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The problem with “disruptive” marketing

There’s a certain type of marketing disease that’s more prone to the startup world than other types of industries. But that doesn’t mean this infection doesn’t run its course in other industries. It does. 

Perhaps the best example of “disruptive” marketing winning is with Netflix. They challenged TV and cable about a decade ago… and a decade later, streaming sites are doling out billions of dollars for sports games (a consistent top draw on cable networks). This is even more impressive when you consider that one of the biggest demographics for the NFL is baby boomers who literally don’t know how to even use a streaming service. 

Or what Amazon did to department stores when it transitioned from being a bookstore into being an everything-under-the-sun store. 


The problem with “disruptive” marketing is most companies aren’t Netflix or Amazon.

This is why this disease is so infectious in the startup world. Startups do actually think they’re Netflix or Amazon… and it takes them years to realize they aren’t. 

But when you act like Netflix or Amazon without solving as much of a problem as these companies do, it sabotages your marketing. What you think is “disruptive” marketing just comes across confusing. 

And confusion, much like boredom, is the death of the sale. 

(Don’t believe me? Go check out any startup’s homepage and tell me if you understand their above-the-fold headline on their homepage.) 

Here’s why I bring it up:

I have a silly, yet eye-opening example from a movie to drive this point home. 

This week, Peanut and I watched Murder Mystery 2. A fun little murder mystery flick starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. 

In the sequel to the first Murder Mystery (where our two main characters solve a… wait for it… mystery), they’re trying to start their own private investigation firm. 

Their only marketing strategy in this sequel is business cards (and lackluster results for the few private clients they’ve collected). 

But not just any business cards. 

No, their business cards also have floss on them. They’re designed to be your flosser, and then while you’re flossing you might remember your spouse’s shady behavior and give the detectives a call. 

(For some reason, flossing is really big in the Murder Mystery World—with several scenes featuring someone flossing.) 

The problem with these business cards (besides the fact that business cards are often the most useless marketing “tool” around)? 

They’re confusing. 

Attaching floss, while it may seem “disruptive” to the private investigations industry (or at least does to Sandler’s character), only makes them come across like dentists. Not detectives. 

And there is the problem with relying on this trendy type of marketing: 

Starting a business is hard enough. It’s infinitely more difficult when your business card (or website, for a more irl example) confuses your potential customers so much that they don’t know if you’re a private detective or a dentist. 

Many such cases of this exact situation playing out in the world of online biz. 

Moral of the story? 

There are better ways to start and grow a business than disruptive marketing. Like email. 

Not only is email less confusing and easier to implement than most disruptive marketing strategies, but it’s also more forgiving. Which means: Even if one of your emails causes confusion, you have a two-way communication channel open. Your list could reply saying they’re confused. You could send another email the next day (or immediately after) and end the confusion before it bubbles up. 

And, of course, email, when you do it my way, is often the most profitable marketing channel you’ll have. 

Which brings me to the point:

If you’re not making at least 30% (and mayhap more like 50-60%) of your revenue from email, I can help. 

Hit reply, and we’ll set up a quick call to make sure we’re a good fit. And then we’ll laugh both of our sweet arses to the bank. 


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