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FIB - Scams 101
Re: 21 Things U Need To Know About AWAI Michael Masterson
Posted By: Malcolm Smith In Response To: 21 Things U Need To Know About AWAI Michael Masterson (Jim Wilcox)
Date: Friday, October 5, 2007, at 9:24 a.m.(pst)
In Response To: 21 Things U Need To Know About AWAI Michael Masterson (Jim Wilcox)
As someone who has been making a living for the last three years thanks to AWAI's copywriting program, I'd like to respond to Mr. Wilcox's list.
It's interesting to note that while he presents an awful lot of allegations, there's not a single shred of evidence listed with any of them. If anyone is interested in the truth - rather than a lot of unsubstantiated claims - check out my responses after each of Mr. Wilcox's comments...
And, no, I'm not paid by AWAI to respond to people like Mr. Wilcox.
>> It's hard to decide which word best describes this whole AWAI Michael
>> Masterson scheme but words that come to mind are fraud, scam, ripoff, con,
>> fake or hoax. Here are 21 things you need to know about AWAI and Michael
>> Masterson's Accelerated Six Figure Copywriting Program.
>> 1 AWAI is not a school. In fact, they recently got into some legal
>> difficulties with the State of Florida for pretending to be a school.
AWAI never "pretended" to be a school. Florida (where I live, by the way) has some rather odd rules regarding what is and is not a school. The state determined that at least one of AWAI's programs met the state's definition of a school - but AWAI wasn't registered with the state as a school. So Florida required AWAI to either meet all their requirements for a school or make some changes. AWAI chose the changes.
>> 2 The program is nothing more than a cheap correspondence/home study
>> course. There are no graduates, no diplomas. and after completion, you've
>> gained no credentials or credibility.
This is half right. It's a mail-order program. So what? There are lots of good mail-order programs out there. And, yes, there are no graduates or diplomas. But I've found that completing the program adds a lot of credibility. Some clients have come to me with inquiries specifically because I completed the AWAI program.
>> 3 The critiques they offer to do on your assignments are done by
>> copywriter wannabes, not real professional copywriters. They pay these
>> wannabes $10 for each critique.
I've met and corresponded with a few of the folks who have done critiques for AWAI's program. Every single one of them is a working copywriter. One of them has more than 20 year's experience and more than a dozen books in print.
My credentials aren't quite that good yet, but I've critiqued copy for AWAI. I won't go into the pay, except to say that Mr. Wilcox is mistaken.
>> 4 The company operates out of a dingy little building on a dumpy side
>> street in Delray Beach Florida. If you ever visited the place, you
>> wouldn't buy anything from them.
I've been there. The offices are open, bright and the walls are lined with testimonials and thank-you letters from people who've successfully completed the program. The front door of the building is on a "side street." The back door opens out to the main north-south drag through town. It's just a couple of blocks from Atlantic Avenue - the heart of Delray's downtown. And Delray Beach, by the way, is a very upscale community.
>> 5 The so-called copywriting experts who answer student's questions are
>> not even copywriters.
Gee, I didn't realize all that copy I've written - and that's been paying my bills for the last three years - doesn't qualify me as a copywriter. Next time I get a check for $2,000 or $3,000 from a client, I'll have to remember it's not copywriting income.
I've answered many inquiries from people interested in AWAI's programs. And I've had questions referred to me by Member Services. I don't get paid for this. I remember what it was like for me when I was starting out. A lot of nice people helped me out back then.
>> 6 The promotions they use to sell the course is absolutely filled with
>> careful omissions, half-truths, lies, distortions, deceptions, selective
>> memories, phony testimonials, exaggerated claims, over-simplifications,
>> forced conclusions, unsubstantiated “facts” and good old fashioned
>> trickery. It really is a remarkably involved and finely crafted charade
>> that convinces people they can truly earn $100,000+ a year after taking
>> some poorly written, lame correspondence course or attending a silly 3-day
>> rah-rah “bootcamp”… for a hefty price.
Interesting. AWAI is a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau. I've met a number of the people who've provided testimonials... including several people who completed the AWAI program and have gone on to earn $100,000 - and more - per year. Come to think of it, there's a testimonial from me in a couple of their promotions.
But I'm forgetting that Mr. Wilcox has declared me a non-copywriter. Gosh, I wonder where all my money is coming from... Must be AWAI's "trickery," right?
>> 7 The testimonials they use a worthless, many written by people who
>> are paid to speak at AWAI seminars and who have other business dealings
>> with the company. Michael Masterson often uses testimonials from family
It's true that there are some people who have provided testimonials and have also been paid to speak at AWAI events, but let's not put the cart before the horse. In every case I'm aware of (except Robert Ringer), the testimonials came before any offers of speaking engagements.
And, frankly, it's only natural to ask people who you know appreciate your business to speak at your events. It happens all the time. Why would AWAI want to pay someone like Mr. Wilcox to come and trash them in front of a few hundred people?
