Should You Follow Marketing Gurus?

Today’s post is a reply to a reader question that went something like this:

“Why did you stop following the marketing gurus? And are there any you’re still following?”

How you pick your role models can have a profound effect on the development of your business (as well as your personal development), so I think this is an important question to answer. Watch the video below to see my take on this:

In this video:

  • The “Rip-Off Guru” problem.
  • Why the guru problem is often made out to be a problem specific to the seedier parts of the online marketing niche, but it’s actually a much more universal problem than that.
  • Why it’s important to have role models who aren’t only ahead of you in the game, but also match or exceed your own scope of ambition.
  • My favorite sources of inspiration.

Check out the Wistia blog here for many examples of great marketing and company culture.

What are your thoughts on marketing gurus? Do you have favorite role models (be they people or companies)? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Shane's Signature

About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Jock says:

    I think this is by far the best video you have done and answers many questions. I know that some people suffer from shiny software syndrome and the promise of easy systems to make you money. Truth is, only hard work and testing will do it. I used to buy into things, I am sure we all did, but there are only a few products that I can say are of value to me.

  • Scott Rogers says:

    Perfect content and advice for the new year. Trim down the clutter of guru garbage, I’m on it.

    I enjoy watching the marketing and creativity of SOUTHWEST AIRLINES. The corporate culture shows they enjoy their jobs, emphasize with their customers, and generally care about quality and excellence. For years they have sent a birthday card to their frequent fliers, and this year was BRILLIANT. It was an email video to watch and you could select the STYLE of music you prefer, Rock, Country, Opera, or HipHop. And yes, I picked my favorite, but then I HAD to watch the others – ONE view became FOUR views. LOL

    I like watching for graphics, design, funnels, etc – and with Smart Phones I can make instant notes and pics of what to include in my business. And it’s synced to all my devices when inspiration is needed.

    We are all borrowers in life! The trick is to intuit EARLY what is helpful or harmful.

    • Shane says:

      That video with a choice of soundtracks sounds like a great idea. I’ve heard Southwest mentioned a few times as an exceptional company.

  • Burt says:

    Get information on Gurus! I couldn’t agree more and I think you hit the nail on the head! I’ve followed alot of so called Gurus and later found out…that although some may know a thing or two…most were only about making or TAKING money. (Not actually teaching how to build a long term business)

    I have to admit…with all the emails I get from different people….your emails always get read and I enjoy learning from you.

    Thanks for NOT being the typical guru and for actually providing valuable information!

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Burt! Indeed there are some very charismatic people out there who’s only real quality is that they can talk a lot of people into parting with a lot of money for their “high end coaching programs” or whatever they happen to call them.

  • Uwe says:

    Hi Shane,
    I guess I sort of follow Ryan Dice. He shares some of his business testing and tweaking for free and most of it in his monthly membership (DigitalMarketer). He seems to have a lot of different businesses going for himself and IMHO gives sound advice.

    Since you mentioned scams, perhaps you’ve heard of this one:

    A group of people have been working for years on a way to manipulate the first page of the search results (google,bing,yahoo). They do this by getting people to use their browser addon. It can do crazy things like replace all links on the first page with an alternate URL. Place pop-ups on any outgoing link and more.

    • Shane says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard of various scams that work through browser add-ons and toolbars. They can be used to hijack a browser, so I guess there’s more abuse than use in most of them.

  • Lawrence Ta says:

    I’ve been following the working of a LOT of Gurus..

    I mainly look at how they market and sell and if they are evolving over time (I’ve been online since 2008).

    The GURU I would like to point out is not a typical one you would normally consider a “GURU”

    But since you included Wisitia (who i also use) I’m going to throw one in that is non typical.

    The affiliate platform for LeadPages headed up by Kevin Raheja. I respect how they handle affiliate relationships and believe LeadPages has grown a LOT because of how this department is managed and run.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Lawrence!

      I’ve also learnt a lot from just watching what other people and companies do, how they communicate, how they market etc. It can be very useful, even if you aren’t using any of their products or services yourself.

  • This is an interesting question because there are a number of experts I stopped listening to because I found they were only interested in my money nothing else. One such supposed expert was Todd Gross found he provided no real value just pushing products at me. Now on the opposite side of the spectrum from a blogging side I like two experts and they a re Chef Doug and chef Katriniia. I focus on Chef Katrinia’s Blog. Plus another blogger I like is Ray Higdon and been following him now for a few years. Reason I like him is he has expensive coaching in the range of 50k a year, but he also says it right up front that it is not for everyone. He provides an extreme amount of value to his readers in his blog every day. Chef Katrinia is one I like as well she provides great value and is one who does a great deal on using the values of Google Plus. She has been great value and is one I am focusing on more these days as she is one I can see myself doing what she does. As much as I like Ray sometimes it is hard to see myself dong what he does.

