How Pinterest Exposed The Problem With Internet Marketing Training

The online marketing space is a funny place. And the story of the rise of Pinterest marketing courses lay it bare for all to see.

It is the ultimate demonstration of the shiny object syndrome which this market creates for people.

And it leads a lot of people – many whom are probably still trying to make their first buck online – to flock to Pinterest thinking that it is the next big thing, the meal ticket, the next trend, the latest tactic.

pinterestThe online marketing space is a funny place. And the story of the rise of Pinterest marketing courses lay it bare for all to see.

It is the ultimate demonstration of the shiny object syndrome which this market creates for people, and why I think the approach of the niche as a whole is flawed.

And it leads a lot of people – many whom are probably still trying to make their first buck online – to flock to Pinterest thinking that it is the next big thing, the meal ticket, the next trend, the latest tactic.

All the while, almost everybody who is doing this still hasn’t even mastered the basics of business, yet they’re sitting there worrying about their re-pins and Pinterest followers… and enrolling in webinars about Pinterest which are no doubt designed to sell courses about Pinterest.

It goes like this:

  1. Pinterest was there. It was popular in some circles, but not to marketers.
  2. Ecommerce people took notice, seeing that the average customer value of a referral from Pinterest was higher than something like Facebook.
  3. Quickly, the internet marketing and blogging folks started jumping on a bandwagon. Very quickly, a ton of people who had never heard of Pinterest were hearing about it for the first time.
  4. The “Pinterest guru” arises, with some internet marketers delivering Pinterest training webinars and pimping courses about it. All this for no other reason than…. there was a demand. Nevermind that, like Twitter, there just isn’t that much to know about Pinterest.

Am I saying that Pinterest is useless? Of course not. It has its uses. But, it is just another social media site. Another place to throw out a shingle and try to get followers. Another place to share. Use it correctly and you can get some nice results with Pinterest. The site is very visual so there’s some nice marketing opportunities with that. But, I think some people are really overblowing it.

In my view, what Pinterest has done is made it extremely obvious what the nature of the internet marketing world often looks like.

  • It is demand driven, not so much based on what is actually needed to build a business.
  • It can lead people astray and put priorities all out of whack, with single-focused marketing designed to make a single thing THE most important thing. People who didn’t even have email lists yet are left sitting on these webinars talking about Pinterest….. and it is a total waste of time.
  • By the very nature of the marketing and the desire to meet a demand, the IM world leads the customer astray. People are left with this idea that all tactics are important, and people are left cross-eyed with this defeated attitude that they don’t have enough time to do everything that is needed to build a real business. And hence…
  • It manufactures overwhelm.

Is anybody to blame for this?

No. This is the way business works. One sees a demand and he/she fills it. Marketers saw an opportunity with all the buzz surrounding Pinterest, and they jumped on it. And I’m sure they got some nice conversion rates out of it.

Any business would do the same, really. See a demand, see a trend… and jump on it.

But, you, as the consumer, need to stay smart.

The world of internet marketing training CREATES the shiny object syndrome. They make everything seem important, and they pile on proof of it because that’s what they do. They’re marketers and they know how to make things convincing.

But, you have to be your own compass.

Pinterest is a shiny object. To almost everybody reading this post, I can almost guarantee you that spending much time on Pinterest is a waste of your time. It is something which you might want to build into your routine and systematize. Don’t ignore it, but put it in perspective and don’t sit there and focus on it as if it is going to be your meal ticket. Like Twitter or Facebook or any other social network that rolls along, Pinterest is A tool in your marketing, not THE tool.

So, don’t buy any courses on Pinterest. It is a waste of money.

Focus on business building and your foundations. Worrying about building your Pinterest following isn’t even relevant if you have no email list and nothing to offer people. Otherwise, its just vanity. The only exception I think would be if you’re in the ecommerce business selling physical product. In that case, Pinterest is more relevant to you.

