Rant: Learning From The Flaws of “Gurus”
Let me preface this article by saying, I’m not here to bash John Chow. He’s just doing a good job at being a “model subject” for the rant I’m about to write. He’s one of the leaders in the internet marketing niche and has provided a lot of helpful and informational content over the past few years. It’s gotten to the point now, however, where I’d almost say if you’re looking to make it online as a blogger, you need to look at what he does and do the opposite (or don’t do it at all). At least, keep it in mind when you’re starting out.
When it comes to blog posts and communicating with your e-mail list subscribers, you generally want to provide value and you want to pay attention to your readers. They are the ones who made you successful, after all. Granted, there are people who get really busy and become really popular, to the point where it’s almost impossible to reply to every comment and every e-mail (which is one of the reasons why Pat Flynn continues to amaze me – the man simply understands how to make a connection with an audience). Even so, you should still respond to some comments and make some effort to remain connected.
Anyway, here’s what set me off today.
I’m on John Chow’s e-mail list and I regularly read his blog. I wouldn’t say I’m huge fan, but I think it’s good to monitor the leaders of a niche (especially if it’s a niche you’re in), because there’s always something to learn from them whether you like them or not. For those who don’t follow John Chow, most of his blog posts and nearly all of the e-mail sent to his list are promotional in nature. I’m fine with this – I’ve opted to receive this e-mail, as I like to see what others are promoting.
This is borderline flaw #1, what I like to call “promoting without providing.”
Promoting products and services is fine as long as you also provide value. And it’s not to say John doesn’t ever provide value. When you opt into his list, you do get a copy of his eBook, and it has some good information (along with, surprise, tons of affiliate links). Also, you always have the option to opt-out of receiving the e-mail. So, I’m fine with this.
Flaw #2 is really what set me off today. I’ll label it “reckless promotion,” and it’s something I think there is no excuse for if you want anyone to take you seriously. Here’s the e-mail John sent to his list Monday morning – I’ve changed some names and removed the links so that I’m not inadvertently also promoting the same thing. I’ve bolded the areas that I think are reckless:
This weekend I am heading to jd’s event. jd’s event has become THE event in the Affiliate, Internet Marketing, SEO, Domainer, Internet Business and Make Money Online world.
Everyone at jd’s event is successful and making some serious money, or you don’t get invited, plus $3,000 to get in.
Normally jd charges between $2,500 and $15,000 for sponsorships.
This year he is auctioning the sponsorships off, starting at one dollar. (http://jdevent.com/1.php) (Use “auctioning the sponsorships off” as the anchor text)
Each day after someone wins, he will be making one of his famous videos about the winning company, and showing the world the next day at jdevent.com where he pulled of an Alexa ranking of 7,000 within a month of going live.
He’s also teaching about why most sponsorships are a waste of money, and how to use small investments on sponsorship to make a lot more money back.
(This is good stuff I would not miss.) (http://jdevent.com/1.php) (Use “this is good stuff” as the anchor text)
The sponsorships may go for a steal, so I would jump on this. (http://jdevent.com/1.php) (Use “jump on this” as the anchor text)
Not only was this e-mail not written by John, but he couldn’t even take the time to read it himself before he sent it to his list. Reckless promotion. In case you don’t quite understand what I mean, you’ll see that the bolded language above was actually provided to John by, presumably, “jd” to instruct John and other affiliates where to insert their affiliate link (i.e. which anchor text to use).
It’s fairly common for creators of products and services to provide affiliates with a “swipe file,” or an e-mail template to send to their list to promote the product/service. This is fine. But do you really need to make it blatantly obvious that you’re promoting something where you didn’t even take 2 minutes to read the e-mail you’re sending before you send it?
Most of us can’t afford to be reckless like this, so we need to learn from the mistakes of the “gurus” who can afford to screw up. The bottom line is this: If you want to make it as a blogger (or make it in any other capacity where you provide content to readers), you need to provide value and make an effort to connect with your audience outside of promotional agendas.
Okay, I’ll calm down. I’m sure it was an honest mistake. If you think I’m misreading his e-mail, please let me know, and I will gladly rescind everything I’ve written in this rant.
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