Boot Camp Mania

April 17th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Is it just me, or does it seem to you that yet another of the new crop of self-styled marketing gurus is announcing yet another “Marketing Boot Camp” just about every other week?

How many of these do you attend per year? Do you think there are too many?

And of the ones you attend, how many are worth the $2,000 to $5,000 tuition fee? Or could you have basically gotten the same info for free reading the promoter’s e-zine or blog?

Also, does it bother you when every speaker ends his talk by handing out an order sheet offering you an expensive bundle of his videos, DVDs, and coaching services — and spends the last 10 minutes of his one-hour talk hard-selling you on his offer? Or do you find that perfectly acceptable?

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26 responses about “Boot Camp Mania”

  1. Chris Williams said:

    Very rarely do I pay attention to those boot camp-style elongated sales pitches. I prefer reading ezines/blogs/forums for collected wisdom.

    I’m not opposed to people selling their information at all. I’ve bought several books from online marketers. The difference, to me, is that the ones I buy from aren’t in my face. They’re confident that they have value in their work, and they don’t NEED to hard-sell it.

    I try to echo this confidence in my copywriting. People don’t like to be sold, but they will buy if they are trusted with the decision.

  2. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    There are some genuinely good bootcamps that are worth every penny of the admission price.

    But there are many, many others that are nothing more than pitch-a-thons in disguise. First you buy the bootcamp. But to get the real good stuff you need to join the Silver Key Club. Then the Inner Circle. Then the Platinum Elite. It never ends. It’s all sell, sell, sell when what attendees really want (and thought they paid for) is substance, substance, substance.

    One bootcamp “guru” once gave me this advice: “Only give the audience the WHAT. Never give them the HOW. They’ll keeping paying you money in the elusive quest to get the HOW.” Now if that isn’t chicanery, I don’t know what is.

  3. Patrice Robertie said:

    QUOTE:
    “…does it bother you when every speaker ends his talk by handing out an order sheet offering you an expensive bundle of his videos, DVDs, and coaching services …”

    So many do now that I know I’m more intrigued when they don’t.

    (I’ve also stopped listening in on the “free” teleconferences of one otherwise-informative person who spends most of the hour with the visiting expert touting the “special package” the expert is offering for the next 48 hours only (!) to those on the free call. Do they think we can’t smell “commission.” Yawn!)

  4. Jim Logan said:

    It depends.

    If the person hosting the event is an information marketer – they make the majority of their money hosting such seminars, selling CDs, etc. – then odds are you will be disappointed. They make money up-selling and cross-selling. More often than not they will continue to hype and offer little substance, just a lot of answers like “We really can’t get into that here, but we’ll dive deep into it at our upcoming Suck More Money From You Workshop. Be sure to sign-up soon”

    If the host is a business consultant that sells such conferences and information as supplemental income, odds are better the event will be worth it.

    That’s been my experience working around and sampling products from marketing gurus.

    Most disturbing is too many of the gurus have mystery backgrounds, you have no idea what they’ve done in life, where they’ve worked, how they learned their skill, etc. In other words, you have no idea what their authority is to be the expert they claim to be. I stay away from people like this, same as late night real estate gurus selling $137 kits to make millions.

    Bob, your information products, books, and associated offerings have never disappointed me. You’re in a small group.

  5. Rich Westerfield said:

    I attend none.

    The ones that currently amuse me are the ones on blogging and Web 2.0. Seems to be all sorts of people crawling out of the woodwork to teach folks “how to”… yet none have made a dime off it themselves selling to anyone other than other marketers. Looks to be the same folks who were marketing themselves as email marketing experts five years ago.

    Even now you can count the number of people making money selling actual product and non-blog-consulting services on your fingers and toes.

    As one of those people, I can tell you everything I know about blogging in about 20 minutes – 45 minutes if I add slides and take Q&A. I’d probably do it over a beer or glass of good wine and save you a $995 registration fee down the road.

