Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)

I understand your frustration.expert-marketing-tips

Over time, you’ve followed a number of successful people who have risen to the level of fame and fortune you’d like to achieve.

Out of a burning desire to succeed, you study every word they write, and you consume every detail of their rags to riches stories.

You’ve worked hard.

You’ve done the reading, you’ve taken volumes of notes, and you may have even forked over a hand full of your hard earned cash to those authorities in exchange for what was billed as expert advice.

That sound right so far?

But here’s the knot-in-your-stomach, frustrating part.

It hasn’t gotten you very far, has it?

What Are All These Experts Up To?

Just think of all those slick sales pages, all the promises of “5 easy ways to…”, all the “simple formulas” and revolutionary new ways to make it big.. .

None of them worked out like all those “How I got there, and so can you” stories you’ve eagerly read, did they?

No matter how hard you work or how intently you follow all the expert advice, those amazing results the expert got never seem to manifest for you. At least not in the way they advertised.

So you wonder: Why don’t all those tips and tricks work for me? Why am I not realizing the success I’ve worked so hard to achieve?

It’s so discouraging that at times you may have even considered calling it quits.

But getting frustrated and quitting isn’t the answer.

Why the Blame Game Leads Nowhere

One of the things the human mind does in times like these is assign blame. If you’re able to pin blame on someone or something, it reduces the tension a bit. It feels better. The first few steps on the blame trail usually look like this…

1: The experts are liars!
Maybe those experts are just a bunch of smarmy snake oil salesmen. There’s no way any of those tactics they teach could be true. Otherwise they’d be working for you, too, right? They have to be a bunch of dishonest crooks.

2: There’s something wrong with you.
You start to believe you’re not good enough, talented enough, or smart enough. After all, you’ve been studying successful people, but you can’t seem to make their obviously golden advice work. It has to be you.

3: The experts are liars AND you’re not good enough!
Oh no! Both things? I’m being lied to – AND I’m not smart enough to know it? That’s the worst one yet! Well, it’s all over now. Might as well quit, right?

Those are all easy places to go mentally, but they’re usually not true at all. Those are just emotional rationalizations we all make out of our frustrations.

The truth is, most of the experts who teach those tactics are pretty sincere, and I’m sure you’re more than smart enough to be successful.

So if your intelligence or the integrity of the expert isn’t to blame, what’s the problem? Why aren’t you living the high life?

The Abraham Lincoln School of Success

The real reason all that expert advice isn’t panning out for you is simple. And it’s hiding right in front of your nose.

When I get confused about things like this, I like to turn to wisdom from deceased people named Ralph.

Not really – but in this case it worked out.

Here’s the root of all your trouble…

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In layman’s terms: What got me there may not get you there.

For instance, if you could go back in time and ask Abraham Lincoln how to become President of the United States, he might tell you…


  1. Be an awkward, lanky young man.
  2. Fail at business.
  3. Get elected to the state legislature.
  4. Have a nervous breakdown.
  5. Run for speaker in the Illinois House. Lose.
  6. Enjoy a short, mediocre career as a lawyer.
  7. Run for Congress. Lose.
  8. Apply to be a land officer. Be told no.
  9. Lose a bid for the U.S. Senate.
  10. Lose a Vice Presidential nomination.
  11. Try to get elected to the U.S. Senate again. Fail again.
  12. Get elected President of the United States.

Now, if you just follow those steps, you’re in, right? I mean, it worked for Abe, didn’t it?

Imagine President Lincoln sitting in the presidential library with a young, enthusiastic presidential wanna-be giving advice to the eager up-and-comer.

He’d say, “Ok now son, you’re awkward enough alright, but have you failed at business yet? Or had a nervous breakdown? No? Have you at least lost a run for Congress? No? Well, then, you can’t reasonably expect to ever be President can you?”

Because, after all, that’s exactly how he got the job.

Of course, that’s a ridiculous train of thought.

Ridiculous might even be too tame of a word. It’s more idiotic than ridiculous, really.

Why the Teacher and the Student Are to Blame

Those 12 things Lincoln did on his road to the White House were just actions and tactics.

Actions and tactics are as unique to an individual as their fingerprints.

You might as well say, “How do you get to where I am today? Be me in the past.”

And, of course, that’s impossible.

A teacher can’t teach that way – and a student sure as hell can’t learn that way. They should both be smart enough to recognize that you can’t help someone learn to be successful with that game plan.

And that’s why all those snazzy expert tactics aren’t working for you the same way they worked for the expert who’s sharing the information. Because in many cases they’re only teaching their tactics – or sharing the story of the actions they took in the past.