>> 8 At AWAI "bootcamps, the so-called job fair is nothing more than
>> a bunch of Michael Masterson's cronies pretending to be interested in AWAI
My goodness, but I'm learning a lot here. I didn't realize that Nightingale-Conant was one of "Michael Masterman's cronies." Or The Motley Fool. Or Alley Cat Allies. Or Mercola.com. They've all been at AWAI's bootcamp job fairs.
And, as far as "cronies" go, Agora, Inc. is a huge newsletter publisher. Should they be banned from offering job opportunities to AWAI members simply because Mr. Masterson has a relationship with one of their businesses?
>> 9 The program is so lame that they have to throw in a bunch of
>> "valuable" booklets revealing "secrets" in an effort
>> to entice you to buy. None of this extra stuff is any better than the
>> course itself which is a poorly written, rudimentary introduction to
>> copywriting. The main part of the program is nothing more than a cheap 500
>> page spiral bound book with a lot of blank pages for you to do your
Let's try a little truth here. 457 pages, excluding the index. About a dozen blank pages - mostly between sections. And less than two dozen pages with open space for completing exercises. (An advantage I apparently have over Mr. Wilcox is that I actually have the program.)
The booklets are handy little references, and they conatin a lot of solid tips.
And Mr. Wilcox is off on what the program is about. It's not a "poorly written, rudimentary introduction to copywriting." It's a fairly in-depth program designed to get you up and running with direct mail letters. Just one rather specific slice of the world of copy.
And having actually read the program myself (a claim I'm guessing Mr. Wilcox can't make), I can attest to the fact that's it's not badly written.
>> 10 In many ways, the course itself is a continuation of the promotions
>> used to sell it. It is designed to set the stage for additional purchases.
I think what this is referring to is that the first couple of chapters resell the promise. It's a very common practice. The program is designed to prepare you to write direct response letters. And there is a HUGE amount of solid material there.
>> 11 After you buy, AWAI will badger you to death trying to get you to
>> spend more money on their "master's" program, bootcamps, CD's,
>> DVD's, teleconferences, etc.
There's the scam. I knew we'd finally get to it. Imagine the unmitigated gall of those folks at AWAI. They're a business, and they actually send promotions to their customers! Who could imagine such a thing!
Oh, wait... Isn't that what pretty much EVERY business does?
What kind of idiot would go to the trouble of acquiring a customer and then ignore that customer after one sale? Perhaps Mr. Wilcox doesn't realize that it's a great deal less expensive to sell to established customers than it is to find new cusotmers.
It's called "good business." And AWAI is a business. They just happen to be a business that helps people change careers. I can't imagine Mr. Wilcox complaining if L.L. Bean sent him a catalog after he'd made a purchase from them.
>> 12 There is little evidence that Michael Masterson can actually write
>> decent copy. Like most of these self-appointed copywriting gurus, he never
>> seems to actually be practicing his profession. You would think there
>> would be a lot more money in selling billions in products and services
>> than in selling silly get rich quick copywriting courses. And for some
>> strange reason, you never see any copy that was ever written by the guy.
Hm-m-m... I'll have to defer to guys like Don Mahoney, John Forde and Paul Hollingshead on this one. They all trained with Michael Masterson, and - gasp - all earn well into six figures writing copy.
I don't know how much copy Mr. Masterson writes these days, but he still critiques copy for some of the businesses he's involved with. I know, because he's critiqued some of my copy... and his observations are dead on.
>> 13 If AWAI was really cranking out the next generation of superstar
>> copywriters, wouldn't they have trouble retaining their own employees?
>> Wouldn't their employees be constantly leaving to greener, more profitable
>> copywriting pastures? Or maybe their employees know it's all baloney.
Oddly enough, most people would rather have the security of a "guaranteed" paycheck than work as a freelancer. And for some people, writing is a chore. But I do know one AWAI employee who's started working on breaking into copy.
CEO's make a lot more money than production employees, but not everyone on the factory floor gets to be - or even wants to be a CEO. Does that mean that all MBA programs are a scam?
>> 14 When trying to secure a job as a copywriter, saying you completed
>> the Michael Masterson's Accelerated Six Figure Copywriting Program will
>> only get you laughed at. The real world is looking for real, creative,
>> talented, educated, experienced copywriters who know how to drive sales,
>> not correspondence course graduates.
Nobody's laughed at me yet. But there are folks out there who've been willing to pay me well for using the skills I picked up from the aWAI program.
And, by the way, most college programs don't teach what works in direct response. They prepare people for careers in ineffective Madison Avenue-style advertising.
>> 15 The truth is, AWAI is simply telling you what you want to hear.
>> They say it's fast, it's easy, anybody can do it, there's big money in it,
>> you'll get famous, people will envy your new life, you can live and work
>> anywhere, etc. They even call it retirement. None of this is true.
