really awful way and that consumers should probe more and not take everything at face value.

    And of course, some of this is tongue in cheek as well, as there are also those who can back up the claims.


  • @Tao

    Yes, make a fortune in X days- that’s a brilliant one!


  • @Elena

    It’s sad, because so many people are so desperate, they will believe virtually anything at face value.
    If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!


  • The biggest difference between offline hucksters and those online is that the online guys have some anonymity and can be more than 1 person at a time. Automation and lack of accountability make it easy for these guys and gals to spread themselves around.

    And as Andrew pointed out, it works. That’s the hard part for those of us who are trying to be above it to deal with.

    As for the “guru speak” that I really hate, the use of the words “personal” or “private” in the subject. I’ve made it a rule to unsubscribe to any list that sends me personal or private emails more than once unless they provide extremely high value.

    Oh yeah. And can we drop the “Re:” subjects please? You’re not responding to an email I sent you, so let’s leave that one out.

  • Hilarious.
    How about, “I only have 7 left.” means I have 7,000 left.
    Internet gurus and self-help gurus use similar tactics.
    I’ve written about it before here:

  • I love this so much I’m Tweeting it to everyone.

    Wait? Do I get paid for doing that? **just kidding**

    Great post!

    By the way – heard about this post from Michel & Sylvie Fortin on Facebook. Thought you might want to know.

    – Kristine

  • Kenny

    Great article and topic of discussion.
    It’s terrible when there is a script on the page that says: ‘This Discount Ends Today at Midnight’ (and the script puts today’s date in the line).
    The first time I saw that, I bookmarked it and came back the next day, only to find that it lasted again until midnight!
    False scarcity – and outright lying.

  • Carol, great topic and stirring up the pot is always fun! If you have a product that is viable, then by all means get it to market. Use whatever method you are comfortable with. After all, you have to be able to look yourself in the eyes. For those that are merely looking to make a quick buck and have nothing to offer of value. Shame on them. Remember, they always get theirs in the end.

    I wouldn’t know but I hear prisons no fun. Just ask Ken, Bernnie and the gang.

    @ Tao – The biggest brick and mortar company in the world claims to have the lowest discount prices everyday. They have made believers out of hundreds of millions of consumers. I think their profit margins are just fine. A master plan and much fore thought can produce amazing results.

  • The really good news of this is that people are starting to get wise. The last big round of product launches did not do as well as most of the gurus hoped. They keep reusing the same tactics over and over so their loyal tribe is just not buying. The concern is whether they will further promote sleaze ball tactics or adopt a more credible approach. We shall see.

    Once again, kudos for pointing the finger and crying foul.

  • Great point Louis, the only way any of this will change is when the buying patterns of the consumers change.

    I think a lot of people missed my point, the psychology of the sale is really no different whether using so called “sleaze ball tactics” or “credible” ones. The only difference is in the perception of the audience. There are reasons people buy, all people. The psychology is no different. Sure the intellect is different and the shiny things they respond to are different, but the core of “why” they buy is the same.

    I also think its absolutely retarded that the slimy guru’s make money because their customers don’t know better. But as soon as the people of the world stop being so damn lazy and actually come to grips with the fact that there is NO SUCH THING as easy money, they will be one step closer to wealth. At least they’ll save some money on those courses they bought at 3 am.

    Everyone wants to believe in the fairy tale, everyone wants to believe that someone can walk in off the street broke onto a movie set and become a blockbuster star. It doesn’t happen that way 99.9% of the time. For every self made millionaire, I will show you a person who worked their A$$ off for a long time and sacrificed more than most are ever willing to sacrifice. Once people get over the ideal of do nothing and get rich, the better off they will be, and then we don’t have to see the crappy ads any more.

  • But, then again, I’ve been in marketing for the better part of my adult life (actually have been, didn’t just peruse the book I bought back then). I have also studied human psychology, buying patters, etc… and I know better. Don’t get too excited about the slimy guru going away just yet, he / she has been around almost since the beginning of time selling dreams.

    Sleaze balls have been hosing people out of their last dime since prostitutes started doing the same. It’s an old profession guys. Sorry, that’s the truth of it.

    You can’t control the public, all you can control is the way you interact with them.

  • Oh, and since we are on this topic, @Carol, check out this super funny parody video I did about these Sleazy marketers a while back!

