I’ve been noticing a lot of “gurus” popping up lately. Mainly, I see them in my Facebook News Feed as paid advertising.
They are people I’ve never heard of, which doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have something of value to give. But when it comes to experts, I’m very careful about the people I follow for advice.
I’ve evaluated what makes me gravitate toward one expert over another. Here are a few qualifications I look for:
A Proven Track Record
If a person is coaching others to succeed, what success has she or he already experienced? For instance, if a person wants me to buy their coaching products on marketing my business, has she successfully marketed someone else’s business? Too many “gurus” claim they’re successful but they just may be successful with gaming the system or duping people into buying their poor quality products.
For any expert, I look at their background history. Do they have a degree in the field? Additional training that helped them learn the ropes? Are there testimonials from clients who share the results of the expert’s advice?
Years ago, a well-known marketer was heavily criticized for his lack of marketing experience. He came from a technology background. I believe one can learn about marketing through self-study, but I did review his site. Although he partnered with someone else to produce a product, the expertise just didn’t ring true enough for me. Plus, I attended a free webinar and this marketer didn’t offer anything I didn’t already know how to do.
Which brings me to a sub-point of this qualification: no matter how popular someone may be, if what they’re teaching is something you already know, don’t waste your money on their books, tapes, and seminars. Find someone who will stretch you.
Outstanding Customer Service
Any expert who touts their products and services with grand claims had better have grand customer service. If they can’t be bothered to help a customer out after a product or service is purchased, then I’m not going to trust them. This happened with the web developers of my former WordPress theme. They had a support forum but after a WordPress update brought in complaints their theme was now broken, they suddenly went silent. After repeated attempts to get my issue resolved, I dumped the theme and bought a new one.
Also, if there’s a clear offer for a money-back guarantee and when you ask for it, you get the runaround, then you know this isn’t the type of person you want to be following.
There are plenty of copywriters who are hawking their own programs. But there are a few who fail to understand an important concept that they (usually) use for their own clients: The guarantee.
Some, like Ben Settle, are very forthcoming about not offering a guarantee and why. But for those who do offer a guarantee but don’t honor it, the consequences can be severe. I know of a few that I refuse to give my business to because I’ve read the negative reviews. There always will be a few folks who aren’t happy no matter how hard you try to please them. But if you search for testimonials for a particular expert and keep finding horror stories, avoid them.
A Quality Product or Service
It’s nice when I discover someone who knows their stuff and has outstanding customer service. But I’m also looking for quality.
Are their products well made? Is there a professional touch to what they produce? Is their information well organized? I love it when someone went to the trouble of designing their products or services creatively.
If I receive a CD that is professionally produced with clear audio and/or visual components, I’m pretty much a happy camper. If I receive products that are of poor quality, I have to wonder who’s steering the ship. Does the business owner not care?
A quality business pays attention to every detail of their business, especially to what the customer will ultimately receive. If my experience is seamless from ordering the product to final delivery, the expert has earned the right to be taken seriously.
But if my experience is a bad one, filled with frustrations and misunderstandings—then I’m probably not going to follow this so-called “expert.”
The Secret Ingredient That Makes Me Listen to a Guru
Those are three areas I pay attention to before I give someone a chance by purchasing their product. But there’s a fourth ingredient that is difficult to measure or quantify.
It’s called “likeability.”
Every once in awhile, I may gravitate toward an expert whom I don’t particularly like, yet their expertise trumps my feelings about them as a person. But it’s rare.
I look for something that allows me to feel connected to them. And in order for me to feel connected, I have to find something likeable about a person. It could be their genuine laughter. Or their down-to-earth way of communicating.
I just need to feel as though the person cared about what they were teaching to others and that they care that their audience consider it valuable.
But here’s the secret to the secret.
In order to be likeable, you first must like yourself.
That might sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Many who wish to call themselves a coach or an expert, think that they can “fake it ‘til they make it.” They think that if they chant enough positive mantras, they’ll eventually come off as a positive person.
However, almost the opposite stands true. Those who focus on trying to game the system come off as hollow and insincere. There is a quiet desperation beneath their claims.
“Please… like me! Look at how hard I’m working to make your life better!”
Over the weekend, I viewed a video by Frank Kern. He’s a well-known expert on Internet marketing. It was the first time I saw a video of him.
The video was well-produced, but what really struck me was Frank’s personality. He was laid-back, confident, and friendly. I could definitely see myself having a beer with him and enjoying it.
And… I could tell Frank Kern loved himself.
Not in an egotistical way, although of course he has an ego… everyone does.
But in a good, healthy way. Frank knows he’s worked hard to get where he is and that he can genuinely help people with his strategies.
This is what I look for in the people I follow.
I want to follow people who understand their gifts and the value they can bring into my life. I also want them to love themselves.
When a person truly likes who they are, everything good flows from it.
They make better choices because they respect themselves. They treat others well because they’re not looking for validation from them since they already have it. They don’t try too hard because they know they’re either someone’s cup of tea or they aren’t. And they’re not going to twist themselves into a human pretzel in order to win someone’s approval.
So the short answer to becoming a guru or expert is this: love yourself first. Discover what is great about you. Love your strengths but also your weaknesses. Learn how to maximize the first while minimizing the second.
Love is irresistible. You’ll attract those who are meant to follow you. And the good news is that you won’t have to fake anything. Just be your own incredible you.