    And I’ll add that in far more than half the conversations I have with small business people, I’ll tell them that blogging ain’t for them. They’d just be wasting their time.

  6. Stephanie Diamond said:

    I don’t fault anyone for holding a boot camp event. The key is, does it have any real value and is it worth the price of admission? Sometimes the networking opportunities can be worthwhile. I agree though, that they do seem to be proliferating at a great rate.

  7. Janet Beatrice said:

    I can’t afford to go to any of these bootcamps, and I’m tired of receiving endless emails trying to convince me that I’ll never be a good enough copywriter if I don’t spend $5,000 on a bootcamp.

    As a copywriter, I’d like to see an approach that shows more respect for those of us receiving these offers. The two worst offenses are the hard sell approach and the number of emails sent by each person/company offering a bootcamp.

    Of course, not everyone offering a bootcamp takes such an approach, but many do.

    Janet Beatrice

  8. Jerry dyas said:

    I attended two different seminars in the past 6 weeks. (Bob, you were at one of them) I can always get good ideas from any seminar but they both turned into pitch fests. In fact one speaker selling his services said he would talk all day and tell people “what to do” but they would have to pay him to find out “how to do it”. I found it interesting that no one in the room seem to catch this.
    When someone pitches me at the end I figure they held back and did not tell me the real deal.In fact at one seminar I added up all the pitches made and it was over $25,000 worth of additional items if I bought all of them.

    In fact one speaker told me that the deal with the main guy was he had to pay 50% of anything he sold. So really, what’s the purpose of the seminar? Is it to give value or just a glorified infomercial?

    I like newsletters, books and itnerviews (though they are often pitch fests also).

  9. Mark Satterfield said:

    While there is no shortage how to be a copywriter bootcamps there don’t seem to be any good ones on the business side of copywriting and how to most effectively market the service.
    Mark Satterfield

  10. Stephen Davies said:

    I attended my first seminar in Orlando just a week ago.

    To be totally honest Bob, I expected a pitch-fest, which it was…

    but I’ll tell you I really did enjoy it!

    Did I buy anything? – No sir, I had already made up my mind that I was going to use the seminar as a meet and greet session, which it did indeed become for me…

    Great networking tool!

    Even though I didn’t make any purchases, I will say that I did learn a lot from the seminar – I learned the methodology behind the sales pitch…

    Quite interesting indeed!

  11. Tom "Bald Dog" Varjan said:

    I love very specific programmes. I wouldn’t go to a workshop on direct marketing, but would attend a weekend programme on headline writing or writing kick-butt PS statements. As an anal retentive engineer, I like specific things.

    In the military we learnt that mastering a skill means endless repetition of a seemingly minute task. That’s called a boot camp. A real boot camp. This is how I like learning and this is how I teach at my own workshops. It may look childish when 50 people are repeating a phrase over and over again, but it sticks and people remember. And since in the army there is no room for error, I quite like the approach. Error in the army can lead to death. Error in business can lead to bankruptcy. So, we’d better learn the right things.

    So, to me specificity rules, an try to stay away from “Grow your business” type general mish-mash.

  12. Janet Beatrice said:

    After writing the comment on not being able to afford a bootcamp, I just returned from a wonderful seminar. It was expensive, but I feel it was worth it. It was Tina Lorenz’s Authentic Copywriting Seminar.

    She is not into hype and there were only a dozen of us there. It made for a personal experience and I do expect to make back my investment based on what I learned.

    Meanwhile, I unsubscribed from Clayton Makepeace’s email list because of the constant hype. But I like Makepeace, so I did resubscribe.

    I can’t help but wonder why these “marketing experts” are turning me off! It’s not quite what a marketer is supposed to do.

  13. Randall said:

    Iam a big fan of marketing and spend a lot of money on it. Typically 20-30K per year.

    That said, I prefer to buy the GURU materials on ebay and then resell them if there is nothing worthwhile there.

    I do spend 1-2K monthly on marketing consulting with virtualmg who has helped me double and triple what business we were doing in real estate.

    Just a thought.

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