What I'm hearing: Rain on a tin roof, a loon in the bay....
Before I left, I was having an email conversation about false prophets. On one forum, there was a lot of vitriol aimed at one self-professed expert. Some of the reasons weren't really reasons -- this particular prophet had poo-pooed content mill work, which frankly I have to agree with because of what those clips do to your reputation. However, there was plenty of distaste for some of the expert's tactics -- most of which had to do with marketing.
See, it's a fine line to walk between professing your stance on a particular business practice and tying it in with your shiny new webinar or course designed to teach "the right way." In most cases, it's a horrible, transparently bad sales tactic.
And yet, those aren't the only marketing sins some writing gurus are committing. Here are a few that get under my skin:
Long sales pages. I don't know where anyone got the idea that a sales page that goes on forever is A) something anyone wants to read, B) a good idea at all, or C) effective at anything other than boring the hell out of everyone who attempts to read it. No. No. And NO. We're writers: our job is to be concise and clear. Present it and wrap it up, people. Please.
Thinly veiled sales pitches. The biggest complaint in that forum thread I'd read was the helpful advice directly coupled with a course or webinar costing hundreds. In one case, a poster commented that she'd seen an offer just under $1K. It's not hard for intelligent people to draw a straight line from your helpfulness to Bullshitville. From what I'd read, these writers were not only not buying, but not thinking too highly of the person making the offer.
Not practicing what you preach. It's not too difficult to see when your "instructor" hasn't done the work they're teaching in ages or, even worse, at all. Why would I take a course in magazine writing from someone who writes for blogs? Likewise taking a fiction writing course from someone who's written only corporate stuff.
Dangling the fake carrot. It's a fairly useless, and transparent, sales tactic to send out notices that your course is nearly sold out or that you have no seats left (or just two, which seems to be a common claim). Phony waiting lists or threats that you're about to miss the boat may work once, but when you see it from the same people all the time....yea, it's not true.
Always selling in every single interaction. Come on, give it a rest already. Don't be that person no one can have an intelligent conversation with because you're too busy trying to find the "angle" that will pull money from their pockets. I've seen it in comments left by some of the worst offenders. "Over on MY site, you'll see I've written about this extensively" or "I was just saying this to someone in MY course, which still has some openings...." Most of us with brains have stopped listening.
Incessantly patting yourself on the back. When was the last time the self-titled expert gave a shout-out to someone who isn't an affiliate or isn't going to further the expert's career? If you pay attention to the way in which people talk or write, including linking to their own content instead of sharing the love, you'll figure out who's in it for themselves.
Promising wealth -- at a price. It's the old snake oil sales tactic: it's so easy to do it, but you have to buy this in order to find out how easy it is. Look, there are gurus out there who really do know what they're doing, and they're working at it every day. Those are the people you want to buy from. Those who are constantly selling and promising? Look closely. What have they done lately?
Writers, what can you add to the list?