Why no-brainer, newbie gurus are not killing it online

There are a lot of people making money online in all kinds of industries as well as blogging and internet marketing. There are also a lot of people who want to teach other people how to make money in the form of coaching (like me) as well as other ways of making money. That means a huge amount of product creation, membership sites as well as creating tutorials and ebooks.

And while these can definitely be valuable, I am getting more than a little pissed at some of the stock phrases out there. On a daily basis we’re bombarded by offers and some of the more popular phrases drive me nuts. If you are on the lists of several big name internet marketers or mega bloggers it’s almost (but not quite) like a game of buzz word bingo.

These magic words must work because the big names use them? Right…

The first step for me is to not use the following terms. Yep, I don’t care how well they work, I’m giving up these stock phrases and I may need so alternatives, so get your comments ready…

1. Guru – There is growing resentment to this word in the online marketing community. I think it comes down to over saturation. Everyone is now a “guru”. Oh they may not have results, and they might be new to the field but hey, they are a self branded Guru so they must be good!

I have seen people new to online marketing, with no transferable skills declaring themselves an expert on one topic or another. What exactly is this going to teach anyone? Wait a second, who am I to question a Guru! I know Ericsson / Gladwell reasoned that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert but I wonder if Guru is something that can be achieve with merely a Twitter account and a few hundred followers? And does having thousands of followers mean you are more of a guru than a guru with only a few thousand? Is Twitter followers the only rational measurement of guru-ness? Or would a few thousand Facebook fans suffice instead?

If someone is claiming to be a Guru do your research – and if you are going to buy something off a “Guru” ask them about their results. See if you can buy a smaller product first before handing over fistfuls of cash to the next self proclaimed Guru that you meet. There are some truly knowledgeable people out there – but be aware that anyone can call themselves a Guru because ultimately it means naff all.

2. No Brainer – I hate when someone tells me their service or product is a no brainer. Unless I am handing you £1000 and you instantly hand me back £1500 then I can’t envision any deal being a “no brainer”. It is almost offensive in a way too. Do I look like some nutter who is buying snake oil off the back of a lorry? Do you really expect me to not think about my forthcoming purchase? Oh it is such a no brainer? Give me seven of them!

I am not the type of person who tosses my money at a product without doing research. I would suggest anyone looking at online marketing programs do the same. I have seen a lot of product launches come and go over the years and I can say without a doubt there has never been a “no brainer” product… okay, with the exception of a few products I have bought from Naomi Dunford and Dave Navarro. They are genuine no brainers but then you are not expected to part with cash at your first interaction with them, they warm you up… demonstrate their expertise and then you are more than happy to part with your money.

Being asked for cash at first interaction is a bit like being asked for sex as soon as you have agreed a first date. Sure, some will take you up on it but plenty of others will slap you around the face. No brainer? Yeah, right.

3. Newbie – This word is a bit different than the others on the list. It is different because people say it works and is effective unlike the no-brainer guru. New people love are said to love to see this word and it makes them feel motivated – “Hey I’m new and I can do this!”. Well it makes me want to puke.

Gosh I am on one here aren’t I? Pisses in the second paragraph, pukes a few paragraph later…

Does anyone actually search “Newbie to Twitter” or “Newbie Blogger”, seriously, if you are new to blogging surely you would use the phrase “new to blogging” or blogging newcomer” rather than Newbie anything? I may be new to something but for the love of all things cool, don’t patronise me and call me newbie… and don’t hashtag it on Twitter expecting me to search for it, how do I know you are calling me a newbie?

4. Killer / Killing it. I was in Boots the Chemist a few months back (the drug store for my US readers) and then was a beautifully wrapped perfume set, nestled in tissue paper with a discreet peach ribbon wrapped around it. Looked stunning. I looked again – it was gorgeous and the price tag said £39 – A killer gift for Christmas. Yup, forget swarms of killer bees or killer sharks… perfume is now killer.

You know it’s time to ditch a word when it’s so mainstream that Boots use it to try and flog you perfume. Killer? Oh please! Forget your marketers that are “killing it”. Whenever I hear that I imagine a marketing maven strangling a puppy or a kitten. Killing something isn’t a nice image to attach to someone. Use an alternative phrase, surely that’s a no brainer

5. Snake oil salesman. Seriously has anyone ever met someone selling snake oil? Snake poison maybe, but oil? Yeah, I know we are meant to feel all icky and in need of a shower when we read that trite phrase, but do we really feel that? Or do we just nod in mindless agreement whilst collectively sighing about those evil snake oil sales persons? Perhaps snake oil salesman is soooo last century it’s going to be replaced with Internet Marketing Guru and everyone will shudder, as if their grave has been walked over, when Internet Marketing Guru is mentioned?

These words are never going to disappear from online marketing not even if I make it my personal vendetta to eradicate them from the online world. They worked at one time and probably still do work for some people. Even if they aren’t nearly as effective as they once were, people will still use them because people like to copy, I mean share a winning formula. That may seem harsh but every time something has worked online it is almost always ran into the ground with overuse. If you are like me and can’t stand these words you better learn to live with them as some marketers will always swear by them.

