What Frank Kern Can Teach You About Branding

istock_surfboardsFrank Kern is an internet marketer, and it seems like everyone’s talking about him these days. They’re all hopping on the crazy bandwagon and telling you how well Frank’s techniques work to create desire, build trust and make money.

They’re right. Frank Kern uses some psychological tactics that make him a pretty formidable contender on the scene. His videos are worth paying attention to.

Something else about Frank is worth paying attention to as well. Stay tuned…

Frank is nothing special to look at. You wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a crowd of a thousand people. His hair is beach-bum blond, it skims his shoulders and it needs some TLC. Seriously.

He wears scruffy jeans and a t-shirt, and his videos are shot here and there – nowhere really interesting. One of them shows off his garage, glimpses of a beat-up van and scratched surfboards. He talks to the camera while seated on a cheap lawn chair, his cool shades reflecting the sun as he tucks a strand of hair behind his ear.

Frank doesn’t play up a fancy office. He doesn’t have a sleek website, and he doesn’t look rich, despite reported sales of more than $23 million in 24 hours.

So how does he do it? Frank looks genuine. He’s real. He’s just a guy.

People love Frank for that. They absolutely adore him because he’s just like them – a regular person, no one special. He’s not sporting fancy college degrees or talking down to people. He’s a buddy in a bar, a pal to play with.

What is special about Frank is that when he releases a new info-product on the market, people buy – often to the tune of $2,000 or more.

Regular people buy Frank’s stuff. Everyday people. People who don’t really have that kind of money to spare. They’re not rich people or highly educated people. They’re people that you’d meet on the street who believe that Frank has knowledge that can help them.

And he can. No one questions whether Frank knows his stuff. He obviously does, and he exudes the right level of confidence every single minute. He’s successful, he’s smart, and he teaches people ways to get what they want by influencing consumers.

How does Frank reach people? What makes Frank stand out? He was Joe Anybody. Now he’s a millionaire teaching people persuasive techniques – and applying those techniques to prove they work and to make himself rich.

Frank Kern has a serious brand image working hard for him.

Everything that he does is geared to making sure that people can relate to him easily. He’s their buddy. They can trust him. The shades, the lawn chair, the straggly hair and jeans… it’s all an image to help convey a message to people and ultimately, win them over.

Imagine if Frank had gone the other way. Picture Frank with different brand image: a haircut, a clean, expensive suit, a modern office, and framed diplomas hanging from the wall. There’s a Mac on his oak desk, the chairs for his guests are Italian leather, and a meticulously-groomed assistant brings coffee.

What do you think the impact on his target audience would be? What would be the effect on his personal success? Would he still have such a huge following? Would he still be able to get everyday people to plunk down $2,000 for an info product? Would he still be a buddy?

Frank’s brand image is visible in everything he does, every bit of exposure and communication he has with the world. From photo shoots to videos to website colors to email contact, the relaxed ‘everyday guy’ image permeates his whole image.
Even his opt-in autoresponders sound laid-back and cool. And they work.

Think hard for a second about Frank’s branding. Your homework? Give us three words that you associate with Frank’s brand image. If you like Frank, tell us what attracts you to that image. And if you hate Frank Kern? You can tell us that too.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Just going to the page for 2 minutes I can tell you I don’t like him. First there’s the having to sign up to a newsletter to get past the pop-up video. If there was a close button, I couldn’t find it.

    Then once I got past the obviously techie video, I reached a super low tech web page that was about one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. I’m tipped off right there that this is totally deliberate.

    And that tells me I’m getting played. I don’t like getting played. I therefore don’t like Frank Kern and no matter how much his products/services might actually help me I’ll never ever trust him.

    I’m like that with everything – I carefully examine the message that the medium is giving me and not just the words. If the medium’s message and the words don’t match, then I’m out of there.

    Unfortunately not enough people do that and they end up making far too many people who know how to manipulate others very very rich.

    What gets me to me? The Pen Men got me to buy. They were honestly helpful and never once did I feel that the medium of the messages jarred with their words. And I know if it did, I could talk to them about it and we’d have a good conversation about it.

    Now I know with hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of clients these personal conversations aren’t possible, but there are ways to sell things without manipulating the media to get you to buy. Take McDs for example. When they have a new burger, they don’t say “now I’m not going to sell you this burger, I’m just going to talk around it until I wear you down.” Nor do they say “we’re not like the rest. We’re the real deal. We too stick it to the man. We’re just like you” Nope they show us the burger, show people enjoying eating it and then tell us the price for it. And if it interests me I try it out. If I like it, I buy it again.

    Holy long comment Batman! James – what is it about you that inspires long rants? Hmm?? 😉

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Need some butt-kicking? Someday Syndrome needs new Lab Rats

  2. Jean Gogolin says:

    Hm. In the U.S., we twice voted for a regular you you could hang with, and everybody knows where that got us.

    Jean Gogolin´s last blog post…Why Sound Bites Rock – And How to Write Them

  3. James,

    Seducer, actor, genius.

    Do I “like” him? No. I mentioned to a friend in an email 😉 that after the first video I was done, done. Felt covered in treacle. I needed a shower.

    Did he take me anyway? Geez, it’s not even Valentine’s Day yet, but he did. I went back a day later and signed up for the rest of the free stuff, because I can’t stop watching him, watching me fall for him. Brilliant.

    I took it apart like a good marketer, I took notes, I analyzed key points where he was getting to me so I can turn them inside out and use them myself, told myself it was research… *but I kept watching.* Which is all he wants.

    “Women want to be with him and men want to be like him.” I think that was said about Cary Grant (and a dozen lucky actors since then). This guy has that in a marketing way. Not that I “want him,” want him, but I want to know his secrets, the same way I might want to know the secrets of the guy in the bar. And I feel a little ill for wanting to, because I know I’m being sucked in by a pro. And he talks about it, laughs about it, downplays it—because he knows it too. Like a great actor, every word, gesture, and scruffy prop is placed with precision to create the mood.

    And I wish he’d get a haircut but that’s growing on me, too. Which, when I step outside myself, tells me he’s a genius.

    I *hate* that, just like Alex, I know I’m being played… but I want to watch him play me just a bit longer.



    Kelly´s last blog post…Jumping on the Bandwagon

  4. Clever, Witty, Deliberate.

    I like the guy…I know what he’s trying to sell me, and it doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe I’m not as hung up on “old-school” tactics as others might be, but I admire Kern’s skill at getting to his market and developing his brand.

    I think a lot of people need to lighten up and just admire the way that Frank has gone about his business.

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…How Much Do You Want It?

  5. Turned off immediately. Not only was I attacked with sound without my consent, but I was told that my business WILL fail if I don’t give my personal information over. I was so unimpressed that I didn’t even get around to seeing his face.

  6. @Alicia
    Yes, I was rather irritated about that, but saw that as a shock-value tactic so blatant I could ignore it. 😉

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Girls Aloud give us all a kick in the pants

  7. @James – very good post.

    @Kelly – your comment augments and rivals or maybe exceeds the post (sorry James).

    @James and Kelly – what a pair!

  8. Aw, shucks.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Kelly´s last blog post…Birds Don’t Do It and Neither Do Bees

  9. @ Mark – Ah, but the lass is fickle and resists my charms!

    @ Alicia – Don’t you feel that the music is part of the branding that Frank has going on? What would the image be if there was soft classical music instead? Would it work?

    I don’t get the ‘without your consent’ part. If you’re opening a video to watch, there’s definitely going to be sound involved, no?

    @ Nathan – Yep, I think that’s the point right there. We’re not discussing his sales tactics, just his branding. How he manages to sell is a completely other ballgame (like it or not, it works).

    Also, being able to know what he’s using and set it aside to take what’s good from the videos is key. Those who turn away are missing valuable info (like it or not, it is).

    @ Kelly –

    I’m being played… but I want to watch him play me just a bit longer.

    That right there. That’s exactly it. Frank taps into a lulling promise of something that a *LOT* of people want, and I think you have it right there.

    He hits us where it counts. I admire that. Most try to just hit our wallet first 😉

    @ Jean – Um… Yeah… I’d better not comment on that one 😉 But hope’s here now, no?

    @ Alex – Thank you for your comment, and thanks for the chat we had this morning, which really was great.

    Alex and I discussed how Frank pushes all the warning buttons of Alex’s core values, which have very little to do with Frank and a lot to do with all bunches of other stuff. Of course, we all have triggers like that, just in different areas.

    And my three words? Casual, relaxed, confident.

  10. James,

    The fickle lass adores you unconditionally. What more could you ask for?

    Lulling reminds me of my other early thought on Frank: Hypnotist. But that would have been four words, and I like to follow the rules of the game.

    Until later,


    Kelly´s last blog post…Birds Don’t Do It and Neither Do Bees

  11. I follow Kern, personally…he is a student of Dan Kennedy, perhaps one of the best direct mail marketers out there, and he has done his homework in regards to this.

    What he has over Dan Kennedy is charisma. If you ever go to any of his seminars, you would be immediately taken by his charm.

    As far as copywriting goes, that 23 million was a result of his copywriting skills across 3 different product launches.

    People can say that they have been smeared and hate it all they want. The reality is that Kern’s efforts will make him another 7 ifgure check in roughly 24 hours and will sell out. Even the haters have to admire him for that.

    Will I buy his latest stuff? Nope. Beyond it. But I have bought things in the past and all of it has been good, marketing wise.

    Leo´s last blog post…Backlink Resource Guide…How to on getting backlinks that matter…

  12. I just saw his intro video, but I can say I don’t dislike him. He is not my type, but because we are not talking about personal relationship, that doesn’t matter.

    The only issue I had with that video is I couldn’t figure out how surfboard relates to what he has to say about make money — make money and buy more surfboard? He can only use one board at a time, right??

    Anyhow, I’ve been thinking a lot about branding recently. I think we cast a certain brand image whether we consciously create it or not — the point is to know what we are doing and adjust as appropriate.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…Soulmate Sucks

  13. I got the link from Copyblogger over the weekend and watched the video. I must say that I really do loathe most internet marketers and their tactics but I liked Frank Kern. Now, I didn’t hear or see some the of the stuff that others are talking about but three words about the FK brand – unpretentious, relatable, subtle. By the end of the first video, I was thinking “gee this guy’s kind of hot.” I couldn’t click fast enough to sign up for more free stuff. Heck, if I had an extra two grand I would have bought whatever he was selling. What really drew me in was his point about desire. When I was in L.A. I visited the projects and in spite of being riddled with poverty, gangs and drugs, the poorest families had the latest video game system and flat screen tv’s. Walk through a poor neighborhood and people may not have heat but by golly they have all the fly gear that the rappers are wearing! So, he’s right, desire overcomes even lack of money. Does it feel a little dirty watching him, yea but I wanna know what he knows and more importantly I want to put it to work for me.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post…Love and Basketball

  14. @akemi the surfboard was just an analogy to emphasize that people will buy wherever their passions are…even if they don’t need it. He likes surfing so therefore, he collects surfboards and surf memorabilia….I do the same thing with guitars….I am sure you have some type of hobby in which you buy things regularly.

