Words of wisdom from Drayton Bird have got me thinking…
Followers of this blog know that the people I follow are only the best of the best. Drayton Bird is one of those. Described by David Ogilvy (The King of Madison Avenue) as “Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone else in the World” and author of at least two of the very best books on marketing you could ever read, Drayton posted a blog posted today I couldn’t help but comment on.
He said “I got a tweety message from a guy who wants me to follow him. His description of himself read: “ISMA founding member. Certified Social Media Specialist”.
Two thoughts occurred to me. 1. Start worrying when they start an Institute. It means six guys got together and thought, “Let’s start an Institute. That’ll make it look respectable enough to start taking serious money off people”.
And when something that’s been around for about ten minutes starts having “Certified Specialists” you’re in real trouble. Who certifies these specialists? Another six guys who think, “Hmmm. If you’re “certified” – well, that sounds great, doesn’t it? Up go the fees, right.”
You can read the full post here.
It got me thinking about a meeting I had with someone who runs an SEO company who asked me about whether I thought there should be an SEO Association – something to set standards in the industry. He then went on to prise information out of me about how I do SEO (to which I answered with a load of misinformation because I could smell a rat as soon as I walked through the door) and then went on some sort of personal vendetta against me. And I was really nice to him! There’s nowt queer as folk though, is there?
My initial reaction was the same as Drayton’s. If someone is going to teach you something, coach you, or do something for your business (or life), make sure they can actually walk the walk.
It’s also why I do not ever want to have a “Google Qualified Blah-Blah-Blah” badge. What are they for, anyway? To me, these badges are for inadequate little boys that have bedrooms full of certificates and old cub scout uniforms covered in little badges (with a few notable exceptions). It’s the way most of society works. They are approbations from “authority” organisations to prove that you are “better” than everyone else. Back to my old friend Leonardo:
“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.”
In the case of Google, a company I love in many ways, their training courses are designed for one purpose only: to make them more money by teaching you to sell their services in the way that suits them, not the client. And why not? They’re a publicly listed company designed to make a profit. But the idea of all these little Google soldiers running around impressing people with their badges just makes me laugh.
Which brings me to the world of teaching internet marketing. I entered this world full of a naive desire to help people. To give people the benefit of my experience. To learn from my mistakes (I’ve made plenty) and victories.
It’s been amazing in many ways. I’ve had some fantastic experiences, not least this week in Oxford helping people with businesses as diverse as chocolate fountain hire, luxury African safaris and selling flying lessons.
But I’ve also been interested to see the massive backlash that is happening with some of the bigger, louder noises on the internet in recent years. I mean, take a look at some of the horror stories unfolding on Salty Droid.
One of the guys being slaughtered on there is James Arthur Ray: someone I first watched in “The Secret” DVD a couple of years ago. Another is a guy who was sending me Twitter messages just a few months ago, Harlan Kilstein. I don’t know either of these people from Adam, but I was aware of their presence on the internet. I also don’t know what is true anymore, but the content on Salty Droid is truly frightening stuff that brings into question the whole “cult of personality” thing.
I made a decision back in February to use my personal domain name to start blogging. It’s been a real journey. I’ve made some incredible, probably lifelong, friends via this blog. I’ve also had the contents of this blog used against me in some of the most vile and horrific ways (which is why I don’t mention my children on here any more).
I made this decision because I reasoned that no-one else could be me. When you are offering yourself out to teach or sell people stuff, should you use a “brand”, or should you just be yourself?
I chose to be myself, but now I’m wondering if this was the right decision and whether or not I should even carry on?
(Don’t worry, the blogging and adwords seminars are still going ahead. I’m not letting any of you guys down :-).