OK, end of rant. 🙂

Oh, and BTW, if you want to get the true scoop on what makes this business work, and avoid all the shiny objects, consider joining us inside the Academy. You won’t see me sitting there teaching Pinterest in there. I’m not going to waste our time like that.



  1. Wow! And the next thing you’re gonna tell me is that Santa Claus isn’t real! : )
    No really, this is a great article! Although I’ve had unimpressive results w/IM so far, recently the light bulb came on. Despite having been burned, like millions of others, looking for the next big thing, I find the siren song of the “next big thing”, the “secret method”, the “magic software” extremely seductive. And then I realized, ‘whoa, I’m not alone”. As a result of all the flim flam, the fact is that never before have so many people, like me, looking for an honest way to build a biz online. I’m not a guru, but I am constitutionally incapable of selling easy, overnight success , so I’ve determined to help others wade into the swamp with me. I will work with other beginners or unsuccessful newbies to patiently follow a well defined plan, based on sound business principles, and not overnight, but in time, ultimately build a real IM biz. Thanks for the reminder of the basics!

  2. I totally agree. pinterest, twitter, facebook, youtube, google plus, etc – they are all just different channels just like sms and email and radio and tv, etc, they don’t make what you have to offer more valuable, they just give you a new avenue to reach people through – if you remember that you are dealing with real people not numbers and give valuable content you will get real people to respond and come seek you out in return, if you post crap then you get little response.

  3. Hey David – Darren’s comment points out one big problem with these “next big thing” products.

    As he says, we shouldn’t write Pinterest off: “careful consideration and experimentation is well worth the time”.

    But are these products being sold based on careful consideration and experimentation? Almost always no. The really bad ones aren’t based on any real experience at all.

    But even the better ones are incredibly flawed. They’re based on early adopter experience which is rarely replicated by later adopters.

    And they’re often based on usage in one specific area where the shiny thing happened to work well. Pinterest seems to work well for visual type products for example – but how would a law blogger use Pinterest to sell their services I wonder?

    Do the people selling the shiny new courses put the time in to figure out which types of niche or circumstances it will work best in? Of course not. They make more money if they sell it as working for everyone.

    In the case of Pinterest specifically, Zappos have invested a fortune in it. They were the poster child of effective Pinterest usage. yet they’ve recently revealed that while someone is 13 times more likely to share a purchase on Pinterest than on Twitter – each tweet generates 45 times the revenue of a pin.

    Do the shiny courses talk about that? Nah?

    You’re right – buyer beware. But I also don’t think it’s good enough for course producers to “spot a demand and fill it” as you say. There’s a demand for drugs. There’s a demand for info on how to rob a bank or make a bomb. Does that mean people should feel proud about filling that demand – nope. There are moral issues too.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. 🙂 Which is one reason I don’t create products based on hypey tactics of the day, because I feel it’d mislead people. I’d focus people on foundations and things which are solid. It might not be sexy, but at least I can sleep at night. 🙂

  4. I agree – to a point. I think there’s definitely a lot of spin and hype going on around it as happens every time a new social media tool hits the big time.

    This morning I saw a course on it being sold as the answer to all bloggers problems – an irresponsible promotion that was designed more to solve the course owners problems than anyone else.

    Having said that – I think to write it off and ignore it would be irresponsible too (as I see some doing). I think a careful consideration and experimentation is well worth the time. While Pinterest been around for a while it’s still the early days and learning how to use it now while it’s still growing could position you well down the track if/when it becomes the next Facebook.

    I certainly wouldn’t put all my eggs in the one basket but my own experimentation with it in the last few weeks has seen some real potential in the results with traffic in the last week up 300% from it than it was this time last month.

    I’ve also spoken to a number of people lately who not only drive traffic but sales from it in their niches. One blogger I know has several hundred thousand followers (all grown through genuine engagement and sharing of quality content) told me this week that she now generates over 10k a month in sales of her products where previously she was lucky to be generating that in a year.