  • I think I bought that great product of Jane’s . . . . .

  • Oh My Carol,

    I chuckled (ok I giggled ALOT) reading your post! Nothing but pure awesome sauce here…thanks for writing such a great article:-)

    Here’s another one I love: Dear [Insert first name], Please don’t share this super secret link with anyone ok? (In other words, forward this to everyone you know!!)

  • @LoneWolf

    Thanksf ro the adds. Personal/private should only be in there if it is personal/private (good rule- lol).

    As for Re: I am guilty of this one, but I use it as meaning “regarding” rather than “reply”. Oops!


  • @Carlon

    Love your add and love your article (especially the “I was flat-broke living out of my car until…”). Classic.

    So glad I know about your site now. Thanks for sharing.


  • @Kristine

    Thanks much and for the Tweeting. And for the low, one-time only, price of $39.99 (plus $700 shipping and handling) I will show you how to make money by Tweeting this post and others like it…lol!!

    Thanks for the comments and support!


  • @Kenny

    Awesome add- It ends at midnight, but starts again at 12:01 am the next day too….lol.


  • @Steve:

    Yes, a good pot stirring is the best, isn’t it?
    I’m in favor of respecting the customer. At the end of the day, you attract what you put out there.


  • @Louis

    I have been hearing rumblings of similiar things. My guess we are in for a whole new round of great tactics. Can’t wait! LOL


  • @Andrew

    Can I get an “AMEN” up in here?! You go.
    I knew there was a reason I liked you, other than your divine taste in blogs.


  • @Andrew

    You are a hoot. We need to get the lyrics…


  • @Andy

    Too funny- hope it worked out for you…lol.


  • @Danielle

    Yes, that is maybe the best one. It’s a HUGE secret, just between you, me and everyone else.

    Thanks for your comments- hope to see you again soon.


  • @carol

    Thanks. Glad you liked the article. Stop by “Don’t Step in the Poop” anytime.

  • @Carol

    No problem, want me to post the lyrics here? We love doing parodies on this stuff, we did another one that we co-wrote with Sarah Prout, a remake of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, we call it Social Space, email me for the link and the lyrics, not trying to promote all of our crap on your blog! lol

    And yes, I do have wonderful taste in blogs, thanks for noticing. I am quite picky about that stuff. So far you have made the cut. ROFLMAO

  • Nice work on those “decoded messages.” Reminds me of an old post Rick Butts wrote where he talked about how the word “this” in a subject line always means that you’re about to be pitched. For instance: “Have you seen this?”


  • @Andrew
    Yeah, feel free to post the links and lyrics. You have my full support- would love to see!

    PS- you have REALLY organized bookshelves if that video is in your office. Impressed.


  • @Ryan

    Nice add- I am going to have to update the list with these extras!


  • Brilliant!! I loved it Carol, you said it… What about “the traffic has broken our servers so we are re-opening the offer…”

    Actually, this was running in my head for quite some time… I was thinking of making a video series, a spoof of some sort on the same topic because recently, there’s this new video tactics has come in play where these gooroos produce a series of 4-5 invaluable (decoded: common sense or freely available elsewhere as well) info videos where they overwhelm you with priceless info to build a email list… and the final video brings you a big price tag and a 24-48 hour deadline… you see we are so popular that we can only take 40 people in and last time we didn’t cap the numbers, the visitors broke our servers, hell they were just this close to breaking the “Internet” that Obama and UN called us personally 😉

    eesh 3 days later the deadline, you get another email from them saying oh sorry if you visited and didn’t find the info, well the response was crazy and servers broke again so we’re gonna open it for another 24 hours, just for you… in the meanwhile, you get a few more emails from their affiliate cousins offering you their whole inheritance… I’m sorry not inheritance, their whole master blaster info product for free + MORE if you buy the first one’s product via their link…

    I’m still on this spoof idea… 😉

  • @Devesh:

    Love the spoof idea. If you do it, let me know!


  • Phrase: “You’ve seen those scammy systems that promise you something for nothing….”

    Decoded Phrase: “I hope that a few sentences like this will convince you to let your guard down so that I can proceed to pitch a scammy BS offer nearly identical to the ones I’ve just finished denouncing.”

  • LiynLing

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