The term “Guru” is a much maligned term as many of the people who use it – especially in the Internet Marketing space – are anything but Guru’s. In fact, the lack of consistency and even blatant deception some use simply encourages me to unsubscribe from their lists.
A Guru is someone who is “a recognized leader in some field or of some movement.”
Many of these promoters do not have formal training or teaching qualifications, but they have day-to-day working knowledge in the subjects they cover.
For me, that is terrific as they have a very practical approach to assessing a problem, determining a solution, working out how to market it and conveying their “real life” experience. In other words, they are worthy of your time and attention.
However, in my opinion, there are others who are insulting their readers and customers whenever they refer to themselves as Guru’s as their success is often not so much in what they deliver, but that they belong to what some long term direct marketers call the LIST MAFIA.
The term applies to a “marketing tactic” rather than reference to the individuals involved.
History of the term
Back in 1994, I was managing the international direct mail operations of a Not-for-Profit and whilst we achieved good results from list rentals, we knew we were 30th or 40th in line to gain access to the lists which worked and therefore the responsive lists tended to be tired (and far less responsive) by the time we mailed.
The challenge was to get into a targeted list when it was fresh … and that was almost impossible as the List Mafia already had it all worked out through:
- reciprocal list exchanges
- mail positioning on those reciprocal arrangements
- group strategy sessions
- joint ventures / mailings
Everything revolved around the “list” – and as a Not-for-Profit who would not exchange names, we were at a disadvantage when it came to getting into this circle.
Rising to the challenge, I managed to convince one list provider to give me ONE go at their 20,000 strong monthly Hotlist as “first cab off the rank” – i.e. #1 on their mailing schedule – without any reciprocal “exchange” arrangement in place.
THE RESULT: Our sales from their hotlist names for that month went from a usual average of $40,000 / month to in excess of $600,000!
Shortly afterwards, I was discussing the situation with a colleague in the list industry whose response was: “It’s common, they have set up a List Mafia!”
The List Mafia mindset is still alive...
As it’s a proven marketing tactic, many people are still using this process – in certain segments of the “direct mail” sector and also in the IM sector.
Some call them Joint Ventures but the reality is that these “List Mafia” arrangements go well beyond the normal parameters of a Joint Venture.
For example, with IM marketing you:
- Get 20+ Super affiliates to market your offer to their lists and in return you will market their offer to your list as a trade off … regardless of whether it’s good, bad or indifferent.
- When 20+ “large list owners” are all promoting / endorsing the same product, many on their lists are going to open at least one of their emails. This creates the momentum needed to drive the big sales which many achieve even if the product is mediocre.
- Encourage use of Bonuses as this provides a further incentive to purchase. In fact, you will notice with some promotions that they don’t really push the product in their emails, they push the Bonuses.
This is a marketing tactic which works and quite frankly, I don’t have a problem with it personally as these promoters are simply doing what many direct marketers have been doing for the past 20-30 years. As I know how things work, it’s easy for me to switch off the hype.
However, there are many who don’t … and get taken in by promoters and sales people who really are nothing more than just PRETENDERS … and in some cases, their promotions can border on being scams.
When these pretenders use the term, they infer that they have the expertise and track record you need … and use the power of numbers (i.e. their buddies all mailing you) to give you the impression that they are in fact “gurus”.
Many have managed to create their own group / List Mafia – and they are all feeding off one another.
I am not suggesting that you don’t look at what these people have to say – just that you need to ignore hype and chest beating because in many cases, it’s completely misleading.
Three simple tips:
- Assess each product / solution on its value to you: Many of the products which these groups promote are good – and many involved in List Mafia-related activities are extremely good at what they do, share some wonderful information, and deliver value.
- Ignore Bonuses: Yes, they may make it tempting but quite frankly, if a product stands up and does what it says it does and you have a need for that solution, then you don’t need those Bonuses. It’s proven that Bonuses do increase response, but I know many who don’t use them and have done very well without them.
- Don’t become an info junkie: Unless you have a real need for a product, then don’t buy it.
If you stick to these three simple steps, you will minimize the risk of buying products which don’t deliver what they claim.