Fast: I launched my copywriting career less than six months from the time I started the program.
Easy: To me, writing isn't work. It's what I love to do. How hard is it to get up every day & do what you love?
Big money: I used to be responsible for the customer service departments in more than a dozen plants in the US and Canada for a Kodak subsidiary. Next year, I expect to earn almost double as a copywriter than I did with Kodak.
Fame: Nope. They don't promise fame.
People will envy your life: Trust me... they do.
You can live and work anywhere: As long as I have my laptop and an Internet connection, I'm in business. And I've worked from some very nice locations - like a cabin nestled in the mountains of Georgia.
>> 16 But the scam is so good that some people are into the course for a
>> few years before they realize they've been constantly shelling out money
>> and their careers are still stuck at the starting gate. Actually, some
>> "students" never figure it and go around proudly calling
>> themselves AWAI members or graduates.
I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I've built my own business from scratch. Along the way, I've made some wonderful friends. And some good money, too.
Somebody else is shelling out the money, though. For me, the AWAI program paid for itself more than a hundred-fold in less than two years.
Yes, I've purchased a couple of other AWAI products... and I haven't been disappointed yet.
>> 17 When negative comments start popping up on the Internet, AWAI has
>> employees, friends and family start posting phony testimonials to offset
>> the bad press.
This is where Mr. Wilcox gets clever. Now, anyone who actually dares to challenge his assertions can be dismissed as agents of the enemy. "See; I told you so," he can say.
I'm not a phony. But I do count myself as a friend of AWAI. And why not? I'm living my dream life thanks to their program. Heck... I even met my wife at an AWAI bootcamp! (We've been happily married for just over two years.)
>> 18 You can buy a $20 book at your local bookstore and get better
>> copywriting instruction than AWAI's $500 program.
Not for writing direct response letters, you can't. And I've read literally dozens of 'em. There are some great books out there, but I have yet to find one that does anywhere near as thorough a job covering direct mail.
>> 19 Michael Masterson uses the same approach with his ezine Early To
>> Rise (ETR). He is constantly selling himself as an expert on everything
>> and offers a steady stream of worthless "get rich quick"
Like AWAI, Early to Rise is a business. But here's something interesting: ETR gives away valuable information for free. And Michael Masterson doesn't pose as an expert on everything. ETR often features articles by a number of established experts.
>> 20 If you've already purchased the program, don't feel bad. You're no
>> alone. Like I said, it's an effective scam.
It's effective. But it's no scam. Unless you count helping folks like me live their dreams as a scam.
I can't help but think that Mr. Wilcox is one of those folks who bought a program like AWAI's copywriting program and then expected that mere possession of the material would somehow magically make him rich.
If you put the program on the shelf, or read it and then expect marketers to come find you, you'll be disappointed.
As with anything else in life, you get out what you put into AWAI's program. If you bring a decent command of English and the dedication to complete the program and consistently market yourself, it's as close to a sure thing as I've ever seen.
>> 21 The guy's real name is Mark Ford. There is no such person as
>> Michael Masterson. Now why do you suppose he'd use a phony name? Hmmm?
Yup. Whatever you do, don't trust Mark Twain. His real name was Samuel Clemmons. And avoid anything written by Richard Bachman. He's really Stephen King pretending to be someone else. Cary Grant? Not his real name. Ditto for Kirk Douglas. And Martin Sheen. Oh, and John Wayne? His real name was Marion Morrison.
Looks like Mr. Wilcox has uncovered the tip of a giant conspiracy, doesn't it? Imagine someone using a pen name! That's almost as bad as businesses that actually try to sell products to established customers.
I admit I've been a little sarcastic here. But when the b*llsh*t gets as deep as Mr. Wilcox has been laying it on, it's hard to avoid.
The bottom line is this: Mr. Wilcox, if you were unhappy with your experience with AWAI - if you've even had one - why didn't you just take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee they offer? All you had to do was pick up the phone.
Instead, you've chosen to go off half-cocked and make something of a ranting fool of yourself.
You talk about half-truths, but your complaints are filled with half-truths of your own. You talk about deception, but I found plenty of it in your complaints.
Nobody's going to pay me for spending an hour responding to your tirades. Nobody at AWAI will even know that I posted this - unless they stumble across it, as I happend to stumble across your material.
Surely you have something better to do than run AWAI down. Is your life so small that the only way you can affirm your worth is by attacking others? If so, I'm profoundly sorry for you.
For the rest of you, at least you've had a chance to read something true - something from someone's personal experience.
If anyone has a legitimate inquiry about AWAI's program, I'll be happy to respond. Just drop me an e-mail.
If you have bile to spew, please don't bother. My promise to the bile-spewers among you is that I don't plan to be back on this forum.
Now, if Mr. Wilcox will excuse me, I have a $2,000 copywriting assignment to finish.
Messages In This Thread
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