Review of Focus Marketing Seminars UK Event, Heathrow, October 2008
On the final day of the 2007 'Britpack Live' seminar in Coventry, Robert Puddy made a very special offer - the DVDs of the event and also a ticket to the 2008 UK event for just £75.
Along with several other attendees, I bought a ticket.
So, after what seemed like a lifetime of waiting, October the 17th 2008 finally arrived and I found myself sat in the seminar room at the Focus Marketing Seminars UK Event.
This year the organisers had changed (Robert was no longer involved) and also the venue had changed - Pat Lovell and Sean Roach chose to hold the event in Heathrow at a five star hotel.
What followed was three days of internet marketing education, gossip and scandal.
But let's backup a little.
Thursday 16th October
As per usual, I arrived a day early to make the most of the event. There were two reasons for this:
(1) I have found in the past that there is usually a crowd of attendees in the hotel bar the night before an event starts so it is a great networking opportunity
(2) I like to see each and every presentation and so it is better to turn up on the Thursday, book an extra night in the hotel and get to registration early rather than set off from home extremely early on the Friday morning.
After travelling from Manchester to Euston by train, then across London via the Underground to Heathrow 1,2,3 then in a cab to the hotel I checked in, dumped my bags and ordered my first pint at the bar. It was 8pm.
Unfortunately, I couldn't see any faces I recognised so I took a seat and watched the rugby.
3 pints later, Pete finally arrived but there was still no sign of any other attendees and we reasoned that everyone was probably put off by the excessively high room rates for the Thursday night (cheapest room £175 ex VAT or £145 ex VAT with special code).
As it turned out, only one other attendee that we recognised arrived in the bar that night - Chris, who I had previously met at a couple of other seminars.
However by then Pete and I had been joined by an inebriated Scotsman who provided us with no end of entertainment.
Turns out he was due to leave for Equatorial New Guinea at 6am the following morning but he seemed to have forgotten that as he chucked down pints of Grolsch and made hilarious attempts to "chat up" one poor woman.
I've no idea what time it was when I finally called it a night but I do know I was a little worse for wear when I got up at 8am the next morning.
Friday 17th October
Managing to make it to registration for 8.30am I then headed straight for breakfast which we had been told was included in the price.
Unfortunately it wasn't an elaborate affair but some pastries and breakfast bars. I passed on those and instead helped myself to plenty of strong coffee.
As I had already planned, I was sat in the seminar room, pen in hand and ready to learn by 9am. Sean and Pat took the stage to introduce themselves, thank us for coming and explain what was going to happen over the three days of the event.
By about 9.30am, Chris and Pete had joined me after they'd been to the McDonald's next door.
We had a short break - more coffee and then Sean Roach took the stage for the first presentation. Like in Coventry, Sean was speaking about internet marketing and his new 'platform' - Got Access.
Next up was lunch which I have to say was excellent. There was a superb buffet of hot and cold snacks as well as more tea and coffee and a variety of cakes.
After lunch came Brian Koz who was discussing coupon code marketing.
He was followed by another short coffee break and then a presentation from Tim Brocklehurst.
Tim was far more 'polished' on stage than the previous year and it was obvious he had been speaking at a lot of seminars. Again he was offering a special discount on his software - "My Viral Spiral".
It was disappointing to find that he left immediately after he finished on stage - in Coventry he had been around the whole weekend.
We had another short break and were then told that Brian Koz would be presenting again.
By now it was about 5.30pm so it was a little odd for the event to be going on so late but I stayed. This time Brian discussed his new software called "Lead Evolution" including several lengthy demonstrations of it in operation. He finally finished before Pat and Sean called it a day.
Scattered throughout the day were several prize draws, usually just before the speakers were introduced (it was a clever way of making sure everybody was in their seat). Basically, Sean pulled out names from a bowl and if your name was called and you were in the room, you won a prize. If not, your name was discarded.
It must have been around 7pm by the time we finished. I treated (!) myself to a McDonalds and then made my way directly to the bar.
Now while Thursday night was a little disappointing in the number of attendees who were drinking in the bar, Friday night was far more like what I was used to.
There were at least 20 of us crammed in and lots of familiar faces from the previous year. A couple of the speakers were around too (Pat and Brian), and very approachable - it was an excellent night.
After several pints of Guiness I decided to have an early night and retired at 1am - leaving a lot of other marketers in the bar.
Saturday 18th October
Saturday was by far the most interesting day.
I was in the room at 9am after having a few cups of tea and chatting with a few other attendees.
For some reason somebody decided to close off the last two rows of seats and as I had been sat at the back, I wasn't 'allowed' to sit where I had sat the day before. I imagine that they wanted to make sure the room looked full as the event was being broadcast live. By forcing us to sit in the first 4 rows it looked fuller with no empty seats.
Anyway, this turned out to be very interesting as the first speaker on was Raymond Aaron who I must admit I had never heard of. As a speaker, Raymond was very polished. As a salesman he was extremely polished.
Raymond spoke for about an hour and a half and in that time had managed to work a large proportion of the audience up into almost a frenzy. As he came towards the end of his presentation he made an offer and said, basically, that there were only 9 places available.
Without hesitation the man sat to the right of me bolted up and ran to the back of the room, credit card in hand. I'd never seen anything quite like it - the speaker was still going through the remaining slides of his presentation but one member of the audience was up and signing up for £997 plus £147 per month for the next 17 months.