    Also one company I do like is EMP (elite Marketing Pro) from the education side from everything from getting into the business to becoming good at copywriting and story telling. They do have offers you have to be careful of, but the community part of their program is so worth getting involved with them. Their commitment is to help you become good at one or more of the marketing methods like blogging. Mine I decided is blogging.

    Now from personal development side I have been following two companies one is

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Darin! Seems like the end got cut off, there.

      Some good recommendations I’ll take a look at.

  • Adam says:

    I second the Wistia recommendation. I first learned of Wistia from Shane’s blog when looking for a suitable video hosting company for a product I am planning on launching. I subscribed to their blog and have read pretty-much everything they’ve ever posted about video production. They’re tutorials are amazing! Highly recommended.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks, Adam! Glad to know you enjoy their marketing style as well.

  • Bruce Bird says:

    It has taken me far too long to come to the same conclusion and to start pruning the list of people that I pay attention to.

    You’ll be pleased to hear that you are still firmly on my reducing list! ;-)

    One piece of advice that has served me well is to look at what people actually do and not listen to what they say. It was for that reason that I looked at Wistia some time ago when I saw you using it and I wondered why.

    The 50 free videos offer got me hooked (the irresistible offer) but when I tested a video loaded on Wistia in a Thrivetheme as a Responsive Video alongside a Youtube video (so that I knew they were both starting at exactly the same time with a page refresh) I found that Wistia buffered a download every time so would never play immediately – unlike the Youtube embed.

    I was presumably doing something wrong but have never had the time to go back and test out exactly what.

    Now you have opened Pandora’s box about Wistia maybe we could coax a Wistia implementation tutorial out of you?

    The ‘irresistible offer’ quote is from Mark Joyner and I would recommend his 2 books ‘The Irresistibel Offer’ and ‘The Great Formula’ and the condensed version of pretty well every sales offer you will see.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for the recommendation, Bruce! We might do some Wistia specific tutorials, yes. We’re even considering some direct integration with them, depending on how practical that is.

  • This is an interesting question because there are a number of experts I stopped listening to because I found they were only interested in my money nothing else. One such supposed expert was Todd Gross found he provided no real value just pushing products at me. Now on the opposite side of the spectrum from a blogging side I like two experts and they a re Chef Doug and chef Katriniia. I focus on Chef Katrinia’s Blog. Plus another blogger I like is Ray Higdon and been following him now for a few years. Reason I like him is he has expensive coaching in the range of 50k a year, but he also says it right up front that it is not for everyone. He provides an extreme amount of value to his readers in his blog every day. Chef Katrinia is one I like as well she provides great value and is one who does a great deal on using the values of Google Plus. She has been great value and is one I am focusing on more these days as she is one I can see myself doing what she does. As much as I like Ray sometimes it is hard to see myself dong what he does.

    Also one company I do like is EMP (elite Marketing Pro) from the education side from everything from getting into the business to becoming good at copywriting and story telling. They do have offers you have to be careful of, but the community part of their program is so worth getting involved with them. Their commitment is to help you become good at one or more of the marketing methods like blogging. Mine I decided is blogging.

    Another couple are Jonathan Milligan and Michael Hyatt. I like Jonathan because he has. a program called Blogging your passion, which is one of the most complete at a reasonable price plus the community side of it. Michael Hyatt is another one worth looking at and a great number of people have said to me if you only follow one Pod caster Michael would be the one of choice.

    Now from personal development side I have been following two companies one is Mind Valley found I was spending way too much with them great products. Tony Robins kind of same thing. I like two other experts as well Bob Proctor and of course Jim Rohn in that group as well. The company I prefer these days is Mind Movies great value and focus is on creating Law of Atraction. One other expert in personal development to consider looking at is Harv Ecker and another one that comes to mind is Satyen Raja. Both these experts are both incredible teachers if you are spending the money in personal development.

    Many experts out there I find you. We’d to focus on one or two in an area and put your blinders on as you can become overwhelmed by it all.

  • Charles says:

    Hi Shane,

    Great video, to tell you the truth I follow a guy name Shane Melaugh. I have for a long time. He shares a lot of practical marketing ideas and business techniques and I love his non salesy way of doing business that I consistently model.

    I’m on lots of lists from many of the big name marketing guru’s but I never buy any of their products. Haven’t for years. It is sort of a hobby for me and brings me a lot of laughs – sort of like reading the comics to hear them carry on about the latest and greatest thing “I Need” – very funny guys. Laughter is important and you guys bring me a lot of laughs. So thanks for that. I learned many years ago from Shane Melaugh not to be a gurus niche.

