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How to break free from manipulative marketing with Dr. Michelle Mazur
Episode 24613th June 2022 • Your Dream Business • Teresa Heath-Wareing
00:00:00 00:57:56

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Today’s episode of the podcast is an interview with Dr. Michelle Mazur all about bro marketing, and some of the very unpleasant tactics that people use to sell their products and services. Michelle is a messaging expert who combines the tools of successful social movements, with the qualitative research skills she earned in her Communications PhD to help brilliant business owners craft their powerful, captivating message. She has also authored The 3 Word Rebellion, is host of the Rebel Uprising podcast and is featured in Fast Company and Entrepreneur and Inc. I learned so much from my time with Michelle and this is an episode not to be missed! We talked all about what bro marketing is and how it got started, the ways I am changing how I market and sell in my own business and why we need to redefine how we look at success.  


  • The things to look out for that will help you spot bro marketing when you are making an investment
  • What signs you should look out for to determine if bro marketing is lurking in your business
  • Why you shouldn’t work with someone just because of the money they are making, or the money they are promising you will make
  • What messaging is, what it does for your business and why you need to focus on it
  • How to use your messaging to lead and sell with expertise and credibility
  • How to know what to say and use storytelling to build an argument for your work
  • How to balance being nurturing and friendly to your audience, and sell to them as a business owner
  • How we equate people who have big audiences with success, and the need to redefine that


How speaking about what you do in a clear and captivating way is the key to reaching the people you could help the most and the key to making more money in your business.


  • How as a consumer you can protect yourself so that you're confident you're making wise investments
  • How as a business owner you can sell an online product in an online world, without using bro marketing tactics
  • Why six and seven figure launches can often be a vanity metric, and why you should focus on the life you want and not the money you earn





Teresa: Hello, and welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. I am so excited for you to listen to this one. I've just be listening back. 'cause you know, I batch and this was done a while back now, which is really odd, but amazing that it's coming out now, considering the episode I did last week, if you haven't listened to that one, then go back and listen. It was basically talking about why you don't want an online business.

Not saying everyone doesn't want one, but just some truth. And then this was coming up, which is crazy timing because it's so good. So this is a conversation with the amazing Dr. Michelle. All about bro marketing and some of the very unpleasant tactics that people use. Now, interestingly enough, there was a time in my world where I was getting into this, where I was like, okay, that's the way we do it.

And that's the way I taught it. And now I'm sure if you went back and looked at some of my earliest stuff and now I might contradicted myself and. Although, I don't like doing that because I like being very transparent and honest, but I've learned, I learned the difference and it took me ages and I spent a lot of money getting understanding of what this looks like in practice.

And I've been sold to in so many different ways and had so many different tactics. And it's, it's a hard lesson to learn because it costs you money. And I think I. Like I said over time, I have now developed and changed what my messages and what I'm saying. And like I said, that might contradict some of my earliest stuff, but that's because I've learned.

And I understand now and I don't like it and it doesn't fit with my values. And I don't think I was strong enough in the earlier days to go, oh, this doesn't feel nice. Do I really have to say this? Or is this the way we do it? Or is this like, it feels like I'm tricking them into buying something from me, which is things like why my cart is always open now because I am there when you are ready.

Like, I love the fact that I just get, you know, wake up on a random day and I've got a new member. Like, I love that. I love that I'm there when I have. I give you the opportunity to make the decision yourself. I am not forcing you into going, you must join or otherwise, you're going to miss out. So this conversation, I have to apologize a little bit because I think I just get into this point where I'm like, oh, and they do this.

Oh, and they do this. So passionate about it. Like that's I was just the back I was doing, like listening to myself thinking. Less speak Teresa, like what the hell? Anyway. So she was great and I loved it and she was so refreshing and it was just so nice to hear. So yeah, I am. I'm really excited about this episode. I am not going to talk any longer, uh, link up to everything about her and how amazing she is in the show notes. But here she is.

Okay. I am super excited today to welcome to the podcast Dr. Michelle Mazur. Michelle, how are you doing?

Michelle: I am great. And I'm so excited to be here with you.

Teresa: Oh, me too. I was just saying that before we got on, I was going through Instagram like yeah, yeah, yeah. Like this is going to be such a fun conversation. But we start, exactly the same way every time by getting you to introduce yourself to my audience and tell them, how you got to do the thing that you do today?

