This article is about what was good about the System Seminar, what was bad about it, and what I’ve been quietly doing behind the scenes to make the core idea even better.
First some quick background: I’ve been teaching Internet marketing since 1994 and over the past 18 years the teaching has taken a lot of forms:
Private consulting, panels, teleseminars, books, articles, home study courses, topic-focused workshops, seminars, conferences with five sessions running at the same time, and probably a few formats I’ve forgotten.
I’ve never calculated how many people I’ve trained directly. It’s certainly more than 5,000, but probably no more than 10,000, but if you calculate the number who’ve learned indirectly (students of my students or students of my student’s students etc.), I’m sure the number would fit at least a few football stadiums – and maybe a whole lot more.
In all these years, I’ve learned a few things about the art and science of teaching Internet marketing, not because I’m terribly smart, but because I’ve had so much experience – and I actually care about the results.
How much do I care about results?
My legions of competitors and imitators gnash their collective teeth over this, but it’s a fact that if you take the product of ALL their Internet trainings over the years and compare them to the output of just one seminar, the System Seminar swamps them all put together.
What “product” am I talking about?
There’s only one product that matters in the education business: people walking in as “newbies” and walking out with the real-world foundation they need to become real experts.
For example, how many grads of other seminars have produced industry-leading books?
How about zero?
In contrast, while it’s not the only measure of success, the System counts at least four grads who’ve written industry-leading books: Perry Marshall (AdWords), Howie Jaccobson (AdWords), Kim Dushinski (mobile marketing), and Ben Hunt (web design.)
And I’m not talking about eBooks, self-published, or “look how smart I am” BS. I’m talking about serious books that have become standards for the legitimate Internet marketing industry.
Still teaching, but no more System Seminars
The System Seminar had a pretty long run, 2002 to 2011.
Here’s what we did right in those years:
1. Consistently outstanding R & D (research and development)
More so than any other business, being successful in Internet marketing depends on being at least current – and ideally ahead of the curve.
Year after year, we put our students way ahead of the curve by months and sometimes even years .
Here are just a few of the things the System Seminar introduced to Internet marketing:
The first audio ads (2002), the first keyword-based niche marketing training (2002), the first intelligent training in pay-per-click advertising (2002), the first videos ads (2005), the first training in online video advertising (2005), the first direct response based mobile marketing training (2008).
And these are just our direct innovations. It doesn’t count the trends we identified long before they were on other people’s radars or the real world experts we found and featured that other seminars ignored because they weren’t “show biz” enough.
Who could you have hired – at any price – to keep you undated on trends in Internet marketing as thoroughly and consistently as the System Seminar did?
2. Total immersion
Every year for three days and nights, Internet marketers always had a place they could get away from their day-to-day business and “soak” in the practical details of Internet marketing with other serious minded people.
New businesses were created, new partnerships made, insights gained turned into action, “unsolvable” problems were solved, unimaginable opportunities became realities.
3. The value
For our target audience – business owners who had or needed to develop Internet operations – the System Seminar was the bargain of the century.
In the crucial early years of the Internet, when things were wide open and markets were just sitting there waiting to be conquered, alone among Internet seminars and conferences, the System delivered the tools and techniques that made rapid wealth building possible for bootstrap entrepreneurs.
So many grads developed six – and in some cases seven – figure a year businesses directly as a result of what they learned at the System Seminar that I’ve lost count. One post-System business even consistently bumps up against the eight figure a year sales mark.
OK, so The System did some things right, but what did it do wrong?
Hey, nothing’s perfect, but here are a few things that I didn’t like about the System Seminar:
1. The cost
Wait a minute? Didn’t I just say The System was the bargain of the century?
Yes. Absolutely. For our original target market: business owners.
For beginners or people not living in North America or “developed” economies, not so much.
There wasn’t much I could do about the price. US hotels are insanely expensive places to hold trainings in (surpassed only by UK hotels.) Our coffee bill alone was over $3,000 per event and every other invisible costs (stuff attendees have no idea about) were equally crazy.
2. Only once a year
The Internet doesn’t change once a year.
New opportunities don’t appear just once a year.
New trends don’t become apparent just once a year.
The Internet is in a constant state of flux and an annual event – even a twice-a- year event – just can’t be as current as I’d like it to be.
3. Getting a drink of water from a fire hose
One of the System’s strengths – the massive amount of information shared in an intense three days period – was also one of its weaknesses.
The human mind can only absorb so much new information.
The human body can only take so much high intensity mental work.
Cramming it all in in three days was a necessary – but less than optimal – evil.
Making things better
The average ticket price for a System Seminar was $2,000. Less if you registered early, more if you registered late.
Air fare probably averaged another $500, but that doesn’t count the people who came in from Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
And even with some aggressive bargaining on our parts, three nights with meals probably added another $500 to the bill, so all in all the average attendee was shelling out about $3,000 per seminar.
Again, a super bargain for the right people, a huge speculative investment for others.
What if I were to cut that cost?
Not by 10% or even 20%.
Not by 40% or even 50% – but by 62%.
It can be done…
And making things better than that
What if instead of three days worth of training per year, you could get more?
Not 10% more or 20% more.
Or 40% more or 50% more.
But 100% more content than a three day System Seminar.
It can be done…
But wait, wait there’s more…
What if instead of getting the System Seminar for 62% off and getting six full days worth of content instead of three days, you got the info spread out over an entire year, at a rate that would let you easily absorb every drop?
It can be done…
And best of all…
I’m all for travel. I’m all for seeing the world. I’m all for getting out of Dodge occasionally and shaking up my world view.
But these days, I am much less inclined to want to combine travel and business.
Maybe it’s just me – or maybe it’s the ever degenerating quality of air travel – but flying under pressure (gotta be there on time, gotta deal with security, gotta maximize every minute) is not fun.
So what if you could get all this – six days worth of training, spread out over a year, for 62% off, without ever leaving town.
It can be done.
In fact, I’ve done it. Been doing it for years (ten in fact)…
It’s called the System Club and today – 12-12-12 at 12:12 pm – we’re opening the doors to the world.
More details here:
P.S. The gifts that you get for joining the System Club today are completely off the hook. Check them out here.
– Ken McCarthy
P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.
If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.