    I also follow Jason Leister and his Art of Clients ( daily emails, Monday Hotsheet) he talks about building a platform – which he demonstrates by doing and living it. From experience that works and it brings in all kinds of clients for me to selectively choose from for my service business without “selling”. They come to me – Jason is mostly responsible for teaching me that.

    I also really like Lon Naylor from Learn Camtasia. I don’t use Camtasia that much but I pay a small yearly fee to attend their weekly webinars just because he is really smart, funny and gives the best common sense advice I have come across in internet marketing. You’re a cool due Lon.

    Between Shane Melaugh, Jason Leister and Lon Naylor I have a very nice “one man band” service business that consistently brings in a nice steady income month after month for not that much work. I get to enjoy my life. Just like I like it.

    Like most people I did buy guru products five years ago when I got started and I have to say I never made a dime from them or their advice, but I did learn what not to do and how to empty my bank account. Live and learn.

    Thanks Shane – I do appreciate you and your leadership by example.


    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Charles! Congratulations on focusing on just a few people’s advice and putting into action. Few people have the discipline to do that.

  • Sarah Arrow says:

    I find my own gurus, simply because I started with a transport blog and I was told a crock of crap about what would work and what wouldn’t. At the moment, people are so busy chasing Facebook advertising they’re forgetting all the other types of traffic schemes and revenue generating activity out there, it’s great. No guru required, and that’s why we like you Shane, you’re not an advocate for anyone.

    • Shane says:

      That’s a great point, Sarah! When everyone’s running one way, you can often find all kinds of opportunities by going the exact opposite way. :)

  • Dirk Renkema says:

    Hi Shane,

    Besides yourself I really discovered the company Wistia the last month. They have a great human touch in their marketing, increasing the sympathy factor, and show casing video in general at the same time. So I fully understand your enthusiasm. Thanks to your referral btw. So good sources refer to good sources it seems.

    I also like to mention Mike Klingler. I found him online a couple of years ago, followed some courses. He moved away from the internet marketing niche into a business and coaching school called schoolofonlinebusiness. Now Im happy to say that Im part of that school as a coach/ instructor, and work closely together with Mike and a team of other coach instructors. Its all about building a business around your unique values and skills. You (imimpact/ thrive) and Wistia are perfect examples of that.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Dirk Renkema

  • Peter Fallenius says:

    Coming from a background of elite sports on an international level, and taking the first company I founded public, it always amazed me the level of advice the so-called gurus handed out.
    It bore no resemblance to what I had seen create world-class results in either sports, business, science, or entertainment, which are primarily where I have had insight into performance on the highest level.

    I think you Shane, are on the right track.

    As for what to look for to learn…
    – The Steve Jobs biography is a goldmine, but it seems almost only people who have led companies in similar circumstances that see the right lessons. (Most comments focus on the wrong things, and often draw the absolute wrong conclusions.)
    – ‘The Lost Interview’ with Steve Jobs, is also great, if one understands what to look for.
    – How Google Works, Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg is a great book. One great take-away, Google makes it very easy to leave their products…ie doing the opposite of conventional advice, which is do whatever to lock customers in…which is only necessary, if you have inferior products… (The idea to do the opposite is the easiest way to stand out, one just have to find a way where that will be a huge advantage, which is often easier than most people think.)

    I have a number of more ideas, but it is a bit late here in London now, so if anyone is interested, I’ll be happy to share.

    Peter Fallenius

    • Shane says:

      Hello Peter,

      Thank you for those recommendations! It’s very interesting that you say people tend to draw the wrong lessons from the Steve Jobs biography. I can imagine this is true for many sources. I’ve been reading Good to Great and I love it, but I was also thinking that I’m reading it at the right time, for me. I don’t think I would have gotten much out of it if I had read it a few years ago.

      • Peter Fallenius says:

        Hi Shane,

        I think you would have gotten a lot of things from Good to Great, a few years ago too. Just that you would have gotten different things from it. Humans are meaning-making machines, we makes sense of what we come across from the level of understanding we have…
        So, to add/clarify my previous comment…most people reading the book about Steve Jobs get things from it, but some things that seem like ‘insights’, may be guiding in the wrong direction, because the sense made of it was from the wrong perspective… Like the whole BS that is taught by many about how to create rapport, for example…where so-called experts suggest matching/mirroring… I know for a fact that Steve Jobs were never concerned with any of that…what truly works is to offer people to be part of creating something truly special, that brings something good to the world, and people will get into ‘rapport’ with you at lightning speed…

        Most of what is taught as ‘influence’ is manipulation, even Cialdini’s ideas, what is missed is that those ideas are the weak manipulative version, of much more powerful principles hiding behind them.

