How to Avoid Getting Duped by Consultants and Business Gurus (Podcast) | Ep. #071

Elizabeth Larkin, Michael Kelly, and Eric Dollinger

I can show you how to make $6 million dollars in the next six months. All you have to do is buy my program for three payments of $179 each. Don’t believe me? In episode 71, hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks answer a question about how trustworthy these so-called gurus really are:

“Gene and Elizabeth, my Facebook Newsfeed is getting slammed with these ads from ‘gurus’ who claim that they can help me start a million-dollar business. I think it’s because I started Googling ‘small business marketing advice’ and now I’m getting tagged for their ads. These ads seem pretty dubious. It’s always from some guy, usually in his 20s, who has an overly Photoshopped head shot for his profile picture and he talks about how he started out dead broke, his business was a failure, but then he learned the six rules of marketing—or whatever—and now he’s worth $50 million.”

“I can sign up for his marketing course to learn these same six rules of marketing. Do you guys see these, too? Is there an influx of these or am I just now seeing it because I Googled ‘marketing advice?’ It just seems so weird that some guy whose claim to fame is that he made millions of dollars running a marketing consulting business that taught other people how to start their own marketing consulting businesses is going to now teach me how to start a marketing consulting business so I can be a millionaire like him.”

“Give some advice to a newbie about charlatan business gurus, how to watch out for them, and basically how they’re the bottom feeders of the entrepreneurial world. Thanks.”

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Transcript

Elizabeth: Gene, have you ever been browsing Facebook-

Gene: No.

Elizabeth: I’m sure you just browse Facebook on your computer when you should be working.

Gene: I actually browse a lot of Instagram. That’s a whole other…

Elizabeth: I know you love Instagram.

Gene: I look at a lot of Instagram.

Elizabeth: Kardashians.

Gene: Kardashians are up there.

Elizabeth: Have you ever been on Facebook and an ad pops up, a sponsored post, and it’s some guru with a head shot saying, “I made $1 million in two weeks!”

Gene: Yeah, sure.

Elizabeth: I just feel like-

Gene: You’re like, “Jeez, if you were that successful why are you advertising here to me on Facebook?” That’s what I always think, you know?

Elizabeth: I think they have that now for every industry, these weird business consultants pop up and they’re like, “I can show you how after 10 minutes on the phone with me, and it’s $10,000.” Anyway, that’s what our question is about today. It’s about separating the charlatans, I’ll call them, from the real business consultants.

Gene: It’s a good one.

Elizabeth: We’ll be right back.

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QUESTION: How to Avoid Getting Duped by Consultants and Business Gurus

Elizabeth: Okay, this question is from Dylan. He doesn’t give us his industry or his location, so as usual we’re just gonna make that up for him.

Gene: Okay, Dylan.

Elizabeth: Dylan writes,

“Gene and Elizabeth, my Facebook Newsfeed is getting slammed with these ads from ‘gurus’ who claim that they can help me start a million-dollar business. I think it’s because I started Googling ‘small business marketing advice’ and now I’m getting tagged for their ads. These ads seem pretty dubious. It’s always from some guy, usually in his 20s, who has an overly Photoshopped head shot for his profile picture-“

Gene: Big teeth, right? You got a big poof of hair.

Elizabeth: Big teeth.

“-and he talks about how he started out dead broke, his business was a failure, but then he learned the six rules of marketing or whatever and now he’s worth $50 million.”

Gene: $50 million! Okay.

Elizabeth:

“I can sign up for his marketing course to learn these same six rules of marketing or whatever. Do you guys see these, too? Is there an influx of these or am I just now seeing it because I Googled ‘marketing advice?’ It just seems so weird that some guy whose claim to fame is that he made millions of dollars running a marketing consulting business that taught other people how to start their own marketing consulting businesses is going to now teach me how to start a marketing consulting business so I can be a millionaire like him.”

That’s a mouthful.

“Give some advice to a newbie about charlatan business gurus, how to watch out for them, and basically how they’re the bottom feeders of the entrepreneurial world. Thanks.”

I see these ads all the time.