Does that mean you can’t learn from the experiences of others? Of course not! The stories and experiences of successful people are a gold mine of valuable information.

But the teacher and the student have to take a very different approach to the learning process.

The Real Value of Expertise

The problem is that both teachers and students tend to zoom in on the situation too far. They go micro. And when you go micro, you’re way down in the weeds where all you can see is fine detail – like each individual step of Lincoln’s Journey to the White House. The tactics and the actions.

The real value lies in a more zoomed-out (or macro) view of what worked for a particular expert. You need to look at fundamental principles and laws.

Gravity, for instance, is undefeated. It wins every time. Drop a coin seventy-bajillion times and it will fall seventy-bajillion times. At least on earth. That’s a law.

If you work hard, never quit, and remain positive in pursuit of your goals – you have an exponential advantage over someone who doesn’t do those things. That’s perseverance… and that’s a principle we can learn from Abraham Lincoln.

The (not so) secret then, is to pay attention to laws and principles instead of actions and tactics.

Why There’s Room For Both Principles and Tactics

The fact that your competitor built their business from relationships they made on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook is the only way to succeed. That’s a tactic. A viable one, but a tactic nonetheless.

But maybe that tactic isn’t for you. Maybe it doesn’t fit your brand or your market for one reason or another.

If you zoom out, though, you’d probably learn that your competitor made relationships on Facebook and added those people to their email list – and the email list is what really helped them turn the corner.

That’s a principle: Forge strong relationships and convert them to opt-ins on your email list.

After you recognize which principles will bring you success, then which tactics and actions you should employ becomes clearer.

For young Abraham Lincoln:
“I will persevere no matter what” was the principle.

Then, when life happened, he knew which actions to take.

Lost a job? Get a new one.
Lost an election? Try again.
Nervous breakdown? Get well and persevere.

And the same goes for you.

The Value Is in the Perspective

So by all means, follow the experts. Emulate those who have succeeded before you. It’s an age-old and viable method of achieving excellence.

But do it the smart way.

When you learn from others, don’t merely mimic the steps of their rags to riches story. Instead, strive to go deeper and decipher which success principle those actions were carrying them toward.

The ball’s in your court.

You’re smart enough.

All the expert knowledge is there to be consumed, and the experts are more than happy to share the information.

The question is, will you get mired down in the drudgery of mimicking their tactics – or will you choose to apply their tried and true principles and blow the doors off your goals?

You don’t get off that easy! Time to share…

Have there been a times in your life when you’ve tried copying someone’s tactics and been disappointed with the results?

What do you think would happen differently if you zoomed out and looked at those tactics through the lens of proven principles instead?

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

23 Replies

  1. Gary, this is right on. One great example is the idea that we must blog every day. Seth Godin does it, so by God I need to do it too. When I tried I merely turned out a whole week of dreck rather than one good post that connected with my readers.

    Thanks for sharing this. Your writing is fantastic.

    Philip Stephen Allen recently posted…On FaithMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Philip! I appreciate the compliment.

      You also point out another valid question: “What is it that you’re measuring yourself against?”

      Just as you can’t measure your 7 year-old’s little league football performance against Tom Brady’s performance in the Super Bowl, you can’t measure your performance (at least accurately) against someone who’s much further down their path than you are. Or, for that matter, against someone who’s just starting out when you’re more experienced.

      They’re different paths and different timelines… but we can employ principles we learn from smart people like Seth, right?

      It’s very good to see you here!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  2. I entirely agree. Here’s the ‘but’ – you knew it was coming didn’t you.

    For those starting out they often don’t know which strategy is right for them/ their product/ their market.

    The expert finds it easy to know which principles and tactics to apply. But, unfortunately, don’t necessarily know how to explain how they know what they know.
    Evan recently posted…Feeling at HomeMy Profile

    1. Hi Evan.

      I get what you’re saying. That’s why I’m suggesting we focus on principles first – and let them dictate the tactics. And I agree that a lot of experts have a hard time explaining/teaching what they know.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

    1. Nice to see you Sophie. 🙂

      Glad you like… and thanks for sharing it despite your comment under this one!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  3. P.s. Dude, where are your sharing buttons? I’m on my phone and I can’t see any. Gonna have to go old skool and copy-paste the URL. 🙂
    Sophie Lizard recently posted…The Batman vs. Superman Guide to Freelance BloggingMy Profile

    1. So it’s misbehaving on mobiles, is it? I’ll have to check into that.

      I haven’t said anything publically before, but a significant re-tooling is underway currently and I may switch sharing. Anyone have any great social plugins to recommend?