        The reason so little is written/taught about the really powerful things is that:
        1. The people who know it are too busy to use it.
        2. They see it as so obvious that they assume everyone else sees it.
        3. Most of the things are so seeming simple that the observers, often miss the main thing.
        4. It is really hard to get the ideas across with words. The only people who get the words are often the ones already knowing it.
        5. The most common way to learn is when someone is in an elite environment and just do what the others do… (usually what happens in sports, and then when someone does great because of it, it is written off as ‘the were just so talented…’ The funny thing though is that when there is a really great coach, who can show what matters, talent happens to spring up wherever he/she happens to be…as if by magic, and then when the coach leave all of a sudden there is no talent anymore…)

        The biggest problem most people have is that by doing the things that are considered normal, they have about a 100% of misery, because the look in the wrong direction, and in some cases they try to acquire skills they were born with…

        People have to realise they are Wired to Succeed, and they could see that, if they took a deep breath, and could see the world from a new perspective… It is very simple, but is often impossible, unless one has someone who has done it to show the way.

        Not sure, if any of this makes sense… :)

        Best regards & wishing you, and your team an amazing 2015!

        Peter Fallenius

        Ps. You are doing an awesome job!

      • Shane says:

        Yes, I see what you mean. It’s like someone trying to appear confident by imitating a confident person. It’s taking the completely wrong approach and forgetting that a confident person doesn’t use and techniques or tricks, because confidence comes from the inside.

        One thing that I haven’t done a particularly good job of is what’s usually called networking: I’m not surrounded by people who are better than me at what I do. Like your example with athletes, I think it’s very valuable to be surrounded by elite performers, as you can absorb a lot from them (even things that can’t be put into words). As they say: you’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with, whether you like it or not.

  • Fred Tappan says:

    Hey Shane,

    Traffic Travis, Matt Carter, Johnathan Ledger, Swiss Made Marketing, and you Mr. Shane Melaugh are some of the marketers I look or looked up to. Search engines keep changing what works when it comes to getting traffic, so what these guys used to teach no longer works because competition is favoring all of the well established authority websites.

    I’ve learned so much useless information and it makes me laugh, because at the end of the day I can’t sell crap even if I had a customer. I sell low and buy high, and at the end of the day, I just can’t sell something that somebody else wants. Maybe I’m not cut out to be a guru or a marketer…

    Shane you are the best, I remember when everyone was selling the Amazon’s thousands of dollar programs, and you were the only one that said; don’t buy because the information is already out there if you just look for it, so thank you for being a good guy.


    • Shane says:

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks for your comment! Back when I used to write more reviews, I used to have a “Do Not Buy” list as one of my main pages, because so many of the popular products turned out to be rubbish.

      What makes you say you can’t sell? Where’s your sticking point?

      • Anuj says:

        Do Not Buy List. Good idea!

        Learned something new today :)

  • Mt Davis says:

    Hi Shane,
    Happy New Years! I really liked your blog and you have certainly struck a nerve with me on the Guru subject. I long since quit following any of the gurus, i realized they are all promoting about the same theme with their own different twist on some subject,they all apparently run in the same circles and really aren’t teaching anything new that you cant find for free today via you tube or most Social outlets. And to make matters worse their not shy about their $497-3000 programs. And tell you your getting an awesome value,Its gotten ridiculous! I’ve resolved this year also to only one webinar a month if I think its worth my time.
    Ive lost a lot of money to the Guru’s over the years and maybe picked up an idea or some new training. certainly not worth the money or time invested but never to fully get anything implemented and up and running, of course they will tell you its your fault for not applying the information, yeah right! but hey they know its all an education here and some take a big advantage of that. And yes thats true in business be it brick and mortar or online. I’ve followed you for quit some time and I like your approach to things like not cramming an offer down my throat in every email! Thank you. I do believe the reason its getting harder to sell online is because you have to have something of an ethical nature today., buyers have gotten smarter and fed up with hype, BS, quick sales and flash. They actually want to be treated like real people.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      The thing with the high prices is a bit unfortunate, yes. I see the same thing happen with some “enterprise” software as well. You can get stuff that’s only superficially different, but costs 10x or 100x and companies charge that much mainly because they can get away with it.

      I think you’re right that an ethical and person-to-person treatment is becoming more of an expected thing online, but I’d say that’s a good thing. In every change lies an opportunity.

  • Jeff says:

    Shane, A breathe of fresh, marketing, air is when you scroll down an email sales letter and don’t find a blue, sales page link. I always look forward to your emails. Keep them coming. Great content with no false sincerity. How can so many Gurus say their sole motivation is to help newbie marketers(and spread the wealth). You are the best Shane. Keep up the great work.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you, Jeff. It’s ridiculous how many so-called marketers claim to want to help you but only send you a new promotion 3-5 times a week. I still end up on a mailing list like that every once in a while, usually when I buy some products to see what our competitors are up to.

  • Marcin says:

    Hi Shane,

    Awesome video. My favorite “Gurus”:

    John Carlton – Yes, he has an expensive product, but I think it’s worth it.

