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Trust, Useless Internet Advice, and Making Something Real

This edition seems cynical…maybe it’s all the links to end of year marketing tactics?

I’m having flashbacks to the decade I spent in business purgatory reading listicles and buying courses from gurus whose only business cred is selling hype and hope to wantrepreneurs.

Or, maybe I’m just in a bad mood.

In any case, real ideas are on display implicitly if not explicitly. One theme in this batch of links is the importance of trust…and the tactics of how to fake your way to it.

Irony abounds (but, I think, without intent).

Trust is a topic at all because the marketing tactics have trained normal and healthy human beings (i.e. your prospects) to doubt.

Skepticism is the default posture toward your marketing. And rightly so.

I don’t do much “marketing” anymore, but the torrent of recommended tactics prompts this wondering from me: have we reached the tipping point where it is more hassle to maintain the facade of fake trust than to simply operate with integrity? It feels that way.

What if there was an easier way to build trust? What if you opted out of the tactical race to the bottom?

Here are some questions to envision an alternative to the tactical treadmill:

  • How would real trust transform your business? Your day-to-day activities?

  • What trust, if you secured it, would obviate the bulk of your marketing efforts?

  • Most importantly, how do you build trust? What does operating with integrity look like in your industry, business model, and client relationships?

These few big questions—rather than the multitude of small tactical recommendations in many of the links below—hold real promise to transform your business and life.

— Ian
Founder, The Pro Solo

Instructions From The Internet

How the Internet thinks you should do things.

The claim: Mastering the art of collaboration with a marketing agency is like a dance, where choosing the right partner and leading with clear communication can make your business waltz to success or stumble into mediocrity.
Verdict: The agency space is broken. Perverse incentives, euphemisms galore, and the Prospect Paradox on display everywhere. Check this list…then do what everyone else does and ask your friends who they trust.

The claim: Small businesses can ditch the survival mode and thrive by crafting a laser-focused marketing strategy that nails down five key decisions, because apparently, tactics without strategy are as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
Verdict: Another guide to being special and different by following the exact same process as everyone else. Makes sense.

The claim: 3D printing just gave slip casting the middle finger, streamlining ceramic mold making with less mess and more precision.
Verdict: People who make real stuff are cool. Apparently some software actually helps people make stuff. Must be nice.

The claim: Trust is the currency of business relationships, and this article peddles five strategies to become a veritable Warren Buffett of professional rapport.
Verdict: More tactical race to the bottom (and no appreciation for the irony)…build authentic relationships by obscuring your intent to sell.

The claim: Small businesses can punch above their weight with savvy marketing strategies like SEO, social media engagement, and targeted ads, all without breaking the bank or the clock.
Verdict: Totally. Just add these 25 onto your list of 397 things you must do for success and you’ll succeed in no time.

The first strategy for beginners should be to ignore every list of strategies for beginners. Use all the time you save to find a mentor. Listen to them to find a single customer. Skip 10+ years of futility and frustration. You’re welcome.

The claim: BBB accreditation is the business world's equivalent of a backstage pass, offering credibility, consumer trust, and market distinction for a fee that some might consider an investment in ethical bragging rights.
Verdict: Build trust the same way very ethical leaders in the Middle East do: pay off a well known org (looking at you, FIFA) for an endorsement. The thing is…it actually works. Not relevant for all businesses. Essential protection money for others.

The claim: Michel's teardown of a vintage FGM-148 Javelin missile's guidance system reveals the tech marvels of late 80s military gear, with a nostalgic nod to ceramic-and-gold avionics and the era's cutting-edge electronics.
Verdict: Just cool. That is all.

The claim: Small businesses can dodge the post-holiday sales slump by employing 15 savvy strategies, from leveraging holiday traffic with coupons and return incentives to collaborating with other businesses and planning for the year ahead.
Verdict: More fodder for the to-do list…so long as it’s not a problem for you to undermine trust with your best customers. The myopia of digital marketing tactics is comical. If you have a real business instead of, you know, being a drop-shipper hustling out of your dorm room, approach with extreme caution.

The claim: Aspiring entrepreneurs can sink their teeth into the profitable world of alligator farming, a guide that walks you through the swampy waters of starting and running a successful gator business.
Verdict: Two things: You can make money doing (almost) anything. Doing anything that makes money is a hassle. You should probably choose something that makes it worth your while. That’s three things. The last isn’t in the article, but should be.

The claim: Carving out your niche in the expert universe isn't rocket science; it's about crafting a personal brand statement that screams "unique" louder than a peacock at a penguin party.
Verdict: More proof that not wrong can still be not helpful. The (always) missing piece? Context. This might be useful to you if you are selling high-trust, high-ticket services.

The claim: Your personal brand is the legacy you leave in people's minds, and it's crucial to consider what mental footprint you want to stamp when your back is turned. Also, do everything the right way depending on what you’re aiming for. OK?
Verdict: Selling bad advice to dumb people is a proven business model. This is a genre-defining SEO piece full of admonitions to do [category] the [right way] for your situation. And….while you’re here, buy my course!