    Leo´s last blog post…Backlink Resource Guide…How to on getting backlinks that matter…

  15. Leo,
    Oh, thanks for your help. . . Hmm . . . I guess I like buying books, but I’ve been purging the books I don’t plan to read in the future. I also had piles of sketchbooks and paintings, but again, I recently purged most of them . . . my ideal is to be able to pack up and move at a day’s notice to anywhere in the world I like. (I work for myself, and all I need is internet connection, phone, just a few items, and a quiet place, so this is a pretty viable dream)

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…My Spiritual Make Money Scheme

  16. Interesting guy and a very good marketer. I personally would not purchase two grand worth of stuff but I think he is great and admire him for his accomplishments. I can see the branding of his “I’m just an honest guy trying to make a living and enjoying every second of it” style.

    What I really like about Kern is that he is not the prototype Mr. Big Guy showing off his reported millions. I grew up in Florida and spent sometime in California on the beach scene and what I like about guys like Kern is that he is what he is and he doesn’t hide it. He looked clean to me, as a matter of fact I would say he just got out of the shower.

    I signed up for the video e-letter and I would listen to what he say’s but I’m holding my wallet real tight.

    Scott Rooks´s last blog post…Shifting the Focus to Social Media!

  17. Two grand?

    I’ve known some really likable people behind oak desks who wear Armani suits and drive Porches, and I’ve know some scruffy beach bums who’d steal your wallet if you looked the other way for too long. That image doesn’t help me. I certainly fall into the latter category (as in scruffy beach bum, not wallet-stealer) so I’m just saying that image is image and it doesn’t exactly evoke trust solely due to jeans and long hair.

    Trust is earned, period.. no matter how the person looks. Sure, he looks like he’d be someone I’d buddy with in a bar, but if we were tipping a few back and he told me about this box of crap he markets for almost two grand a pop I wouldn’t be impressed.. I’d smell a con and move on, and I’d be damn sure I didn’t leave my wallet laying on the bar next to him.

  18. Clever. Shark. Duuuuuuuude.

    He doesn’t have any of my money, but I keep signing up for the free stuff. Then I get too many emails from him and I unsub. Then he comes out with some new free thing, like the surfboard video, and I sign up again. You can absolutely pull some good nuggets out of his free content and he has a remarkably clean rep in the IM industry, from what I can tell. Keeping up the surfer dude persona has just got to be the best job in the world – the guy is brilliant.

    Annie Binns´s last blog post…I Lost the Head of Christ

  19. James,

    Hm, I keep deleting everything. The brilliance is already up there. It’s funny, He had me on the first video and lost me on the one about trust oddly enough. Would I have a beer with him? Sure.
    Would he get my business? No

    It’s a trust thing. And I like a little more class.

    Besides what he is saying is really marketing 101. What he is doing is very clever positioning.

    So it’s kind of like that flashy suit, in a non suit way.

    Just some thoughts.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  20. $1997.00 for what?

    You have got to be kidding.. not a chance. Not even $19.97.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…What a difference a (static) page makes by Anthony Lawrence

  21. I revisited the entire video out of respect for J and H, who are friends, because I said “box of crap” in my first comment but then realized I hadn’t stuck around long enough to watch him unpack the entire thing. He could have pulled out some gold bricks or a deed to a Malibu mansion.

    He didn’t. It’s sales and marketing material. Not something I’d pay 2k for, even if there’s a money back guarantee and he swears I’ll make it all back in 4 days and I’ll have the world at my feet wanting to buy stuff. I know he put hours/weeks/months of expertise into it and the gold is in the knowledge, blah blah blah..

    No thanks, and that’s after bearing with it all the way through. Ick.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  22. Heheh… Y’all aren’t even paying attention to branding! Everyone’s getting heated up over sales/marketing, which is only part of the story.

    My question to those who can’t stand Frank’s methods is, “Is it really crap? Or do you just not like the methods?” Not poking, just curious whether people can separate the difference between ‘low-quality’ and ‘gimmick but good’.

    @ Rhodester – Next time I tell you to watch a video, I promise it’ll have dancers and 80s disco, just for you, mmkay? That should make up for this one 😉

    @ Tony – I’m not even sure exactly what’s offered for that money. I didn’t look. But I *would* pay $19.99. I might even pay $199. Hell, I’ve paid more than that for less. But 2k? Um… no. I have a garage roof that needs fixing first.

    @ Janice – He’d only get my business if I feel there’s something in it for me. Otherwise, Frank or anyone else at all isn’t barking up the right tree. Right?

    @ Annie – I’m right with you. Free content, good stuff, nice rep, the lessons aren’t false info (it’s psych textbook stuff, guys, legit), and a DAMNED lot of emails. Oh, and a great job. Yup!

    @ Rhodester – You again?! You wrote image is image and it doesn’t evoke trust because of jeans and long hair.


    But an image – jeans and hair or Porsche and Armani – does evoke SOMEthing in people and to many, that image DOES evoke trust.

    If everyone here had 100 people and exactly a three-second glance at each one to decide the five most trustworthy… What would you look for? Three seconds. What image hits you? Three seconds? What brand image evokes a sense of trust with you?

    @ Scott – Yup, that’s about it exactly. To me, those jeans and casual attitude do represent the ‘not a big shot’ association for me at a glance. Do I think it’s real? To some extent, sure. But much is an act, and that’s cool too – that’s maintaining the brand.

    @ Leo/Akemi – Books. Rows and rows of books. And yes, Amazon really likes me.

    @ Karen – Reminds me of lower income families – always money for the big screen TV. I mean HUGE. HUGE TVs. Four wheelers, Chevy trucks… and eating lots of spaghetti. Desire and need… yeah.

    @ Akemi – Everyone has their personality, yes. But a brand image is not an unconscious creation. It is a consciously maintained image that permeates everything from logo to how you say hello on the phone. It’s consistent, and it promises consumers something. You can discover your brand through your personality, but too much of it is applied and maintained for it to be unconcious.

    @ Leo – Charisma, good one. Didn’t know about the rest on Dan Kennedy and to be honest, I only found out that Kern writes fairly recently – hell, all his stuff is audio and video, so I thought he couldn’t write at all. Heh.

    Why is that, anyways? I would’ve bought books. I would’ve bought PDFs. I hate video. *sigh*

  23. >>If everyone here had 100 people and exactly a three-second glance at each one to decide the five most trustworthy… What would you look for? Three seconds. What image hits you? Three seconds? What brand image evokes a sense of trust with you?<<

    Seriously, I’m not built that way. I can’t do that. I get it, I really do.. and I know what you’re saying, but I’ve been burned too many times to make three-second judgment calls.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  24. @ Rhodester – Sorry buddy, but you must be stronger than you think. You make judgment calls like this every single day in less time than three seconds.

    You pass a coffee shop, glance, and bam – swanky. You enter a bookstore, look around and think – shabby. Someone dressed in black brushes by you on the street and you think – goth. A friend mentions Moosehead and you remember – Canuck.

    That’s branding. Just a glance, and your brain is making associations faster than you can blink.

  25. James, love your comments on branding and absolutely agree. We’re not talking about making buying decisions in 3 seconds but you are making an initial judgment in 3 seconds or less that will lead you to learn more, investigate, examine the benefits or shove on. It’s funny on the career marketing side of my business I fight this issue a lot. When you say “image” or “brand” people immediately put their guard up thinking you want them to change or be fake. Whether you like it or not, you have an image, people are making decisions about you within the first three seconds of encounter (if you want the scientific references, email me). Too often for these people the image does not even line up with what they think they’re projecting.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post…Love and Basketball

  26. Associations yes, trust no. I’ve figured out right quick that he/she looks goth.. but don’t trust them until I’ve hung out with them for a while. That coffeeshop LOOKS cool, just like the one in downtown Palm Springs. And like that one, it has crappy coffee and is frequented by noisy youngsters.. pass.

    I’ve found some nice little shabby bookstores in my time, that have gotten repeat business from me because I’ve uncovered a few hidden gems.

    I don’t associate branding with trust in just a few seconds. I see a cool looking brand and I think, “wow they’ve got a cool looking brand”. I don’t think, “wow they’ve got a cool looking brand so I think I’ll throw money at them.”

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  27. @ Rhodester – Branding doesn’t equal trust. (Did I say that somewhere? If I did, what was I thinking?) Branding equals image and associations and emotions. They can be anything from angelic to hellish.

    So you can perceive brands in instants – that does NOT mean you trust them. By no means. It means you have perceived a mental association.

  28. James ,
    Okay. Casual, confident and relaxed, all good brand characteristics as a vehicle. But delivery and the experience of that delivery is the experience of that brand. Yes?

    Funny, we do run up against ourselves when we try to dissect these things. Ahem. I have just run right up against at least three men he reminds me of, sheesh…no doubt that is influencing my opinion.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  29. “But an image – jeans and hair or Porsche and Armani – does evoke SOMEthing in people and to many, that image DOES evoke trust. ”

    A few years ago one of my clients hired a guy for a special project. I saw instantly that the guy was a fake and tried to warn my client.

    He said “Well, he’s driving a brand new Caddy – you aren’t.”

    I retorted “I OWN my car and paid cash for it. You can lease that Caddy for $500 a month – or rent it by the day for really cheap money!”

    He went ahead with the deal and ended up getting screwed because the guy was all show and no go.

    You can rent a Caddy or a Porsche. You can even rent a mansion for a day to make a movie.

    This guy is not selling anything worth a hundredth of what he wants. That’s complete nonsense. By the way, did you notice his blink rate? It’s way up there. My immediate reaction was wariness and distrust.

    This guy exhibits all the traits of a scam artist. Quick, smooth talk that really says nothing and “blink-blink-blink” says “lie-lie-lie” to me.

    Frankly, I find stuff like this a bt obscene. I’d rather make an honest living.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…What a difference a (static) page makes by Anthony Lawrence

  30. @ Janice –

    Delivery and experience is part of the brand…

    No. The promise of delivery and experience is part of the brand. But the actual delivery and experience is part of maintaining the brand, customer service and consistency of image. Brand is only the image itself.

    So Frank’s BRAND is pretty solid. Casual, relaxed, smooth, surfer, whatever. He’s got it going on and that’s the lesson of this post. His image fits what he’s trying to accomplish and reaches his target market.

    People’s TRUST of Frank is a totally different matter aside, and I think many people are getting confused about that. But then again, I’m often confused, so who am I to talk?

    @ Tony – So, jeans, surfboard and t-shirts equals scam artist to you? Thank god I have a guitar… 🙂

    What you’re saying is ‘apply critical thinking and don’t judge a book by its cover’. Absolutely. Not arguing that one. But I will argue that Frank has a brand and does it well.

  31. No, the guy’s speech and actions screamed “fraud”. I don’t go by looks or dress – that’s why I spotted the fraud with the Caddy when my customer couldn’t.

    Frank Kern’s delivery says it all. This is the same kind of pitch a carnival barker uses, the same thing the fast talking door to door encyclopedia salesmen used forty years ago. Been there, seen that.

    The slick pile of CD’s an “Confidential” envelopes didn’t help his case any.

    He’s a huckster. You want to learn to be that, go buy his course.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…What a difference a (static) page makes by Anthony Lawrence

  32. I think the root of the matter is the bias most people have against Internet Marketers. I’d like to ask the people bashing him in this thread if they’ve been able to create millions of dollars at will. Not only has Frank been able to do that, but so have many of his students. Sales and marketing material is worth what it will do for you, not how much the paper costs.

    His brand IS solid and he’s got the IM community in his hand right now. He could be going for a lot more than 2k and he’d still be able to sell it out. He’s got charisma, a precision crafted image, and the stats to back it up. Hell, he even pulled Tony Robbins out of his bag of tricks!