    Kevin Rogers – Awesome dude, who probably doesn’t view himself as a “guru”, has a nice community I am part of at (He also does a podcast with J.C. at

    Shane Melaugh – He’s pretty down to earth and can really help you with the conversion making software/webpages you need. ;)

    Joe Polish – He’s pretty good to listen to for sensible marketing knowledge ( (I don’t follow much of “his stuff” currently).

    William Ury – Negotiation stuff.

    Rory Vaden – For the “get things done” stuff.

    Mark Goulston – Getting along with people. (Well I guess one of his books, “Just Listen” really helped. Here is my suggested reading list for more:

    The above is a list of people who I believe really know their stuff. I know that many people say this about themselves, but I believe these people really don’t B.S. (and not just think they don’t).

    p.s. The above list is compost after viewing dozens of “specialists” reading dozens of books, and “wasting” hundreds of hours on courses etc.

  • Graeme says:

    Our journey into the online world over the last 3 years has probably been typical and a steep, sometimes costly learning curve.
    Starting from a very naive knowledge base 3 years ago, there weren’t products like Thrive that solve the first challenge of publishing high quality website content without coding experience for minimal expense – our first costly mistakes were related to this.

    However, the single most difficult task we needed to solve was, what is our online niche?
    Where are we best to focus our long term energies to be able to help as many people as possible with a niche product that we are passionate about, committed to AND willing to invest time, energy, learning, practical training and quality delivery into?

    A year ago we were ready to launch with our product we thought was right and decided to invest a substantial amount of money in a program with a “guru” to help project our business to the speaking platform level.
    The result was, we completely revamped our entire product offer, brand and delivery plus delayed launch for almost a year.

    We haven’t had returns that match the outlay but we will because we acted on the advice, undertook further learning and have launched with a far superior product that will catapult us in a very specific niche.

    So lessons we have learned:
    1. Most of the “gurus” and online marketing “experts” have something to offer, even if its only 1 sentence of value – use the info but try not to pay for it. We call it R&D – rip off and duplicate!
    2. Right place, right time – the inspiration tends to follow you without needing to go looking, make the most of the learning while its there cause it will lead you down another path to higher inspiration
    3. MOST IMPORTANTLY – identify your niche and go mile deep. Its a worn out cliche but its so important. Its the very first part of our authority rocket course and now we have learned to practice what we preach
    4. When you find genuine “gurus” that really want to help you with superb content – hang on to them – and keep learning from them! Strike up a rapport, get to know them in person, if possible and support them if you can outside of purchasing their products.
    5. Learning to be a top level expert in a niche business, sporting endeavour or practical activity takes around 10,000 hours (about 5 yrs). At that point in time you can declare yourself “Unconsciously Competent” – everything you do will be natural reaction/instinct.

    Right now we have narrowed our paid following down to just two people – Shane MeLaugh and Jo Barnes and are soon to employ Jared Elvidge for our online launch platform. We want to get this right and Jared has a ton of experience in affiliate and JV marketing. He recommended Thrive to us.

    All 3 people will figure in our long term business growth because, like us, they hold the same values of quality, delivery and Go Giving!

    Shane, I hope this is a help and maybe even inspiration to your followers. :)

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for this comment and the recommendations, Graeme! Good luck with your launch!

  • Alison says:

    Every New Year I do a big unsubscribe from just about all my lists. I like to sit on the sidelines for a while , observe, replicate if I think worthwhile & then move on. However there are several lists that have always been my constant most trusted group, they are part of my online life: Shane Melaugh, Jo Barnes & Rob Cornish, Andrew Hansen

  • Ling says:

    Great video and I can’t agree more about what you are saying. I got over the whole cookie-cutter “guru” “if you don’t buy this magic bullet you are a loser” thing a few months ago and felt like I could finally breathe again!
    Shane, I really admire the way you do your business. I have not followed up for long and have only been paying more attention to your emails since I bought TCB. I like your transparency and integrity, and how you put your personality into your business – essentially transforming a “commodity” type software business into something that goes deeper and people would root for.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Ling! Yes, I can’t stand the whole “you MUST have this new thing!” attitude that so many marketing messages have in excess.

  • Tony Bartlett says:

    Hi Shane…Been following your no BS blog for a while now & it’s alway’s refreshing to visit. Keep up the great work!

    This is a shout out for my son Josh’ (Easy Video Suite) A podcast of his life & Marketing journey. It’s one of around ten podcasts with Matt Wolfe called ‘Beyond The Hype’. Very entertaining & eye opening. I’m obviously biased, but these are the real deal in this cut throat business. Enjoy! :)

  • Tony Bartlett says:

    Sorry…forgot the link! :)

  • Jon says:

    I’m following for SEO. I’ve been following Shane at IMIMPACT for several years now.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jon! Interesting to see Matt mentioned. I came across his site when he was just starting out and he seems to have done well for himself. :)

  • Hey Shane,

    I’m totally there with you. When I first got in this industry many moons ago I probably followed all the big guys. Frank Kern, John Reese, Stompernet, etc.

