Have you ever felt like you struggled to get your message out to the world and connect with your audience? Do you want to build a business that maximizes both revenue and relationships?
Brian is a direct marketer for over 40 years, and he was instrumental in helping the company, Boardroom Inc., grow exponentially. He is the Founder of “Titans Marketing” and host of Titans Mastermind and Titans Master Class.
On this eye-opening episode Brian will reveal:
- What he learned about power and selflessness in business – that he learned from baseball umpires;
- Why customer service people are ‘secret shoppers’ & should be the highest-paid people in your company;
- The one game changer that no one pays attention to (but could make a huge difference for you);
- How paying postage on mail made him a better marketer;
- Why exactly you need to separate your prospects from your buyers (on your list) to be more profitable;
- What “RFM” is and why you need to know it and how to use it now.
And that’s just a small taste. We go from talking about how to increase the power and profitability of your business to longer-term, legacy building concepts like:
- How to think about long-term value as well as playing the long game in your business;
- What exactly “Lifetime Value” is and why you need to know your numbers on this;
- How to find out what the “bogeyman” is in your business so you can use it;
- Why he paid for dinners for 30 people at the Four Seasons in New York (pay attention);
- How he turned someone who “ripped off his logo” into a client (instead of suing them);
- What he learned from maintaining a solid 33-year marriage while running multiple businesses.
… And more!
So grab a pen and paper- you will want to jot notes from this engaging conversation!
Production Note: Thank you for listening! We apologize for the audio quality during the interview. Unfortunately, tech glitches can happen, but we believe you will still enjoy the insights, and wisdom from our guest expert, Brian Kurtz.
Listen to the podcast here:
Overdeliver: Build A Business For A Lifetime With Brian Kurtz [Podcast 245]
We’re helping you connect the dots, see the blind spots and get unstuck so you can go out and generate more leads, more sales, more profits more importantly, so you can go out there and have a bigger impact, a bigger reach and bigger contribution. We have a special guest that’s going to show you how to do all of those things. He’s done all of those things for the better part of 40 years on a concept that he lives by, walks by. He did this concept, overdeliver, not only at home but also in business, in his front stage and his backstage. His name is Brian Kurtz. He’s become a good friend over these last several years. We have Joe Polish to thank for using a concept he calls Genius Networking, which is how we met at Genius Network. If you don’t know Brian, let me give you some context and you’re going to want to grab a pen and a piece of paper, jot down some notes. This is going to be like a PhD in Psychology, Personal Development, growing your business and a whole lot more.
Brian has been a direct marketer for 40-plus years. He was an instrumental business builder, which is the humble version for the fact that he helped that company grow exponentially at Boardroom Inc. He consults with some of the leading-edge marketers and copywriters in the world. He hosts two masterminds. If you’re doing any marketing, any copy, you should check out what he’s doing. Those are the Titans Mastermind, Titans Master Class, which you’re re-shifting the Titans Xcelerators. Is that right, Brian?
I don’t know if it’s already shift but I’ll add one. I haven’t decided yet.
A fun fact that you might find of interest, he is an umpire and has been for years in Little League and has a dream to umpire a Little League World Series, which is amazing. I’m curious, Brian, this book is a PhD in Marketing. Anybody in business marketing or has a team in marketing should be able to get the book. Why did you write Overdeliver to start with?
I wrote it for a couple of reasons. First of all, I wrote another book called The Advertising Solution, which I wrote with Craig Simpson, a friend of mine. After I wrote that book, I had been thinking about writing a book about my career and about direct marketing. I wasn’t getting to it yet so I did the Advertising Solution. A bunch of my mentors like Jay Abraham and Perry Marshall and a few people said to me, “Brian, that book is okay. The Advertising Solution is a primer on marketing and advertising but it’s not you. It doesn’t have your voice.” I realized that and I thank Craig for this because he motivated me to then write this book. It took me maybe nine months or so. I changed publishers in the middle. It was an important book so that I got all my stuff out of my head.
I realized that I haven’t invented anything but I have a context for all the things that have been invented. If someone reads my book and doesn’t understand RFM or doesn’t understand lifetime value. I can put it in a context so that they then understand it, then I could be the messenger for that. That was very important to me because I knew there were a lot of concepts that were undervalued, undertaught, underappreciated. I had the stories that I could put into context that people could pick up on it especially younger marketers.
