The Dangers of Guru Worship

As an entrepreneur, small business owner or expert in your field, you may have turned to one or more marketing “gurus” over the years because you needed some help with something you didn’t know much about (or wanted someone else to do it for you).

Nothing wrong in that at all. Hopefully it will have been a resoundingly successful move for you.

(Yes, I am about to use THAT word next)…


There is a danger when looking for guidance, advice and support from marketing experts – that it turns into some form of guru worship.

Let me share a story with you.

So, I’m called to an office, invited to sit down on the comfy sofa with smart-looking table and coffee in hand, and the client says they want some help to improve their conversions and they’d like me to take a look at their landing page. So far, so good.

Until I took a look at the landing page.

A long, hard look at the landing page.

And the client could see a little bit of that summer-shaded colour had drained from my face.

I had to say it. I tried to say it in as nice a way as possible. But there was no way I could avoid saying what I thought.

“I’m not surprised this page isn’t working well for you. There’s so much text on here it’s like reading a double-page spread in a Sunday broadsheet all in one go”

That’s what I was thinking..

I recall I actually said something like: “Yes, I think we could help you make this page better.”

And, having asked permission to do so, I methodically went through the page, bit by bit and made my suggestions.

The client nodded as I was going through and making my comments, but didn’t say much.

At the end, they simply said:

“Well, I don’t really want to change it (the landing page).

“You see, I’ve been following (insert name of well known Guru) and he gave me this model for marketing. This is the way he told me to do it (the landing page) and he knows what he’s doing. This is the model he’s used. I’m just following exactly what he said.”

Now, for all I know, this may well be true.

My sense was that a “structure” for creating a landing page had been given and the client had (as he said) just followed that as best he knew how.

The problem is THAT page he created WON’T EVER WORK very well.

Just listening to a Guru.

Just following their “model”.

Just accepting their word (without question)…

Is NOT always the right thing to do…

Twenty years’ ago, 10 years’ ago, five years’ ago and probably even a couple of years’ ago… what was being used in marketing then is NOT necessarily the blueprint for modern marketing today.

You have to be prepared to put something in place, run it, test it, review it and (where necessary) ADJUST it, CHANGE it or STOP it.

Or if it’s a raving SUCCESS… do MORE of it!

And just following a “model” or a “how to build it” guide doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with a great result.

When I was a teenager I used to buy Airfix model kits. I followed the instructions to the letter but my plane or armoured vehicle NEVER looked as fabulous as the picture on the box. I got close when I built a large scale (1:24 or 1:32, something like that) kit of the majestic Supermarine Spitfire but my painting and decals never quite made the grade.

The point is, you can have a guide. It doesn’t guarantee the “showroom” finish or “perfect” result.

What the client on the sofa needed to know was not just a model for the “structure” but some professional advice about the words and the layout of the whole page presentation.

Even if he didn’t know precisely what was wrong, his gut feeling should have told him the page wasn’t “right”.

In my professional opinion, the client was blinded.

Blinded by the hero worship of a Guru.

Next time you take a look at your marketing copy, ask your gut how it’s feeling about the words and the presentation.

It may give you some wonderful insight about the likely results your copy will create.

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