Sometimes people construct a series of fictions that are so powerful and so convincing that they believe it themselves. They end up fooling themselves into believing what they are saying is so valuable that the idea that anyone would doubt their brilliance even for a second is unthinkable.
In effect, they end up believing their own BS.
My father used to tell me all the time that the easiest person in the world to sell to was a salesman because they want to believe the story. They subconsciously see the line you’re feeding them and when it’s good, they desperately want to see the close, so they go along with it. Then at the end, they convince themselves that it’s all true so they can buy into whatever you’re selling.
You see this in the online world all the time, just watch two marketers sit down and talk about a “funnel”. The wind each other up adding in upsells and downsells, convincing one another that their copy is going to be so outrageously good that the customers will be tripping over themselves to give them their money. By the end, they’re ordering their next Ferrari and planning their joint mastermind program.
By default, I’m a sceptic. I know, I know… Hard to believe, right? I’m always so willing to believe the pitch that it’s hard to imagine me being at all cynical.
The latest one that prompted me to write this came from Facebook. I’ve been watching people bang on and on about how their Facebook Group is all about the members, how much value they are giving to people for “free” and that they are amazed that there are some people who would just lurk and not contribute back.
It’s almost like the people in the group actually owe them their attention like some sort of indentured servitude.
This is a classic case of people believing their own BS.
“If you don’t participate, I’m going to delete you from my group because I only want people in here who are giving back.”
Which prompted me to ask in one last week, “So this group isn’t actually free?”
That started a long-running debate with the group owner who was outraged that I would dare call into question the value that this individual brings.
The problem was, I did no such thing – I merely questioned whether it was free. Were people expected to contribute something back as some sort of payment or was the group actually free? Was the “value” that the person running group kept telling us they were giving the group delivered “no strings attached” as advertised or was there actually some sort of requirement to participate.
The group owner ended the discussion with, “If you don’t see the value, then you should maybe leave.” That’s just a poorly constructed argument and unworthy of a response.
I saw three different groups pull that stunt last week – threatening people with being removed if they didn’t participate and complaining about the value of the group being underappreciated.
I know that the reason for this is twofold: on the one hand, it’s purely a factor of people’s monster egos needing to be stroked. This kind of “post or purge” thing happens all the time and what you end up with is a plethora of lurkers kneeling down and sucking the hem of the garment of the person that runs the group.
On the other hand, it’s a cynical engagement ploy. If you don’t post or read what’s going on in groups, Facebook shows them to you less and less. The people who run these groups fear losing their soapbox, so they try and cajole you into posting something so that Facebook sees you engaged and surfaces their content more.
I run an FB Group with Scott Duffy that we started as a place to be able to communicate and share ideas with a certain group of people. That group is entirely non-commercial, nobody promotes anything in there, not even us. The point of that group is simply to facilitate conversation and idea flow.
I know a few other groups like that and they are almost without question valuable.
That being said, I recently set up my Casual Marketer Academy FB Group which I’ve invited you to join at no cost, but in the name of transparency, that group is largely selfish. I’m hoping you’ll join the group, engage in conversation and help me build my authority and position as a thought leader and a community builder. I am hopeful that this group will be valuable to you, but my motives were predominantly selfish.
In fact, it goes even deeper. I want to promote that group to my thousands of Udemy students in the hope that they will go into that group and gain a stronger affinity for me to the point where they’ll join my email list and eventually, become Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter members.
I don’t do BS, I’m more of a “cards on the table” sort of person. I want you to see the value exchange for what it is. I know stuff and I want to share that with you. My hope is that this stuff will be of value to you and you’ll decide to become a customer.
The next time someone who has something to sell you tries to convince you that they are giving you stuff out of a place or pure selflessness, challenge it. There are two reactions: one, they’ll get angry for you calling them out on the lie; or two, they’ll appear to have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about and these will be the ones who’ve bought their own BS story.