Lots of people who’ve spoken with either Jeffrey or me know how uncomfortable we are with being called “experts,” despite our books and nearly 10 years of focus on marketing optimization. I’ve said it before: “Gurus are a dime a dozen on the internet.” The problem with taking pundits’ advice is that it can end up costing those who follow blindly a fortune. I need your help to prevent that.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe hardly any of the folks who people consider online experts are acting in bad faith. They tried some tactics, it paid off, and now they want to share them with others. But true experts never achieve any level of certainty without a deeper understanding of all the circumstances contributing to their success. To reach “expert” status in other industries — say, the medical field — it takes well over a decade of experience focused in one specialty. Most cardiologists would be hesitant to give you dermatological advice, as they know it’s outside of their domain. It’s why Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr once said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
Sharing your missteps and learning from other people’s mistakes is the surest path to online success. Are you up to helping your fellow entrepreneurs or future clients?
The challenge we face as marketers is that there’s no solid set of criteria to hang out the shingle and say, “Congratulations! You’re a marketer.” It can be frightening when clients say they plan to use some very specific tactic before the strategy’s been clearly defined. Usually when that happens, if you ask where they got the idea, it’s from an “expert” who may have a technical or other background but certainly not a marketing background.
We’ve all seen designers or developers who are now preaching “expert” search engine marketing advice. While design and code have something to do with search engine optimization, the bigger issues are usually marketing-related. The same is true about conversion optimization advice. While conversion has something to do with usability, multivariate testing and web analytics, the bigger overarching issue is almost always marketing (read: persuasion)-related. When our clients have a challenging search-related issue, we refer them to a search marketing firm we trust. Are there really any social media experts yet (although we may be getting there)?
We’re looking for these types of stories:
We (as in “you and I”) are going to publish a free ebook. (No need to kill trees on this as I’m sure it will keep evolving with the Web).
We’re not looking to name names or discredit anyone. And of course, sometimes, good advice gets executed poorly. But with your help, we’ll take all the stories and distill them into a collection of truisms, then list the horror stories on so-called expert opinions and freely distribute How to Leverage “OPM” (Other People’s Mistakes): Online Advice from People Who’ve Been There and Done That. If you wish to share a story anonymously, it must be verifiable, so we can keep you anonymous.
Will you share your “expertise” and stories?
If you’d like to be included, tell us your online marketing-related stories either as a comment below or in an email to: feedback [at] grokdotcom dot com