Gene: What do you think of them?

Elizabeth: I feel like you, if they’re advertising on Facebook, obviously they have to keep their pipeline going. But I am always wary of marketing copy because I work in marketing. I think I’m extra… Anytime I see anything saying, “I didn’t know anything and then I learned this secret,” that’s always… But the thing is, I think what Dylan’s getting at is there are legitimate business consultants out there who can help your business.

Gene: Sure.

Elizabeth: How do you distinguish between the two?

Gene: Yeah. First of all, I think that’s great. I’ve always said like we said earlier. If the guy made $50 million, why is he… Right, Elizabeth? If I made $1 million, at least enough I wouldn’t have to work anymore or whatever. I don’t know if I’d be like, “Now I’m advertising on Facebook.” I don’t believe it, Dylan. I don’t believe it. I think when you’re getting hit… What I believe those guys are doing is they are preying on the uninformed, the uneducated, and the ignorant. Dylan, that is you. No offense, no offense, but I think that these guys know when they come across people.

The best use of a consultant is not when they’re pitching you, but when you’re pitching them.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: It’s like when I do public speaking and there’s speakers bureaus that are out there. Speakers bureaus, when you need them the least, that’s when they suddenly pop up. You know what I mean? In your case, though, Dylan, you’re running a business. You need to be intelligent about what your needs are. Then you find the consultant that matches your need.

When somebody is coming in and offering you six things to do that’ll change your business around and make you $50 million, clearly you don’t believe it because…

Elizabeth: He wouldn’t have been writing in if he believed it.

Gene: That’s exactly right. It wouldn’t come true. That’s not the kind of advice or consulting advice that you’re gonna need. Now, I got news for you. If you’ve been in business for 20 years and then you wanna take a shot and spend $5,000 or $10,000 with a guy that you think is selling something or whatever, okay, then you’ve got some experience behind you. You might be able to take that advice and do something with it. But I’m telling you, these guys are preying on the startup people, the entrepreneurs, the ignorant ones in business. I mean “the ignorant” with all due respect. It’s just not experienced. They’re swooping in and they’re taking advantage of these people.

When you work with a consultant, Dylan, it’s because you decided you needed a consultant to work with and then you proactively went out to find the right consultant for your business.

Elizabeth: Have you ever hired a consultant for The Marks Group?

Gene: I hired a consultant. The only time I ever work with a consultant in my life was when I was writing my first book.

Elizabeth: Oh.

Gene: This guy was a published author and a speaker, and I had seen him speak and I liked him a lot. I decided I was gonna write my first book and I didn’t know the first thing about writing a book proposal to get an agent. I knew I needed an agent. I reached out to this guy because he did consulting work in that area. I reached out to him and said, “Here, I need some help. Can you coach me through writing a proposal that an agent would look at?” He did. It worked. I paid him $5,000 or $10,000 to do it.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Gene: But I had the need.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: I wanted-

Elizabeth: You had a specific task.

Gene: Specific thing, yeah. Then I went out and looked for that specific person that can help me with that specific need. That’s what a consultant is used for. Now, there are lots of consultants for a lot of different areas. We talked in another podcast about life coaches. Dylan, at some point you’d be like, “You know what? I need somebody that can coach me through the problems of my day and give me inspiration.” Good, then go out and find a life coach. “My sales are just not where I am. I’m not managing my sales group very well. I’d like to bring in a sales consultant who can help me improve my management skills and give me some metrics and some processes for managing myself.” Then you bring in a sales consultant to do just that.

Again, Dylan, you will know when you have that need. You’re the guy that’s gonna drive when you want that consultant and what kind of consultant you’re going to get.

Elizabeth: I just have this impression of consultants that they do the same thing with every client.

Gene: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Meaning they’ll look at your business and they’ll tell you five action items, five takeaways that you’re gonna have after our meeting. They’re gonna give the same five takeaways to the next person they meet with regardless with your business.

Gene: That might not be a bad thing, by the way.

Elizabeth: Having a very specific need though, that makes sense. But if you just come in and say, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I need some help with marketing.” I think that sets you up for getting very generic advice from them.