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  33. He’s got this group talking about him. And you can’t talk about him without first thinking about him. As for product launches, he’s got top of mind presence. What else matters when it comes to branding? I get it. I get him.

    Kern is zigging in a world full of zag. THAT is branding at its finest.

    His image or branding is the composite of his approach, including his dress, his lifestyle and his language. His greatest arsenal? WORDS, the ones he speaks and the ones he writes. Branding has everything to do with connecting. Frank Kern knows how to connect with people. Why else would people pony up $1997 for Mass Control 2?

    I admire Kern, but mostly I’m jealous. Extremely jealous.

    Now I’ve got to go sell some things so I can buy Mass Control 2.

    Leonard´s last blog post…Snippets About Bud Nipping

  34. Brand Meaning

    The expectation or promise of a company. A set of feelings, thoughts, and experiences which create an overall impression of a company. Brand meaning, perception, or “Brand identity” grows holistically through all customer touchpoints, and through less definable points of memory, culture, and psychology.

    With established firms consumers may agree on a few top attributes (FedEx is…; UPS is…; the U.S. Postal Service is…). However, brand meaning is highly individual. In today’s message-saturated society, the more “branding” a company shoves at consumers, the less trusted they may become.


    Attempting to control the brand identity of a firm.

    I think the fact that brand meaning is highly individual is shown all through these comments.

    What Frank Kern is genius at is his attempts to control his brand—his branding. What he can’t do a thing about is the fact that ultimately, brand perception is up to the individual perceivers.

    So I don’t like him, Janice thinks he reminds her of folks she’s known, and Tony has an instant and visceral dislike of pretty much everything about him. (And I agree with so much that you said, Tony. Going back to have a look at his blink-rate—good catch!)

    His branding is rock-solid, and though he won’t sell to several people here, he’s a genius (like a good carnie-barker) who will sell, until he’s sold out, to exactly the folks he expects to.

    Until later,


    Kelly´s last blog post…Birds Don’t Do It and Neither Do Bees

  35. So, there you have it.

    Do you want to be branded? Find a way to stir emotion. Luv him or hate him people are talking. And that’s what it’s all about, ladies (Kelly- rowrrr) 😉 and germs.

    Awful lot of talk about hair here. Maybe I’ll try a new do – oh yeah, that’s right. Never mind.



    Tumblemoose´s last blog post…Who reads your writing?

  36. George—LOL. Valentine’s Day and all. I did it at my blog, then James let me step right back into the mood here. 🙂

    Bald is kinda tough to style. How about a nice fedora?

    Kelly´s last blog post…Inspiration Points: Reality Is Not on a TV Show

  37. @ Kelly – well, ok. But those things are illegal in like 19 states and a half dozen provinces…

    Tumblemoose´s last blog post…Who reads your writing?

  38. A lovely tam-o-shanter, then?

    Um, that’s a bit difficult to picture on you, though. Might compete with your fabulous smile.

    Kelly´s last blog post…Birds Don’t Do It and Neither Do Bees

  39. @kelly – awwww, shucks. I’ll figure it out and post the avatar!

    Tumblemoose´s last blog post…Who reads your writing?

  40. I hardly know where to begin. Maybe it’s with James’s statement that we are talking about Kern’s branding, not his sales tactics. You cannot separate the two! And the words you use, your conversational tone, your “I’m just a regular guy” and “It’s like I’m in your living room, but I won’t drink all you beer,” that’s not a part of the branding?

    This guy is full of the same old direct response crap, the same infomercial mentality, just repackaged. He’s a persona. An act.

    He’ll send us a “secret early link” and says things like, “I shouldn’t be telling you this.” (confidentality) He’ll be “raising the price in the future, assuming I offer this product again. (scarcity and exclusivity “the velvet rope”) “I’m not like the others, I’m just like you” (personal connection, differentiating yourself from the the other online carnival barkers)

    I attended a week-long conference a year ago, when I was thinking about starting a second business, an internet-based one and the Marriott was full of these guys. We had all paid $2,000 to listen to people teach us how to go out and do the same thing they had done to us.

    For me, it does come down to self-respect and core values. These people make incredible amounts of money but they will never get a dime from me and I would never want to be like them. And I don’t like the use of the word “genius” and “brilliant” here because I think these tactics and the branding that goes along with them can be learned.

    A good discussion going on here. Thanks, James.

  41. “I would never want to be like them”

    Right you are, Judy.

    It doesn’t matter to me that you CAN manipulate people and sucker them into things like this. I wouldn’t do this kind of marketing if you held a gun to my head.. well, maybe if you held a gun, but I wouldn’t do it for any other reason.

    Some of us like to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what they see. I’ll never make millions of dollars at Internet Marketing but I can look in that mirror.

    I really don’t like this stuff. It makes me angry because only two kinds of people will buy it. The first in another shark who just wants another way to sucker other people – a Kern wannabe. The others are just fools who will waste their money and quickly realize that their personal morals would never let them come close to this kind of “marketing”. It’s the latter group I care about – I have no use for the first.

    Fine, it’s a lesson in “branding”. I think James could have picked a less unpleasant example, but maybe that was his intent: shock us with how transparent this guy is, how easily people should see through him and yet apparently they don’t. Or they do and they don’t care because they want their piece of the pie.

    Maybe it is just the wanna be hucksters buying from him. If that’s the case, fine: go on suckering the world. Fine tune your techniques by giving this bozo money – hey, you’ll make it back from the suckers..

    If that’s who you want to be, fine. I don’t. Judy doesn’t. Kelly doesn’t. I’m sure James doesn’t either.

    Yeah, yeah: it’s “choice”. Willing seller, willing buyer, free market economics, yeah, yeah, keep on rationalizing it. At the end of the day, it’s still ugly, and the mirror will tell you that.

    Believe it or not, I’m actually holding my tongue in check. My real feelings are even stronger!

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  42. What is the deal with the phrase “carnival barker?”

    FYI: Frank has done more than just info products to the IM world. You may not be interested in his product, but let’s face it…he’s on top of his game.

    I think I’m sensing a lot of jealousy here. People will say it isn’t, but take a deeper look.

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  43. Okay,
    I’ll give you the solid branding image, James. I’ll also give Tony the Carny huckster. And I ‘ll give Frank the millions in response. And Kelly a bullseye for everything.

    So he has branding down. So does Paris Hilton. So does P Diddy and Kermit the Frog ( hey , it’s not easy being green) So does Vince Offer and Billy Mayes.

    And it works. For some people. And there are enough of those some people to really float him along many waves.

    He has mass control. But he does not inspire trust. ( to me) So he has a lot of tribe members that are okay with that. As long as he delivers the millions, the waves, the results.

    So this turned a lesson about branding into a real psychological mirror. I don’t mind surfer dude, surfer dude is cool, but mainly , it’s the information. While entertaining, I have that kind of info already, and several clever people I DO trust.

    So he’s good but no sale. And dammit why do I want to watch him anyway?

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  44. @ Janice –

    So he’s good but no sale. And dammit why do I want to watch him anyway?

    Ahhh, answer that, and you’ve just discovered a lot about what makes you as a person tick 🙂

    By the way, everyone, I just want to stress (in case some people might think this) that I’m not saying anyone should go buy Frank’s stuff. I don’t care if you do; I don’t care if you don’t. I don’t think it’s crap material – it’s psychology I learned in University, so I can’t say it’s not valid or legit. I do think it’s overpriced, but that’s part of his brand. Price high, and people go, “Oooh, elite stuff, I want it.”

    The guy is *smart*. And it’s working for him, as a few have pointed out. Not what I’d do as a whole, but I’m not about to go knocking him down because I don’t think what he’s doing is shady. It’s psychology and sales.

    Whether some people feel that’s moral, ethical or whatever is purely personal opinion and that’s fine. I’m not trying to sway anyone into anything. Everyone has different versions of what’s acceptable and not, so I’m definitely not getting into the values game.

    All that said, I’m loving this discussion, because as Janice just noted, it’s a Psych Festival to figure out. And I love that stuff.

  45. Jealousy?

    No. I don’t want to draw extreme examples here, but I can’t help but be reminded of a couple I knew (and still know). High School sweethearts, married young and now on a pretty successful business. The only darkness to this story is that they financed their business early on by selling drugs and doing a little breaking and entering here and there.. never got caught at any of that and it’s long behind them now bit there it is.

    Would I have liked to have the money they had to get started in life? Sure. But I’d never do the things they did to get there.

    So, when I look at their success, do I feel “jealous”? No.

    Am I jealous of Bill Gates? He’s a guy who made billions by ruthless and really outrageous business tactics. No, I’m not jealous.

    I don’t care how much money Kerns has. I’m not jealous. I have enough money. I live my life honestly. That’s important to me.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  46. I find this discussion fascinating. An interesting point for me (and one that truly gets into the psychology of branding) is how many people perceived the products as “shady.” I only recently became aware of Frank and, as mentioned earlier have not seen all the materials others have seen, but I have also not heard negative reports from those that bought the products. Our strong feelings about a brand (positive or negative) lead us to make associations (at least initially). Some may argue that Frank’s tactics are manipulative but there is an element of psychological manipulation in all marketing. It does not make the product / service bad or good. Again, I’m not bashing anyone’s opinion just making an observation. In the past I was quick to dismiss all internet marketers but this year decided to take the meat and discard the bones. I don’t have to agree with all that’s said or how it’s implemented but I can certainly pull the lesson and apply it to my service/style.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post…Love and Basketball

  47. So you are basically calling Frank unethical?

    Well, I’ve got news for you…there are lots of people that love his products and would buy them again and will. He’s also offered a 60 day guarantee. I’d like to see Don Lapre offer one.

    Comparing a salesman to a couple that breaks the law? That’s a bit extreme don’t you think?

    You telling me the people behind commercials on TV aren’t being manipulative? Do you buy from McD’s? Marketing is everywhere, and just because he is selling an info product doesn’t mean that he is being shady or manipulative.

    I just think its funny how you can call yourself honest and then throw Bill Gates under the bus with everyone else.

    I am amazed by how many people are bashing Kern here. Again, his brand is perfect for what it needs to be. Surfer dude works for him and his whole crew. I guess you’ve got to wear a suit and tie to be legit. I feel like I’m talking to my grandfather here.

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  48. “Ahhh, answer that, and you’ve just discovered a lot about what makes you as a person tick ”

    LOL- Just so, James.

    Which made this all the more appealing as an example. People are not neutral. Money, power ,sex, freedom…desire and trust….he tags all the visceral bases with his brand.

    Hm, very thought provoking in that inkblot kind of way.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  49. Yes, Nathan, I consider both Kern and Gates unethical. And yes, that example was extreme: I SAID it was.

    Obviously you don’t think this is sleazy stuff. My bet is that if we polled two hundred million people, more would agree with you than would agree with me. That changes nothing – it just means that by my standards there are a lot more unethical people than otherwise. By your standards, it means there are a lot more sensible people.

    I wear jeans and tee-shirts too. He wouldn’t impress me by wearing a suit. I don’t judge people by their clothes or possessions – only by their ideas.

    I am amused by the “I feel like I’m talking to my grandfather”. I’m old enough to be the grandfather of some of you and maybe that’s why I feel so strongly about it. I think you’ll feel different when you are older, but sadly, many of you won’t. Or again, from your point of view: old people just don’t “get it”.

    So go ahead – buy his stuff. Maybe you’ll learn better ways to manipulate people and maybe you’ll get rich too. But I’m never going to applaud you for it. And you’ll never applaud me for being less rich but fussier about how I make money, right?

