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Cutting-Edge Web

10 Online Marketing Principles: How to Influence Today’s Sophisticated Audiences and Grow a Profitable Business in Any Climate

I don’t watch a lot of television but I’m hooked on the Netflix series Hollywood.

It’s set in post World War II Tinseltown, where actresses, directors, and screenwriters will do just about anything to get noticed and get ahead.

It takes place at the precise moment in Hollywood history where the super melodramatic  old-school, silent-movie style of acting is giving way to a more natural, organic style that appeals to modern  moviegoers.

 And the same thing is happening in digital marketing — 75 years later.

 Is Your Marketing Going the Way of the Dodo?

marketing strategyWe’re at the point where melodramatic, in-your-face marketing tactics just aren’t working anymore as online audiences get more and more sophisticated.

And the way I see it entrepreneurs like you and me have 2 choices:

Choice #1: We can risk annoying the heck out of everyone and stubbornly stick to old marketing methods that are going the way of the Dodo or…

Choice #2: We can embrace a brand, new way of marketing our products, programs and services and remain relevant, congruent and in deep service to our audience.

This new way of marketing has to do with creating experiences and it’s where you’re directly engaging your clients and customers so they’re taking action and they get to experience winning with you even before they buy a thing

These principles will also help you to build that all-important “know, like and trust” factor into your marketing so prospects are not just in their heads but in their hearts…

And they want to connect with you and buy from you not just because it makes sense but because it feels good.

Ready to dig in? Let’s get started!

Online Marketing Principle #1: Don’t Be Boring

Bored with marketingI didn’t put this at the top of the list by accident.

Boring makes people’s eyes glaze over. Boring makes them click on that back button and it triggers the “keep scrolling” part of their brain.

Boring gets you ignored.

And no matter how much time, money, effort and energy you put into creating your marketing, it simply won’t give you the results you’re looking for if you’re boring.

So what’s the most effective way to avoid having your marketing campaigns become a snooze fest?

Write, speak, share and sell from the heart.

Understand your personal values and the core themes of your life and communicate these through stories and personal experiences to build the “know, like and trust” factor with your audience.

If you don’t do this, you’ll end up sounding like everyone else and people WILL mentally “opt out” of watching, listening or reading anything you put out there.

Just to be clear…

This isn’t permission to say or do something crazy or shocking just to grab attention (that’s a cheap trick and it never works for long).

The idea here is to be wholly & authentically you — or as I like to say, “It’s time to turn up the dial on your level of self-expression.”  That’s the only real way to stand out in an ever-growing crowd of online entrepreneurs and businesses.

It makes sense when you think about it…

Even if there are thousands — or millions — of people out there doing the same thing you do…

Even if there are millions of health coaches, or copywriters or energy healers who do what you do…

There’s only one person in the whole world who can do it the way you do and that’s because there’s only who can be who you are and that’s YOU. (If you’d love an in depth antidote to boring, check out this post.)

Online Marketing Principle #2 Don’t Make People Wrong

“It’s not your fault.”

You’ve probably seen that line on sales pages, emails and all kinds of marketing..

And while I happen to think that “it’s not your fault” has become an unforgivable cliché, the idea behind it is true.

blaming the audience

It’s not your fault is about making sure that you’re not blaming your audience — your clients and customers — in your marketing messages.

It’s about making sure you’re not making people wrong for their mistakes or missteps in their journey toward the outcome they’re looking for.

When your marketing messages give off a “you should know better” vibe or anything that says people can’t get what they want because they don’t have what it takes…

You’re running the risk of coming across as super judgmental, “holier-than-thou” and just all ‘round annoying!

As you can imagine this is going to put people off you and your business and you’re never going to get a second chance to make it right.

So get it straight from the get go…

Accept people’s reality wherever they happen to be in their journey — it’s the whole reason they’re coming to you for solutions, in the first place — and create marketing messages that don’t contain even the slightest trace of blame. 

Online Marketing Principle #3: Choose Clear, Simple Words

Avoid superfluous words in your marketing messages… and yes, “superfluous” is a superfluous word 😉

I could just as easily have written:

You don’t want to include any unnecessary words in your marketing messages.

See how much clearer and simpler that is?

Here’s the thing…

When you choose complex, over-the-top language, it’s like you’re making your audience drink a freezing-cold glass of water on a ultra hot day — it’s a massive shock to the system which means it makes your message that much harder to process. 

confused with wordsBasically you’re creating friction that activates the brain and causes it to get in the way of simply, and easily digesting your message.

Plus, making room for confusion to enter the picture and let me tell you right now… confusion kills interest in seconds.

No one likes to sit through a speech, video or marketing content that makes them feel like they need a dictionary to understand what’s going on.

It’s why I like to tell my students that they need to avoid “10 dollar words” especially when a “10 cent word” will get the job done.

When you use long, unusual words or complex technical jargon you’re getting people into their heads and what you want to do is draw them into their heart (see Marketing Principle #1).

Short, simple, conversational words trigger feelings. Longer, complex words trigger thoughts.

As I said, people connect, relate and buy based on emotion… not logic.

