No detailed discussion of Internet marketing would be complete without a passing mention of “gurus”. Visit somewhere like the Warrior Forum, and the place is abuzz with everyone talking about, revering, and basically worshipping these gurus. So what is an Internet marketing guru? Luckily for you, in this “tell-all” blog post I’m going to reveal the sordid truth about Internet marketing gurus.
To cut a long story short, Internet marketing gurus are the socialites of the IM world – they’re famous because they position themselves as being famous. Gurus also tend to make the majority of their online profits sharing their expertise on how to make money online (hence why they always put more time into their coaching/training products than anything else).
I’m coming at ya like David Attenborough, identifying this mythical beast for the whole world to see. Here’s the crib sheet low-down on Internet marketing gurus:
Defining Characteristics Of A Guru
- Unflappable belief that they know the “right” way of doing things
- Gurus tend to declare themselves a master of a particular aspect of Internet marketing
- Possesses a loyal harem of followers who will readily defend the guru and their methods to the death
- An equally unflappable belief that they really are a business master
- Holds dear the notion that an info product’s value derives entirely from one’s ability to sell it (that’s where the value comes, apparently). Check out this massive expose of top IM gurus on The Verge for more. For a guru, it’s a matter of honour to sell an info product for more than it should actually be worth.
- A belief that “taking massive action” will enable even a totally useless system to work for anyone
- Usually a fan of self-help, law of attraction, and other such wishy-washy fads.
- Spends 99% of his/her time running webinars or other such new age mastermind groups
- Pre-launch – an important period for a guru, wherein one has to hype up an impending product launch (but try to make the hype look like it comes from others) and build up an army of affiliates.
- Launch – the spiritual nirvana of any guru; launch is where an overpriced, often re-hashed product that has been hyped up during prelaunch actually goes on sale. This is almost always accompanied with a large number of bonus giveaway products – usually said gurus previous blockbuster launches, which were once sold for hundreds of dollars, are now given away for free. Other key features of any good guru launch include:
- Artificial scarcity – tell everyone that there’s only a few copies of the product left for sale, and that once the launch is over, it’s gone for good (in contrast, I’ve recently set up my Keyword Research Redux guide so that no more copies will be sold after 250 sales are reached; and I’ve got full evidence to support those claims)
- Testimonials from other guru buddies who are actually making money off of affiliate commissions
- A focus on style over substance. It’s not what is being sold that is important, but how it is being sold. The more closely the launch resembles a B-grade movie in terms of production, the better.
- Action – no matter what method or system the guru is selling, you won’t become as successful as they are without taking action (preferably massive action). Did you know that if you smash your computer into a thousand pieces with a sledgehammer, you can still make money, as long as you were taking massive action at the time.
- Killer – Crap/rehashed
- Fresh – anything but
The harsh truth about Internet marketing gurus is that the vast majority of them are nothing short of snake oil salesmen (and women). There are some really genuine characters out there, but in my experience they are few and far between, and the “good guys” are the ones who cut their teeth slaving away to make money outside of the “make money online” niche.
You see there’s absolutely nothing wrong with selling products that teach others how to make money, provided you’ve actually made money with those same methods. The problem with lots of IM gurus (especially the kind you often see floating around places like the Warrior Forum WSO section) is that their sole business is actually making money from their coaching/teaching products. Would you be pissed off if you purchased a tennis coaching set from a guy who had never actually won any matches? Of course you would! So why settle for gurus selling you overpriced products when their only experience is actually creating and selling those products.
They may talk the talk, but they often cannot “walk the walk”.
At the end of the day, the sad truth about the majority of Internet marketing gurus is they have given in to greed, knowing that the easiest money to be made selling info products (and in some cases even physical ones) stems from these things:
- Cultivating a successful persona (over at The Anti Warrior, the host frequently discusses how gurus basically sculpt their online personalities to more accurately reflect their desired success in the real worl)
- Using that cultivated persona to attract a following
- Selling products to that group and then encouraging them to hype your brand (often through affiliate programs)
- Drawing new customers into the web
That might seem a bit confusing, but compared to the effort it takes to actually hunt out a profitable niche, build up a quality website, create a good product (or find good affiliate products) and then create a consistently reliable stream of profit, it’s much easier to relentlessly claim you hold the secrets to making money online, and then selling those secrets to others desperate to better their lifestyle.
Basically, it all boils down to this:
In the goldrush, those who made the easiest money were the ones who sold the tools – shovels etc, to the prospectors. In the Internet marketing world, those who make the easiest money are those who sell the tools – ebooks, training videos etc to the people desperate to make some extra cash to change their lifestyle.
Money has a powerful hold on our society, and over every single one of us. IM Gurus know this very well – the truth is that they know it is easier to sell the dream than do the hard yards. The guys who should be seen as “gurus” are often the furthest from reality; they run successful products, websites, and real online businesses outside of the MMO niche, but they deservedly profit from their extensive knowledge and experience.
We should celebrate the real gurus, rather than fawning over the kind of shysters who hang out in IM forums pedaling their unbeatable secrets with absolutely no evidence of success, or the big name Frank Kern types whose entire businesses are built around creating cults of success and loyal followers through the use of syndicates.
Just my 2 cents.
For a far more detailed analysis of the Guru scam industry, check out this tell-all video and article series on The Verge.