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Business models in self-development: aggregators VS trailblazers

Talking to Ali about different types of courses made me think.

And, subject to further fleshing out and reflection, I think there are two types of courses / products / content:

  1. Aggregators / systematizers
  2. Trailblazers

We might then add:

  • Simplificators (any product that is about "introductory course to.... ", "xyz 101", "xyz for dummies" is a simplificator)

Of course, the same product might be all three of those depending on the section, but we can probably still differentiate by looking at the overall curriculum.

  • Any product that puts together knowledge from different sources is an aggregator and, if well done, an effective
    • systematizer, such as, it presents that information in a structured way that helps people understand a complex subject and go from low levels of knowledge, to 80%
  • Trailblazer products, a rarity, research and comes up with a new discipline, system, approach, strategy, or novel way of doing things. Of course, not all trailblazers are useful, and let alone life-changing. You can have a trailblazer course on ant farming and it's probably not going to change your life unless you're an avid ant-farmer :). But all life-changing content had to be first thought and put together by a trailblazer


In many cases, there is less money to be made from trailblazing, but it's "safer" money.


Because trailblazing naturally attracts a certain type of people.
It's driven people that want the best, the most cutting-edge, and who are smart, knowledgeable, or skilled enough to recognize what's most advanced and/or truly innovative (very important).

So the trailblazing product "sells itself" on the trailblazing crowds because you don't need to sell at all. They see the value and have little doubts that it's good for them.
Not much marketing is needed.
As a matter of fact, you might have a terrible sales page, but these people recognize the trailblazing value, and are even willing to look past mediocre marketing.

On the other hand, trailblazers are intrinsically a minority, hence the success of trailblazers is often capped (exceptions always apply, of course).


This website with power dynamics / social skills, Carol Dweck with "growth mindset", Machiavelli with Machiavellianism, Tom Bilyeu straddling between a trailblazer and an aggregator


Aggregators move in a more challenging market.

Yet, they also move in a bigger market, with more prospects who are more familiar with their content.

For that reason, aggregators tend to be more binary.
It's either "go big", or "be the 100th also ran and sell nothing".

Aggregators present nothing really new, so what makes the difference is the marketing, the money spent on advertisement, the "brand", how many mass media mentions the author can get and, sometimes, the manipulation.

Without a big and well-oiled marketing machine, aggregators struggle to differentiate themselves because... They are not much different from each other. There is little added value, so they fall flat.

But with great marketing, aggregators can build multi-million dollar businesses simply by repackaging freely available information.


Examples of aggregators are Brandon Burchard (solid advice, but same as most other general self-help gurus), Ramit Sethi (maybe good entrepreneurial advice, but same as most other products on entrepreneurship), Tai Lopez, Dave Ramsey (an aggregator of basic personal finance advice and a "simplificator"), Sam Ovens, etc.

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Matthew Whitewood
Community, new content and Charisma University moved here.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 5, 2021, 5:34 am

But with great marketing, aggregators can build multi-million dollar businesses simply by repackaging freely available information.

I was reading an article on aggregators.
Google is the ultimate aggregator of information.
All the websites chase to be ranked higher on Google.
People even pay consultants on search engine optimisation.

Google even frames itself as a small company with lots of competitors in the advertising industry.
This prevents anti-competition regulators from targeting Google.

Not complaining because I found this trailblazing website on Google :).
Probably searching about power dynamics.
But now I depend much less on Google to learn more about power dynamics.
I still do in the sense to search books, reviews and related concepts.
ThePowerMoves has already aggregated all the awesome books on social skills, power dynamics, etc.

Like what you said, Google may not be the easiest way to find cutting edge information.
Especially on niche topics.

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Lucio Buffalmano

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