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What are the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing?

The seven cardinal sins. Marketers have always used them to their advantage to lure customers in, manufacturing and developing psychological and emotional connections.

In this ever-competitive world, more than having a quality product is needed. Part of being a marketer or smart business owner is knowing how to sell your product or service. This is why marketing plays such a vital role in the success of your business.

Though we don’t condone any of the deadly sins, the point is, each of them has a strong connection to our emotions. When marketing the goal is to prompt an action and the impetus to action is inciting emotion. So remember this the next time you’re conceptualizing a marketing campaign and find a way to evoke an emotion with your target audience.

From your social media marketing campaigns to your partnerships, we’ve identified the seven deadly sins you should never commit… And some that might work in your favour… Think of this as your marketing bible!


This sin refers to laziness. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you should do it again because a campaign did well once. Just know that your audience is smart (smarter than you may think) and they will remember your reused idea. So don’t be lazy.

In advertising, everything that’s positioned to make life easier or that shows how you can do away with mundane tasks are all targeting the laziness of their consumers… and it works!


The desire for others' traits, status, abilities or situation.

Copying a competitor’s idea will only bring up problems. You should embrace your differences. Pick two or three aspects of your business that make it unique. Show how your brand sets you apart from competitors by emphasizing those points.

A great example of how envy can be applied to a marketing campaign is displayed in Samsung’s campaign called “screen envy” in response to the iPhone 6’s larger screen display. Through this campaign, Samsung showed their audience that they have a better product simply because it’s bigger. They targeted those feelings and thoughts of jealousy over someone having a bigger and better thing than what you may have.


The desire for material wealth or gain.

Everyone wants more. We don’t always like to admit to this, but we do. All your marketing material should be based on two main goals: build up brand awareness and increase sales. After some research, you should establish a strategy, and stick to it.

Greed is very plainly used in everyday marketing, specifically in toy advertisements that cater to a child’s greed. Think of brands like Barbie and Lego. They’re constantly pushing products that kids just HAVE to have.


This sin refers to an intense desire that's typically related to the pleasures of the body.

Established brands are always on the lookout for ways to widen their reach with methods such as guest blogging, features and partnerships, and many of them use sex in order to sell their product, services or their ideas. It won’t be long before your brand is recognized and will start being approached with multiple “incredible opportunities”. Beware of being seduced by flattery, and make a rational and researched decision.

Examples of where sex or the creation of intense desire can be used in marketing can be seen in various perfume, alcohol, clothing and even car advertisements.

Above are common thought processes that marketers may go through when developing their campaigns, which in turn may trigger the negatives of using the 7 deadly sins in their marketing.


Enticing strong feelings of anger. This marketing method is often used to channel outrage or frustration from consumers about some act, a cause or a situation, but can very easily work against you rather than for you.

You need to select your audience carefully when you advertise online or even offline. However tempting it may be to send your newsletter to your entire subscriber list, don’t! Take the time to segment your list according to your reader's preferences.


This sin is the excessive belief in one's own self or abilities.

Remember, you are not the one buying your service or product. Potential customers are. Which is why the opinion of your target audience is so valuable.

To use pride to your advantage, apply this tactic to an area, a situation or an event to encourage someone to respond to your promotion.


The desire to consume more than what one requires. It’s not enough to think that spending loads of money and hiring well-known faces will guarantee a successful marketing campaign. Often it’s the most basic of ideas that are the most successful. It is possible to achieve fantastic results while still remaining within your budget. Stay grounded and true to your brand.

A great example of how gluttony is used in everyday marketing? Look at advertising that all fast food chains produce across all media.

The Wrap Up

Although many of these “sins” seem negative in terms of habits and in their intentions to get consumers to engage or purchase, sometimes they can be used as a positive in marketing.

When used correctly, the 7 deadly sins of marketing can be used to positively engage and stimulate prospects and in turn, encourage your consumers to keep coming back for more. In the name of advertising, competition and sales. Amen.


You don’t have to be a master sinner in order to make your ad campaigns successful. With Fox & Forth on your side, we can help you to brand, engage and connect with your target market, no sin required!

To learn more about how we can help, get in touch with our marketing team today!

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