    She’s not alone – because the site is new and relatively open people are growing from nothing to big fish in their niches on the back of Pinterest (similarly to what some did with Twitter a number of years ago and to what I’ve seen others do by adopting G+ early too).

    So yeah – I think it’s something to approach with a measured level of enthusiasm – but sometimes shiny objects are not just shiny… they can be gold. Yes it all should be considered as part of the mix but for some it’ll be a bigger part than others.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Darren.

      Yes, there is certainly potential for Pinterest and I’m not saying to write it off. But, here’s the thing…. it *IS* a shiny object to folks if they don’t yet have their fundamentals in place. You have your fundamentals in place, so it makes sense to spend some time with Pinterest. The other blogger you mentioned who is making sales obviously has her fundamentals in place, otherwise she’d have nothing to sell in the first place. So, in these cases, sure, spending time testing Pinterest makes sense as an extension of an ongoing marketing effort.

      Where I believe Pinterest becomes a distraction – and a shiny object – is when people who are still struggling to implement the fundamentals (or don’t even know what they are yet) are pulled over to Pinterest. They’re pulled in all these different directions, following the latest fad. And, its just a lot of wheel spinning. Its going off and starting a new thing when the other 10 things you started haven’t even gone anywhere yet.

      So, its all comes down, as I said, to the person having their own compass about it and not taking the word of some “guru” just because he/she is saying how awesome Pinterest (or any other social site) is. If one doesn’t have a good niche nailed down, an email list growing, an offer – and, essentially, a business model – then one is wasting their time chasing pins on Pinterest.

      That was kind of my point. 🙂

      Hope all is well with you and your family, Darren.

  5. Hi David,

    Pinterest is interesting but I tend to agree with your assessment that it suddenly seems to be talked of as the next big thing everybody must learn to use or miss out big time. Shiny objects are hard to resist when so many so called experts immerge with enticing promisses the objects are supposed to deliver. Focusing on the important things won’t leave much time for shiny objects. Thanks for telling it like it is.


  6. Hi David,

    thanks again for speaking the truth. I can’t get my head wrapped around Pinterest and I know some people who deleted their profiles. It’s nothing short of hype. As a matter of fact, there are no social media experts out there because no one knows truly how to use social media. And this includes Pinterest.

    I love the way you put: We as customers and potential customers need to be smart !

    Take care


    1. Well, I wouldn’t say Pinterest is hype. I think there’s a lot of hype surrounding it, but its a useful tool for the right folks and when used right.

  7. Right on, David!

    And yes, it’s the nature of business and the free market. The “invention” of Pinterest isn’t at fault. Those who want to teach its best use and value aren’t at fault. In fact, we applaud those adventurous souls.

    Like you say, we need our own compass. I like to say that we need to lose our Guru Addiction – our Expert Dependency. Can we do a U turn every week that someone comes out with another strategy or tactic or motivating idea? I’ve found that those shiny objects lose their luster when I’m totally focused on what *I* want to do. They become only mild curiosities and the peddling gurus aren’t much more than curiosities either.

    Thanks for the clear thinking, David.

    1. Right. When one acts as their own compass, then they can buy only those courses which will further them along that path. And, that’s a lot different than going to some marketer and asking what’s important. Then, everything seems important. 🙂

  8. Great post. Pinterest is the latest big, shiny low-hanging fruit. I use Pinterest but would definitely not buy any course in it. Pinterest is easy. There’s just a couple of things you need to know to adapt it for what you want it to do and then you’re done. Because it’s so visual and pretty viral, I just set up a board for the Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue group I work with and pinned all the dog’s that are currently up for adoption. Used keywords, used the cute photo, couple of sentences and we’re done. I use it for my blog posts, even an ebay video listing. But spending money, it doesn’t seem like it’s that complicated of a tool. It’s just one more click I make when I publish a post.

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