For those of you without Adblock, your leisurely YouTube binge has likely been interrupted by ads.
I’m referring to the ones claiming they can teach you “5 Steps to Make RM5,000 in the next 5 days” or “3 Ways to increase your Marketing Revenue by RM30,000 in the next 3 weeks”.
These marketing gurus, as they are often referred to, tend to first draw people in with a more affordable starting seminar.
Once you’ve attended the first one, they’ll then convince you to continue your learning journey by joining their next seminars, which tend to be exorbitantly priced and usually in US$ for some reason, even though they’re targeting Malaysians.
But no matter which guru you come across, there are common elements to be found in their pitches that will still draw some people in. So, here we break down the modus operandi of these marketing gurus that are circulating around Malaysia.
1. Beginning With The Cash Grab
Many of the ads start like this: they’ll show off an expensive car or some other luxury item, or verbally tell you that you can make a monthly 6-figure salary quick.
If someone is flashing cash as a part of their marketing, it tells you two things, according to Maverrik:
- They’re trying to target someone who desperately needs money.
- They use it as a way to try and prove themselves to people.
With an attention-grabbing start, it begins the groundwork for making the audience think, “If he can do it, I can do it too.”
2. Pulling Out The Sob Story
More than “experts”, they’re excellent storytellers, especially for their struggle-filled backstories.
They’ll drop phrases like, “I started from nothing” or, “I was told by my teachers that I would never succeed”. Then out of nowhere, an enlightening moment arrived that changed their lives.
It taps into their audience who are in their own vulnerable states and may not be in the best position to make decisions. Because it’s not like they’re unsuccessful, they’re just not rich or happy.
These gurus are selling the idea that there’s an easy way out if you follow their advice. They want to make audiences believe that participating in their webinar means that you’ll find the answer to turning your life around.
But if this YouTuber’s exposé is widely applicable to all gurus, these struggles may just be smoke and mirrors.
3. Keeping It Vague & Long-Winded
Now, I’ve personally sat through a 40-minute free livestream as research for this piece. The whole time, I was waiting for this guru to tell me something I either didn’t already know or couldn’t Google myself.
The Guru said things like, “You’ll need a foolproof strategy to survive the pandemic,” or, “You can make money from doing this one thing,” which kept me on edge.
But it would more than likely be followed with, “Keep watching and I’ll tell you how later on.”
The guru concluded in the webinar’s final 3 minutes that you need to save money to make money, then skipped out on the actual practical advice of how to execute that point he just made.
Delaying information like this is used to keep people watching, especially for livestreams where you can’t just move the play head to the end.
Also, to get their engagement numbers up, they’ll say things like, “Comment R if you relate!” They’ll also shout out some names who are interacting with them, making the audience feel included.
4. Creating A Sense Of Urgency
In their ads, they’ll also state the scarcity of their services to lure you in with words like, “I’m opening up my masterclass but can only take in 10 people.”
It carries a sense of immediacy and exclusivity used to help a buyer make purchasing decisions quicker, for a fear of missing out.
This tactic is also used to promote discounted prices or giveaways for books, for example.
5. Using Down-To-Earth Language
One of the things that baffled me is the poor grammar used on their sites. But it made sense the longer I thought about it.
Most Malaysians don’t have a perfect command of English, and many of us converse in Manglish, or broken English. Some of us with poorer English skills even fear conversing in the language.
When these gurus use broken English or Manglish too, it gives them a sense of relatability rather than alienating their audience.
People like to feel like they’re not alone in a struggle or imperfection, and seeing someone “successful” like this guru make it this far with bad English can be reassuring to some.
This also helps the gurus present themselves in a more authentic way, not acting like something they’re not.
6. Providing Information Overload
One main tactic gurus use to ensure you have little time to think for yourself when making a decision is by first hitting you with something attention-grabbing, then proceeding to overload you with information.
In their ads and seminars, they enjoy flashing a lot of information in the form of “proof” that their teachings work, further convincing those desperate for money that this guru is their solution.
While we did focus specifically on marketing gurus in this article, you’d probably find that many other business or lifestyle gurus use these same tactics to market themselves.
There’s no denying that the one expertise these gurus share in common is that they’re excellent at marketing themselves to a certain group of people.
It’s the most important part of their business model. Without marketing your online course properly, you won’t be able to make a lot of money from it after all.
But coming back to the topic of marketing gurus, there is of course actually good business advice out there if you look in the right places. For one, plenty of successful entrepreneurs themselves have written books about their experiences.
You can also find many legit entrepreneurship programmes that have a list of successful startups under their profile to serve as a proven track record.
They also tend to be tied to established organisations or government bodies to hold them accountable. They also have alumni you can reach out to, compared to the nameless people in the marketing gurus’ success stories.
These factors are what make it easier to verify the legitimacy of the programmes, compared to the lack of transparency in the seminars of many online marketing gurus.
- You can read more marketing related articles here.
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