One of my fa­vorite ques­tions is when peo­ple ask me what tools I use to help with my neg­a­tive mar­ket­ing.

There are so many clich­es that help us deal an­swer this:

“Garbage in, garbage out”
“A mo­ron with a ham­mer is still a mo­ron”

And there are many oth­er that make sim­i­lar points. This more gen­er­al point about the world ap­plies to neg­a­tive on­line mar­ket­ing and neg­a­tive SEO, very strong­ly:

There is no tool that will save you from do­ing the hard, cre­ative work your­self.

If there was, every­one would be us­ing it, and then you would­n’t have a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage over any­one else and your work would­n’t be worth any­thing, right?

Here’s how I’d look at it. There are lots and lots of tools — and they’re awe­some tools that will help you a lot. But you should on­ly use them when you are su­per-duper ad­vanced, when you are so ad­vanced, that you don’t even need to be read­ing this blog!

A pi­lot needs to fly amaz­ing­ly on his own — be­fore he can use the Air­bus Au­topi­lot. Would you want some­one who can bare­ly fly to be fly­ing your Air­bus plane to Paris, even if most of the flight is on Au­topi­lot? Well, read for your­self one of my fa­vorite air­line crash sto­ries (it is very in­tense, I warn you — but worth it).

Peo­ple like tools be­cause they’re a SHORT­CUT. But that’s all they are: a short­cut.

Short­cuts, in neg­a­tive mar­ket­ing on the in­ter­net as in life, seem eas­i­er and quick­er — but don’t teach you what you need to be an ex­pert; they don’t give you the sub­tle sig­nals about what’s work­ing and what’s not so you can im­prove; they don’t give you the ex­pe­ri­ence you need to grow. You can mem­o­rize Ham­let, or you can look up the quote on the In­ter­net: if you take the short­cut, you don’t in­ter­nal­ize the depth of the words. So go, young man, and mem­o­rize Ham­let!

Avoid the short­cut. Do the hard­work.

Then, when you’ve done awe­some­ly, come back and lets find some great tools.