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.