Here is a les­son in how not to do on­line neg­a­tive mar­ket­ing: Sues Texas Mar­ket­ing Firm For Al­leged­ly Post­ing Fake Car Deal­er Re­views:

Ed­munds, which says it man­u­al­ly screens every au­to deal­er re­view sub­mit­ted to its site, claims that Hu­mankind tried to reg­is­ter more than 2,000 ac­counts and used them to post fake re­views. An Ed­munds’ spokesper­son tells TIME mag­a­zine that the fake re­views from Hu­mankind be­gan in Jan­u­ary and an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that they were all com­ing from the same place. Many of the fake ac­counts haven’t been used yet, Ed­munds says. To date, the com­pa­ny has de­tect­ed 76 re­views and blocked each one, TIME re­ports.

So, what has the bad-in­ten­tioned mediocre mar­ket­ing firm done wrong in this case?

They did it the easy way. The just made up bad stuff about their com­peti­tors, and post­ed them.

Mak­ing up things = not good. You re­al­ly should try not to do it.

But it is easy to. You just hire some in­tern or guy in In­dia to just in­vent what­ev­er you wants, and then posts it un­der user­names like Ra­jiv (if they’re stu­pid­er) or Roger Smith (if they’re mar­gin­al­ly less stu­pid, but still eas­i­ly, ob­vi­ous­ly a fake name!).

You’ll be caught in mil­lisec­onds… as these guys were.

So here’s an al­ter­nate strat­e­gy. Try some hard work: some in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. Re­search your com­peti­tors. Find every sin­gle client. Talk to them. Find out their worst sto­ries. Then SEO the hell out if it.

Works like a charm. I’d rec­om­mend you try it one day.

Think about how you win a fight, any fight. You could let all your emo­tions out and yell and yell. But you’ll like­ly lose, every­one will think you’re ridicu­lous and you’ll drain your­self be­fore the sec­ond punch. But in­stead, stay calm and cool and fo­cused on the goal and ask your­self, every mil­lisec­ond, how to best achieve it. There are lots and lots of sub­tle ways. That’s how we like to do it.

And of course, while em­ploy­ing all the sub­tle meth­ods… stay­ing a good guy. It’s hard in this bad world, but we try our hard­est to en­force our own moral sys­tem on our­selves.