Once you’ve written or created a marketing message ask yourself:

Is there any way I can simplify this?

Is this connecting to the head or to the heart?

Online Marketing Principle #4 Don’t Be a Copy of Someone Else

Copy of someoneMarketing is about standing out. It’s about being seen and heard.

And if you want to stand out and be seen and heard, you need to march to the beat of your own drum…

There are no two ways about it.

So one of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of entrepreneurs make — especially when they’re first starting out — is they mirror what someone else is doing in their marketing.

And this often happens because these newbie entrepreneurs get inspired and motivated by someone they admire or look up to — someone they think has their act together and they want to be just like this or that 7-figure expert.

But here’s the thing…

When you try to sound like someone else, you’re basically hiding your own unique voice, your values and what you stand for…

All the things that naturally help you stand out from the crowd. The things that make you, well, you.

Plus, if you’re inspired to follow in someone else’s “marketing” footsteps then chances are a whole lot of other people are doing the same thing..

And as more and more people try to copy a handful of trailblazers or market leaders, everyone starts sounding like everyone else and you’ll drown in what I like to call the “Sea of Sameness.”

You’ll end up sinking straight to the bottom where no one will find you or know that you exist.

Sad but true.

So whatever you do, don’t copy someone else’s marketing.

Your first step to being an original is to reflect on your personal communication style.

Are you super grounded and down to earth? Maybe you’re a little bit playful?

Take time to think about it and when you know your style, do yourself and the world a favor and commit to being who YOU are in your marketing.

Online Marketing Principle #5: Speak to One Person

speak to one personEver heard someone talk about their email subscribers as “Their List?”

While that’s technically correct (your subscribers are part of your email list), it’s an incredibly impersonal way to refer to human beings who have taken the time and trouble to subscribe to your list so they can hear what you have to say.

When you turn people into a collective number, when you disconnect from them, you’re digging yourself into a “marketing pit” that you’ll never get out of.

That disconnect will seep into your language and your audience will sense that you’re not speaking from the heart. 

For instance when you send out emails with phrases like, “all of you” or “everyone reading this” you’re showing people that you’re not seeing them as individuals with a real life, with real problems and real emotions.

Instead, you’re thinking about them as this nameless, faceless mass or worse… a cold, hard number.

So this Principle is about constantly sweeping through your marketing messages and making sure they’re personal to your audience and to you.

A powerful way to make things personal is to share stories, experiences and photos from your life. Let people in. Let them get to know the real you… share a peek into your world. 

Yes, it can be scary to open up and let them look behind-the scenes at the mistakes, the regrets and the bad hair days, but there’s no better way to be relatable and to be fully loved and accepted for who you truly are.

And when you have the courage to be personal and connect from the heart, you’ll be rewarded with fans for life and customers who buy from you again and again.

Online Marketing Principle #6: Don’t Overthink It

Ever seen someone struggle with “Launch Freeze Syndrome?”

Chances are you have.

Launch Freeze Syndrome is how I describe a common “condition” that afflicts a lot of entrepreneurs.

It’s when they overthink everything and believe they have to figure out every last detail in their marketing content and campaign before launching a funnel, product, service, program or whatever it happens to be.

Here’s the thing…

overthinkingIf you wait to figure out all the details, if you wait to get everything just right before you launch, you’ll wait forever.

The truth is everything changes so quickly online that before you get every detail ironed out, the market could have shifted, the audience could change their minds, there might be a new “must try” marketing method out there…

And so you go back to the drawing board to update and tweak and make changes in your content and messaging again and again.

It’s a vicious cycle that will never end and it will hold you back from launching anything.

In other words, you’ll freeze.

Founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman said…

“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

While I don’t recommend that you launch something you’re not proud of, know that if you let yourself overthink it, if you let yourself wait for “everything to be absolutely perfect”…

You won’t launch at all.

Online Marketing Principle #7: Don’t Get Stuck on Repeat

stuck on repeatWant to know the fastest way to deplete your energy and drain every last drop of enthusiasm you have for your business?

Do the same thing again and again, month after month, year after year.

I’ve seen way too many 7 and even 8-figure entrepreneurs struggle with this one and it comes from that feeling of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But here’s the thing…

When you stay stuck on the same sales and marketing content, the same messages, you end up boring the cr$p out of your audience and yourself…

And as I’ve said, being boring is like going bungee jumping off a 100-foot cliff… minus the bungee cord (see Principle #1).

So don’t be afraid to try something new, switch things up and go for a different approach in your marketing.

If you love writing, try getting in front of a camera. Challenge yourself to share a Livestream or Instagram Story at least a couple of times a week.

If you’ve always offered live programs, design a self-paced product and offer it to your audience.

Nobody wants to listen to a broken record so whatever you do, don’t ever let yourself get stuck on repeat.

Online Marketing Principle #8: Share What You Believe

As more and more entrepreneurs enter the online space a lot of people are worried that there’s too much competition for them to succeed. 

And they’re worried they’ll lose the battle for one the true currency at play…


So what do you do when you’re a business coach or web designer trying to grab attention among countless other experts in your space?

share what you believeTalk about the thing that sets you apart… talk about what you believe in and what you stand for.