Another reason I wrote the book and I realized this after I was already well into it, I saw the movie, Coco. It’s a Pixar movie. If you think it’s a kid’s film, you’re crazy but it’s a kid’s film. The movie is an incredible movie night. After that movie, I sped up my writing because I had to get this book out. Those of your audiences who haven’t seen it, I recommend it. The premise of the movie is it’s about the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of those who have died in your family and your friends. It’s a remembrance of them. The concept is that you’re not dead but you’re only going to be dead when you’re not remembered. The song in the movie is Remember Me or something like that.The most important capital you own has nothing to do with money. - Dan Kuschell Click To Tweet
I realized that I had so many mentors who a lot of them were dead. I wrote a blog post once, in fact, the title of the book almost was Too Many of my Mentors are Dead. That’s not a modeling thing to say. I gravitated towards 60-year-old, 70-year-olds when I was twenty. The beauty is because they had all the wisdom. I got all of that from them. The downside is by the time I’m 60, they’re all dead. The book was a way for me to remember them. My bonuses for the book, which are unbelievable, are all like some dead, some alive but they’re all about remembering the people that made me.
As you’re reading, how would you like to get access to not only Brian’s wisdom but this collection of wisdom he’s worked and been friends with? You’re so humble about it. Real deep friendships and relationships with the best in the world at what they do. If you have ever been in a place where you felt like you struggled to get your message out to the world or you struggled to make that impact or connect with your audience and many other things as it relates to generating more leads, more sales, more profitability, Brian has got your solution. I want to read a quick glimpse of a few notes here from the book. You’re going to discover four pillars of being extraordinary. Five principles of why original source matters. The seven characteristics that are present in every world-class copywriter. Multiple ways to track the metrics that matter and every campaign, every medium online and off. Why customer service and fulfillment are marketing functions. The most important capital you own has nothing to do with money and much more. What would it worth if you could get your hands on that alone? In a little bit, not only are we going to share with you how you can get your copy of Overdeliver but also a package of resources. I don’t want to over-hype it but there are tens of thousands of them.
I figured I had a book called Overdeliver. I had to over-deliver on the bonuses. It was phenomenal because every one of the people that gave me their stuff to put in this bonus package, they did it gladly. It was humbling for me that they all wanted to be part of this Overdeliver collection.
I don’t want to spoil the punchline but it has a lot to do with what you talk about in chapter ten. I want to hit on something you talked about that baseball imitates direct marketing. You talk about that in chapter eight. Why do you feel baseball and direct marketing imitate each other?
It’s an interesting thing. I wrote a blog post and it was how life imitates direct marketing or how baseball imitates direct marketing. It is the fact that I’m an umpire. What I found is that one day I was sitting in a meeting or something and a copywriter friend of mine came up to me and he says, “Why would you want to be an umpire? What would motivate you?” I had to think about it because I love umpiring, I love creating order out of chaos. There’s bunch of other reasons like the focus to take so that we all have our extracurricular activities, whether it’s martial arts, yoga, bicycling, but it’s a focus where if you screw up, it could be disastrous. The beauty of umpiring is that if you screw up, you’re going to get yelled at by a bunch of parents. I thought about it and I said, “It’s selfless. Even though you have power and you can use that power, you have to be judicious about it. You have to keep it in control. The beauty of it is the best you’re going to get after a game is nice game monk.” If you get that, “Nice job back there.” That’s the best you’re going to get. It’s a humbling thing to do. The beauty of it is the idea of creating that beautiful experience of a game where you’re not noticed and everybody has a great game is the ultimate goal for an umpire.
I started thinking about it, customer service reps and fulfillment reps have the same thing. They only hear about the problems when all hell breaks loose. When they’re doing a good job, it’s status quo. That’s why the chapter is why customer service and fulfillment are marketing functions, it’s all about the long-term value of your customer. It’s always easier to keep a customer than to get a customer. It takes a certain type of individual to be a customer service rep and get satisfaction out of making things perfect. That’s true with umpiring as well. I saw the analogy and then I took it a step further and I said, “Do you pay and appreciate your people, your customer service reps and your fulfillment reps?” Not that they should be the highest paid employees in the company but don’t take them for granted. They’re the front line to your customer. They could tell you things that you will never find out, that you’d have to hire a secret shopper to find out where they will uncover the things in your business that might be the big hole that you could fill. They should be paid accordingly because they can’t get a commission.
They might be able to get to pay them a commission to save an order that was going to be lost or something like that. They’re not treated that way. Umpires are treated that way but I’m not doing it for the money. I started drawing that analogy and then told people they should pay their people better in customer service and fulfillment. That’s what it turned. There are a lot of analogies there. This is one of the things why I write this book. I wanted to do a chapter on customer service and fulfillment. Most people don’t want to hear about it. It’s an afterthought in their business. I had a story that I could relate to it. I didn’t invent customer service and fulfillment. Storytelling is so important in copywriting and writing. I was able to tell a story to prove a point that was so important to me.
As you’re reading, chances are in a direct response marketing conversation, you never heard about customer service and fulfillment being a sales or marketing function. This is a huge gap. When Brian first shared a version of this many years ago that it had a major impact on me. I know if you will tune into this idea and go deeper with some of the resources that he has available for you and get conscious, it will transform your business. It will turn social media from a cost, for example, to a multiplier, to an ROI because you will have it. It will become an extension of your direct response marketing and not a cost factor in your business.
