posted 5 Jun 2008 in Volume 11 Issue 9
The Gurteen perspective: Cut the hype
By David Gurteen
A while back I received an e-mail from the secretary of a well-known
My first reaction was to say 'No'. People qualify for inclusion on my website for one or two reasons. They are famous historical individuals who have influenced me – for example, Socrates. Or, contemporary thinkers, such asTom Peters. Then, there are people with whom I have worked, who I know and respect – for example, Chris Collison.
I was about to send the reply when it occurred to me that maybe I was being a bit hasty – I did know of this man but had not visited his website or read any of his books – maybe he was good and I should check him out. So I did.
I went to his website but was hugely disappointed. It was what I call a ‘marketing hype’ website – well actually, I call such sites something far ruder. The website contained nothing of value. All it did was attempt to tell me how wonderful he was. I am sure you know what I'm talking about – accolades, lists of books and papers published, powerful, flowing marketing prose that says nothing. Not even the mention of his books was of value – no free chapters, just repeats of the marketing hype from the fly cover. And, of course, no blog!
And so I went back to my e-mail and replied to her – telling her the type of people I profiled as I described above and that I had visited his website but it told me absolutely nothing about him. She replied to say that he had a newsletter that I could sign up to on his website and that I should go take a look at that to learn more about him.
Thinking I had missed it – I returned – only to find a sign-up box in a page column that asked for my e-mail address if I wished to receive a newsletter. There was nothing about the newsletter – no description of content, frequency of publication or back copies. To me it seemed just a way to harvest e-mail addresses. I was not impressed.
So I replied to his secretary again asking her where I might find the back copies so I could see the content and quality of his work before subscribing and also that I would rather receive the newsletter as an RSS feed and could she give me the URL. I knew exactly what I was asking. I was asking the impossible. The newsletters were not online and there was no RSS feed. I doubt if she even knew what an RSS feed was and of course I received the reply I expected – that is, no reply at all.
Why people create such websites, I do not know. My advice to two consultants running similar, marketing-hype websites was to start a blog instead but I know they won’t. They just don’t get it: today to demonstrate your ability, you have to give people something of value – not hot air!
David Gurteen can be contacted at email@example.com or www.gurteen.com