Michelle: Ooh, that's such a good question. So I run a company called communication rebel and we specialize in messaging. So I created a framework called the three word rebellion, and it's really about how do you create your own start with why your own five second rule. And then what are the key messages you need to get people to buy into that, that you can use in your marketing, your sales, your PR efforts. So that you can be radically consistent and get known for your work and create demand for your work. So that is what I'm focused on, how I got here. So this is my 10th year in business. Which I'm very excited about.

Teresa: Congratulations.

Michelle: Yeah. And my background was I'm an academic by training.

So I have a PhD in communication, long story short hated the politics of academia was not a good time. Decided to I was teaching at the university of Hawaii. I moved to Seattle where I am now. Went into market research. Realised, I love research, but I didn't like being an employee wasn't particularly good at it.

And I ended up starting this company because of friends said to me, you know, you have all of this information about communications stuck in your head. And he's like, you should be doing something with that. You should be helping people with everything, you know. And I'm like, oh, he was just started broad start something.

So my business started as a blog. I originally was a public speaking coach because I loved speaking. Then I realized later I really did not like this professional speaking industry, but that's a story for another day.

Teresa: Okay, save that for another podcast.

Michelle: But everything I was doing was really focused around how do you construct this keynote speech?

Like, what's the core message, what's the change? How do you market this so that people actually want to hire you? And I began to realize that my clients like, wow, my clients are using what we do together in lots of different ways. Like I'm seeing our message pop up on their website, their home page, you know, they would do like a launch sequence around there in what we created.

And I'm like, Ooh, I see a bigger opportunity by going broader and really focusing on helping people powerfully communicate the value their business is creating, and especially for my rebels who are doing things a little bit differently, and especially for the people who don't love the current online state of business with the manipulative tactics and kind of the sleazy sales tactics as well. So that became my focus. And now I've been doing again, I've been working with the three word rebellion framework for almost five years.

Teresa: Amazing. And like, I feel like talking to you it's like, you're gonna wrap me up and go, it's safe here. It's safe.

Michelle: It is.

Teresa: This is the online space I'd been looking for. You know, my background is traditionally marketing. I have a degree in it. Spent 16 odd years in it now. And I came into my own business.

I didn't normally do an intro about myself, but kind of leads the question. I'm with the business. And I created an agency. So I had my own agency. We did other people's marketing and I bet like, you love speaking. Yes. Going up stage. Seeing those people. It was amazing. And all the online experts and all the people that I went and learned from were doing that they would have been seen as the expert.

And I was like, I want to be that I want to be the person who's standing there and telling, you know, the world I know a lot of stuff, I've done a lot of stuff. And I still look at the online world and I was like, actually, I really love this because now I'm not just working with companies who could afford me.

I've got a lot of experience. I was an expensive agency to go to and I wanted to work. I loved helping small businesses and I'm a complete end of the server like I constantly to deliver, because I see things it's like, it's the easiest breathing thing. It's like, someone comes to me, tells me about their business plan like ting ting.

And my brain just wakes up like an outlet. So we came into this online world and a really kind of. This is brilliant. Like what an opportunity, because this was like six years ago when, especially over in the UK, it was not as big as it is. I would say that's still in the same today.

Michelle: Yeah. I would agree with that from what I can see.

Teresa: You guys are ahead of us on this.

And so I came into it thinking how wonderful it was and then slowly over time. I wanted to like scrub my skin with bleach.

And then I was watching these people who didn't know anywhere near as much as I knew. Weren't as kind of like didn't care. Like they literally didn't care about their customers, about their audience. About their success and were selling this stuff. And were more successful and still the more successful than I am and to this day, in some instances.

And I just thought, How can people not see this? How can like people not see what they're doing? And this is something that you've obviously jumped fully on board. So yeah. Let me start by just to say like we, I went and we looked at the podcast and what the word bro marketing came up.

What do you mean for my audience about bro marketing?

Michelle: Yes. So bro marketing is the use of psychological triggers. Like we think about scarcity, social proof authority in order to manipulate people and take away their consent so that you make a sale. So that, and you see it all the time in the online world. So it can include things like, you know, the, those scarcity pushes those disappearing bonuses, the rags to riches stories, the really income-driven testimonials with like zero contacts around them.