Very shortly after my neighbour had jumped up and sprinted to the back of the room, I started seeing several others stand then make their way to the back. It was quite a sight. I'd previously heard of these events where the speaker had made such an impression that loads of people ran to the back to order but this was the first time I'd ever seen it first hand.
In fact, by the time this particular speaker had finished, there was a crowd of people at the sales table filling out forms.
I turned to look at the spectacle and saw that Chris was sat at our usual table so I got up and joined him. A few minutes later we had a short break for coffee.
The next two speakers I'm not going to name. And there's a reason for that.
The first speaker (I'll call him 'A') started well but then at one point during his presentation he started to cry. This didn't go down particularly well with the audience and after some uncomfortable looks and a few moments of silence, he composed himself and carried on with his talk.
I was dubious about these 'tears' but wondered perhaps if the speaker was tired or otherwise not 100% which might make him lose his composure.
Speaker 'A' spoke for about two hours and then made an offer to the audience which included mentoring, seminar tickets, resale rights to products and lots of other bonuses. The price was about three thousands pounds or so.
After this came lunch which, again, was excellent.
The first presentation of the afternoon was from another speaker who will remain anonymous - I'll call him 'B'.
We'd been told that 'B' had jetted in from Atlanta overnight to be at the seminar especially because he loved England.
In any case the presentation turned strange after about half an hour when he, like the presenter before him, started to cry. It was at this point that I started to wonder whether crying was some new 'trick' that seminar speakers are using now.
The damage was done. Even though speaker 'B' composed himself very quickly and moved on, I just didn't buy the emotion.
Chris was gone - he'd seen enough and walked out.
'B' then seemed to lose all momentum in his presentation and stumbled through the rest of it.
Another coffee break and then the final presentation of the day came from Tom Hua. Nice bloke, very funny but the content he was providing was a little too basic for me.
He was offering a huge range of products as well as some SEO services and other bits and pieces. The price was just under three grand.
There were plenty of prize draws during the day and then, at the very end of the day, we had a special draw.
Pat and Sean pulled out 20 names and each was invited to a special 'mastermind' session with Alan Forest Smith. So, from 7 'til 8 I sat in the Presidential suite of the hotel with 19 others whilst we quizzed Alan with any problems we had.
Interesting end to a long day.
Earlier on in the day another friend, Tony, had arrived but stayed for just one presentation. He, Pete and Adam had waited for me to finish and we met up to go for a meal at the local Chinese. After walking up and down Bath Road for half an hour we couldn't find the Chinese so settled for another McDonald's.
After that the only thing left to do was head back into the bar for more drinking. I enjoyed teasing Alex about one particular marketer who had claimed to be a drug abuser in a sales video recently and we all shared the latest industry gossip.
For example, the dodgy US marketer who won't pay his affiliates, won't answer emails from his 'mentor' and is quickly running out of friends.
Or the US seminar promoter who refused to pay his speakers and staff - his name is now mud.
No names mentioned, of course.
It was all going really well, everyone sat round chatting, laughing and making deals when the hotel staff decided to shut the bar. We complained that it was only 1am and we wanted more drinks but they weren't for listening.
In the end we had to call it a night. Considering that at previous events we had stayed in the bar til very late (6.30am) this was exceptionally disappointing and the staff lost any chance of a tip there and then.
Sunday 19th October
Like clockwork I was sat in my usual space at 9am and Chris and Pete arrived shortly afterwards. Didn't see Tony on the Sunday, he had to dash to catch his plane.
First up was J.T. Foxx who talked about branding. He went far over the time he was allocated and then made it obvious to everybody that he hadn't checked his slides before getting on stage. His offer was priced at $1,497 on the screen but he said the price was £1,497 which is a whole lot more.
Perhaps the rule is - whatever price it is in US dollars when in the US, charge that but in British pounds when in the UK. Here it may have backfired.
Very short break and then we had a presentation from Alan Forest Smith who also went over schedule with his presentation about copywriting. His offer was huge including loads of DVDs, membership to his private circle and also a special seminar etc. The price was £3,500 or so.
By this time it was about 1.45pm and we were asked if it was OK to delay lunch because the next speaker needed to dash to get his plane.
Everybody grudgingly OKd the proposal and just before 2 o'clock, Adam Ginsberg took to the stage.
Adam spoke about eBay and selling 'real estate' (property) via eBay.
We broke for lunch at about half three.
After lunch Sean Roach took the stage and had a chat with Alex Jeffreys about Alex's success as an internet marketer.
Finally we had a series of giveaways where Sean and Pat gave away the remainder of the prizes - I managed to win a special Winston Churchill coin and stamp set!
Several attendees won the speakers' packages and cruises. All that was left was to wrap up the proceedings and the seminar was finished for about 6.30pm.
I thanked Pat for a great weekend - couldn't find Sean to say thank you.
They didn't mention anything about next year's event but I would imagine we'll hear more about it nearer the time.
I'd booked to stay the Sunday night at the hotel and go home on the Monday so I went back to my room and got a good night's sleep. Sean had passed out several books over the weekend so I've plenty of reading material. Also, for those still remaining at the end on the Sunday, we received a set of marketing-related DVDs so I was able to watch some on my laptop.
A very enjoyable seminar with some great networking opportunities. Shame the hotel staff couldn't accommodate us properly on the Saturday night or I may have had a lot more gossip for you!