Do you think there is a black hat behind every marketing success?


As much as we try to do good in and through business, I have a growing suspicion that behind every successful marketing strategies, there is a fair amount of black hat tactics (pick your own definition) used.

If that is true, it's only fair that those are not being talked about in advice columns and how-to blog posts.

Disclaimer: I'm not here to judge; but I am trying to adjust to reality and not stay in a bubble of naivete.

Marketing Tactics

asked Mar 25 '10 at 12:00
G Rex
683 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • I'm not sure I understand your question... are you referring specifically to black hat *SEO* ? – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago
  • I'm referring to black hat in general – G Rex 14 years ago

2 Answers


To answer your question, no. There is a lot of marketing that happens that is not in the slightest bit 'black hat'. There are lots of ways to market a product - standard advertising in the (hopefully targetted) medium of your choice, gimmicks such as contests, press releases, word of mouth, direct mail, etc. I think that 'black hat' techniques are really limited to when you are doing your marketing exclusively online. Note that if you are trying to build a business, black hat tactics will backfire and ultimately hurt your efforts. While black hat marketing approaches often work in the short term, steer clear if you are trying to build something sustainable. Good luck!

Edit - Not trying to be judgemental to those that employ black hat; just giving my humble opinion ;)

answered Mar 26 '10 at 07:15
Ev Conrad
561 points


Since you are trying to "adjust to reality and not stay in a bubble of naivete"... I'll be blunt. You are looking at it all wrong. What exactly do you think marketing is? It encompasses everything from the logo on your business card to the elevator pitch you give. Marketing is simply a way of proactively informing people (the market) about something.

I'm assuming you are inquiring about this because you think marketing is unnecessary ("good products find buyers"), you think it's deceptive ("ads always lie"), or you've tried it and it wasn't successful.

Marketing is necessary if you want to guarantee success. Sure, you could get lucky, build something, and have everyone knock on your door. But that relies on luck, and luck isn't a business plan. If you want to build a business plan based on luck, then start buying lottery tickets: highest return with smallest investment.

As for deceptiveness, a job of marketing is to differentiate something from everything else. That means accentuating the good features and downplaying the bad. Everyone does that with everything, anyway.

Now if you've tried it and had no luck... that means you're doing something wrong. Marketing can be very successful, but it ain't easy.

answered Mar 26 '10 at 13:24
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points

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