      (Thanks for going to the trouble to share despite the glitch, Sophie)
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

      1. Re-tooling done, new sharing doohickies in place. Thanks for the push, Sophie 🙂
        Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  4. Oh my goodness, perspective, yes! In my newsletter last week I wrote about how writers sometimes measure their success against the successes of other writers (and why that’s a disservice to our businesses as fiction authors). Essentially, we can feel disheartened because another writer did something and it worked for them in spades, but we still struggle (AKA: I was nodding the entire time reading this article!). Not gonna lie, that one thing had me considering giving up a number of times over the years. But at a new writer meeting I started telling my story and someone said “wow, you’ve done a lot!” It finally hit me – I really have done quite a bit to further this thing even if I’m not where my writing heroes are in their careers. Yet. Once I shifted my perspective to look at the accomplishments I have made, it opened my eyes and then some! We’re all on our own path as business owners but it’s an article like this that reminds me how much of the journey we share even if the paths never seem to intersect. Thanks for this one!
    Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…Why Spellcheck SucksMy Profile

    1. Hi Jenn.

      Yep – perspective is important, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your example of why that’s true. Nice to see you!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  5. Hi Gary. I agree with what you are saying – look for the deeper pattern and find your own way. I enjoyed the humour with which you shared your ideas here. 🙂

    1. Right, Carina… The little steps and tactics usually paint a bigger picture when you zoom out. And I’m glad you found it entertaining as well. I like that 🙂
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  6. The “Abe Lincoln School of Success” made me laugh out loud!

    This excellent post encouraged me to reflect on the difference between principles and tactics. In the clear light of day, it’s easy to see the difference, but when people try to sell you a sure-fire system, the edges can get blurred.

    I’ve found it useful to write down the set of principles I live by. Then, when I see a new, shiny set of tactics that promises to deliver stratospheric success, I can look at it from a perspective of *my* principles and see if it fits or doesn’t.
    Mary Jaksch | WritetoDone recently posted…7 Tools for Creating Superb Bestselling Book TitlesMy Profile

    1. Hi Mary,

      Those sure-fire systems can be distracting, can’t they? We’re so busy trying to decipher what’s legitimate and what’s not that the lure of something that dissociates our judgement from it all is tempting.

      Writing principles down helps. It’s all part of being disciplined enough not to jump around and respect what you’re good at and who you are.
      Johnson Kee recently posted…The Nobody’s Guide To Writing A Killer “About” PageMy Profile

    2. Hey there, MJ.

      Yeah – Abe had quite an uphill battle, didn’t he? Interesting you should mention writing principles down. I’ve recently written and polished “The Reboot Authentic Values.”

      My intent was for it to be something I personally followed with my site, but I’m beginning to think I should maybe share them.

      Thanks for stopping in.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  7. Hi Gary,

    Great post. It’s refreshing to see the “tell it like it is” stuff that you write. I read a book recently that changed my perspective on content and how I learn. Essentially, it’s about looking deeper and going one level beyond what’s written at face value.

    To stay on theme, all these “nifty expert marketing tips” do act as great content, are digestible and actionable. However, if you dug deeper, what would someone truly wise glean from the content? It wouldn’t be any one particular piece of advice, but the “vehicle” and “delivery” of the content itself. In other words, marketers dedicated to honing their craft and improving would take note of the length of the content, why it touched a nerve and particularly how it was promoted to reach so many people.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people just won’t look beyond it. They’ll look for the “101 ways” to do something or the easily digestible tips when really, the thing that would grow their blog/business is just getting out there and forming relationships, guest posting, etc. Do you think a big part of it is that “list” content quantifies knowledge and therefore makes you feel like you’re achieving something when you read it?

    Thanks again for this post. Going to the old twitteroo to share it now.
    Johnson Kee recently posted…The Nobody’s Guide To Writing A Killer “About” PageMy Profile

  8. Hi Gary. Thank you for this post! Tactics vs principles – such an important distinction. It reminds me about the importance of staying true to who you are and using tactics that are congruent with this. Have a great day. Best, Fred
    Fred recently posted…When faced with the diagnosis of a terminal illness and breaking the news: Four points to considerMy Profile

    1. Glad you found it useful, Fred – and based on your comments, you totally get it 🙂
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

  9. Great post! So true that you need to find the principles behind what worked, rather than actually doing exactly what they did.
    Angela Alcorn recently posted…Local Beauty, Living The Life and Finding Online Role ModelsMy Profile

    1. Thank you Angela. Hope to see you here more often.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Why All Those Nifty Expert Marketing Tips Have Gotten You Nowhere (And How to Fix it)My Profile

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge