Don't Be A Scumbag

Ian Lurie

Caught redhanded
How’s that for a Friday afternoon headline? A bit of a rant coming here, based on three folks I met who have been so mislead about internet marketing strategy, tactics, and even just common sense, that I can only think their internet marketing ‘professional’ was completely unethical:

If you know how to program HTML, but don’t know anything about search marketing, marketing in general, or design, don’t tell people you’re an internet marketer. Don’t be a scumbag.

If you know how to design pretty stuff, but have no idea how to program HTML, don’t tell people you’re a web designer. Don’t be a scumbag.

If you once read a few web sites about SEO and know what a meta tag is, don’t sell your services as an SEO professional, thereby getting your clients banned. Don’t be a scumbag.

If you just finished ‘certification’ for a third-rate shopping cart tool that looks like it was created in 1994, don’t tell people you can help them make money. Don’t be a scumbag.

Ignorance is not an excuse. Telling people you’re an expert when you know damned well that you aren’t is unethical and bad business.

I’m going to go throw rocks for a while.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. The problem is that a lot of these scumbags believe their own propaganda. I work for a large organisation and we are interactively in the hands of agencies – big household names, at least in their own households. And these people really, truly believe they know something about websites and interactive marketing (and so do my bosses) even though they have never actually ‘done’ any before. I try to explain what they are (architects) vs what we are (hospital administrators). They help us build it, then they go away, leaving us to train the nurses, change the bed linen, drive the ambulances, cook the meals AND cure the patients.

  2. Unfortunately, some people don’t even realize the depth of their scumbag nature until you’ve invested $1000s in their sub-par services.

  3. What really got me going Friday was the assumption by so many that, even though they know almost nothing about internet marketing, their ability to build a web site (or not) makes them an internet marketer.
    If you try to practice law without a license, you get in trouble.
    If you practice medicine, ditto.
    If someone at an ad agency makes ignorant promises and blows it, the agency often gets sued.
    So what’s going on in internet marketing?

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