    I definitely got value from many of them. But their price tags started to leave a bad taste in my mouth especially when I found other great resources that provided similar information at a fraction of the cost or free. I’ve totally narrowed down who follow to about 5 now in terms of my email subscription. My mailbox is too valuable to be getting every little promo these guys use to send.

    You’re one of the few people I follow and recommend. You’re always providing value and your products are worth every penny and they’re affordable. And I know you don’t consider yourself a guru but in my mind you’re worth listening too. I’ll literally put aside time in my busy day to read your blog posts and watch your video because I know I’ll always learn something new.

    So keep it up!

    P.S. I love Wistia for my videos. It’s made a huge difference in my marketing. It’s all because of your suggestion of using it. So thank you! I guess I’ll need to follow their marketing and blog more. If you find value in it, I probably will too.


    “Eddy with a y”

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Eddy!

      I was the same and I think this is a transition a lot of entrepreneurs go through: in the beginning, we’re easily impressed because we don’t have any know-how ourselves yet. As we gain experience, we become a lot more selective about who we listen to.

  • Rich says:

    Hi Shane
    Having been around for a while I can remember falling down many a ‘Guru’ rabbit hole. It usually started with a product that looked great (and some were) and then just became a constant stream of sell sell sell emails.

    I don’t subscribe to many email lists these days (obviously yours), Matt Woodward and just a few others. I only really stay interested if they provide me with interesting/educational/useful well researched information – with possibly the occasional thing to buy.

    I don’t really use the ‘Guru’ word much. I am happy to tag people as experts in a particular field and leave it as that!

    Keep up the good work.


    • Shane says:

      Hi Rich,

      I don’t usually use the word “guru” either. It’s a pretty good description for a specific type of self-aggrandizing expert, though. Personally, I also prefer to go with experts in specific fields – people who are much more involved in their craft than in personal branding.

  • Myron says:

    Hi Shane:
    I came to you upon a recommendation from a marketer ally of mine, and haven’t been disappointed one bit. I’m glad you mentioned “culture” as part of the role model aspect. This is critical because it forces people to develop a sense for that person or company and see how they evolve and switch gears. I didn’t know this in the beginning because No one actually said it the way you did. I now look for many things before I devote any time to anyone, and happy to say you are only one of a couple that I spend significant time with.
    It’s been inspiring here and I have others coming to me because o fit.
    P.S. I like the new reviews a lot!

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Myron! I hope I can keep providing value to you with my upcoming posts. :)

  • Rudolf says:

    As most of us did, I bought some “shiny objects” kind of courses for some time. The only ones who keep making an impact (besides imimpact, of course) are Jeff Walker, Ryan Deiss and on a lighter note the guys from By the way, the fizzle guys do a hilarious podcast on itunes which I like listen to on my 35min morning walk to the gym.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks, Rudolf! I agree that the Fizzle guys are doing great work. I don’t listen to their podcast regularly, but whenever I do tune in, I’m always glad I did.

  • Bruce Inouye says:

    I would have to say: you (Shane) Ryan Deiss, Nick Unsworth, Mike Cooch & Trent Dyrsmid for online marketing experts.

    For my “old school” mentors, they are: Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham and Seth Godin.

    If you are looking for “real life” people who really are in the “trenches” and practice what they preach, all the above names fill the bill for me.

    I’ve been marking both online and offline since 2006 and found these people to be tried and true. There is no hype, there is no super high, out of reach dollar products they have….they are all in the reach for the beginner to intermediate student of online marketing.

    Also, what I appreciate is the true life stories all the above people say that I can relate too. They have a story that is based on their real life experiences in trying out the methods or software they share with me. They don’t flash a “doctored up” Clickbank or Paypal image to show how much they made, rather, they explained how doing a certain thing opened up their business to become as successful as they did.

    All the other “gurus” that were mentioned in the above posts are still making money on how to “make money” niches which features the rehashed same old thing over and over again, with a new name for 2015.

    What I hated years ago when I did follow these “hucksters” is that when their method got outdated or no longer worked because of the “lightning quick” changes to marketing online, I would get no support or answers whether their product or software no longer applies to the current year or month of marketing. That’s one main thing you have to beware of when purchasing a new “method” or software. What you bought last week could very well be outdated and worthless next week.

    Great video here Shane!

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Bruce!

      I know what you mean. In the “make money” niche, there’s a lot of launch-and-ditch, where the goal is just to make a pile of money and then run away. The methods and tools etc. inevitably become outdated and then there’s no one to provide support or updates.

