Robert Bly has a consistent flow of prospects ready and eager to hire him for work he wants to do, at the full fees he wants to charge – He does not have to prospect, market, cold call, sell, negotiate, network, or do any of other things his competitors do to keep the workflow steady.
Bly says the question he is asked most frequently is that if he gives away his secrets for free or in an inexpensive report or booklet, will that not eliminate the need for the client to hire him for his expensive training program, coaching or consultation? He response is that people do not want to do it themselves. They want a professional to guide them. The free or inexpensive material you give them convinces them they are making the right choice and they will not be disappointed when they hire you. Jay Abraham, author of Stealth Marketing, observes, "People are silently begging to be led."
American business spends $20 billion annually to get advice from gurus. $750 million is spent on business books alone.
Some are gurus, not because they are great at what they do, but because they are great at marketing themselves and what they do.
They elevate themselves to guru status using a deliberate plan of self-promotion. They enjoy the success, money, fame and other benefits that go with the position. By becoming a guru, you set yourself above the competition, become the preferred source of advice and service in your market, and eliminate the need to make cold calls and do the selling ordinary vendors do. Others are convinced of your mastery without even trying.
Bly suggests some recognized gurus: Alan Dershowitz, Law; Dr Ruth Westheimer, Sex; Jerry Delefamina, Advertising; Donald Trump, Commercial Real Estate; Rush Limbaugh, Conservative Politics; Faith Popcorn, Consumer Trends; Emeril Lagasse, Cooking; William Safire, Language; Martha Stewart, Home; Tom Peters, Excellence; Dr Blackwell, Fashion; Roger Ebert, Movies; Norm Abrams, Home Improvement; Jay Kordich, Juicing; Peter Drucker, Management; Ken Blanchard, One Minute; Stephanie Winston, Organization; Jane Bryant Quinn, Personal Finance; Tony Robbins, Personal Power; Stephen Hawkins, Physics; Robert Cialdini, Positioning; Dr Phil, Relationships; Tom Hopkins, Selling; Steve Irwin, Crocodiles And Snakes.
The narrower your niche increases the chance to become pre-eminent. Carl Sagan became a guru in the specialty field of planetary astronomy. Having one-third of the market wanting to buy your product or hire you, even in a small niche market, is huge.
Despite the inherent dislike of many people for gurus, the mathematics is in the guru’s favor. If one-third of the market loves you, you have captured a market astronomically higher than 99.9 percent of the service providers who are your competitors. Guru becomes simply the “go to” guy. Some think the guru’s ideas are revolutionary. They become evangelists for the guru, spreading the word and repeating the guru’s ideas and concepts to anyone who will listen. Many seek out the guru for business consultation or help in their private lives. The fact that gurus are getting rich from this seemingly obvious advice does not matter much to them either. Experts do not know more than other people; their information is just better organized. Bly calls it “a mastery of an existing discipline.” Gurus communicate in a clear, understandable and useful manner to a well-defined target audience. They use a clear process or system that people like, can understand, and find useful. This clarity of thought and simplicity of explanation is what people find appealing. Bly writes direct marketing copy and solves direct marketing problems. He has done it for 20 years, five days a week, 12 hours a day. He gives recommendations on what he has seen work dozens of times before. The likelihood it would work was strong and the probability would be taken was extremely high. He is concentrating on a niche specialty and sees the same problems over and over. Eventually, he is given a repertoire of solutions for solving 90% of the situations his clients are likely to encounter. The guru is not smarter than the client - just more and broader experience in the narrowly defined field. Gurus make a study of the particular field, and have their information better organized. Gurus do not have to be brilliant and original, just humble and honest. They have no special abilities or talents other than they can do something a little better than you can – because that is all they do. How would you like customers coming to you, so you can spend more time on profitable work and never have to negotiate fees? How would you like to be selective and say no? When you have long-term creditability in your niche market, the inquiries come to your door unbidden, through the mail, phone, e-mail, and fax. You no longer have to go out and get people interested in you. They come to you, rather than you coming to them – a position most of your competitors will envy and never achieve. Average freelance writers earn on average $50,000 a year. Bly makes this amount every two months. He became a self-made millionaire in a field most struggle to make ends meet. Bly loves writing and that is what he does, because he can. The system readily gives gurus wealth and success to those who are considered gurus by their customers and prospects. Why should it not be you? Being a guru is largely a matter of self-promotion and marketing. The basic method of becoming a guru is to research and gain experience, organize, and disseminate information on your topic frequently and in a variety of formats to your target market. Having trouble? Invent a category. It is usually cosmetic or semantic and not actual. Bly is good at packaging information and working within a known field. He prefers clear writing, clear thinking, and plain speaking. There are four phases to becoming a guru: start up; growth; critical mass and maintenance. You have to build your awareness or reputation to the point where people think of you even if you are not running some type of promotion. With growth you see synergy between the various efforts. They begin to feed on one another. The sum is greater than any individual effort. Your name is out in the marketplace so much, so often, that people are continually aware of whom you are and what you do. People have heard of you and know who you are. You cannot trace it to a particular promotion; people just seem to hear about you and call you. Bob Bly’s book provides fascinating facts about books. Books are largely a form of advertising. 50,000 books are published a year, about 1000 per week. 500, or 1%, become best sellers. Publishers need authors. Why not you? Writer Jerry Buchanan, publisher of the Towers Club Newsletter, states: “A book that instructs in some profitable field is a priceless treasure. It stands patient and mute until you command it to teach. When it teaches, it teaches only as fast as you are capable of learning, and will repeat the difficult parts as often as necessary to firmly entrench them in your brain.” Bly’s argument on writing a book is simple. “No one has done exactly what you have, or lived the exact life you have lived. The uniqueness you have as a professional and a human being brings uniqueness to your book, which is what makes it worth reading.” It is the anecdotes you tell and the techniques you share. Books are an incredible bargain. They may pay $2,000 for a day and $250 for a workshop to be with you. If a book costs $20 and you take away 1% new ideas or knowledge, the cost to you is 20 cents. Why a book? Bly states that a book can serve as the basis for a profitable seminar or workshop. The chapters become modules. Associations will ask you to speak at their conferences for sizable fees if it interests their members. It is an impressive credential. It increases your status. You can use the book as a calling card. It will explain your methods and cement your expert status. Editors will ask you to write articles. The media will want to interview you as an expert. But will a publisher think it is a great idea – enough to pay you an advance, commission you to write it, publish it and sell it? Bly states there are five key questions: Is there a large enough audience? Is it a book or an article? How is this book different or better than other books on the market on this topic? You should lay this out in your first two paragraphs of an abstract; and the presence of two to six competitive books show there is a market for this type of book. Why would a publisher want you? Do you have expert credentials or writing credentials?