'Industry Experts' = Marketing Scam

By John Honovich, Published on Mar 13, 2014

Industry experts? It's a marketing scam.

Trade mags, SIA and manufacturers all love to tout their 'industry experts'. That and their equally demented twin, 'thought leaders'.

Unfortunately, there is almost no expertise nor thought involved. When you hear 'industry expert', think 'sales pitch by the technology naive.'

Two fundamental problems with them:

  •  90%+ of 'industry experts' are senior sales and marketing people who rarely, if ever, use or deploy modern technologies, including their own. They generally have no idea how things really work or fail to work. Their 'experience' is largely limited to setting up rigged demos.
  • Nearly 100% of 'industry experts' tout their company's marketing position verbatim as their form of 'expertise.' In other words, it's a sales pitch. A real expert would be forthright with issues, problems, limitations, etc.

There is certainly expertise in the industry, but it is far more likely to be found in techs who are hidden from public view (both on the manufacturing and integration side) than the sorry sales and marketing saps sent out for PR purposes.

Just keep in mind - 'Industry experts' are a marketing scam.

Comments (15)

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Now let the examples roll in!

Glad you made it a Public article.

John, I won't disagree that most of these guys have agendas or lack original development of ideas and positions...BUT I would like to know what you saw that triggered your comments. Either you are fishing for controversy or reacting to something.....inquiring minds want to know :)

What got me thinking about this today was that I ran across something from SIA that said '75% of industry experts' support one of their initiatives. SIA does this stuff all the time.

SIA has also taking to describe themselves as "representing more than 300,000 security leaders and experts."

The more common place one sees this is trade magazine industry 'roundtables' where they get a bunch of sales and marketing people to opine on the top trends which turn out to be whatever their company is currently pushing, like this and this, and this.

My reason for doing this is not controversy but 'thought leadership' (ha ha ha). In all seriousness, I know if I put this out there, many people will think more about it or at least have that in the back of their mind the next time an 'industry expert' speaks to them.

And now we know the rest of the story......Thanks John...I understand your frustration. Give us poor slobs a little credit for our sense of smell too!

Brian, spend a few bucks; buy the stuff; put it in his car. He will stop annoying you and still be a good neighbor - unless it wrecks his car. ;)

My neighbor next door sells a multi-level marketing automobile engine additive. Every time I see him, he tries to get me to buy a bottle, or sign up to become a distributor 'under him'.

He's a nice guy and a good neighbor, so I just smile and say 'no thanks', but I think he sees me as some kind of 'big fish' he must convert into a sell, because always is trying different angles to get me to buy.

Last weekend, he pitched me again on becoming a dealer and tried to give me a new t-shirt emblazoned with his product's logos and the words "AUTOMOTIVE'S MOST ELITE THOUGHT LEADERS" printed on the front.

He kept going: "We are setting the new standard for business success here, Brian. What's stopping you?"

His smile quickly turned to urgent concern for the time, as he sensed my boiling disgust, and he quickly left.

That phrase irritates me so bad...

Take the free shirt, obscure the "e" in elite, he might catch on then.

In Canada, Usually a Court of Law will Qualify you as an Expert Winess as being an expert in a very specific field for the specific trial. If you are Qualified as an Expert Witness which only allows you to Render an Opinion on the Subject you are Qualified, nothing more. You can be recognized as an expert in one Court case, and sometimes Not in an other or higher court. That and a dollar will get you a bag of chips if your lucky. Your only an Expert until they find someone who knows a little more than you. Court have a Standard that Judges must follow, Civilian Companies don't and a lot of time their Marketing personel creates these so called "Expert" truly is a "Buyers Beware"

Friends generally consider me a "expert" in a wide range of subjects (thus I was years ago handed the descriptor "Omnigeek")... I've always said that being an "expert" in anything just means you know who to call when you don't have the answer.

Matt, according to the trade magazines, you are not an expert. But a marketing guy with less than a year's industry experience is....

Trade magazines are valuable resources! They make great liners for my cat's sandbox...

Here's a classic example of bullshit 'though leadership' :

What is this 'interview series'? It's an advertorial.

Bottom line: 'thought leadership' and 'industry experts' are utterly worthless.

The punditsphere is apparently mortified at your comments. Which is to say, you must have a point since the are talking about you.

All the more reason to work with the Brains that do the grunt work for the face and body boys;

e.g. Technical Sales Specialists, Pre-Sales Engineers, Field Applications Engineers, Systems Engineers....

John . . . great article. At Commend I have taken a completely different approach to being and "expert" or "thought leader." I hired a great trainer to teach my managers about the industry from a whole different perspective. My team are experts on our solutions but were not necessarily knowledgeable about things that are truly important to the clients we serve with communication solutions. We have quickly separated ourselves from the industry pack based upon the conversation and talking points we have with customers. Today our team talks about things like OSHA 3148, General Duty Clause, Reasonable Man Test (foreseeability), Negligence vs. Gross Negligence, IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert Warning System), EOP (Emergency Operation Plans), IAP (Incident Action Plan), EASI (Estimation of Adversary Sequence Interruption), these along with ICS-100, ICS-200, FEMA IS-907, ALICE, Cleary Act, and much more. We understand that it is no longer a bells and whistle world anymore but one where we talk about Active Killer (not active shooter) and increasing survivability in a work place violence or terror event. None of these points are about Commend but rather the customer.

Had I not been mentored by Jerry Wilkins from WIG, Inc., I would not have known these things or had rapport with customers today. He came to our office and transformed the team with knowledge. We now challenge the customer with things like "Resource typing electronic counter measures to increase or improve situational awareness during an all hazards event." Interestingly enough you will find very few in the security industry that even knows the definition of an "All hazards event." With the right training John the industry the saps can be reduced and a marketing or sales person can actually bring value.

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