This is a very thorough review of the Amazing Selling Machine 11 (newest version), kept up to date for 2020.
ASM is easily one of the most popular, long-standing Amazon FBA courses out there.
But lately, some on Reddit can't make up their minds. What's up with that?
Unlike most reviewers, I'm NOT an affiliate for ASM. And I talk about why not below.
The main questions everyone's asking about ASM seem to be these 3:
1. Has ASM been able to keep the quality high over the years?
2. How does it compare to all the new FBA courses out there today?
3. Is it worth the $5,000 price tag or are there other, better programs?
Why listen to me when there's a hundred other reviews of this course?
I first got my start with lead generation back in 2014, I was able to quit my job and become a full time internet entrepreneur in 2015, I built that biz to multiple 6 figures and then in 2017 I got into Amazon FBA.
Also unlike many ASM affiliates, I have actually gone through the Amazing Selling Machine course and am still active within the forum.
I'm gonna share with you my key-takeaways & critiques I have about this course. & My journey of trials & tribulations before I found my first success with FBA.
Also, Amazon FBA still a good online business to get into in 2020?
Amazing Selling Machine Course Overview
Who Put This Course Together?
The Amazing Selling Machine is a 19 hour long course presented by Rich Henderson (right) and Mike McClary (left).
Their lessons are straight-to-the-point, no punches pulled honest and straight-forward.
Rich and Mike show the path they have both walked (not just talked about like some “gurus”).
Rich has been in the online marketing space for over 13 years, having an SEO and affiliate marketing background. He has been in the drop shipping space for over 6 years.
Mike and Rich are very practical in the course. If you follow all their steps, you can build a physical products business, end to end.
Mike is one of the very first successful students of the original ASM course that came out back in 2014. He had a comfortable office job, but wanted to spend more time with his family so he began to look for other ways he could make money so that he could both take care of his family financially and be with them.
I am also a successful FBA seller. I started back in 2016 when I was looking to diversify my income streams, having experienced success using search engine optimization.
Having built several 6 figure brands using the fulfilled by Amazon system, I am pretty qualified to review their course.
It has taken me a couple years to construct these brands – Amazon FBA is not a get-rich-quick scheme -- but rather a steady progression through a similar set of steps that Rich and Mike present.
Not Writing This Review for Money
Oh and by the way, I am not here to make money with this review. As mentioned earlier, I am not an affiliate for the ASM.
You'll find no affiliate links here.
I chose to write this review because I wanted to give others a quick look through the ASM course so they can decide whether or not it’s for them. #educateddecision
For some it makes sense put in the 5 g's for ASM, but for those strapped for cash, it might make more sense to invest in a 2k course like the FBA Ninja.
What to Expect in this Course
The Amazing Selling Machine, is a course taught by two guys with actual experience on Amazon. (Not some course-selling guru fronting as an expert to get some quick sales)
They have a straight-to-business manner and don't use a lot of technical lingo.
Mike and Rich tell you what you need to know in a simple, no-BS sort of way.
The course segments go into detail about how to build a massively successful business on Amazon, the ASM way.
You'll learn how to:
Module 0: Welcome and Overview
The course starts at ground zero with Rich delivering the message on how to set up your Amazon seller account the right way, avoiding the common, sales-dropping mistakes.
Got to hand it to Rich, he is very thorough. Of all the modules, module 0 seems like the longest as it feels like it drags on forever.
Rich covers everything from reiterating why Amazon is an excellent business to start now to a complete (and I mean COMPLETE) overview of the entire ASM dashboard.
I found the intro to be a little long, possibly getting caught up in the weeds of the details, but overall, Rich did an excellent job laying the foundation for the entire Amazing Selling Machine Course.
Module 1: Building Your Product Opportunity List
Rich begins the module teaching the superiority of branding over selling a single product.
Then he dives into the 7 characteristics of what he calls “a hot product opportunity.”
One characteristic is choosing a top level category, not a sub-category.
Rich shows the difference:
Rich also provides guidance to course members by offering a ASM exclusive list of products that he and ASM course members have learned through the school of hard knocks to avoid.
I really recommend that you stay away from products on this list, for all kinds of reasons, red tape being the biggest one.
Notice right away where Rich begins: the product.
Now while it's not a terrible place to begin, but if you begin with the product as opposed to starting with the target audience who will be buying your product, the life-cycle of your product will be short-lived.
So if you are a beginner, just learning to work the Amazon system well, Rich's product opportunity process is a good place to start.
Hell, I started there, but the products I started with are no longer in demand only a couple years later.
