1. Get a goofy hairstyle
When it comes to style, gurus are basically soccer stars.
(Side note: Thank you William Kulp for inspiring this idea. Your comment is the only good thing I’ve ever read on LinkedIn.)
Just like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi need unique hairstyles to stick out among hundreds of competing footballers, gurus need something to make themselves pop among the blur of wannabes at Domopalooza or Dreamforce or some other marketing conference that sounds like a meet-up for LSD enthusiasts.
Note that it doesn’t have to be a particularly complex hairstyle. The guru of gurus, Seth Godin, is simply bald. But holy hell does it work.
I could follow this man into battle. Well maybe not battle, but at least into a high stakes meeting with Facebook. I’m not sure where I’d follow AOL guru Shingy, but I’m sure things would get pretty weird.
Some other idiosyncratic accessory—might I suggest a pair of cufflinks with “CUSTOMER” on the left wrist, and “ROI” on the right—will also suffice in lieu of a wild hairstyle.
2. Make your Twitter profile picture a grainy image of you speaking in front of a crowd with one of those thin headset mics that people at TED Talks wear
The same truism that applied to Algebra 1 also applies to being a guru: You have to show your work. Make sure everyone knows that you were once invited to speak on a stage and point at the audience.
It doesn’t matter if that crowd actually is just an Algebra 1 class at your high school and the teacher kicked you out seconds later. As long as you’re gesticulating like Steve Jobs and whipping your guru hair back and forth, you’ve made it. People will pay you to speak to anyone about pretty much any topic.
(Please note that it must be grainy. You’re a marketer, not a designer, for god’s sake.)
3. Create a blog with a gimmick
Perhaps you post every day. Perhaps you only post listicles. Perhaps you swear like a sailor, you naughty guru you. Your blog needs a hook that gives the average marketer a reason to mention it to her co-worker. (“Have you seen Dillon’s blog? He gives killer martech advice, and it’s all in tweetable haikus!”)
Break with this occasionally when you want to make a post seem important (or need the clicks). Then repost it to Medium and tweet about it every 37 minutes.
4. Attach yourself to one part of marketing and don’t let go
Storytelling. SEO. Sales enablement. Whatever it is, make it your baby. Nurse it, help it grow, and watch it roam in the marketing world. Like any good child, it will take care of you one day when you’re old and can’t pull off a faux hawk anymore.
Bonus points if you can create and nurture a buzzword from genesis to an Adweek cover with the headline: “Is Account-Based-Storification (ABS) the Next Evolution of Marketing?”
5. Charge exorbitant prices for “consulting” and “speaking fees”
Remember: The more you charge, the bigger the guru you are.
6. Keep it simple on social media
Please don’t talk about the actual day-to-day drudgery of marketing. That stuff’s boring. Instead, focus on vague things like “inspiration” and “creativity.” Retweet news and add one-liners like “wow” or “this is huge.” Thank people unnecessarily just for the retweet. Everyone on social media wants to seem smart. Your job is to make it easy for them.
7. Refine that origin story until it reaches Batman levels
Every hero needs a good origin story, and gurus are no different. Maybe your parents were once let down by subpar customer service and you’ve made it your life’s mission to disrupt customer service and make it customer success. Maybe you meditated for a year in the temples of Kathmandu and realized the future of humanity is vertically integrated CRM automation.
Whatever it is, make sure everyone knows you’re doing this because you’re authentically passionate about your topic of choice.
Then, once you’re ready…
8. Hit the speaking circuit like you’re the Rolling Stones
Be everywhere. Make people ask questions like “Wait, is this Dillon’s whole job? Jumping on planes and giving this forty-five-minute speech?”
Yes, yes it is. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll never think about stacks the same way again.