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  50. Influence and persuasion are part of sales and marketing. There are various ways to do so – all influence how consumers perceive or do not perceive a product or service, and all are designed to encourage sales. That’s business. A business that does not market, pitch, persuade, sell and influence makes no money and goes under.

    Take something as simple as a pricing strategy – Gold package, Silver package, Budget pa-…

    Budget? Crap, no way man, I’m not on a BUDGET! I don’t want people thinking I’m POOR! Gimme that Silver, buddy. Ha. I’ll show you. No, wait, hang on, give me GOLD, man. Because that’s right! I can AFFORD Gold! Because I’m SOMEbody, yessir!

    …see how it goes? Was that naming strategy of pricing package unethical or wrong? Depending on who you are and what your core values are, it might be. It might not be to the next person.

    That in no way gives anyone the permission to say, “You’re wrong and an unethical person yourself. You have no morals.” Of course not. We each have our OWN morals and all are right; none are wrong.

    Anyone who has a business to operate does influence consumers in some way, shape or form. Even if it’s a silly “For Sale” sign on a pile of tires by the side of the road.

    (Not sure what point I was trying to make here, but basically I think it comes down to relax, discuss politely and play nice.)

  51. “That in no way gives anyone the permission to say, “You’re wrong and an unethical person yourself. You have no morals.” Of course not. We each have our OWN morals and all are right; none are wrong.”

    I can’t agree with you.

    I think I have to stop reading this thread. It’s making me very angry.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  52. James, see what you’ve done now, you Canuck you? You’re scaring away the customers. Go sit in the back room and for God’s sake, take off that mask!

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  53. @James
    I think I sent the post off in a different direction. Here you were talking about branding and I went off on a rant about my reaction to the brand. Two completely different things.

    And then following my lead (because often the first comment sets the tone, no?) others had the same thought – reaction to the brand, not looking at the brand itself.

    Kern has a kick-ass brand. Everything about it is minutely managed. It’s combination TLC program / surfer dude documentary / sales pitch. What’s not to admire about the obvious work that went into this?

    I just don’t happen to like the brand that he’s selling, the same way I don’t like the Paris Hilton brand (I’m certain the real Hilton isn’t like the one we see). But look at Hilton’s popularity. And Kern’s… They’re hitting the right buttons somehow.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Don’t run away from your dreams

  54. Funny you should bring that up, Alex. I worked at the Palm Springs Hilton, and at first I thought you were talking about the “Hilton Brand” as in the hotel chain, as opposed to the “Hilton Brand” as in the rich, spoiled heiress. It’s interesting the lengths the hotel chain goes to in order to distance themselves from her. When she’s mentioned, it’s met with a polite chuckle but never any affirmation that she has anything to do with the chain, mainly because she doesn’t, but they sure don’t want people thinking she does.

    Why does freakin’ commentluv keep showing an old post for me? Must be run by a surfer dude.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  55. Alex – you are right (aren’t you always?).

    I’m ticked off that people even HAVE the buttons he pushes. And ticked off at James because I think he should have chosen a less incendiary example of good branding.

    I guess the whole “Internet Riches” things just puts a sour taste in my mouth. It’s Dutch Tulip bulbs all over again, chain letters, you name it – all the ugliness and at fiber speeds.

    I don’t agree with James on the moral judgment issues here. I think it’s wrong to play people. Yeah, some people know they are being played and that’s fine for them, but other people don’t know and they can be hurt.

    I REALLY have to unsubscribe from this post.. it’s raising my blood pressure!

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  56. Tony, I’m curious…where do you draw the line between immoral/unethical and otherwise?

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  57. Nathan, it’s pretty simple: if you hurt other people to help yourself, that’s not right.

    I feel there are a lot of desperate people right now. Laid off or working but struggling week to week. Some of them will look at pitches like this and bite the hook hard.

    Sheesh, I can tell you stories. Back in the late seventies a young man who was working for me asked me to “invest” $2,000.00 in something that was “guaranteed” to make $100,000 – which he would split with me. I listened to the pitch and saw it for what it was – a scam. I tried very hard to explain this to him but he just couldn’t see it. He ended up mad at me and somehow managed to scrape up the money somewhere else – probably from friends and relatives equally naive.

    Of course it was a scam and he was out the money and probably the folks he borrowed from or convinced to “invest’ weren’t happy with him either. Of course he liked me even less for being right..

    This kind of marketing hurts people. A lot of the people who will fall for this don’t have $1997.00 to waste. But they’ll pay it because they are desperate.

    It’s not right. It’s as simple as that.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  58. That is interesting. I don’t know if I agree, but it is interesting.

    So, you feel that his pitch is taking advantage of people, or his product is…or both? What if the product made these people lots of money?

    Now, I understand if people are selling garbage, but I don’t feel that his materials are. That might just be a difference in orientation.

    However, what about the home lenders selling mortgages people couldn’t afford, or dealerships pressuring car buyers? There is subliminal messaging being used every day. Frank’s pitch is hardly one at all. Maybe subliminal, but I don’t think he’s pitching very hard.

    Is it because he’s selling a “get rich” product? What about Tony Robbins or Dale Carnegie?

    I think it is tough to paint everything with such a broad brush. I get where you are coming from, I totally do, but I just don’t see where Frank is being unethical.

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  59. @Nathan:

    I agree that there are far worse things.

    But surely you aren’t seriously claiming that everyone who buys that course will be able to benefit from it? Beyond that, do you honestly think that he’s really offering anything of value?

    Who do you see as his market? Other Kern wannabes or desperate people hoping to better their miserable lives? It’s those latter people I worry about.

    Oh, and don’t tell me about the money back guarantee. Very few people will admit they were fools. They’ll blame themselves and keep trying over and over again. I’ve seen that plenty of times too..

    You know, there are advantages to having decades of life behind you. I’ve seen all this stuff before, long before the internet. I’ve seen people just like Kerns and heard the hopeful bleatings of the sheep who wanted the easy way to riches. Been there, seen people get hurt. Didn’t like it then and don’t like it now.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  60. You’ve got a strongly biased opinion against internet marketers in general. I read some of your blog and it seems that part of your brand is that you are the get rich slow guy that likes to tear down those that do it otherwise.

    To each their own I say. People make their own decisions. You can’t blame Frank for selling something if others will buy it. Just because someone buys the product doesn’t mean they are a fool…you are inserting heavily coated words, which I think makes your bias evident.

    There are a lot of people making a lot of money online. If some find success easily, then why hold it against them?

    In regards to your question about market, I’d say it is a mix of successful business operators and people with a product to sell. It isn’t just about “charging more.”

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve enabled Google Friend Connect

  61. I’m going to step in here and hopefully put out a fire before it starts.

    Although I didn’t watch all of Frank’s video (I’m like James, I’d rather read than watch a video on a site), I understand what Tony’s saying. I also remember the pyramid schemes from the 70s and 80s and I have a real problem with marketers who ask for exorbitant amounts of money for incredible secrets that will make you rich fast. As Tony said, in this economy people are stressed and panicked. They’re trying to hold on to what little they have and at the same time find a way to increase their income and gain some financial security. Asking for 2k for some advice is a lot to invest on something that may or may not work.

    True, everything is a gamble. Some people sink tons of money into the stock market, while others blow it on lottery tickets or at the casino, all hoping for the big break or the next win right around the corner.

    You’re right with “You can’t blame Frank for selling something if others will buy it. Just because someone buys the product doesn’t mean they are a fool…”, but let me add this: No, they’re not fools. They’re desperate for a solution. They’re grasping at anything, even at the risk of sinking more money than they can afford into a product that may or may not help. Look at the diet industry. How many poor souls try time and again each and every miracle cure out there for obesity? Everyone from NutriSystem to the lowliest fly-by-night infomercial at 3am sells the hope that one day these people can be thin and beautiful. Do they work for everyone? No. Will Frank’s system work for everyone? No.

    Again, these people are desperate and scared.

    I saw a link to another entrepreneur offering a get rich quick scheme (for lack of a better word). There he was, bold as day in a video on his site, lounging in a chair on the deck of his home in a tropical paradise. I’ve seen other sites with the entrepreneur next to expensive cars, in expensive suits, sipping champagne with a bevy of gorgeous women. Each time I have to ask myself, is this real? The house and cars could have been rented, the women models hired for the shoot. Even Frank seated beach side in his lounge chair could easily be filmed anywhere.

    The thing is people have to use their common sense and not give in to the rising panic.

    And yes, Tony does have quite the opinion on many matters. James and I have gone head to head with him on a few subjects. One thing I will say in his defense is he does not try to tear people down. He’s just very blunt in his advice, not something we’re used to in this day and age. Everyone is so careful to dance around a subject and be as politically correct as possible that straightforwardness like Tony’s comes off as insulting. In my opinion, Tony’s not biased, he’s just telling it like it is.

  62. “There are a lot of people making a lot of money online”

    That’s a false statement. There are very few people making very much money at all. I think it’s very harmful to imply otherwise – it only promotes the idea that if they only bought this latest course, they’d finally break through and make the money other people make.

    Except most other people are just like them and will remain so.

    Most blogs make pennies a day. Most e-book authors haven’t made minimum wage from their efforts.

    I’m not the “get rich slow guy” at all. There is a very good blog that is exactly that and i think they comment here sometimes, but that’s not me. I’m the “enjoy your life guy” – I believe in chasing happiness, not wealth.

    I CAN blame Frank and I do. He’s playing on unjustified hopes and ripping off people for fairly serious money. I think that’s shameful.

    If you want to buy into that hype and can afford the cost, go ahead. I’m not concerned with that – I’m worried about the people who think their lives will change from his advice.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  63. I’m reading comments, and I’m trying to put my finger on what’s upsetting people here.

    Harry/Tony – Frank Kern isn’t selling a scam. He is selling information on how to influence people. It isn’t a get rich quick scheme.

    I understand both your perspectives on screwing people. Is the product overpriced? I think so. Is it a SCAM? Cripes, no. The guy can sell his stuff for whatever he wants. People buy it, and suddenly he’s called a scammer? His product/information is valid. That isn’t scamming people.

    Yes, his tactics are questionable but again, valid.

    Will his information make people money? YES IT CAN. But most people don’t have the time, energy, determination or endurance to apply it. Hell, I could buy his information and start marketing his way to boost our business. If it works to draw in clients AND WE DELIVER QUALITY WORK, is that wrong?

    I don’t think so.

    But I’m just tossing out thoughts here… don’t torch me. Gently persuade me neither of you are having a biased knee-jerk reaction. That’s all.

  64. Haven’t read all the comments but I get the general tone. I bought Frank Kern’s Mass Control in the fall. I did his “Four Day Cash Machine” the week after I bought it and made a little over five thousand dollars. Recouped my costs and then some.

    Then I did the course, launched OBS, and made almost a hundred grand.

    Whatever. The guy changed my life. All well and good to hate him, but I’d invite the dude to my wedding.

  65. @James: Oh, no, I’m not trying to imply that Frank’s product is a scam at all. I’m in total agreement with you that although the tactics are questionable, they are indeed valid.

    I also agree that most people don’t have the time, determination and endurance to apply that information. That’s why Frank’s advice may work for some and not for others, just like all the diets on the market. There’s too many variables involved for them to work perfectly each and every time.

    I think it comes down to knowing yourself before you shell out the money for anything, whether it’s Frank’s advice or the next miracle cure on the market. You have to ask yourself if you have the ability to commit and see it through to the end, doing everything you possibly can to make it happen.