If you are using these words and not making money then maybe you should tear it up and start afresh, with phrases that are truly you. Try transparent and honest..I hear that sometimes works and won’t get stale with overuse ;)


(New image from Game Freak Blog)

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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
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  1. I was laughing while reading this post all the time. You described all these things from a completely new and very original point of view! It was very exciting to read it

    • Thanks Amanda, I was thinking last night was there any reason why I had to use these words when I write a post or sales page, or can I quit? I chose to quite.

  2. I’m with you! Hate it when people call themselves gurus . . . and instead of telling me something is a no-brainer, just offer me a money-back guarantee and let *me* decide how much deliberation the purchasing decision requires.

    Re: “killing it”–I believe Dave Navarro uses that term. :-)

    • No!!!!! Don’t say that… *kicks him off the pedestal*. Do I have to delete all his books and products now? ;)

  3. I have a feeling that you have just read my thoughts! I also thought about all these things, and I also hate these words. And I don’t like when people call themselves like this.

    • Hey Melissa, we all seem to be on the same page about Guru :)

  4. To me, words like “guru” and “expert” are what we say about other people, not about ourselves. Who is big-headed enough to call themselves a guru? It’s like “inspirational speakers” – I’ll decide if you inspire me or not, thank you. I don’t need you to tell me.

    There do seem to be an incredible amount of “gurus” and “experts” on social media these days – all with blogs, and free e-books and free webinars and sign up for this email course. Nothing seems to differentiate them – they are all “the best” apparently.

    I’d prefer to turn to people I know are good at what they do and judge them by the results they have achieved for themselves and their clients, rather than what they say about themselves.

    I’m so glad I’m not trying to compete in this over-saturated market!

    • I love your take on inspirational speaker Jane :) I thought it was just me who got snarky over those. Swiftly after those are motivational speakers and they all say “What motivates you?” and I feel like answering “Money. Are you going to give me some?”, maybe I will one day just to see there face or I may say Sex as I think that would get a better response compared to money…

  5. Sarah, you know how much I love business bullsh*t … my own favorite is “passionate.” I once read some text on a website about a plumbing company in London (England) who said they were “passionate” about plumbing, and I think that’s when I decided that the next time someone said the P-word to me I would smack them hard around the face with some “killer” “low-hanging fruit” and drown them in “snake oil,” once I had gotten “all my ducks in a row,” of course. Does this qualify me to be a newbie bullsh*t guru?

    PS … wonderful article … music to my, er, eyes…

    • The world is in desperate need of an article filled with cliches… starting with once upon a time and ending with some guru bullsh*t like subscribe here or die… ;)

  6. Lovely Sarah, you can fritter away time playing this buzzword bingo daily on a twitter and LinkedIn. I guess some people think it makes them sound smarter. Ugh!

    My particular pet peeve is ‘social media marketer’ – what the hell is that when it’s at home? It’s almost an oxymoron. Social media is only one channel or element of marketing – do they ignore the rest? Do they just sit at home posting tweets for their clients?

    • Sally – I think that is exactly what they do – just sit at home posting tweets for their clients.

      People seem to forget that marketing skills apply across all platform and media. Without the basics no one marketing aspect will generate sales (other than the sling enough mud and some will stick method).

  7. Breath of fresh heard at the beginning of a recent webinar:

    “We don’t need “gurus” to follow blindly. There are plenty of teachers we can learn from without going to India and living in a cave… Anyone can do it” :-)

    Can I add people droning on about comfort zone – when they patently obviously haven’t thought through the difference between comfort and familiarity? :-(

    • Obviously haven’t thought through the difference between comfort and familiarity yeah, I know exactly what you mean :)

  8. eeek, I actually heard myself say no brainer the other day! I will now stop swearing in public as I would never have written it!!

    • Tsk Tsk!

  9. Hi Sarah
    “I wonder if Guru is something that can be achieve with merely a Twitter account and a few hundred followers?”

    Looks as though lots of people think it can!

    I cringe when I see the word Guru and could never imagine using the word, other than as a form of self effacing humour.

    Thing is, if you are going to tell a few porkies… you might as well go the whole hog.

    Good piece Sarah – well written as ever.

    • I love that line Keith if you are going to tell a few porkies… you might as well go the whole hog is that what going the whole hog means? You learn something new every day :)

  10. Sarah – Even though I’m a newbie guru with a killer blog, I must say I loved this ;)

    I can’t believe I just found your blog. Will be signing up for me.

    • Hi Corinne, welcome :). You must answer the question I am itching to know the answer… did you google how to set up a newbie killer blog? ;)

      • Did I actually type, ‘signing up for me’ – sheesh…pardon the typo. I meant signing up for blog updates. I did and am getting your fantastic tips every day. Thanks, Sarah.

        About the question, you have the answer – it’s within you ;)


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