I’ve seen every guru under the sun, and quite frankly, Arman Morin is one of the very best.  In fact, if I had to put my money on it, I’d say he is the best of all.  His presentation skills are absolutely top-notch and he’s the real deal, not a lucky fluke with a big mouth.  He comes across, and I honestly believe this, as someone who really is at the top of his game.  And that’s the challenge.  Can this deity teach mere mortals to heal web businesses with a single touch?  Or are his miraculous powers simply too hard to communicate, and the business models based on them too hard for ‘normal’ people to follow?

Take this example:  I’ve seen Armand pitch on a number of occasions, and one of the main strategies he teaches is getting paid traffic.  This is fine if you’re good at it, but if you’re not, you can lose a ton of money – or alternatively fail to make any profit, whilst turning over a lot.  I think it’s really important to point out to newbies where you can follow the gurus and where you can’t.  For example, I don’t advise following people who’ve made money through a fluke.  They frequently have little of any value to teach.  Not so Armand.   You could sit for a year and probably not stop learning what he knows about internet marketing.  The trouble is, rather than trying to run before you can walk, you might actually end up thinking you can fly.  Keeping your feet on the ground is an essential part to learning from an uber-guru, such as Armand.

If you don’t fall into the trap of suffering delusions of grandeur, then Armand is a worthy guru indeed.  I had the privilege of seeing his training course in London at the QE2 centre by Parliament.  This was held concurrently with the inquiry on Iraq.  I wasn’t able to make the first day (Friday), so I was spared a rubber-glove search on the way in – mercifully arriving when the ex-politicians had finished dodging and squirming through the tricky questions about what exactly everyone died.for.

Whilst I’m on the subject of the venue, there will now be a short interlude whilst I have a whinge.  If you’re going to book a room for a course in internet marketing, make sure that people can use their PCs.  Most people don’t have a ten-hour battery life, and so they need to charge up during the day.  In my view, it’s simply inexcusable that you can pay thousands for a course and not be able to plug your laptop in.  Please Mr Morin, sort it out.  It’s really not that complicated. To provide some extension cables and insurance.

Now back to the content.  What was Armand like?  Not only is he a very accomplished marketer, he’s a natural salesman.  So don’t think for a second he’s going to stop selling just because you’ve paid to see him.  A significant fraction of the time I saw him on stage was spent talking about the upsell programmes he offers.  He’s setting up an online payment system, and additionally has mastermind-type groups and programmes you can sign up for.  The course certainly wasn’t light on the sales pitches, and whether you’ll be happy with that depends on your opinion of what a course is all about.  If you see it as a content-only experience, a stand-alone instruction event, then this will likely nark you royally after you’ve paid a fair chunk to attend.  If you view your relationship with a guru as more of an affair than a one-night-stand, then this will be a natural part of the proceedings.  Furthermore, Armand is often at his best when he’s pitching, and you can perhaps learn the most when you’re not actually supposed to be learning anything.  So if you like the instructional component of the course, I wouldn’t moan too loudly about the more-then-occasional mention of things you might like to buy.

So what will you learn?

Please, don’t be fooled.  You simply can’t learn everything you need to know about internet marketing in a weekend, no matter what anyone tells you.  What you’ll get from this weekend is a fairly solid grounding in the principles and practicalities of internet marketing.  By principles, I mean the business maxims which allow you to create, grow and profit from a profitable internet business.  You can know all the technical details in the world, but if you don’t have a clear understanding of what you’re doing as an entrepreneur, then you’re destined to lose money – often large amounts of it.  Likewise, if you’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re doing online, then all the business acumen in the world won’t make up for your technical ignorance.  It’s this balance which is crucial, and Armand teaches it pretty well.

One thing that’s vital to remember is that this course is aimed at the general public.  Armand may be an expert, but he’s not teaching an expert audience – at least not on this course.  As a result, you’ll need to be prepared to spend most of the course getting a good grounding in basics.  For example, you’ll go through Adwords in a manner and at a pace which is likely to make your eyes bleed from tedium if you’re familiar with the technology.  That’s not to say you won’t learn anything from Armand – it’s likely that you will pick something up from most areas, but don’t expect this first course to be aimed at the full-time internet professional.  If I’m honest, despite this course’s undoubted qualities, I found I learned relatively little from the sessions I attended as I’m already at intermediate/expert level in most of them.  However, were I a newbie, then the hard-hitting business advice, alongside the basic technical & marketing tuition, would probably be just what I needed.

So what was my overall impression?  I have to say I was disappointed – but don’t take that as a criticism – it’s just that Armand Morin suffers from the ‘Barak Obama’ effect.  Just like Obama, there’s been no-one in Armand’s industry for a generation who’s as good at selling themselves.  As a result, he starts off from a point where people might believe that he’s going to turn water into wine and feed the five thousand.  When this doesn’t happen, the only possible reaction is disappointment, no matter how good the reality actually is.

To expand on this a little: My observation is that Armand never appears quite as perfect, never so outstanding and amazing than when he’s selling in a punchy, firt-time pitch from the stage.  Over the course of a 3 day seminar, the deity heads back towards being a human again.  This isn’t to say he’s not good, maybe even great.  But is he really a God?  I’m not so sure. But maybe I’m being too harsh, as I’m looking with expert eyes at a course clearly aimed at relative newbies.  If I was seeing with the eyes of a Newbie, then maybe I’d think that the water really did turn into wine.

In summary, this is a solid introductory course which focuses on the business principles of internet marketing, with enough technical detail to get you onto the learning curve.  Just don’t forget that, however good he may be, Armand’s really only human.  You’ll need to bring your own loaves and fishes as food is not provided.

Slides at http://www.armandmorin.com/downloads/ArmandLive2009.pdf