Bottom Line: Rich shows a good way to start selling on Amazon, but ultimately it's only a beginner method. The long term FBA sellers playing in October 2019 are finding specific audiences to whom to sell exclusively-sourced products.
Module 2: Profits, Product Sourcing and Professionalism
While my take on the module is below, here's an outline of what's covered:
While Rich does a great job going over the basic requirements of branding, he could have easily added an hour of training for the mid-level amazon seller, telling them how to go places that are not common to most amazon sellers. (To see a course that shows how to find unique suppliers, check out Sophie Howard's Blue Sky Amazon Series)
He doesn't talk about going to your local businesses and saying,"Hey, I know you guys are always looking to sell more and I have experience selling on Amazon, and I wondered if that might interest you?"
My Own Experience: I found another product by merely going to the grocery store and finding some locally-sourced, organic honey. Calling up Dale, the owner, I told him how much I liked his honey and how it benefits my health (local honey helps my allergies) and then put the idea in the back of his head of selling his product via Amazon so that others can experience the same benefit that I have.
Nothing happened right away, but a couple months later, I reached out to him again and he and I started our partnership at that point because, as he told me, he couldn't get the idea of selling online out of his head.
If you get your product from places that are uniquely sourced and you offer a solution for a specific group of people (i.e. people with pollen allergies), it has a number of advantages:
1. Your product will be hard to copy by your competition, whereas if you sell merely from Alibaba, your product source is available to every seller on Amazon! #easytocopycat
2. You now have a clear starting point for your Facebook ads and your Amazon Sponsored Ads. (When I launched the organic honey, I targeted groups on Facebook that were interested in natural medicine and I used Amazon Marketing Services to target people who were searching for allergy relief)
With my generation, the millennials, we are very interested in knowing that our products are responsibly sourced, not just the benefits or features. One seller who uses this strategy to the fullest can be found here.
P.S: In case you're wondering, the locally sourced honey took off like Musk's SpaceX Rocket!
Module 3: Ordering Your Inventory and Creating Your Brand
In this foundational module, Rich continues the supplier selection process and demonstrates how to create the skeletal Amazon listing.
The two main topics covered:
Rich provides ample information on what to watch for when eyeing product samples (ahem, cough, cough, **quality**) and what is okay to let slide (like another business’s logo being on your sample product).
Showing how to set up your listing to Amazon will approve it quickly and without any hassle, Rich walks through how to initially set up a item entry in Amazon Seller Central.
Got to hand it to Rich here, he’s got a clear-as-tropical-waters way of explaining the preliminary listing set up process.
Rich opened my eyes to a few new things that I didn’t notice before, like the reasons why you only should enter the minimum amount of information at first.
Additional topics covered in this module:
- Selecting a supplier without burning other
- Acquiring your UPC (Universal Product Code)
- Designing your packaging
- Constructing an email list
Rich makes a big deal about getting samples, checking the product over for flaws and more.
While I understand his concern, in my mind, it'd be pretty easy for the company to send me a high quality item and then send my customers cheap imitations.
Because of that, I stopped getting samples after my first couple of products and instead, once my products were in stock at the warehouse, I bought a few and sent them to friends and family, asking them to send my their brutally honest criticism.
That way, I'd know the truth.
Module 4: Ensuring Your Launch’s Success
This module is basically a bunch of walkthroughs, demonstrating how to set up social media profiles.
While this lesson might be helpful for Generation X, I think for my generation, Gen Y, setting up these accounts and adding content (images, copy, GIFs and videos) is pretty much intuitive and so could safely skip this module without an issue
Though you might want to check out the videos on the LCP (lead capture page as Rich has some helpful optimization tips.
Here's a module that really could easily be improved to fit the needs of mid-range sellers!
Social media is one of the core elements of having an online presence in 2020.
What I really had hoped Rich would have covered is the nuts and bolts of his media content strategy.
In addition to showing the beginners how to get started, he could have easily talked for a few minutes about his ongoing posting tactics and hacks.
For example, I'd have included a 90 day content strategy as well as how to use a social media content management system to post to every platform in a coordinated manner (like Buffer or Hootsuite or Social Pilot, I've tried all three and Buffer works for me the best)).
Also, I'd have suggested ways I can create my own custom images quickly and easily using Sketch 3 (app) or Canva (online editor).
Module 5: The 8 Components of the Perfect Product Listing
In this module, Rich names the 8 components of a pristine product listing and walks through the process of creating it.
Here’s 4 of them:
Personally, I was amazed how rapidly Rich accomplished his keyword research, which he did through employing a proprietary research tool that enabled him to sort the keywords as well as invent a potent title that grabs the attention of both the consumer (through its readability) and the Amazon search engine (by containing crucial keywords).
