ART BY HAZUKI TONOMURA
By RENEE WANG
What if you could buy happiness for a starting price of $1000?
In the 21st century, the booming industry of eCommerce and online marketing has become a popular business thanks to the internet. With a variety of online influencers including YouTubers and bloggers, the platform provides several ways to make money. However, some people stretch these opportunities a tad bit too far. Mainly known as “marketing gurus,” these motivational speakers flaunt their “acclaimed wealth” to sell thousand-dollar courses that specialize in marketing strategies for fans who aspire to their lifestyle of luxury.
Notably, not only does this create a never-ending cycle of trickery between consumers and online marketers, but it also promotes the method of selling pipe dreams to viewers that are willing to believe it.
In the present day, there is a huge business for selling courses. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), an overall 22-26% of the budget in businesses is dedicated to content marketing in the form of videos and blog posts. This has captivated the attention of an abundant amount of online marketers, generating thousands of videos on YouTube that promote their courses. It promises fans that their solution is the secret formula for success; but in the end, there is no strategy or secret formula, just false premises. But what is the basis of these advertisements that make fans buy these courses that claim to supposedly change the lives of consumers?
In the beginning, the audience will enter to join a 3-hour webinar introduction to get a preview of the course. In these three hours, it is enough for marketers to convince potential customers into buying the overpriced product because they present the course as the key to all their financial problems. They claim that if they spend one thousand dollars on their course, they will make millions in return; in reality, once the customer purchases the product, they will find most of the marketing gurus strategies are, “motivation” and “personal development,” providing no incentive of teaching any marketable skill.
Even though it seems impossible to fall for these types of course scams, there are actually many factors that online marketers utilize to gain viewers and their trust.
For example, if people see a video with someone in a fancy mansion highlighting the story of their success, it normally increases their credibility with viewers because they are presenting themselves as wealthy and put together individuals. For example, self-made millionaire and YouTuber Dan Lok exemplifies this tactic by showing his expensive car and penthouse in the background of his videos. Displaying his home and car might not seem much, but it is sufficient to show a confident appeal that engulfs the audience to believe their story.
While there will be people who can see through their lies, there will always be someone to fall for their flashy lifestyle and piles of money.
According to YouTube diagnostics, most online marketing channels do not generate as many views as compared to their subscriber count. They generally have 100,000 or more subscribers, but garner to 10,000 views per video. Another marketing YouTuber, Stefan James, has about 816,000 subscribers but posts every two days with less than 10,000 views. From this, we can see they may prioritize quantity over quality, since there is reused content throughout his channel, such as topics on the many ways to make money.
Not only does this lure in fresh viewers, but it also prompts how fans start to place these gurus on a pedestal, as they do not forget to remind their audience how they are sharing highly-valued information for free. Except, most use recycled material in both content and lessons from their courses.
Even though some courses do provide some value, like connections with other businesses, their way of teaching these skills can cause a negative effect on the customer. For example, in marketing, individuals that have no initial experience in the topic are bombarded by the masses of marketing information and have no choice but to follow an unknown expert’s advice. Ultimately, purchasers of the product are succumbing to the possible chances of being misinformed.
To summarize, with their undeniable charisma and mindful words, the marketing guru’s strategy can mislead many people that are too trusting to see that these experts are possibly using others’ dreams to make money. Perhaps it is possible to buy happiness for the hefty price of one thousand dollars; however, you can do so much more without relying on someone telling you what is right or wrong in anything.