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  • Writer's pictureJason Burlin

Textbook marketing sucks

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

There, I said it – and if you have been marketing in the real world for more than a minute, you probably know it too. Textbook marketing sucks. 

The thought of learning how to market a product or service by reading a college book based on ancient marketing tactics makes me wonder if the people who read the book understand that marketing is an evolving concept. 

Marketing is time-sensitive and changes its form every single day. Understanding the concept that marketing is constantly changing is what will set successful marketers apart from mediocre marketers. 

Marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” In other words, it is finding ways to sell your product or service in a profitable way. 

When we talk about modern marketing, we talk about being able to create a profitable model of advertisement that will generate a positive return on our investment. Unless you are one of the top 1000 companies in the world that can afford to pay for endless amounts of advertising to invest in branding, you need to make every dollar count. 

There are many different approaches to find the most effective way to market your business. One thing that most marketers agree on is that there is no one marketing strategy that fits all. Run as far as you can from marketing tactics that promote something along the lines of “copy and paste strategies to boost your business.” 

Marketing strategies are different across the board and there are no ready-to-go strategies that exist in the real world. Now that we cleared that up, let’s talk about the fundamentals for successful marketing today.


Yes, ads are everywhere. Nothing is free. Most of the internet seems free because websites make all of their money from advertisements. That means that their objective is to shove as many ads as possible in front of users without annoying them too much. 

Users are likely to skip ads placed between posts and between videos whenever they can. Putting an annoying ad in front of a potential customer won’t be very effective. Instead, promote your  ads in a way that may look organic to the user.

The best marketing is concealed marketing. When you see an ad that doesn’t look like an ad, you are much less likely to respond to it negatively.

It’s common sense. Someone will more likely be interested in something if he or she thinks they came across it spontaneously. On the other hand, they will run if they feel they’re being targeted aggressively with the same ad that urges them to buy or sign up for something they don’t want. 

 You see organic ads on all platforms. The average user on Google might have a hard time pointing out which ad is sponsored and which is organic. 

The same thing happens on Facebook, where many users don’t recall seeing ads because they look like regular Facebook posts. When you think of how your ads should look, think organic, natural ads that will appear as regular posts.


One of the problems with the digital age is that it’s also the age of too much information. I’ve seen so many advertisers take the wrong advice from the wrong people and end up spending thousands of dollars on strategies that really don’t work. They try to copy overcomplicated strategies that make absolutely no sense for their product and have no logical reasoning behind them.

Remember that your strategies should be built around your product and not the other way around. Focus on highlighting your product features and look for similar examples of marketing campaigns from your direct competitors to get inspiration. 


I know, I sound like a broken record, but it doesn’t make me less right. Creatives are the key to every effective marketing campaign. If it’s not amazing, it’s not interesting. If it’s not interesting it’s not effective. Even if you think creatives are not your problem, what’s preventing you from improving them and trying new things to get better results? 

Creatives are not just your advertisement and copy. Creatives can be your landing page, your product photo and all creative assets along your entire funnel. 

Not sure which creatives work best? Follow your competitors, from big to small, see what they are using and get inspired and create your own creatives that will stand out. 


Some advertisers tend to forget how much impact timing has on your marketing strategy. Remember that you are not the only advertiser in your industry. There are plenty of other competitors who are selling similar products and will either copy your ads (if they are good) or create similar ads. 

The best performing ad formats, style, methods and creatives will constantly change. The most important thing to understand is that the race never ends. Your search for the perfect strategy is eternal. 

You always have to adjust strategies to what currently works best and always be one step ahead of the market. When your competitors are busy trying to catch and copy your strategies, you will already be launching your new campaigns.


Marketing is an evolving concept. Textbook marketing uses recycled marketing strategies that don’t work in today’s digital age. The fundamentals of successful marketing today include the following concepts: your marketing should appear organic and not look like ads, creatives are always the key, be careful whose advice you take and how you use it, and remember that timing is an extremely important element in your marketing strategy.

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Jason Burlin

A seasoned marketer with more than a decade of experience in online paid advertising. Managed more than $150M in ad spend and worked with more than 500+ brands. He is known as the unconventional marketer.

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