Published on December 2nd, 2018. Last Updated: February 10th, 2021.
by Amanda Bond
Part 2 (of 6):
The Rise of Bro-Marketing
L et's turn back the clock for a second.
From 2014 to 2016, Facebook Ads were a near-guarantee. A cash cow. A lottery you couldn’t lose.
Armed with a ClickFunnels account and a sexy headline, almost anyone could turn a profit on Facebook ads.
Industry titans like Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy, and Russell Brunson made millions selling “just pay shipping” books and DVD seminars…then millions more selling courses and programs on how to replicate their success.
Terms like “lead gen funnel” and cost-per-click became mainstream. Leading us all to get drunk on the idea (or, for a select few: the reality) of making fast money and spending our days writing eBooks and sipping vino on the Amalfi Coast.
But something else was happening beneath the surface—something I think we can only see in “hindsight.”
I like to call it…
The Rise of Bro-Marketing
A digital marketing subculture dominated by money-hungry, funnel-hacking, win-at-all-costs business owners.
A business ethos that’s publicly client-centric, but privately egocentric (just follow the breadcrumbs of guilt-based marketing, silenced complaints, and an emphasis on sales over service).
To be very clear, this thing I call “Bro-Marketing” is not based on anyone’s gender, use of slang, or luxury car ownership. Bro-Marketing is ego-driven marketing—it’s a philosophy that reveals itself in self-serving, short-sighted, toxic business tactics. And, in complete transparency, I'm not even the one who invented the term. I first heard it from the mouth of MJ Demarco, author of The Millionaire Fastlane, in-person at his intimate event.
Now, I think we can all take a step back and agree that there always have been (and probably always will be) sleazy business owners.
But the UNIQUE issue in our space is that:
Our industry was built by these business owners.
See, Bro-Marketers weren’t the only pioneers in the digital marketing space. No. But they’ve been some of the loudest. And in a new, wide-open industry, being loud is enough of a differentiator to establish authority and claim dominant market share.
So that’s what happened.
Bro-Marketers invented the tactics.
Bro-Marketers trained your mentors.
Heck, Bro-Marketers ARE your mentors.
Most current “best practices” (taught by the very Facebook ads mentors, agencies, and course creators you follow) are based on the foundation laid by this toxic brand of marketing.
See, for most of us, obvious Bro-Marketing tactics make us feel a little icky.
🤔 Renting a Lambo for a day of flashy marketing videos?
😕 Pushing engagement ads to “cheap” countries to bulk up page likes?
😟 Stalking the comment section of a competitor's ads to poach prospects?
😩 Posting photos of giant ass cheques?
🤬 Regurgitating aggressive ad copy like “if you're not willing to invest in yourself by going into credit card debt, you're not a real entrepreneur” (without considering brand alignment or, I dunno… empathy?)?
Thanks, but no thanks. Gonna go take a shower first.
But when push comes to shove, I see most business owners default to subtler Bro-Marketing tactics that are fuelled by the same “sales-first” mentality.
Now, let’s get one thing clear.
If you’re using some of these tactics, it doesn’t make you a bad person. And it certainly doesn’t make you an evil, money-hungry minion.
It’s just more evidence that we’re all drinking from the same polluted pond (and, before now, you likely couldn’t put a name to that feeling in your gut telling you there’s got to be other ways to succeed).
If Bro-Marketing is so inherently wrong, then why have these tactics stuck around for as long as they have?
‘Cause they DID work.
So, as business owners, we collectively plugged our noses, swallowed back the sour taste of misalignment, and launched funnels that reeked of toxic marketing.
- ‘Cause it's hard to argue with $0.50 leads.
- ‘Cause it's hard to run down 25x ROI.
- ‘Cause it's hard to pass on six- and seven-figure launch hype.
Again, there's no guilt or judgement here. Like I've said before, we're all drinking from the same polluted pond. In fact, the only reason I know Bro-Marketing culture so intimately is that I, for years, couldn't see the forest for the trees. We're strictly doing what's been taught and modelled.
Then, about two years ago, the machine stopped working.
- CPMs (the cost to deliver 1,000 ad impressions) doubled, then doubled again.
- Lead costs rose by the week.
- ROAS began a steady, then precipitous decline—in almost every business, across the board.
And when “the old way” stopped working, the digital marketing space didn’t slow down for a second.
Mostly because they couldn’t afford to—their profit margins were already too narrow.
So no one stopped to wonder WHY the market was rejecting hardcore sales funnels and bucking trends that had worked for hundreds and hundreds of promotions. They didn’t stop to listen to these cues and pivot.
Marketers just doubled down.
When that didn’t work, they hired ad managers and paid traffic consultants, hoping they’d have the cure to what ailed their marketing efforts.
But none of it moves the needle. None of it restores profit margins, funnel metrics, or KPIs.
‘Cause the very foundation of the accepted Facebook advertising strategy is rotten to the core.
The current system quite literally has set you up for failure.
This isn’t a time for bandaids, tweaks, or pivots.
This is a time to reconsider the way you approach every phase of your sales process.
If that sounds like too much work, I understand. So, good news: there are plenty of Bro-Marketers who are still selling Facebook ad courses that teach easier, sexier tactics. The tactics don't work anymore—as I'm about to explain—but you won't have to deal with learning a new perspective or rebuilding your marketing. So… I guess it's kind of a compromise.?
Even if your current paid traffic ROI is positive and stable, the climate is changing so fast that you won’t be immune for long.
The current Facebook ads foundation is crumbling—whether you agree with me or not.