You understand this well. Ever since I met you, as soon as we started talking, we started talking about lifetime value and the continuity of your customers and take care of your customers. I know that you’re big on this. It’s a game-changer if you’re not paying attention to it. It’s a game-changer if you are paying attention to it because there’s always so much more you can do.
I’ve known you for years. I’ve already got a good amount of wisdom. I learned as much from you about being a human being as marketing by observing you as what you even teach. You’re one of the best human beings, fathers, husbands. That’s why it’s such an honor to have you on our show. You walk your talk. Nothing irritates me more than a front stage person who’s very different backstage. With you, what you see is what you get and this is Brian. Chapter three, you talk about paying postage made you a better direct response marketer. There are a lot of ways we can go. Start with that. Why did paying postage make you a better direct marketing?
It’s about discipline. If you think about the direct mail world that I grew up in, in 1980s, there was no internet. Back then, there were only certain media you could use. It was direct mail, it was print, it was TV, radio. Now, the advertising opportunities are infinite. Back then you only had a certain amount. Direct mail definitely was the big kahuna. When you’re doing direct mail and paying $400, $500, $1,000 for every single piece for the mail that you’re putting out there, you have to be so careful. Even though you can be so careful with your list segmentation, with your offers and with your copy, but even when you’re so careful, you could have a successful campaign and get 2% response. Internet marketers now would kill for 2% response but they don’t need it because they don’t have the high cost. The premise of the chapter is just because your media is cheap doesn’t mean you have to be sloppy. If you take the same care and concern with every piece you put out there, every promotion you put out there like we did in direct mail, don’t hit send on a worthless email. If you may not think it matters, but it does because every communication that you put out to your audience will affect future communications. In direct mail, we live by this.
I remember one of my mentors in direct mail was Gordon Grossman, who’s the guy who built The Reader’s Digest and a phenomenal guy. He’s still alive. In fact, his book, which is not readily available, is in a PDF form as one of the bonuses for the bonus page. Gordon used to say unfortunately everything in direct mail had to sell something or at least lead to a sale. We found ways around that a little bit because we would create long-form magalogs and bookalogs, which are magazine promotions that would give away some of the steaks but it was still a lot of sizzle. The direct mail that I started with in 1981 was almost all sizzle, no steak. As we learned that maybe we could give some stuff away but still sell, then it was the long form direct mail. You could put in the six things you learn to help you with your financial planner. Here’s three of them for the other three, you have to go to the book.
Fast forward to what we do now, you can give away all six because there’s going to be so much more in the future and you’re not paying much for it. If you take that discipline, put it in the internet and that’s where product launch formula came from. The product launch formula is three videos of all content and then you open the cart and then you close the cart but the content is rich. The more content you give, the better the launch. People who are online marketing who never did direct mail, they learned it without having to do direct mail. They drank the Kool-Aid without knowing where the Kool-Aid came from.
That’s something you and I have talked about Brian related to direct mail experience in the internet marketing world because it’s cheap and inexpensive. You can be promiscuous. The risk is so low versus spending $30,000 to $40,000 for a little sample.It's always easier to keep a customer than to get a customer. - Brian Kurtz Click To Tweet
I maintain the risk is higher though.
What do you see are some of the biggest mistakes most people make in direct response marketing? It would be a value to almost anybody broadening their business, building and growing their business.
There’s a lot of them and it’s not just mistakes. It’s improvements that they could make, incremental improvements. Copy to list. Even if you have a list of buyers and prospects, separate those. You should be talking to the buyers different than you’re talking to prospects. You can go further and say, “What about someone who bought three times versus someone who bought once?” The person who bought three times should be ascending to a higher-priced product and they should get a different message. What I’m trying to say broadly is one size fits all messaging is not the way to go. That’s a big one. The idea that you think you’re sending content but it’s always sales anyway, sometimes you have to mix it up a little bit.
I go the other way. I don’t say do as I do, but I don’t need to sell all the time. I give away almost all content and I sell in my PS. To me sell is relative because I’m not doing affiliates. I mention other people’s products as a favor. I don’t take affiliate commissions. I sell my own stuff. I have the right to some great books and some great resources. That’s myself but my basic email every Sunday morning is content. It’s hard sometimes when you’re emailing every day or emailing even three, four times a week which I’m not against, but it’s very hard to differentiate what is this. Is it a sales piece or is it a content piece?
Differentiating your content from your sales and sometimes mixing it, people should do more of that because you want people to access your content, just for the sake of the content, because that’s going to improve your standing. It’s going to improve your credibility. I’m not saying don’t sell, I’m not a nonprofit but it’s very important to develop relationship. There’s a quote in the book that Gordon said in direct mail, “You had to sell.” I also would say to anybody online that everything is not a revenue event, but everything is a relationship event. That sums it up. That would be the biggest thing that I see people doing. Segmenting your list is such an important thing to do.
