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February 7, 2012

Guru Kool-Aid: Are You Drinking It? – A SPN Exclusive Article

What is a guru?

Literally, a guru is a teacher. The word guru means “heavy” or “deep,” thus a guru is a person “heavy” or “deep” in knowledge. In this sense, a schoolteacher is a guru, a coach or athletic instructor is a guru, a fine-arts, or even a dance teacher is a guru. One’s parents are also gurus. In the religious field, where the word is most commonly used, a guru is a Hindu religious teacher. So a priest or any person learned in Hindu lore may be a guru. The main purpose of the guru is to teach. (Source: What is a Guru?)

Personally, I don’t believe in so-called “gurus” – whether they’re self-proclaimed or anointed. Never have. But I do believe in teachers and mentors. And I’m all for free enterprise – for everyone making as much money as they possibly can, with this caveat: Not off the backs of the desperate, naive, and people who can least afford it.

That’s taking advantage of people. I have a problem with that.

They’re Like Vampires

And that’s why I have a problem with some Internet Marketing (IM) gurus. Not all, but some. They’re like vampires… they stick their fangs into your neck, with no concern for your regard, and they just keep sucking your blood (i.e., money), until there’s nothing left but a trail of bodies of the broke, wounded, and disenfranchised.

That being said, if you have disposable income and want to give it to some guru, I don’t have a problem with that, as long as you’re not taking food off your family’s table.

Guru Groupies

Marketers who are gurus – self-proclaimed or anointed, often wear the label “guru” like it’s a badge of honor. That’s their prerogative, of course. And while I’m an expert in my field, as well as a teacher, I don’t consider myself a guru, and I don’t consider it an honor to be called one. I just don’t like the term “guru.” Despite my business success, and years of marketing knowledge and expertise, I don’t place myself above other people. I’m not better than you or anyone else.

Conversely, I don’t place anyone else on a pedestal either. I’ve never been into hero worship. For example, I’ve always been a huge Michael Jackson fan – all the way back to the days when he was “Little” Michael Jackson of the Jackson 5.

I have every single one of his albums/CD’s. But there was always a limit to my devotion – a reasonableness, if you will. I did not spend thousands of dollars to go see him in concert. I did not follow him around like a groupie, and I did not stand in line clamoring for his autograph, or bid outrageous sums of money for his sequined gloves.

This is the kind of irrational behavior I see exhibited toward IM gurus. They are treated like rock stars. Their fans follow them around like groupies, spending thousands of dollars on endless new product launches and expensive seminars. It’s beyond insane.

My Experience With Gurus

Let me tell you about my own personal experience with gurus. A few years ago, I purchased a couple of e-books and a software product from three different IM gurus.

The blood-sucking started almost immediately. Non-stop e-mails… one right after the other. Welcome e-mails, tutorial e-mails, new products launches, past seminars, upcoming seminars, etc., etc., etc.

I received over twenty e-mails from these guys in a period of only 48 hours. It was extremely irritating, to say the least.

Anyway, to make a long story short, that experience so disgusted me, I unsubscribed from their lists, and I actually requested a refund on two of the three products that I ordered.

I requested a refund because the products didn’t come close to living up to the hype – and that’s exactly the point: More often than not, gurus’ products DON’T live up to the considerable hype.

Don’t Believe The Hype

Gurus make everything sound so easy, don’t they? Just follow their “magic” blueprint, and you will “get rich in 90 days!” As a result of these outrageous and unrealistic claims, too many people approach IM thinking that it’s easy and doesn’t require any effort – other than to place a few Adwords ads, kick back, relax, and watch the money roll into their PayPal account. And while a rare few realize success quickly, the vast majority get hit with a brutal dose of reality. That’s right, the vast majority fail. What a surprise.

Let me tell you something, despite what some gurus tell you, success in IM is neither quick or easy. It requires time, patience, discipline and hard work. There are no shortcuts. Or, in the words of famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie…

“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”

Hard work starts with education – learning your craft. If you’re truly serious about succeeding in IM, put in the work. In addition to reading articles like this one, read as many quality, online and offline small business publications as you possibly can.

A few of my online favorites include SiteProNews, WebProNews, ClickZ and MarketingProfs. My favorite offline small business publication is Entrepreneur. Buy books. Buy lots and lots of books. Learn as much as you can about sales and marketing. More importantly, apply what you learn. It can make all the difference in the world to your success or lack thereof.

10 Of My All-Time Favorite Marketing Books

1. Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joe Sugarman

2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

3. Cash Copy by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

4. Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

5. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

6. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

7. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

8. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy

9. How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab

10. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

There are, of course, many, many more outstanding marketing books that I could name, but the one’s listed above are classics and should be part of every serious marketer’s library.

Good Gurus, Bad Gurus

Despite my rant, I want to strongly emphasize, I’m not painting all gurus with one broad brush. Like with everything in life, there is good and bad. That applies to gurus as well. There are good gurus and bad gurus. There are some good, responsible gurus out there who give back generously – who aren’t taking advantage of people – who provide excellent value for the dollar – who don’t promise results that they know they can’t possibly deliver. They are conscientious, honest and responsible marketers.

And then there are the bad gurus who rip people off by selling over-priced, inferior products, and promising “pie-in-the-sky” results that they can’t possibly deliver. They never give back, they just take and take and take. They give IM and gurus a bad name.

I’ll say it again. Success takes time, and it requires hard work. Always has, always will. There are no shortcuts, and if someone tells you otherwise… they’re probably trying to sell you something.

The Tortoise and the Hare

Are you familiar with the story “The Tortoise and the Hare?”

It’s a classic Aesop fable about a hare who one day ridiculed a slow-moving tortoise. In response, the prideful tortoise challenged his much faster mocker to a race.

Not unexpectedly, the hare soon left the tortoise in the dust. In fact, the hare was so far ahead and confident of winning, he decided to take a nap halfway to the finish line.

Alas, when he awoke, he found that the competitor he had mocked, crawling slowly but steadily, had already won the race.

The moral of the story is…

“Slow and steady wins the race.”


I learned a long time ago that you can give people advice that’s in their best interest, but invariably, they’re going to do what they want to do. But do yourself a favor. If you’re a guru groupie – if you’ve been drinking the kool-aid, as it were, take a discerning look at the amount of money you’ve invested in guru e-books, courses and seminars, then look at the amount of your return and ask yourself… has the money that you’ve spent been worth the investment?… Or anywhere close?

If you’re honest with yourself – really honest, more often than not, I think you’ll discover that it hasn’t.

Then the question becomes, what are you going to do about it?

David Jackson is a marketing consultant and the owner of – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business!