Module 6: The Perfect Product Launch
In this module, Mike gives an overview of the ASM proprietary, proven process to successfully propel a product into the marketplace.
Three phase process: LB&R
Mike elaborates on the main components of this process, from the characteristics of traffic that Amazon’s search engine relishes the most to how to set up multiple, unique landing pages, which Amazon rewards you for.
Definitely the most helpful part of this module was the pre-launch checklist that Mike provided, it really increased my level of assurance that I was well-prepared for the fast-paced launches of my products.
It’s a confidence booster when you know that all your ducks are in a row.
Module 7: Advanced Marketing & Traffic Tools
In this module, Mike talks about the daily maintenance needed to run a successful drop shipping FBA business, from checking your listing to content marketing to emailing your subscribers.
Covered in this lesson:
The daily agenda that Mike provides dramatically improved my efficiency by giving me a list of tasks that I used to train a VA to do, which boosted the autonomy of my business, enabling me to work more on my Amazon FBA business, rather than merely
I found the Amazon ads setup process to be similar to setting up Google ads, which I am very familiar with because of my lead gen business.
As far as the lightning deals feature that Mike covers, I find it most useful when I need to reduce or eliminate my old inventory by offering the products at a moderate discount until the needed reduction of inventory has been accomplished.
(October 2019 update: Amazon does charge sellers for their inventory warehouse space and Amazon just this year decided that their warehousing storage fees will now adjust monthly, instead of every six months. This relatively recent change makes it extra important to have a freight forwarder. To learn the importance of a freight-forwarder, Tim Sanders does a good job explaining how they fit into the process in his course, Private Label Masters.)
Module 8: Taking Your Business to the Next Level
In this short module, Mike and Rich offer advice about the future of your business, from managing inventory to adding additional products to deciding the end goal of your business.
You will learn about a little about:
This is a good way to finish off the course and really an eye-opener for those new to running their own business.
Rich and Mike’s experienced opinions bolstered my confidence to expand my team and bring further automation into my business, so now it almost runs itself (I check stats once at the beginning of every month, but that’s about it) #virtualassistantsarethebest
I have 2 final thoughts for you today:
1. Rich Henderson and Mike McClary certainly offer a great deal of insight and experience to those looking to develop their Amazon-based businesses. On Sept 14, 2019, News9.com reported on ASM,
And the course itself is well-structured and contains pretty current information.
They do have a high-degree of popularity on Amazing.com, their Facebook page, having over 127,574 followers as of October 22, 2019.
They offer a considerable amount of free advice in their 60 plus videos, but the ASM course was still worth the 5,000 price tag to me, as I knew I would make it back since I was already successful on Amazon.
I purchased the course because I wanted to remove myself from the day-to-day operations and at the same time, scale out to increase profits.
In order to really get started on Amazon, many recommend having at least 10k in working capital, and I would increase that further to at least 15k, because once you have bought the course for 5k, then you only have 10k left for purchasing inventory and marketing, which is quite a tight budget. (note product testing necessity below)
But for those who have or can obtain a good sized loan, it is a viable business option, but definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme, as some YouTube advertisers have suggested, as the process of order inventory to it being stocked at Amazon often takes 45 to 90 days (depending if you ship product by air or sea).
2. A further reflection on this business model is based on my experience with the lead-generation model.
In lead generation, I can jump into any niche, rank a site and sell leads to the service providers.
Conversely, with Amazon FBA, the magic is in the product selection process.
In order to be profitable using Amazon's fulfillment services, you have to have chosen the right item that appeals to the right audience.
If you chose a dud product as a new seller, you are pretty much helpless because you've invested all your money in an item that you have little idea whether it will pay off.
To really be successful with Amazon, what I and other successful sellers do is discover winning items by testing the waters of the Amazon ocean. i.e. We set up listings for several different items at a time and sift through the duds and the winners that way.
But I wouldn't have had the capital, the money to do this kind of testing if I didn't have the foundation of my lead gen business, because it's super expensive to do all that product testing.
Amazing Selling Machine Reddit Commentary
A Reddit member speaks of one ASM course taker who took it and worked really hard for a few years and ultimately made 7 figures 5 times over (5 million dollars).
Another member defends ASM in an attempt to be positive:
A member, claiming to the host of a podcast called the FBA Millionaires, posted the following:
"I've interviewed several million dollar sellers and they credit their success to ASM. Here is Stefano talking about Amazing Selling Machine. Stefano is doing $250k per month. He said he followed ASM step by step. So if people are successful, then ASM must work. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fbam-9-%24250k-per-month-using-external-traffic-stefano/id1322011998?i=1000400688544&mt=2" (See the post itself on Reddit here)
One member voices their gut feeling: doubting whether or not ASM was the real deal since the marketing was so pushy.