  66. Nathan Hangen says:

    I’ll make this my last comment. This isn’t my blog and I don’t want to overstep my boundaries…I like this place.

    Here’s the skinny – I bought the course via an affiliate link that offered coaching and a crap load of other stuff. I make a moderate part time living online. Does that make me desperate?

    I made enough money over the past few months, selling a variety of services and working a crap load as an affiliate so I could prove that making money online is real…to my wife. Now she is a believer. Does that make me desperate?

    I can’t wait to get home and try these tactics. I’m not an unethical guy, but I’m not afraid of selling a product I believe in and helping people believe that they need it. I try to create a brand of my own because I believe personal brands are the new way ahead.

    I don’t think people are as desperate as the news would have you believe. There are always going to be desperate people, but I don’t agree that the economy is bad. It is just getting restructured. There is money to be made, the places where it is made have just changed hands. Old money doesn’t like it, new money doesn’t care.

    I just turned 30 years old and I’m determined to never have to deploy again. Being in A-Stan has given me the drive to pull myself together and climb out of a hole I put myself in. I did more damage with a credit card buying junk than I did as an adult buying info products.

    I buy lots of ebooks and online courses. I find value in many of them. Info products are also a way ahead. They sell them here, Tony sells them, and I sell them. Frank teaches you how to sell more of whatever you are selling.

    Lots of people do make money online…I work with several that make plenty more than I do. It all comes down to passion and patience…words I stole from another guy killing it – Gary Vaynerchuk.

    I think a paradigm shift is in order, and like it or not, the world is changing. That’s just my own personal take. Love it or leave it. Enjoy the rest of your holiday 🙂

    Nathan Hangen´s last blog post…I’ve Enabled Google Friend Connect

  67. @Harry

    People do sometimes interpret bluntness as insulting. But sometimes it IS insulting. Heck, I’m pretty much saying that the people endorsing Kern are as unethical as he is, aren’t I? You could certainly take that as an insult.

    It’s hard to avoid when discussing this. I’m not willing to accept that it’s just a matter of opinion and everyone’s POV is A-OK. It’s not – as both you and said, people get hurt by people like Kern. I’ve seen it too many times to just shut my mouth and pretend that it’s not important.

    I’m biting my tongue on a lot of things I feel right now..

    So how do you avoid insulting someone when you really believe that they are doing something harmful? Sitting on the fence on this really would hurt my butt.

    Sigh.. I just saw Naomi’s comment. I can well believe that she found this valuable – that doesn’t mean that other people would. Naomi worked hard and built a lot of traction.. I think she is way overpriced too, but she obviously worked hard for it. If she did benefit, it was because she was already in position to do so from her other efforts.

    I bet MWP could do the same thing. I hope you don’t – I think that would shatter my respect for you guys, but you probably could. You are certainly positioned for it.

    I couldn’t. I’m not positioned for it, I don’t have the personality for it and my empathy for the little guy just wouldn’t let me. If I were foolish enough to fall for this, I’d be out about a weeks income. Not the end of the world for me, but for plenty of others reading that could be a lot more serious.

    Most of the world is not Naomi. Most of the world is not me, either. James says he’s “selling information on how to influence people. It isn’t a get rich quick scheme.” Unfortunately, I think a lot of people would see it as just that.

    So, if you have Naomi type skills and personality, maybe “Mass Control” will pay for your wedding too. Most of us don’t have those assets.

    By the way, my wedding cost $10 for the JP and $17.00 for lunch.. 🙂

    Oh, and Nathan: the world never really changes. But almost everybody in their twenties and thirties thinks it has..

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  68. Brett Legree says:

    The more time I spend on the net, stumbling across things like this, or the latest blog, or whatever, the more I think it is stagnating. My personal opinion, of course 🙂

    Reinventing the wheel. Repackaging what was already known.

    Oh, and I’m a part of it too, so I’m not absolving myself of that.

    Productivity information, for instance. How many ways can we re-spin 7 Habits? Or Getting Things Done, yeah, it’s pretty cool, but I found a link a while back showing that the tickler file had been patented in the 1800’s.

    I guess I’ve eluded to that a couple of times at my own blog with my Viking stuff, how some of what was written 1200 years ago sounds a lot like what people are selling today.

    Want to get stuff done? Figure out what the hell you want to do, then pull your thumb out of your arse and do it.

    Easier said than done of course, which is why we pay $50 to some guy to tell us this (and I know, I’ve paid the $50 before).

    I’m sure Mr. Kern has some great things to say, and I’m flying blind here as I haven’t even checked him out.

    Maybe I’m just saying that because I’ve read so much of this stuff before, I don’t care to look at any more of it. It’s all been said, so rather than read more about it, I’d rather get off my arse and do it.

    Of course, I know you were talking about the branding that he has, not what he’s saying – and I think you’re right. It’s cool that he’s got this kind of allure. It’s what we all want to have if we’re selling stuff.

    So we definitely *can* learn from him, and I think that was your point, James.

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  69. “It’s cool that he’s got this kind of allure”

    Yeah, can we get back to that?

    I saw just the opposite. I saw a creepy, very un-alluring guy.

    No, it’s not the hair. I’ve worn mine that long. It’s not the casual clothes – I wear jeans and T’s to places where everybody else wears suits.

    It’s HIM. That smooth talking, rapid eye blinking snake oil thing.

    People find that alluring?? Wow.. I think that says something but I don’t know what.

    Is it the put-on? Is it because he is talking about controlling people, building trust, all that? Is it the reverse psychology – yeah, I’m leading you down the path but I’m telling you I’m doing it so it’s a little joke we share – is that it?

    Or is it something I’m just not seeing? Or are you not seeing what I’m seeing?

    So confusing 🙂

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  70. Brett Legree says:


    I’m smiling here as I am like the stereotypical Slashdot commentator – I haven’t even clicked on the link yet… one second…

    Okay, back now. Used car salesman. I wouldn’t let him hold my wallet, that’s for sure. I’m with you 100 percent, after the first 20 seconds.

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  71. Too funny. Slapshot calls make me *want* to defend the guy. But I won’t. Here’s why:

    I’m smart enough not to discredit information because I trust/don’t trust someone.

    People I have trusted deeply have hurt me damned worse than people I didn’t trust at all. In fact, those I *don’t* trust offer me the most benefits, because I can keep them at arm’s distance while observing and learning what they so freely give away.

    Trust of Frank Kern *never* came into my equation or analysis. I *don’t* trust him. The guy’s business is getting rich. But I trust *myself* enough to not be suckered in, observe what he does show off freely and learn from it.

    So maybe the bigger point here is that those who don’t trust are unable to take the good from the bad and benefit from the lesson. They require full trust and openness, which puts them at higher vulnerability of getting burned and hurt.

    Something to think about…

  72. “observe what he does show off freely and learn from it.”

    I hope you are going to explain what it is you think he is doing that is of value.

    I don’t mean that sarcastically. Obviously you are a smart dude; far more knowledgeable than I am about marketing.

    I see a sleazy snake oil salesman. You obviously see something different. What is it? Why is it?

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  73. Brett Legree says:


    I guess the amount of trust required depends on the investment. Perhaps if someone I definitely do not trust is giving away information, I’ll read it – I might even use it, once I’ve determined for myself that it is good.

    I certainly won’t give someone $2000 unless there’s a certain amount of trust involved (or unless I know where he lives… heh heh)

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  74. @ Tony – Fair enough, and thanks for remembering that I *do* use my brain.

    Total perception of Kern himself aside, I hear this:

    “People buy their passion. If you love surfboards, you’re going to buy surfboard stuff.”

    Uh, yeah.

    “So the surfboard people who sell surfboard stuff would do well to tap into those who like surfboard stuff.”

    Uh, yeah.

    “So if you sell surfboards, find people who love surfboards.”

    Yes, for the love of pete.

    “And because people associate low price with low quality, and you’re in the surfboard business to make a living, raise your price and more people will buy.”

    Yes. This is true. (Not I do NOT say that I do this. I am saying it is TRUE.)

    “And if you put your prices out of reach of 3/4 of the population, they’ll think your boards are elite. And if they love boarding, they’ll really want your boards. So you just created desire for an elite product.”

    Yes. This is also true.

    Do you disagree with this? No matter who Frank is or how he presents his material or what your perception is of him as a person, do you believe that these statements are true?

    I *know* they are. So regardless of what I think of Frank, I refuse to discredit what he says because I *know* it to be true.

  75. @ Brett – I give Bell over $4,000 every year to supply me with ‘net connection and a phone line. Do I trust them?

    Hell no.

  76. Disclaimer: I’m not trying to sell Frank’s stuff. I’m just saying use your brains, people. Don’t be sheep and jump on the ‘me too!’ bandwagon unless you’ve done your research and you’re sure. That’s all. No matter which bandwagon, aye or nay, that you may be jumping on. 20 seconds doesn’t cut it.

  77. @James

    But we already know all that, don’t we? So here’s this smooth talking guy telling me things I already know (and won’t do!) and blink-blink-blinking at me like somebody is blowing smoke in his eyes.

    You know where *I* think the smoke is blowing 🙂

    So that’s the magic? Tell people what they already know and then hold out a great big price tag if they want to know more?

    What I want to know is why some of us think he’s cool and some think he’s slimy. Let’s take it as a given that whatever he’s peddling would be valuable to some people. What’s the psychology here that causes that dichotomy of impression?

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  78. Brett Legree says:


    Different types of trust exist, of course. I “trust” that Bell will provide the service level I expect for the money I pay them, but I wouldn’t let them look after my kids!

    If I didn’t trust that they would give me the uptime I expect, I wouldn’t pay them.

    So, if I trusted that Frank’s stuff was worth the money, I might buy it.

    Now – if you are a salesman pitching something to me face-to-face, you’d better build some kind of *personal* trust in the first couple of minutes, otherwise no matter how good your testimonials are, I probably won’t buy your product.

    Maybe that’s why some car salesmen are more successful than others? Same product, different tactics, different trust level.

    If Bell used Charles Manson as a spokesman for their products instead of those stupid beavers, would you buy the service?

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  79. Heh. I don’t know who Charles Manson is, so…

  80. @Naomi
    Someone who’s actually used his info products and found them helpful. Good to know. So it’s not a scam – as one colleague is always telling me: it’s important to find the value and ignore the fluff hiding it. 😉

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Don’t run away from your dreams

  81. Brett Legree says:


    Even if you don’t know who Mr. Manson is, I doubt you’d buy telephone service from him!

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  82. I wish that I had not deleted the comment I just typed, because it speaks to your point James.

    I went back and looked at two more videos as I had planned.

    Branding and Marketing when done well is brilliant. People ransom the rest of their lives for those MBA Executive Programs. Expertise. Social and Institutional validation. Total those up quickly in cost.

    And what do they want?

    To be effective at branding and marketing products that sell masterfully. To earn a decent lifestyle for themselves and their families.

    What if surfer dude nets the same effect? His info IS valid, his strategy sound. What he is saying IS absolutely correct. Why not take what you can use and leave the rest? Baby /bath water thing.

    2,000.00 is a lot of money. But in comparison to what? Going back to school? Retooling a shop? Launching or not launching something that could make a difference in quality of life?

    Sometimes tools are simply tools.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  83. @Janice
    Yes, compared to a $5000 or $20000 MBA, $2000 is cheap and may produce more results. Certainly in less time, no?

