The Truth Behind Internet Marketing Gurus

By Doug Landsborough

How many of us have seen that we can all own Lamborghinis if we just read a book every day?

While that infamous Tai Lopez video isn’t necessarily making the rounds anymore, it has been replaced by a flood of other internet marketing “gurus” and experts who all tout the same promise of not just freedom, but freedom without the work.

It is safe to say that most adults have seen or at least heard of these gurus and, unfortunately, many people are drawn in by their promises every day. If you find yourself or one of your friends or family members contemplating their offer, do yourself a favour and read this first.

Gurus promise to solve a problem

In order for there to be a common, marketable solution, there needs to first be a problem. Luckily for these gurus, there is an entire generation of people experiencing a problem.

Most of these ads run by internet gurus are targeted at Millennials, which currently range in age from 25-40. This entire generation is defined by cumbersome student debt that has delayed major life events like buying a house or getting married.

Luckily for this debt-saddled group, these gurus have a solution that can make you a lot of money extremely quickly. The best part? Basically, anyone can do it.

Even beyond this debt, there is a lot of crap going on in the world right now; a lot of people are unhappy with where they are in their career or with their finances. Either of these mindsets are perfect prey for gurus.

See, the catch is that these gurus can get you the freedom and money you want, but it’s going to cost you—sometimes as much as five-figure invoices.

This isn’t something new, either. For as long as people have had a problem, there have been people looking to take advantage of the desperate. Whether it be a travelling snake oil salesman or, more recently, multi-level marketing companies and pyramid schemes, unhappiness makes you a perfect target.

Sometimes you might get lured in by the guru, making it seem more legitimate than it really is. Perhaps they have an article with their name in it in the New York Times or HuffPost. Perhaps they have an e-book that you can get for only a few dollars or maybe you can attend a free webinar.

Spoilers: the free webinar is a recording with maybe one or two staff in the chat to make it look real; the e-book is to get you into their sales funnel; the articles aren’t actually that difficult to get.

All of it is just to get you buttered up for their real money maker... You.

Guru sales tactics

When it comes down to it, you are just another sale to these people. There is nothing wrong with selling a product or service to someone, let’s be clear. The issue is that these gurus are intentionally seeking out and selling to the desperate.

But how do they do it?

It usually starts with an ad of some sort, likely on YouTube or Facebook. They like to show off their nice mansions, their gorgeous sports cars, sometimes literally piles of money. All the while they are likely frontloading all the selling points before you skip them.

“Is your job killing you?”

“Is debt stopping you from living your life?”

“What if freedom isn’t as hard as you think?”

Another spoiler: it only costs a few thousand dollars to rent those cars and that mansion, which is just pennies of their advertising budgets.

These ads will likely promise you everything you want, declaring that if they could do it, anyone can! According to them, the biggest hurdles are usually your mindset and just not knowing what they know

From there you are directed to their free webinar, e-book, etc. That eventually culminates in a sales pitch where they introduce you to their high-ticket item. This might be a course, coaching, one-on-one mentorship, or something else that promises to impart you with the knowledge that is sure to make you succeed.

Now you very well might learn something from their coaching or course. That’s not impossible and, especially when they target people who want to “pivot” into a role they only just heard of, probably likely.

Most people who fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars don’t find what they were promised, though. They find information they probably could have found for free. They find that they actually need to work really hard for the freedom that was promised.

Worst of all, they find themselves more in debt than they were before.

How to spot an internet guru scam

Some of the scams are easier to spot than others. These gurus know that it takes minimal effort to attract some people, while others can be a lot more convincing in order to attract a potentially wealthier individual.

Unfortunately, you might have already fallen victim to one of these scams or perhaps you’re on the verge of it. Here are some things to keep in mind if you encounter someone selling you a dream:

  • Common ventures. Many of these gurus tout the same handful of career options to help you get rich with minimal effort. These include social media agencies, Amazon Affiliate websites and dropshipping websites. Some gurus also cater to struggling freelancers.
  • Use common sense. What are the odds that you stumbled upon this once in a lifetime opportunity? Why isn’t everyone on your block lining up for this career choice? Ask yourself if this opportunity is too good to be true and trust your instincts when you realize it is.
  • Promises of insane passive income. There are very few people in this world who can make a living without doing the work. If someone promises that your “business will work for you” without substantial effort building it, then they are looking for your money.
  • Insane discounts. If the end of the free webinar has a pitch for a $10,000 mentorship program but they are offering it to you for $150, something is up. It’s common among gurus to get someone excited for something and then pretend to offer it for 95%+ off. This is a big red flag.
  • Ask questions. See if you can get in touch with the guru themselves. Often these individuals don’t publicize their contact info so it’s impossible to ask them questions.
  • Do your homework. Google can be your best friend when discovering scams. Take a few minutes to search the name of the individual or their program with words like scam, fraud, fake or simply search for reviews on them. Be careful of reviews and testimonials hosted on their own site, as these could be fake or cherry-picked.

It only takes a quick look at most gurus to find that they tick most if not all of these boxes.

Are all internet gurus bad?

It would be unfair to paint everyone on the internet offering coaching or courses with this brush; there are some people out there who aren’t looking to rip you off. And there are a lot of notable individuals—Gary Vaynerchuk, Timothy Ferriss, Neil Patel, etc.—who made their fortune doing what these gurus are preaching.

Even better, there are people out there who want to help you. But you’ll quickly find that they are not promising get-rich-quick schemes. For these legitimate folks, odds are you found them through your network rather than a random YouTube ad.

In the end, you can make a nice living as a social media freelancer. You can make passive income off a book you wrote or another product you sell. Some people will be incredibly successful doing so.

These gurus promise you all that success without the hard work and investment of both time and money that it takes to get there. All you have to do is slide a lot of money their way and they swear that you’ll be living the dream.

If you choose to ignore all the warning signs, we’d love to know when you get there.

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