Another member shares his observations of 10 people who bought into the course thinking that it was a get-rich-scheme, and ultimately failed in their attempts to start a business.
Another member's miffed about the continual updates to the course:
Ganatron put the longest comment in, because it includes testimonies by a successful ASM student who sold over 8 million dollars worth of product. Ganatron is included in the wise section because he estimates (correctly btw) that in addition to the course, a member needs to invest in additional 5 figures (10k+). See the beginning of his post below. (Click here to see his full post.)
Is it a legitimate, worthwhile course?
So are Rich and Mike two successful scam artists taking you for your money?
If you do your homework, I think you'll find that ASM is not a hoax, but their affiliate marketing program cast a shadow of doubt over the legitimacy of the course mainly because affiliates can sell it without having gone through it.
Since it offers a 50% commission (nearly 2500 dollars since the price tag is $5,000) per sale, it is quite the temptation for affiliates to lay out a funnel and boom, make 2 and a half g's.
See why ASM uses affiliates here.
So the real reason behind "the ASM Scam" conversatoin is pretty lousy affiliates.
The Meat of this Review: SHOULD YOU BUY ASM or something else?
IMO: You should buy this course if you know absolutely nothing about selling on Amazon and feel the need to see walkthroughs of every step of the process.
As far as Amazon FBA courses go, the Amazing Selling Machine is often held as the gold standard because of how thorough it is.
While that's partly true, here's what's not talked about:
This is a beginners' course!
You will learn the basics of how to get a product listed and launched on Amazon.
But you will not learn a lot of ongoing processes that are a must to keep prospects interested in your products long term.
Because the simple 3 step strategy that is taught is simply this:
The problem with this strategy is that you are merely scraping the bottom of the barrel along with hundreds of thousands of other entry level sellers. AKA you have massive amounts of competition and will have a pretty short term product.
So what better, long-term FBA strategies are out there?
She shows a much different product selection process, yielding to a much longer sales cycle.
In the end, the course you invest in is your decision and I hope you don’t take it lightly.
I've invested in many different courses.
One was life changing, others gave me strategies and tactics to build more success, but a lot have simply been a waste of time.
Rich and Mike have put together an solid course that walks through the process of starting to sell products on Amazon, incorporating all the necessary steps.
Their content is comprehensive for 2020 and because of that, I can see why it’s not cheap. (as the saying goes: "you get what you pay for")
When it comes down to it, if you are a beginner, there are better options to get started online and then go to Amazon after you've established some recurring revenue (monthly mailbox money).
Course Review Conclusion
A Better Online Option
Amazon is difficult to get started on with low levels of capital
Anything below $15k is just wishful thinking because when you start your business, you'll spend:
- $5k on training course
- $2k business licensing/branding (LLC, website, logo, packaging, social media, etc) (7k)
- $3k on first shipment of product (10k)
- $3k on launching your product (13k)
- $1.5k ongoing promotion (FB and Amazon ads) ($14.5k)
- + Amazon warehousing and fulfillment fees (30-40% of your revenue)
- + Research Tools (Jungle Scout ($39-69/month, Viral Launch ($50-83/month, etc.)
There you have a very basic budget to start on Amazon and you are already above 15,000 dollars.
You might be able to get a loan from either a bank or a few credit cards or from your friends and family.
With local lead gen, I don’t have a quarter of the expenses that I do selling my products on Amazon.
But my profits with lead gen have remained steady since 2015 (a lot steadier than my Amazon FBA biz)
IMO ranking websites in Google's local search is much safer than relying on ranking on Amazon when there's so much competition.
Simply rank in cities no bigger than 300,000 population, and its so much easier than trying to rank on Amazon. (and faster)
This site above has been making me $2000 per month since 2015.
Hardly any maintenance, so I just keep building more of these sites.
Here are the 6 basic steps in the lead generation process:
Both of my businesses have taken me a lot of work, but my local lead gen business was much easier to scale to 52k per month and make that nearly passively, because of the simplicity of the process I learned through this course.
The way my local lead business works is that I generate leads for local businesses, giving them opportunities to make money helping the customer. Leads flow in year round, regardless of the current fad or trend that blows through the market today and is gone tomorrow.
Because we're able to deal with industries that are necessity such as plumber or your roof repair. Even if its a recession people will need those home repair services.
The simplicity of my lead gen operation is probably my favorite part about it. It is really a lot less of stresser, because I don’t have to mind the lead generating sites much after ranking them.