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Don’t run away from your dreams

  84. Oh Sheesh I can hear the snickering from here. Scratch that last line.
    I am going for wine.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  85. Yes. And those are very conservative numbers. Tuitions are very expensive at name schools.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  86. Brett Legree says:


    I see your point about 20 seconds not cutting it. I guess we all just have our own perspectives based on our experiences. I’ll give it another watch.


    Yes, you are right, it is about the desired result. Whether one spends $2000 on this or $20k on an MBA might depend on where one is working.

    Putting this guy’s course on your CV won’t get you a job at a lot of companies, for instance.

    More on my own personal perspectives, and maybe why I sometimes value first impressions.

    First impressions, right or wrong, can be lasting ones. Love it or hate it, if you show up for an interview at a lot of companies dressed like this guy, you’re not going to get the job – is it fair? I don’t know. I’m not sure life is fair. It just is.

    My own experience – this guy at first reminded me of a new VP we had about 3 years ago.

    The first words out of his mouth were “I don’t care if you don’t like me, it’s not my job to make you like me”.

    Umm, okay…

    A few minutes later in his meet and greet, he said, “Safety, leads to productivity, leads to long term sustainability. This is all you need to know about business, so if you paid for an MBA, you wasted your money.”

    (Incidentally, and I’m not looking down on anyone, he only had a Grade 12 education, so he did pretty well for himself by convincing people to believe his words, as he got to a senior VP level at a government funded company. But fine, go ahead and insult half the audience. Trust doesn’t matter, right?)

    Fast forward two and a half years – hundreds of millions of dollars of public money had been wasted, projects hadn’t been moved ahead at all, and the VP “moved on to other endeavours”.

    (People don’t get fired at that level, they just “move on”.)

    My personal evaluation, and it is my opinion of course – he was out of his league. He couldn’t play with the big dogs. He really was duking it out with MBA’s and Ph.D.’s and they saw through it.

    Sometimes there are “Coles Notes” versions of things that can get you the 80 percent of what you need to know, but sometimes you need the Real McCoy.

    I mean, put it another way. I can probably teach you what you need to know to get a job at an engineering firm by bluffing your way through the interviews in a couple of months.

    You might even be able to write a few requests for proposal and make some bucks on the side.

    But once you get a full time job in that field, you’ll be screwed.

    So it largely depends on what you need to do, in my opinion of course.

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  87. Brett –
    He’s not selling a job. He is selling an independent lifestyle.
    He’s not selling the resume. He’s selling results.

    Not good for engineers perhaps, but not bad for KIWI Enterprises.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post…The Dragon Room, Naked Models, And Mad Magazine

  88. Brett Legree says:


    Oh, I agree – I merely was pointing out the difference.

    I do believe that something like this can be all you need. Naomi had once said something along the lines that you don’t need to be the best, only better than 95 percent of the folks out there.

    And that is very true.

    If something like this is the right tool for the job, then use it.

    So really I’m agreeing with James by saying I understand that there can be value in this.

    To put my hat on a different way, ponder this for a minute:

    He is selling results.

    Maybe that is what some people take issue with here. The results = the ends.

    Sometimes the ends do not justify the means, and maybe *that* is why some people raise the trust flag.

    But back to results again, I’m hearing you.

    Oh, how I believe in that. Results matter, not the resume. That’s why Kiwi Enterprises needs to come to fruition, because at The Factory, the results usually count for squat. Dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” count more than just getting the damned job done!!!

    Whatever the outcome of this conversation today, it has been fun 🙂

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  89. On the trust factor (because the discussion went this way), I think it’s important for people to decide what they are trusting and what trust means:

    1. I trust Kern to deliver a good course, because of past history and experiences of other people.

    2. I trust myself to apply the right knowledge in following with my morals, and leave the rest.

    3. I trust Kern not to screw me by delivering poor quality, because he has a huge reputation to uphold and big names backing him.

    4. I trust myself to make smart decisions with my money and investments based on returns.

    5. I trust people based on what they negotiate with me in a give and take situation. If I trust and get nothing back, gone. If I don’t trust, then no one will trust me, and I lose.

    And I’ll note again – trust is a big word and needs to be applied in context. I trusted friends that let me down. Kern will, in many cases, be more trustworthy than people who were close to me. He will be, in many areas, less trustworthy than those I keep close now.

    But again, I trust myself to be able to handle whatever consequences occur.

    If a person does not trust that, then trust cannot survive, period.

    Re: education – Yes, you damned well can put on your resume that you built a business that sold X dollars in X amount of time. If I ever have to write a resume, you can bet I’ll be putting that in. Will I write where I got my education? Come on. This is the school of life, not the University of Whatever. Does that discredit my education? Not at all.

    @ Brett – Obviously, you’ve had events in your life occur that have colored how you view other people and the trust you extend the people around you. We’ve all had that.

    But it’s important to separate single events and results from other people that come along, not to paint them with the same brush. One person who breached trust with you does not mean all people are to be measured by the same stick.

    @ Janice – Yes, it’s cheaper than a university education. I pay $700/course in Uni, and I have to have 30 courses to graduate.

    And you’re right. Sometimes tools are just tools. 🙂

  90. Tony, I’m curious if you approve of any persuasion techniques?

    I’m probably one of the oldest guys lurking around here. Permit a Reader’s Digest background. I’ve been involved in “traditional” (i.e. brick and mortar) business marketing for over 30 years. Read most of the books (probably all the good ones). Learned most of the techniques when I was young – and now I’m much older.

    I’m of the school of thought that there is a distinct difference in selling and persuading. Selling (carnival barking) is good for the seller. It may or may not be good for the buyer. At it’s root, selling is manipulation and is driven by what’s in it for the seller (a commission). Persuasion, however, is different in that it’s helping people buy. Those buyers derive some benefit. Persuasion is mutually beneficial. Win-win.

    I’ve stood with people who really needed a different solution than the one I was offering at the time, and told them so. But they insisted on buying because they were so dumb-founded that somebody would have the honesty and integrity to tell them, “What I’ve got may not be the best thing for you.” By “taking that order” am I being unethical? Should I have simply refused to let them buy? Well, I didn’t. I never felt it was my obligation to live their life and make their choices.

    Capitalism is built on consumption, which is necessarily driven by BUYING. Buying is driven by selling (I win, you probably lose) or persuasion (we both get what we want and need). There’s probably (I’m guessing here) more selling than persuading going on, even though persuading would result in more sales. You’ve all heard, “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.” Well, not necessarily. Some people love to be sold. Or so I’ve experienced. Guess what? Salespeople tend to be the easiest to sell. I know, I am one! Even so, both paths can be used for good or bad. You can define those for yourself.

    Whether Kern’s stuff is worth $1997 or not, I honestly don’t know. Here’s what I do know. To the people who are lining up to buy it, it’s worth it. If they can afford it or not, that’s not for me to say. I’ve sold lots of stuff through the years and I’ve never been in a position to control the wallet of my customers or prospects. And it’s a power I’m glad I do not have. I’m also glad Tony, or anybody else, doesn’t have over me. It’s my money. If I want to blow it with Kern, or invest it in ways others disapprove of – it’s my business.

    Kern is using tried and true techniques of persuasion. Sure, these techniques can be used for evil. Plenty of history shows us that. But it’s a leap to consider Kern’s ability to build up a desire (which is what he’s quite brilliant at doing) to some sinister evil. Apple does it with iPods and iPhones. Atari used to do it in gaming and now Nintendo does it. Harley did it. Lots of ethical marketers do it.

    All purchases contain risk. Some more than others. I’m curious about the strong emotions from people who are so upset at Kern and others like him who build a strong and loyal following. Vote with your own wallet if you approve or disapprove. Freedom to choose. That’s what capitalism and America are all about – at least for now!

    I’m not saying I’ll buy it. My earlier post was somewhat in jest, but I’ll admit it might be worth it to a guy like me, a lifelong student of marketing. And unless he’s lying, how could Kern be unethical with a 60-day no questions asked guarantee. IF I bought it and thought it was not worth the money, I’d return it in a heartbeat. But Kern, being the marketing/persuasion expert that I believe him to be, knows that the minute the money is spent (the investment is made), then our minds go into a mode where we justify and approve of our decision. I’d venture to guess not many people ask for refunds because that’s just how people are – and it’s that psychology (and so much more) that Kern understands very well.

    James, sorry for the long comment.

    Leonard´s last blog post…Snippets About Bud Nipping

  91. I’m almost afraid to jump back in but something James said really hit home for me – the trust issue. I believe it reveals the difference of opinion. In Sales we learn about different buying styles – some are financial oriented, others relationship etc. As a sales person you need to have an understanding of what motivates / drives your buyers so that you can present the right information. The relationship oriented buyers here were quickly turned off by Frank, seeing his “style” as untrustworthy. While the original discussion was a clinical dissection of branding, trust became the issue for those who value that in the sales relationship (not a criticism, so please don’t be mean to me). When I watched the surfboard video, I was able to pull out nuggets of wisdom which led to some insights about my own business. I’ve heard criticism of Naomi but I personally find her brilliant. Overpriced? Not in my mind. Another key point that Frank taps into and I found worth consideration is the mentality of price versus perceived value. Is he saying something new? Of course not, but he does communicate it in a way that connects with HIS target audience. For Frank’s product the pricing actually makes sense. How many people are going to plunk down $2000 and not apply the advice? (Yes, I know some will) If the info was $19.97 how many would buy it and apply the advice? From my observations, not many. The cheaper the advice, the easier it becomes to discard it. I am not speaking up for or against Frank, but as stated before I’m definitely willing to take the meat and discard the bones.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post…Love and Basketball

  92. Brett Legree says:


    Good explanation of the concept of trust.

    And yes, of course I’ve had events in my life that influence how I view other people and extend trust, just like we all have.

    And it is important not to paint everyone with that same brush, to try and critically evaluate each person who comes along without making assumptions.

    But I don’t believe for a minute that anyone can 100 percent of the time do that. We’re all human, and like it or not we will make choices a lot of the time based on our past experiences.

    If anyone says they are *never* influenced by things that have happened to them in the past, I call bull.

    So that’s why I said I figured some people had trouble with this sales tactic, and some don’t.

    I hope you know I’m agreeing with you here and I will go back and watch the rest of the video so as not to be an uninformed fool 🙂

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  93. Brett Legree says:

    @Karen Swim,

    Your explanation of buying styles said what I tried to say earlier a lot better.

    Frank’s style works well for some people, and makes other people run away.

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – the mind and the heart.

  94. I’m beginning to think that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Long-ass URL to follow that cliche, but it’s worth a visit to illustrate the point – http://books.google.com/books?id=pykDAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&lr=&as_brr=1&as_pt=MAGAZINES&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0_0#PPA18,M1

    RhodesTer´s last blog post…Visitors from beyond. Nice ones, too.

  95. @leonard

    I wouldn’t want to control how you spend your money.

    I think at the end it’s just this: some people are greedy and don’t care if they happen to step on a few fingers as they climb up the ladder. Some people say “excuse me” all the way up. Some people don’t climb at all and some people go find a ladder that isn’t so damn crowded that they have to step on fingers.