Don’t just share what you do. Share why you do what you do.

What gets you up in the morning? What gets you motivated to coach clients day after day? What inspires you to create awesome designs or copy for your clients?

Talk about the thing that fuels you, drives you, the thing that keeps you going, and keeps you wanting to serve at the highest level.

It’s essentially why you’re in business and it has to do with how you want to make a difference.

So Principle #8 is basically this…

 If you want to stand out, talk about what you stand for.

It’s a powerful, effective way to get all the right people to sit up, take notice and become your lifelong fans and clients.
Because — as the old adage goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Online Marketing Principle #9: Don’t Create Marketing that Sounds Like Marketing

Tips and Tricks to Get That Click

How to Go Viral and Break the Internet!

Little-Known Tactics to Launch Your Program 

I’m not gonna lie… those are some pretty catchy headlines,but you know what else?

It’s also marketing that sounds like marketing.

While it’s important that you understand the rules of effective copywriting and the principles of influence (Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must-read on the topic)…

It’s also important to understand that as audiences become more sophisticated, it’s not enough to create marketing that works, you need to inspire and motivate your audience.

You need to get them to care.

This means you need to get real and get personal (see Principle #5) and it often means switching out of “tips and tricks” mode.

It means writing and speaking like a real person and not someone who’s implementing “marketing speak” that could have come from anyone with a template.
This is often called “Conversational Copy.”

Online Marketing Principle #10: Choose Clear over Clever

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

When it comes to marketing, clear and concise will outsell clever any day of the week….

clear ideasIn other words, if you had to choose between clever wordplay and clear language, choose clear language.

Every. Single. Time.

We had a student whose expertise was around helping clients heal from breakups.

She had a great idea for her marketing message and it was about closing your “ex-files”

That was one of her key marketing messages and it was a play on the TV show “X-Files,”

Yes it was fun and clever, but did it pass the “clear” test?


What we did was rework her message so it was crystal clear that she was helping women “receive love no matter how many heartbreaks they’d experienced.”

Was that clever? Not so much.

Was it clear? Hell, yeah!

The takeaway here is that when it comes to your marketing, you want to use words that people can instantly understand right out of the gate, rather than clever wordplay or confusing language that might go over their heads.

These 10 Principles come from years of both working on my own business and helping my clients take their businesses to 6 and 7-figures!

It’s the result of thousands of hours of teaching, coaching and creating marketing messages that have brought in millions of dollars and made a real difference in people’s lives.

And having said that, there’s one more thing I’ve learned and it’s something I want you to keep in mind…

All rules (and principles!) are meant to be broken.

Think of that as Bonus Principle #11 🙂

Here’s my recommendation…

Take what you see here and use it as a guideline not an “unbreakable rules list”.

 When you restrict yourself to too many rules and regulations you’re holding yourself back from being innovative and courageous in your business.

You’re holding yourself back from being YOU.

If you want to learn how to first fall in love with marketing and then nail it in a way that’s authentic to you…

If you want to learn how to create marketing that feels like YOU,  I’d like to invite you to check out our Mentorship program.

It’s the only business-building program that’s 100% customized to fit what YOU want to create in your business over the next 12 months.

LYM mentorship

The Mentorship program is designed to help you build a business that:

  • Feels fully aligned with who you are and how you’re uniquely designed to serve
  • Stands out powerfully and eliminates all competition
  • Instantly attracts your ideal clients
  • Brings in an easy, consistent flow of money
  • Feels inspiring so you can keep going and growing your business for years to come.

If that sounds good to you and you’re serious about building your business this year, go ahead and…

Apply for a FREE Business Breakthrough session with our Mentorship coach.

Over to you…

Which of these 10 Principles will apply in your business right away?

Share in the comments, I’d love to know!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Trudy

    There’s nothing new here. People should know it already 🙂 It bears repeating again and again and again!! Thanks Marisa …
    BTW most of these are marketing principles that have been around for years even BEFORE online marketing. I learned when I started my own business in 1980 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Absolutely Trudy! These are TIMELINESS marketing principles that many people overlook and yes they do work online and offline. Even when you know these, it’s easy to forget. So I do recommend coming back over and over again. 🙂

      Reply ·
  2. Virginia Reeves

    As always, Marisa, you clearly and concisely state the message about more effective techniques for marketing just about anything.
    Imitation is not really a form of flattery so being yourself (even when you may not feel all that comfortable) is what makes you unique.
    Taking bits and pieces from others to enhance your style is fine. That’s how we all learn.
    Having fun with what you are doing is also important. Otherwise, why bother.
    Sure, there are difficult or drudge steps but overall should be enjoyment.
    Thanks for another post that goes into my file for review and reference.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome Virginia and I totally agree!

      Reply ·
  3. Oliver

    I think you’re my new favorite writer for overall general business stuff.
    But don’t just do the same thing over and over again..or you might bore me (and yourself) to death.. ; )

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Aww thanks Oliver! I see you’re picking up what I’m laying down. 😉

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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