  • Paul Barber says:

    Like many of the comments above I have followed, and paid a lot of money to the various Guru’s, all of which are after your money, promise the earth and deliver very little and they usually then try and sell you something else.

    I now only pay any attention to you, wpmange and Yoast. Occasionally I get tempted to look at others but it is always a waste of time and still sometimes money!

    Thanks and keep it coming.

  • Hi, Shane:

    Besides yourself, there’s one guy I highly recommend, mostly because his advice works as demonstrated by his own actions. I’m speaking of Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. He specializes in marketing instruction for professional service providers, so it’s more than an on-line marketing perspective. I’ve followed Robert and used his products in my business for over 10 years and consistantly find them understandable, practical, actionable – and they produce results.

    Aside from Robert, you and Jason Flatlien have consistently provided me with products that are both utilitarian and results-oriented, supplemented by instruction that is invaluable.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for the recommendation, Martin. I’d never heard of Robert Middleton before, so I’ll have to do some reading.

  • Rickey says:


    I look forward to getting and reading your emails. I feel like I know you even though we’ve never met. I’m not concerned about every time I open up your email that you are going to be pitching someone’s affiliate product. I understand that you own and operate a business and will sell products/software from time to time. I also know that what ever you put out is always going to be of the highest quality.

    You’ve taken the long road to really build a relationship with your subscribers. You give tons of value that you could easily charge for if you wanted to. Your website is not cluttered with a bunch of affiliate links. I feel like you are honest, insightful and have tons of integrity. You don’t come off “hipey” at all.

    All these so called gurus seem to be just about the money that it becomes quite sickening.

    One guy that I have followed for a long time is Gary Vaynerchuk. I like him because I know he really cares about people.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Rickey!

      Gary Vaynerchuk is an impressive dude, yes. He’s got a great track record and he’s not afraid to go the extra mile (and then another few miles beyond that). Definitely admire his work ethic.

      • Rickey says:

        I remember Suze Orman saying one time to put people first and profits second. To me people opening their wallets to you is just a by-product of the value you are able to bring to them. Gary would spend 8 hours on the internet connecting with people who loved wine (not trying to sell anything to them) just answering questions and edifying other people.

        There are a lot of people/marketers out there doing great things but to me the ones I like to follow are the people who check their egos at the door. I also like following people who truly know who they are and only desire to give us their unique gifts not trying to be something that they are not.

        Another guy I like is Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and I even helped crowdfund his new book.

      • Shane says:

        Thank you for this comment, Rickey!

        For long-term businesses, I think you’re right that this is the only approach that works. You have to give more genuine value than the value of the money you ask for in return.

  • Chad says:

    Maan I think my new product has to be “how to ask questions to make sure Shane answers them all on a separate blog video”:) Thanks for addressing this one too, Shane.

    However, I’m not sure if I’m on the same page with you guys here. Maybe it’s because you’re not specific enough with who you actually meant by saying “gurus”. Do you mean WSO guys or people like Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Brendon Burchard and alikes?

    Here is my take on all of them.

    1) I don’t consider any JVZoo or Warrior forum guy a guru. In fact, I’ll be honest here, I stopped following you for a long time when you recommended Mark Thompson on your blog. If you consider him a “guru” then yes I’d not follow those types of gurus.

    2) Some people who started in WSO but moved on building real successful businesses are a bit different. One example of it is Jason Fladlien. His paid stuff on copywriting was pretty good.

    3) From the well known guys; I learned a lot from Eben Pagan when it comes to info marketing(his podcast GetAltitude is pretty good by itself). Frank is good with copywriting and sales funnels, but I think people are buying his courses to be “like him”. Same with Brendon, good with inspiring but attract “wanna be like him”s. I think there are a lot you can learn just by watching what they are doing though. Dan Kennedy’s products are as boring as hell, but if you manage to go through them there are some good stuff you can learn and apply(not practical just high level stuff though). Taki Moore seems like a knowledgeable and experienced guy when it comes to coach marketing. Taki and Lee McIntyre re-positioned themselves in a good way and targeting coaches now selling only premium price group coaching. I don’t know how valuable those programs are because I’ve never attended(too expensive). Mike Koenigs and Andy Jenkins knows what they are doing, but they don’t teach on a deep level, they are all about making the sale to a “less advanced” market. Ryan Deiss shares good info but you need a team in order to put what he teaches in action(too many moving parts).

    I’m making those comments as a guy who has been in this field for more than 5 years now and actually invested in most of those guys’ products.

    I agree about following companies such as Wistia.

    To be honest, I’d love to hear your opinions on some of the “gurus” I mentioned on the name level.

    P.S: Considering the fact that I’m leaving a looong comment on your blog, I think it’s obvious that you’re one of the few guys I follow. Main reason is the fact that you’re sharing some “honest” point of views. I don’t know if this is your marketing angle:)…but still in a world full of hype it’s good to hear what you have to say.