    The only people I admire are in that last group.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Everybody wants to be rich by Anthony Lawrence

  96. Bobby Mormon says:

    I still can’t get over seeing Frank portraying himself as a dog obedience trainer. He was working under the name Dean Rankin. The video was a joke. He only makes the big money selling the internet marketing how to stuff. The rest was just a build up to becoming a guru. I’ve known Frank since he was a up and coming “rich kid” waiting for the trickle down from his grandfather. I don’t think he ever really worked a real job

  97. @Barry
    Your point about Kern making big money on the Internet Marketing stuff. That seems generally true. The people that I hear about making the big money selling stuff generally are the people selling how to make money.

    Now because they aren’t marketing to me, nor need to brag about their sales, so those who aren’t in Internet Marketing don’t talk about their Internet successes…

    And how interesting that he started from a position of privilege. He therefore wouldn’t have (most likely) the same money issues that many people who start totally from scrtach have to get over before opening up to big money.

  98. By the way, coincidentally I just finished “How we decide” by Jonah Lehrer.

    For $15 from Amazon, this would probably teach you more about buying behavior than any Internet Marketing course – though do read the negative comments for links to other books that have covered this as fully before and do note that ALL of it is available for free on-line at various science sites.

    But no, then you’d have to read rather than watch a pile of videos. Not worth it 🙂

  99. I don’t understand why everyone except Alex has ignored Naomi Dunford’s comment. I have no idea what Frank Kern’s product is, but what she says is how I see the value of any info product — if I can make more money from the knowledge I learn, it’s worth it. 2K product making 5K is great return. $20 eBook that doesn’t do anything is waste.

    Now — may I mention I bought Naomi’s OBS and just published my first for-profit eBook? I’m watching if it pays of the few hundred dollars I paid . . .

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…Letting Go To Reinvent Yourself

  100. I find these comments absolutely amazing. Time and time again people say “I can’t stand him, but I can’t stop watching him.” What does this say about us and how accustomed we have become to being manipulated. It is almost like we need manipulation to feel normal.
    Does that scare anyone else?

    Andy´s last blog post…No Carb Foods For Dieting

  101. Andy,


    Kelly´s last blog post…Where Are You Sitting?

  102. @ Andy – People don’t need manipulation.

    But they do need certain psychological aspects to feel comfortable. Every single influential action you take with any person in your life, be it your spouse, partner, kids, client, provider and more, uses the same psychological aspects that marketing and salespeople use.

    So to refute sales and marketing strategies is to refute human psychology, instinct, need and emotion and is also to put every single action we make with people questionable.

    And that is more scary to me than sales and marketing.

  103. My three words?


    His brand was too self-conscious. It tipped me off right away. So I went Googling, and found this: http://www.welcometowallyworld.com/frank-kern-mass-control-or-mas/

    But was that all true, or sour grapes from a less-successful rival? So then I found this: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/11/dojsweep.shtm

    That’s the official FTC site, which says in part: “The stipulated final judgment and order with Instant Internet Empires and Irwin F. Kern, IV, also known as Frank Kern, bars them from making false or misleading income claims, from participating in chain marketing schemes, and from providing others with the means and instrumentalities to violate federal laws.”

    He was selling a pyramid scheme. And I haven’t seen much from Mass Control to suggest it’s much more than the same. But it’s all so very meta. “Buy this program and you will learn how to sell, and don’t worry if you don’t have anything to sell, you can sell this program.”

    I don’t doubt you can learn a lot about selling from watching this guy. I’m watching all the free stuff myself. But the brand comes off as huckster. The ratty jeans and long hair are just as much a costume as the Armani suit. Just targeting a different audience.

    Drew Kime´s last blog post…World Domination!

  104. @ Drew – And that’s the point of my post – brand. It’s a costume you put on, just like an Armani suit. Yessir.

    And there’s something to be learned from that.

  105. @ James – The thing about the costume is that it doesn’t show who the marketer *is*. It shows who the marketer is trying to *reach*. I think that’s why he turned me off so much. “Hey, lookit me. I’m just a regular Joe, just like you.” Except he didn’t *sound* like a regular Joe at all.

    Oh, and brand issues aside, the biggest warning flag for me was that he wouldn’t state the price. In my experience, the longer a salesman puts off mentioning the price the more outrageous it will be. And no, I don’t mean just *high* price, I mean out of line with the true value.

    $20,000 for a new car probably isn’t outrageous. $20,000 for a home gym might be.

    He’s definitely up front about what he’s doing. Build desire first, then let people sell themselves that it’s worth the money. Like he says, there’s three reasons not to buy: they don’t want it, they can’t afford it, they don’t believe it. But if you make them want it enough, they’ll *find* a way to afford it.

    That’s why his style grates on me. He’s intentionally targeting “average people,” people who probably don’t have a spare $2,000 burning a hole in their pockets. And he’s counting on hooking the (historically significant) proportion of them who will let their desire override their reason.

    Eh, going off on a tangent again. But just to clarify something I mentioned to Naomi when I emailed her about her comment above, I’m not saying marketing itself is sleazy or unethical. I’m saying that Frank Kern strikes me as sleazy and unethical. *And* incredibly good at what he does.

    Drew Kime´s last blog post…World Domination!

  106. I have some experience with Frank Kern’s products. I signed up for a trial for his Mass Control Monthly product last year and was impressed by the quality and information contained in the bonuses he sent. That being said, I didn’t think the newsletter itself was worth the $800/month he was asking. When I canceled my subscription, I was told the next month’s letter had been sent early by mistake, but I could keep it at no charge. There was no hassle or hard sales pitch to keep me as a subscriber, so I have to give him that.

    Something Frank is a master at is using the persona he has created in all his marketing and actual products. Whether that is who he truly is or not doesn’t matter. It’s a character that works for him and his prospects can bond with. He has become a recognizable character. People know he likes to surf (and isn’t very good), that he’s a successful copywriter and Internet marketer, that he is a family man, and that he loves being something of a beach bum. Those are all elements of his character that allow him to stay in touch with his customers and prospects and keep them engaged.

    Great marketers are able to create and use those characters. Someone earlier mentioned Dan Kennedy, one of the great direct response marketers and teachers out there. And while I’ve bought several of Kennedy’s products, the one I’d recommend to learn more about using personality in your marketing to replicate the kind of success people like Dan, Frank Kern, Yanik Silver, and Naomi have is called “Personality in Copy”. It’s available at gkicwebstore.com and is one of the more affordable products they offer. Definitely worth the money.

    Joe´s last blog post…My Number One Piece of Career & Business Advice

  107. @Joe:
    When I canceled my subscription, I was told the next month’s letter had been sent early by mistake, but I could keep it at no charge. There was no hassle or hard sales pitch to keep me as a subscriber, so I have to give him that.

    Why not just say: “Sorry to hear you’re going, but because you’ve been a customer, have the next month’s letter anyway”? Why pretend that it got sent by mistake. That’s just crap and makes me believe that everything else is crap, even the stuff of value.

    If I can’t trust him to tell the truth about the little things, how can I trust the big?

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Does procrastination arouse you?

  108. @ Alex – Ahh, but how do you KNOW that it wasn’t a mistake? How do you KNOW that it was a strategic move?

    “Oh come on, James, of course it was…”

    Yes. I used to think like that, assuming everything because I KNEW. (I’m omniscient, right?) And the result is that I put a lot of words in people’s mouths, got upset with them about things they never had the intention of doing and judged actions they didn’t mean to take.

    Unless you KNOW the truth and reality, you can’t say it wasn’t a mistake.

    (Playing devil’s advocate, but the point is very valid.)

    Here’s another example:

    A man’s late coming home from work, and he’s already upset and stressed over what he KNOWS his wife is going to say – even though she hasn’t said it yet.

    He gets home, and he’s already defensive, ready for the fight he KNOWS is coming.

    She says, “Wow, they kept you late tonight, eh?”


    The wife, totally taken aback, reacts as she should – protectively and defensively. “WELL! IF THAT’S HOW YOU’RE GOING TO BE, YOU UNGRATEFUL ASS, HERE’S YOUR GODDAMNED SUPPER. YOU MUST LOVE YOUR JOB MORE THAN ME AND THE KIDS!”

    A year later, they’re divorced. Why?

    Because he created a reality that didn’t exist and was never meant to exist, because he assumed.

  109. Did Amway start dressing down their distributors? I swear, he sounds just like this Amway guy who sat at my kitchen table…..

    People are believing that any idiot who orders the course can get TWO GRAND back in 4 days? WOW, that’s good.

    Jamie Simmerman´s last blog post…A New Perspective

  110. @James
    After I’d hit submit, I thought of that… I’d like to know if the same thing happens to everyone who quits the monthly newsletter…

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Does procrastination arouse you?

  111. I don’t *know* that Seth was talking about Mass Control here, but it sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it? http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/02/get-rich-quick.html

    Drew Kime´s last blog post…World Domination!

  112. @Alex

    The other thing to keep in mind with a newsletter is that the incremental cost of production is so low (and profit margin so high), there’s no reason not to create good will by letting you keep an issue.

    Sending the newsletter early certainly may have been a psychological tactic to make me feel obligated to keep my subscription, but I guess I didn’t see it that way at the time.

  113. I am the biggest cynic, and after reading half of the comments here, I expected to just hate this guy. But I didn’t/don’t! He is a very good salesman. I’m ready to buy! But can’t afford it. I have no idea whether the product delivers. It’d be fun to find out. I am an artist and just learning how to market and he had me convinced that I would make money no matter what my product is. Just goes to show that the art of salesmanship is alive and well. Yeah, all you jaded, experienced marketers can make fun of me but if he can make me believe, then he is pretty good.

    The only thing incongruent was that his marketing graphics didn’t match him— the laid back, Mac not PC, image he projects. The Presidential-like seal on the products is cheesy. I’d rather have seen something innovative if his product is innovative. That was the pitfall for me. It was as if he was selling someone else’s product. An official seal? Cheesy. But he was cute.

    Diana´s last blog post…Wanna hear something really scary?

  114. Regardless of whether or not you like the tactics, the fact that this guy can generate an onslaught of comments like this shows that he is worth talking about. You can complain all you want, but this guy is successful, incredibly successful, and if he is doing something shady you can bet that with his level of success that he will get outed for it (if that’s the case).

    Likely he is far more successful than those who are criticizing him.

  115. After scanning through this entire thread of comments and post match wrap ups the whole thing seems a bit pointless really. The guy did millions on that launch.

    Lance´s last blog post…Ten Free Utilities for Video Editing Computers

  116. @ Lance – Yes, yes he did, which just goes to show that what we say and what we do are often two different things.

  117. Does anyone who is complaining about Frank Kern, or associating him with unscrupulous behaviour, have any proof whatsoever to back this up? Any? Can you give me anything at all?

    Or…is it more that you have hoisted him up as an example of behaviour that you don’t like (and that none of us like, right) and you’re all hot and bothered about the behaviour – and this is what is driving this discussion.

    Because if this is actually about Frank, and not just about bad behaviour, then it would mean that you DO have evidence that Frank Kern is unscrupulous. It would mean that you DO have evidence that he is ripping people off. It would mean that you DO have evidence that his information is bogus and will result in bad things happening to people.

    If you don’t have that type of evidence, but you are associating Frank with the bad behaviour that none of us like, then you are engaging in a bit of sophistry.

    I think we all agree that we don’t like rip-offs. We don’t like scammers. There’d be no debate about that.

    What we don’t seem to agree on is whether or not Frank Kern’s approach is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – and this wont get sorted out here because everyone here brings their own bias with them – and for some, Frank was always going to be a ‘bad guy’ – even before the video was watched.

