Yesterday, I posted a list of 12 blogs I follow and why I read and recommend them. The authors of 3 of them posted comments. If I were a "bootstrap guru" (someone who takes a small success, blows it out of proportion, sells it as a money-making system, and uses those sales as proof of guru status to sell more products), here's what I'd do.

See if any of this sounds eerily familiar:

First, I'd create a product

I'd write an eBook about how to build relationships with gurus.

I'd load it up with filler about how to register a domain, install WordPress, set up a premium theme (linked to with my affiliate link), and configure it to ping a million update services.

The list of update services would be hideously long. It'd be built by combining a few lists found elsewhere online, without bothering to check whether any of the services were valid or valuable. I'd claim it was the ultimate ping list, based on painstaking research.

I'd outline a convoluted system for researching which gurus could benefit you the most, and recommend ignoring any who's GAVS (that's "Guru Association Value Score") was less that 85.

Then I'd claim that if you read the blogs of your target gurus for three weeks and posted a list of them on your blog, my research proves you could expect a 25% response rate. I'd create a list of the best "trigger phrases" to use to get gurus to comment.

After that, I'd invent a follow up system for cementing relationships with those who responded, and claim that you could use it to build a 100,000 member mailing list and make $100,000 a month off it for the rest of your life. On autopilot.

With the product created...

Second, I'd write my sales letter

The sales letter would claim I'd perfected a system for networking with the big boys, leveraging relationships with them to build a massive mailing list, and retiring within 18 months. (I'd be tempted claim 6 months to retirement. But even though I'd probably drink my own koolaid and believe it was going to happen, I'd stick with 18 months to make my claims more credible and reduce refunds from people who failed...because didn't follow through.)

Reader Comment:
Matia Bryson said:
Great post. You really got me thinking there and have made me a bit uncomfortable -- not because I have tried to be a bootstrap guru, but because I have fallen for a couple of their products. I think you have nailed it on the head. Hopefully I am get...
(join the conversation below)

The rest of the sales letter would be filler like "does your life stink because you're not making any money at internet marketing? Check out these pictures of my house and car that I bought using money I made with my super-secret guru-networking 18-months to retirement loophole." (The pictures would be of the house and car I planned to buy after launching my eBook -- since I'm 100% committed to manifesting them, that's honest, right?)

Next, I'd launch my product

I'd hype it up for a few weeks, gather advance testimonials from any groupies I knew would be willing to testify on behalf of any product, and then unveil it to the world.

If it failed, I'd crawl back under my rock.

If it succeeded, I'd immediately start working on an eBook about how to create and launch a successful eBook, using my own experience as a case study to prove that the system works.

What I wouldn't mention

I'd ignore the fact that this all started with 3 comments on my blog -- not a 6-figure income.

I wouldn't bother to mention that 2 of them had commented on my blog before -- the "system" may not work for starting relationships from zero.

I'd omit the fact at least 1 of them already knew of me based on my other products -- that the "system" may not work if you don't already have some sort of track record.

I'd downplay the fact that I'd only done it once -- it may not be repeatable, even by me. And any claimed success rates would have no statistical validity whatsoever.

I'd forget to mention that I hadn't yet tried the follow-up system -- that the only experiments I'd ever done with it were "thought experiments" (I can't imagine why it wouldn't work -- I must be a genius!)

Yep, if I were a bootstrap guru, I'd milk those 3 blog comments for 100,000 times what they're worth, and lift myself right up into the A-List by my own boostraps.

Protect yourself from mayhem like me

Have you seen Allstate's "Mayhem" ad where the executive causes a wreck and then sues the person behind him? "'cause that's what I do," he says.

Boostrap gurus are out there. And they'll sell you their unproven, unrepeatable systems if they can, because that's what they do. Unfortunately, not even Allstate will cover you if you get burned, so you've got to keep your eyes open.

If you see someone making claims that sound too good to be true, they probably are. If someone tries to sell you a system, but won't tell you what it's about, it's probably either about nothing, or something so obvious that nobody would buy it if they knew what it was.

If you get suckered into buying a product that turns out to be somebody's one hit wonder success story that clearly isn't reproducible, don't feel bad about asking for a refund and sharing your opinion of it.

The only way we're going to be protected from mayhem like bootstrap gurus is if they either never have a success to bootstrap themselves with, or get exposed before they can leverage it to "prove" that they know what they're doing.

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