Gene: The other thing is that I’ve also seen, again I can only say what I’ve seen from other clients, if you’re doing something and you wanna do it better, that’s where consultants are best put to their use. I’ll use the example of a sales management or customer service. I’m already doing this, I’m not doing it as well as I want to. Bring in an expert to advise me to do it better. But when you have these overall general business guys that are just like, “I’m gonna turn your business into a… six secrets to turning…” Get out of here. Those guys are duping you.

Elizabeth: Alright, that was a strong answer.

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: Strong take.

Gene: I hope that helps, Dylan. Good luck, now.

Elizabeth: Alright, we’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

WORD OF BRILLIANCE: Pet Translators

Elizabeth: Okay, before Gene starts with his Word of Brilliance, I just wanna reiterate that if you love the podcast or even if you hate the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes.

Gene: Yeah, or a question or a comment. Go on iTunes and leave stuff, and we’ll respond back.

Elizabeth: We read all of them and we will even bring you up on the show if you want us to.

Gene: Yeah.

Elizabeth: If you would like to remain anonymous, that’s fine.

Gene: No, you can’t remain anonymous. No, I wanna hear who you are and if I disagree with you, we’re gonna call you out. We’re gonna find you.

Elizabeth: We would love to get your feedback. Leave us a review on iTunes and Gene, take it away with your Word of Brilliance.

Gene: There was a research study done that was backed by Amazon from a university professor who is an… Amazon is very much behind this. They are looking to introduce someday in the future pet translators. That is my Word of Brilliance for the day. Pet translators. The studies are showing that animals, Elizabeth, your dog… Everybody, Elizabeth’s dog was barking, she was having a real problem with the dog barking. She bought one of those barking collars. Every time her dog barks, it lights the dog on fire. It was a terrible thing and I made her stop doing it. Now, instead of lighting her dog on fire, it just vibrates. Is that what it is?

Elizabeth: It sprays sunshine and lavender.

Gene: Is that what it does?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Wouldn’t it be great if your dog was barking and you were able to say- What’s the name of your dog, again?

Elizabeth: Dottie. Why is that funny?

Gene: “Dottie, what’s the problem?” Dottie was like, “Oh, Elizabeth, I have something to contribute to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast and I’m barking about it but you don’t understand anything that I’m saying.” Then you would be able to translate it. Amazon, they are planning on coming out someday in the future. There is nothing tangible or whatever. But they’ve got research behind it to come out with pet translators. Why would this be any kind of Word of Brilliance? If you’re in the pet industry, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide and it continues to grow, it would not surprise me that pet translating technology is gonna be a new trend of the future to keep your eye on.

Elizabeth: That would be on your phone like Shazam?

Gene: Yeah, I think it’s through Alexa. It’s like it’s using a similar artificial intelligence technology-

Elizabeth: Do you have Alexa?

Gene: -that Alexa has. I do not have Alexa in my house. Do you have Alexa in your house?

Elizabeth: No, but Dave, my boss, was telling me that Alexa rules his life.

Gene: I thought Alexa does two things. It plays a song you want on Spotify and turns the lights on in your house. What else does it do?

Elizabeth: I guess you can ask it questions, it gives you the weather…

Gene: Right now it’s early days. It’s clearly awesome technology and I see it being used in businesses. Think about the application of artificial intelligence of Alexa where people come… We were talking in another podcast about Wendy’s is putting in self-service kiosks and so and so. How about voice? You go up and you say to Alexa, “Hey, Alexa, I’d like a Big Mac and fries and a Coke.” Then it was able to translate… Come back to you saying, “Oh, I recognize your voice. Ms. Larkin, would you also like a milkshake with that? I know you like milkshakes.” Alexa technology-

Elizabeth: I don’t eat at McDonald’s.

Gene: I’m a McDonald’s fan. Pet translator using artificial intelligence, using technology like what Alexa’s using. It’s backed by Amazon. Watch for this in the future.

Elizabeth: Alright, we’ll be back in a couple days with our next episode.

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