    So, what is my bias? I bought his course. I enjoyed it. I learned from it. And I compared it to the ‘internet marketing content’ of a friend of mine who’s just finished a marketing degree – and he learnt more about online business from what I was able to share with him, than the other way ’round.

    Now ain’t that weird.

    All the best,

    Nic Lucas´s last blog post…How to find out where you should start online

  118. Hi Drew,

    Ahhh…your first post was in those last 3-4 posts I skipped. I agree %100 about pyramid systems of selling. Hate it. Loathe it. It’s the same a guaranteed rental return on a property sold 40% overvalue.

    With Mass Control, I see Frank’s take – Frank’s approach. I have not one, but a number of offline products and services that are now doing much better since bringing them online. I find his ‘selling without selling’ approach easy to implement. And I applied the ‘4-day cash machine’ and recouped my money — did I grimace at how easy it was and that I hadn’t implemented this before? Of course – after all – it’s just a time-limited sale for crying out loud – but I did it because I got the course.

    Last year I bought a car – a car worth a lot more than 2K. Every couple of months the dealership sends me a letter about a new model I could buy.

    There’s nice pictures of the car being driven by someone good looking, driving down a coast road, or mountain highway – all appealing to lifestyle and desire.

    Do I need another car? Will the new car be unique – or will is have the basic core structure of a car? What if I fall for the marketing, and buy the car and I’m in financial trouble and I can’t really afford it? Is it their ‘fault’ for sending out the advertising, or mine for being irresponsible.

    I don’t object to Frank promoting other courses. I’m a grown up – I can say “no” – just like I do to the dealership. But, one day, I might feel like doing a refresher. I might feel like hearing what someone else has to say. I might do a 2K course and pick up one or two strategies I hadn’t thought of and be glad for it. And then I’d be glad I was sent the advertising.

    Business is business. Offline or online. Internet marketing – to me – is just using the internet to market your business. There are opportunities for businesses to grow online. Advertising is cheaper. Product delivery is cheaper. Rent is definitely cheaper.

    I know a number of people who bought expensive training programs last year on ‘how to make money online’. One never opened the pack. The other gave up after he found it hard to change the nameservers for his hosting – oh and another kept changing from one online business strategy to another – without ever finishing anything.

    Who’s at fault here?

    I don’t know much about the Butterfly Marketing 2K course. I know I got a copy of the Butterfly Marketing Manuscript for free. I also know that I’m using the strategies in that free material to launch a membership site right now (one with completely original material and not in the making money niche at all), and it’s working really well. We have people signing up each week and it’s not even ‘open’ yet.

    Maybe I’m just justifying my own purchase? That has to be a consideration…
    So far so good though…but I’ll be back with a vengeance if it all goes sour.

    Just a last question – and I mean it seriously. Do you think Frank learned anything from his significant brush with the law?

    My best,

    Nic Lucas´s last blog post…How to find out where you should start online

  119. Nic, look for my first comment on this for the evidence.

    But that’s in the past, how about present behavior? I assume you’re on his list, so you just got the pitch for Butterfly Marketing, right? Another $2000 marketing system. “Buy this system, follow the steps, and you’ll make your money back in 48 hours … Don’t worry if you don’t have any content to sell, it’s all included here … I’ll show you where to get material for your subscription site for free.”

    There is *no way* that system can possible work for most of the people who buy it. The point of the system is to teach you how to sell the system.

    Are there also good persuasion techniques, that could apply to selling other products? Sure, no question. I’m not saying these techniques aren’t effective. But most of these sales pitches say not to worry if you don’t have anything to sell, we’ll show you where to get it.

    If you check the classifieds in the back of local free newspapers, you’ll see ads like, “Send $19.95 for a free report showing you how to make money through newspaper advertising.” You order the report, and it tells you to put an ad in the paper selling reports for $19.95. Sell two copies of the report and you’ve made back your money for the report and the ad. But you can’t place the ad in the same paper where you saw it, the guy you bought from already has *his* ad there. Sound a little bit like Butterfly Marketing to you? It does to me.

    At the end of the day, there has to be something of inherent value that people are buying. If the marketing system tells you to sell a marketing system showing other people how to sell the marketing system to yet more people who want a marketing system … eventually everyone is selling marketing systems to each other. The only ones who get rich are the first generation of people entering a new market with the pitch. Everyone after that has already bought the system and is trying to sell it to each other.

    So the persuasion techniques, and the market research tools, absolutely they can work. It’s the other part of the pitch, the idea that you don’t actually need to have anything of value to sell, that’s the part that strikes me as dishonest. Testing the market to find who is willing to pay the most for your product is fine. Testing the market to find who is willing to pay for false hope and empty promises is *not* fine.

    Drew Kime´s last blog post…I Am Not Right In The Head

  120. How funny. Nathan says early in the comments “just admire how Frank has gone about his business”. Right. You might want to read this report then – Frank Kern – Mass Control or Mass Con?

  121. http://insideroutline.net says:

    Frank is great and I have read alot about him. His ideas are amazing!
    .-= http://insideroutline.net´s last blog ..Insider Outline Coming Soon =-.

  122. I like Frank Kern. I feel he’s genuine, relaxed, and confident…. and Yes he is a businessman who is out to make money. He’s open about that far more than anyone else has ever had the balls to do.

    My opinion is that all of IM is a game. Some win , some lose, and the ones who get suckered are generally the ones who were looking for something for nothing. The one’s who win learned how to quit making excuses, and work their ass off.

    Frank’s good at what he does, and he’s good at teaching it. Personally, I think people oughta get over themselves and be honest about the fact that they’re out to make money too. He’s just a whole lot better at than most. I can see where others may be jealous.

    Lighten up people… don’t be so serious.

  123. I’ve done a complete 360 on Frank Kern. After reading this post on his blog and I’ve publicly apologised to him. In fact he emailed me and gave me a copy gig. True. So now I’m eating humble pie all over the shop. Check this out – Frank Kern can eat my shorts
    .-= Malcolm Lambe´s last blog ..Frank Kern on his 2003 FTC Bust =-.

  124. Well, I dunno. The website this pointed to had all the pulling power/design of someone selling Herbal Magic or “You can get paid just clicking on links!”

    It was ugly, basic, and full of these schlocky lines that would have a red flag “bullshit” warning to anyone with an ounce of critical thinking.

    And this gem…”How to ETHICALLY get inside the minds of your prospects and control their decisions” Huh? That’s simply not possible. Anyone who really takes marketing seriously has likely already closed the page.

    I tried to watch the video, out of sheer morbid curiousity, but the link was down.

    Frank Kern is good news for the rest of us. “Look, you have two options. You can use the ‘Frank Kern’ style OR you can take a serious look at your customers as individuals and focus on serving them as people that like what you sell.”

    I don’t work in terms of “love” or “hate”. Maybe I will watch the “amazing new Frank Kern breakthrough that is guaranteed to save you TIME and MONEY!”

    For now, though…thanks Frank, but from what I’ve seen…”I’m out.”

  125. I liked him from the start, though I just became aware of him 1½ years ago.

    He is, like most people say, good at what he does.
    And I love it because he doesn’t try to sell something to you, but instead puts everything out there and gives alot away so that people themselves come to the decision of wanting to get his stuff.

    I didn’t have money last year, but he made me want the Mass Control 2.0 so badly that I bought it anyway. I didn’t have a product and didn’t take action on anything, so I emailed him a moonth and a half later and he gave me all the money back without anything hassle at all.
    He is proberbly one of the most ethical marketing guys out there, though he might not have been all his life…

  126. I have a very interesting love/hate relationship with Frank Kern. I used to copywrite full-time for this publishing company where my boss absolutely ADORED Frank. Every time Frank released something new, the company would go crazy over the new course and we all would HAVE to study it.

    Everytime Frank released something new, I would cringe. Why? Because he’d release some “million dollar email launch sequence and how you can use it too” and then the company and all the project managers wants to “swipe and roll it out” across ALL projects.

    As the copywriter in the company, I just knew that you can’t apply Frank’s “swipe file” and copy-paste-send formula to all myriad of personalities and clients we have. Yes, I did value the strategy Frank used. I could see the triggers Frank pushed. And how oh-so-casually he would push them buttons in an don’t-you-know-I’m-your-pal kind of way. For that, I love him.

    But I hated him for the way he makes marketing sound easy across the board of all topics with “one strategy/one angle” formula. I know why he does this though. Clearly, he’s smart enough to know what internet marketers want to hear, and he knows that by giving internet marketers the image and the message and the “easy tools” they want to hear, that HE’LL make bucket loads of money, but not necessarily the marketers who take his “swipe and roll out” advice.

    Smart? Undeniable. Ethical? It’s cheap tact, for sure.

    Thing is though, many people fall for him, as I observed my many project managers fall for him line, hook and sinker every single time. Only for them to wonder why the project didn’t do as well as they had hoped (and then blame the copywriter… LOL!)

    In my humble opinion, if you are going to study Frank, study how he does things and, most importantly, WHY he does things the way he does. Don’t necessarily follow him for WHAT he says. Focusing on what he tells you to do (swipe his formula) will probably only work for you if your list of followers is exactly like his list of followers (i.e. internet marketers looking for a magic button).

    Ah… Franky Frank Frank. Smart. Devious. Cunning. The rare person that falls into the category of internet marketing role models I admire, but don’t aspire to be.
    .-= Lisa Zahran´s last blog ..Cool Tool to Grab Attention & Boost Email Open Rates =-.

  127. A lot of the branded scamming usually involves higher dollar amount products or services. Combined with a brand, the high cost of a product gives it credibility. If it’s this expensive, it must be worth it. You have to open the book a little further to get the truth.

  128. Just notified about this post again. A few weeks agao I ran a launch in a non money making niche. I followed the Mass Control 2.0 outline. The launch was a huge success – many, many, many times the investment in the course.

    Some people spend more than 2K on a logo – I spent it on a system that helps people and makes money. I have zero complaints.

    Oh … and I have never been given an opportunity to sell Franks stuff.

  129. Ntarugera François says:

    Dear Commentators:

    I came to learn that some people imitate and call that branding. When reading Frank , I came to realize that so many people doesn’t wants to think and discover their own talents. They immediately fall in to people’s creations. All is about how to learn your own surroundings. Captivation, persuasion and grabbing people’s attention into your own brand brings joy to you.

    Ntarugera Franços

  130. I love frank kern. Period. I have watched all his stuff. It’s incredible. He’s the kind of dude I’d hang out with and have a beer, sure. But the thing is – the guy is smart. And he really goes above and beyond and teaches folks seriously cool stuff.

  131. Mike Sanderson says:

    Everyone who has bought his course that has commented here has used it to make money. In fact if you go look through the comments everyone who has purchased has made all of their money back and one woman even made $100k. Almost the people who have not bought his course hate him and are coming up with reasons why it could never be worth $2000.

    Interesting considering that all buyers on this thread have made money.

    I own his course and have made money with it.

    The 4 day cash machine (and all of his other stuff) works IF you apply it. It’s a lot like screwing in a lightblub. GE sells you a lightbulb with a commercial full of people enjoying bright happy light. If you expect to have a well lit room just by buying the blub youd be disappointed. You have to scew it in and turn on the switch. I guess the buyers on this thread knew that and thats why we have all made money with Frank’s stuff.

    Stop being so emotional lol “he blinked a lot that means hes scammy”

    Think logically. The product gives you a system that if you follow will make you money. And its guaranteed. Either you make your money back and a profit or you don’t pay. Doesn’t get much more simplie than that. lol


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