Selling success, a business model?

Photo by Marc Najera on Unsplash

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
— Herman Melville

These young successful gurus are doing something right and that’s producing content, albeit for the wrong reasons. They are very compelling, visually well executed and exactly addressing the thing you’re looking for. But if success was so easy everybody would know this, right? After some quick research my assumptions were confirmed, most of these videos are scams. Filmed at rental homes telling about some seeming success story they read about. They show you impossible results, but without showing the actual webshop. Here are some content marketing techniques they’re applying that makes it hard to recognize to separate the facts from the scams.

The ‘help content’ frame

The shortcut to success content pieces are usually packaged as content that wants to help you or answer your question. Funnily enough, it’s also exactly what we want to read and hear. Of course, we want our hobbies to become a success. And we all want to chill in our fancy apartments while orders keep coming in. But we also know this is not realistic.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
— Steve Jobs

Based on insights

These content creators are smart, they know something about you. They know what kind of problem you’re having, and they know what is needed to convince you. And that’s how the ads find you, as they’re using clever targeting based on your search behaviour.

Content craftsmanship

The video ads are very well-made, it comes off as legit advice. They always feature a real human talking to you, vlog style. Some sitting beside their fancy pool, as proof of concept. Others sitting in their living room, showcasing nice furniture or views. In the content pieces they present you with plenty of data, proof points and use a proper attention span to convince you of their success.

“Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.”
— Tony Hsieh

Social currency

And the final one, they’re using social currency to the fullest. You get information that feels exclusive and gives you the “why didn’t I know this before” feeling. You are now in the know and have everything you need to become an overnight success. Or at least that’s what they want you to think. This final ingredient is actually quite brilliant. You’re looking for something, trying to figure something out. And then it’s there, the perfect solution to all your problems.



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Frank van de Koppel

Frank van de Koppel


Strategy Director specialised in/write about social & content marketing, communications, productivity and digital developments.