All of that would fall into bro marketing. But at the end of the day, it's based in manipulation and coercion with the goal of shutting down critical thinking. So you're no longer making the best purchasing decision based on what your business needs. You're making it on things like fear and fear of missing out.

And, oh my gosh, this is going to be the thing that helps my business forward.

Teresa: This is the golden ticket that, yes, I need this. I can't be successful without this.

Michelle: Yes. Exactly. Exactly.

Teresa: So this is something that I have seen, like the worst of the worst. And there are some like that who are disgusting. Like literally shocking.

I can't believe people are buying from them but they seem to be very successful and they're doing all the things like we've seen the adverts went someone sat in their jets. I see that a lot. Uh, we see them stood outside either stood outside the jet or in the car, leaning against that like crazy evasive car or some crazy amazing holiday, or like all these things.

And, and then we've seen like some people who are, who seem pretty good, but underlying there's like some stuff, but oh yeah. My concern in mind, like I think what I want to get from this interview. I started watching this guy on YouTube called, oh, it's gonna drive me crazy. If I was named it'll come to me in a bit.

Oh, Contrapreneur that's what it's called. Do you know him?

Michelle: No, I do not.

Teresa: Okay. So go check him out on YouTube and he basically calls out Contrapreneurs and he calls like the big ones. Like there are some pretty big names uh, in this space. And he calls them out and basically says like he has, he has Contrapreneur bingo.

It's very funny. So it's like, is there a value stack? Yeah, there's a value stack. It's

like, he is, they're like the rags to riches story. Yeah. Like, you know, how did you tick up all the bingo things? Cause they said all the things. So I was watching this and I was like, oh my God, this is so good. And then suddenly the fear like started to hit me into. Oh God, how much of this do I do? And how do I not?

It's hard. How do I not do it, but how do I still sell in this industry? Because I'm up against people who are using these tactics and sorry, and I understand this, like, my head is just explainable is that I'm literally on the screen in front of me. I've got your Instagram and it's, you've put a post up and I have a story about this that you can have a profitable course of even no audience.

Absolute rubbish.

Michelle: Yeah. No.

Teresa: You know, you've put on their truth. Courses convert a 1 or 3% you need a massive audience. And my, one of my friends was watching someone fairly big doing a webinar, talking about courses, and they gave an example of so-and-so who has lists of 150 people.

And he launched making $30,000 in his first go. And then of course my friend messaged me. "Oh my God, did you see this? Like, this is amazing." And I'm like, yeah, but they didn't tell you, like, did they have a Facebook group? Did they have an amazing podcast where they, this thing, like, you don't know all those things as well. So like I've just literally like vomited loads of words that yeah.

Michelle: Yes. Yes.

Teresa: How do we, how do we, how do we stop people buying from these people and how do we hopefully, very genuine, real marketers who can genuinely help people selling online product did an online world without using these tactics.

Michelle: Yeah. So to, okay. So I want to pick this apart in two different ways, because there's the, how do we stop buying this stuff?

How do we stop falling for this stuff? And as we were talking about my friend and podcast host Maggie Patterson, and I have a whole podcast on this called Duped: The Dark Side of Online Business, which has really focused into like how you as a consumer can protect yourself. So that you're making sure you're doing wise investments. Because once you start seeing it, you're like, oh, I can see what's happening here because a lot of it is very, very subtle.

Um, and women do it too. It's not just men. And so I think it's. And we kind of know when it's happening in our potties too. It's like, I swear like our, all of our recommendations are like, you need to slow down and critically think about your purchases. But I think it's that just getting that awareness of like, oh, they're using scarcity or, oh, there's that rags to riches story or, oh, look at all this luxury lifestyle.

They're showing me and the branded photo shoots and all of these things, or the high ticket, everything like everything's high ticket this year. And I'm like, that doesn't mean anything. To meaning once to her. So we can become aware in those ways. But I think the trickier question that actually has a pretty simple, but not easy answer is how do we divest our own businesses from this and still make money.

Because here's what you shouldn't do. I had a client recently who learned all about this, and then she stripped all of it out from her business.




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