    • Shane says:

      The way I see the term “guru” used in the marketing space is that it’s mostly applied to the well known people who tend to charge a crapton of money for their products. Kern, Koenigs, Deiss etc.

      Most of these guys are not worth anyone’s time, in my humble opinion. They’re good at getting people to pay them for their alleged expertise, but that’s it.

      To continue painting in broad strokes, there are hundreds of “guru-wannabes” who sell crap in forums. Also not worth anyone’s time.

      In these groups, I’m sure there are some honest and even knowledgeable people, but the majority are pretenders who are just using their marketing speak and marketing mannerisms to over-sell and under-deliver again and again.

      I think it doesn’t make much sense to get into more specific name-calling than that. I don’t know most of these people, I don’t know much about what they do and sell, I just occasionally see what’s going on from a distance. That’s why I answered the question the way I did, in this video: in my opinion, you have to find people who match or exceed your own scope of ambition and who do more than just sell themselves all day, if you want to find good role models.

  • Rudy says:

    I’m in the process of researching Wistia myself so this is a very timely post. I’ve spent time listening to the established gurus myself but like your experience with Wistia I have seen how you have grown your company as well. I hope as you get more successful you stay open to sharing where you are at in your life and why it is important to you to offer whatever awesome product you are developing next. I have seen too many successful people lose sight of their passion for the process of creating something worthwhile and only care about how big their gross profit was and use that as a sales point.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Rudy!

      I too hope that I can continue sharing my journey like I have been in the past few years. I don’t think there’s much danger of me losing sight and chasing money. If anything, I have the opposite problem in that I’m too motivated by wanting to create things and not motivated enough by money. I’m the kind of guy who needs a sticky post on the mirror as a reminder that I also need to pay myself from time to time. :)

  • Anuj says:

    I think you have a very potent fact : “Model working businesses who’re coming up with services people want and derive utility from.” For a long time I chased these private club memberships and guru guys only to realize every product launch is selling the same information with a case study added here and an interview added there. Different author/coach, same recycled material.

    I say if one really wants to learn, they need to clear their inbox and block as many gurus as possible, except one or two blogs that give useful information and provide hands-on updates of the industry, but that’s it. This is like going to sea. If your boat is going in different directions, there really isn’t any skill development that’s going to happen. Building a business takes work and work is essentially laser focussed skills in action, over an extended period of time.

    • Shane says:

      Yes, absolutely. Focus is such an important trait for an entrepreneur and, unfortunately, the Internet is the number one enemy of focus, in many ways. :)

  • Interesting post to start off the New Year Shane ! Gurus act like there is no one else that can provide the product or service but themselves. People can sense when the marketer is coming from a humble servant attitude. My passion is to help people learn about getting proper nutrition and how important nutrients are for good health. I am NO guru and just keep living the healthy lifestyle and this attracts people that want that to me without hype.

    • Shane says:

      That’s an interesting way of putting it, Danielle. Thanks for this comment!

  • Sid says:

    Hi Shane,

    Amazing video – and what surprises me is the most that you are replying to our comments. You are my new guru ;)

    Last year I created my own “virtual group.” Here, I searched for the “good” images of gurus I love — can be marketing, celebrity, etc — and then place these images next to each other to create a GIANT wallpaper.

    I use this wallpaper on my computer as a source of inspiration. It gets me pumped up ;)

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Sid! Good that you found something that inspires you. I think having good role models can be very helpful for your own progress.

  • Larry Keltto says:

    I’m happy to find your website. A friend of mine directed me to it after we had a discussion about a certain guru’s tactics, which verge on extortion. Sickening.

    Besides taking your money, gurus can hurt people in other ways: small-business owners who are marketing newbies observe what the gurus do and then innocently use similar strategies/tactics — not knowing at first that these are unethical approaches. By the time the small-biz owner sees the error of his/her ways, he/she has to re-do all of their marketing.

    Role models for me? How about dead role models? ;-) I respect what David Ogilvy did in his career — enormously successful and his ethical standards were very high.

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for your comment, Larry!

      David Ogilvy – sure, why not? We don’t often meet our role models anyway, so it doesn’t matter much what time period they are from.

  • Dave says:

    In my case, I can say that I follow pretty closely some of the big names in the industry like, Zac Johnson, Matthew Woodward, Tom Chow, Neil Patel and so on.

    Some ideas launched by them worked pretty good for me.

    • Shane says:

      Glad to know that you’re getting good value out of the gurus. :)

  • sandy says:

    Be a student dont be a follower i operate on this philosophy i never follow people or guru i learn from everyone whatever is useful for my business to grow thats all. Thanks for the video and i am glad i found your blog


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