Webinars, e-books, retreats, membership sites, conference calls and courses — all standard information products peddled by various personalities around the web, all claiming to be authorities on their respective topics.
You see these offers daily — how to lose weight, how to master social media, how to become a gazillionaire selling on Amazon, how to beat the casino (yeah right!), and every other topic you can think of, being offered in every nook and cranny of the Interwebs.
How It Used To Be
Back in the day, you actually had to look for information products like these by searching for them or stumbling on an advertisement, then traveling across time and cyberspace to the website of an Internet guru
From there, you were drawn into an ugly 20+ page sales letter, decorated with hand-drawn arrows, hundreds of testimonials, brightly-colored buttons, and perfect answers to every conceivable objection you had.
It was hypnotizing.
All of that “exclusive, never-before revealed” information — right there for you to absorb for only
$159.99 $49.98 if you were one of the next 20 people to whip out your wallet and light your money on fire.
This form of information peddling is still prevalent today. Perhaps more so than ever.
And as you probably know by now, most of these self-proclaimed gurus are really just salesman or marketers who have mastered the art of recombobulating old tired ideas into shiny new packages.
But the issue isn’t necessarily that old ideas are being repackaged… this practice can still be very valuable to the consumer. Even the biggest authors and celebrity gurus are often just putting their personal brand of spit shine on rusty old information that likely predates their grandparents. (Niche dependent of course!)
The real issue is that the majority of these Internet “authority figures” likely haven’t used the information contained in their own product to achieve even a fraction of the success that their customer perceives they have. And because their experience is lacking, so is the leverage and power of their
teaching repackaging style.
You’d be just as well off saving your cash and doing a little Googling… scoring you the same information for free on forums, blogs and other treasure troves around the web. More on that later.
Instead, you’re the Eskimo being sold that pile of ice in your back yard.
The Door-To-Door Salesman: Now With More Social Media!
Thanks to the Internet, new “leaders” like the ones described above, are born at an alarming rate. It has become a relatively simple affair to start a tribe of followers and sell ideas to them. I’m living proof.
This makes it more difficult than ever to find a strong signal in all of the noise.
And thanks to social media, along with our insatiable desire to stay connected to everyone we’ve ever met (and some we haven’t!), the noise has been turned up to 11.
Your Facebook news feed and Twitter stream are buzzing all day with everything from pictures of your best friend’s newborn baby, to inspirational updates from that really smart guy you met that one time… at that one event… in that one city… two years ago.
You know that guy. We all know that guy!
Speaking of him… he’s not shy when it comes to talking about all of his success and good fortune, is he?
When the Facebook status box asks him “What’s on your mind?” several times per day, he usually writes something like:
“KILLING it in my business and in life! I’m so fortunate to be so awesome!”
“If you’d like to be as awesome as me at XYZ, stay tuned and I’ll show you how!”
Either that, or he posts some image consisting of a large white font against a black background spelling out a thoughtful quote made by a famous author or business person, expecting everyone on his news feed to cheer him on for being such a great leader and posting something so inspiring.
He’s the newborn guru. The virtual door-to-door salesman. And he will come knocking with something for you to buy, if he hasn’t already.
You no longer have to travel across the web to find a magical guru to solve your problems. Just check your news feed. Your “friends” will projectile vomit life’s answers into your lap, free of charge – and then try to charge you.
My news feed is littered with these characters! I mute or defriend most, and keep a few around if I like them or am entertained by their posts.
The hard part, especially with social media, is separating fact from crap.
How to know who’s worth listening to when hardly anyone is worth listening to.
Here are some handy tips to remember next time you consider spending money on information of any kind:
1. Validate Your Guru
Find other authorities that sell similar information and compare them. It’s easy to get caught up and forget that your Facebook buddy isn’t the only person in the world who can teach you whatever it is you’re wanting to learn. Find and compare the most elite mentors in the same niche against one another and see who comes out on top in terms of knowledge and value.
2. Look For Lies
While you’re doing your guru comparisons, investigate the claims they make about their product(s). For instance, if you’re considering a social media course, look at the guru’s social media profiles before buying! How do his posts and pages stack up to others in his niche in terms of engagement? I’d highly suggest going with the coach who has the best verifiable personal results in their own niche.
3. Find Freebies
The basics of just about any topic can be learned for free with a little digging around. Places like Warrior Forum and Digital Point for Internet Marketing, or Credit Boards for credit repair are just a few examples of places where you can learn just about as much as you can stomach on those topics for free. Take a day and learn something new for free! This basic education will give you context into the quality of the course(s) you eventually buy.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Use (And Research!) The Guarantee!
Most guru’s will provide a money-back guarantee on their products. Don’t be afraid to take them up on it if you feel that the information you were sold was hastily compiled from free stuff you found in the step above, or is just simply sub-par. You’d be amazed how much of this is out there. You might also research their guarantee prior to making your purchase. Have others reported success when requesting refunds? If not, buyer beware!
I’m personally very careful about who I take on as a private client and sell coaching information to, as I care greatly about their expectations and the value they receive from their experience with me.
Unfortunately, many of the “gurus” out there are much more concerned with how quickly they can make a buck for themselves and their affiliates.
So keep this article in mind next time you’re tempted to spend money on an information product of any kind, and you’re sure to make a more informed decision!