Speaking of that, Brian, in chapter four under list building an RFM, you talk about this concept. Speak to that a little bit, list building an RFM to put it in context for everybody to understand what RFM is.
I don’t know how many people listening know what RFM is. I’ll tell you what it is so that you can understand it. If you already know, this will be a good reminder. RFM stands for Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value. What that means is that it’s not even a direct marketing rule of thumb. It’s how people behave. It’s a human nature thing. Recency is the more recent someone bought, the more active they are, the more a better than name. Frequency is how many times they buy or how many times they respond. You combine recency and frequency that if you have a three-month person who bought twice is better than a three-month person who bought once. A six-month person who bought twice might be better than a three-month person who bought once. You should test it and that’s why you should segment. The monetary gets you the total amount that they’ve spent with you because there are different price points.
At Boardroom, we would do these models on millions of names and we would create what we call the gains chart all based on Recency, Frequency and Monetary. Always the most recent, the most frequent and the people who spent the most money we’re always at the top of the food chain. That is the basic concept. Online, what’s interesting and I did a blog post on this and I called it RFT, Recency, Frequency and Time. They might not buy right away but if they spend a lot more time with you, that is almost the equivalent to money and that’s going to show you the higher value people than people who spend less time with you. If you could even by hand segment out by recency, frequency and monetary value, it will be a game-changer for you in your business.
Speaking of the list segmenting using RFM, you talk about a concept of 40/40/20 in putting together your offer. Speak to that a little bit because I find it so simple yet so valuable.
I learned this in early 1980s that there were all kinds of things about the 40/40/20 rule. It said that in any direct marketing campaign, the success of the campaign depends 40% on the list, 40% on the offer, and 20% on the creative or the copy. I thought that was strange because it makes it sound like the copy is half as important as the offer or the list. It’s not. If you look at it this way, if you create the best copy from the best copywriter and it goes to the wrong people with a bad offer, you’re going to get zero orders. The reverse is not true. If you get the perfect list, let’s say an affiliate of someone who’s got people who are like yours and you have a decent offer and your copy’s terrible, you’re going to make some money, you’re going to make some orders because the audience is so precise.
What happens is if you put great copy on top of that, you have a perfect list, a great offer and then you get the best copy on top of that. You get everything humming on all cylinders. That’s where the best results happen. I realized that I didn’t understand it right away and that’s why I made it the 41/39/20 rule, 41% being the list. The list is the most important thing. You’ve got to have the list being so targeted and so segmented, get a great offer, very important, 39% and then you bring in the creative. I remember in my days at Boardroom that the biggest breakthroughs we ever got was from a new creative package from the best copywriter. We were such students of the list and the offer that was tailor-made. The copywriter could come in and they could have written something less and gotten something, but they wrote something brilliant and that gave us the big lifts. The big breakthroughs were all creative breakthroughs even though I know that it was the best creative to that list in that offer.
Speaking of creative, Brian, one of the things that I’ve underestimated over the years of being in direct response marketing and I see a lot of other people underestimate too is the value of research and the value of testing. I believe it was chapter four as well, where you talk about how you made some shifts in tax hotline and a few titles and tweak them along with some creative and it drastically improve results. Speak to that.
I’ll tell the story of Boardroom Reports which was the newsletter that started the company. It was a newsletter for business executives at home. It had a little bit of personal development, but it was mostly how to hire, how to fire. Martin, my mentor and the founder of Boardroom, thought that most of the business magazines only tell you what was happening at the big companies but not at the small companies. Boardroom Reports perked along for a while and we got up to 150,000 subscribers and it was a struggle because there weren’t a lot of lists to mail. We developed this newsletter called Bottom Line/Personal. Bottom Line/Personal was the personal side of the executive, finance, health, but still geared to the same person. The Boardroom Reports lists worked for Bottom Line/Personal, but then many other lists work for Bottom Line/Personal because it was more of a consumer list. We could mail all kinds of things. Fundraiser lists and magazine lists and catalog lists. Bottom Line/Personal eclipse Boardroom and I’ll shortcut the story. What happened was Boardroom Reports was perking along at 100,000 subscribers and Bottom Line/Personal was at 500,000 and going up to a million. What we did was, one of the later stages when Martin didn’t want to let go of one of his kids. Boardroom Reports was his kid. We changed the name because now the database, the list, was all Bottom Line/Personal. Why not call Boardroom Reports Bottom Line Business?
We changed the mailing piece a little bit, we made a little more consumer-oriented but it was the name changed. The Bottom Line Business gave Boardroom Reports a kick in the pants. I don’t want to be over-simplistic about this because the Boardroom Reports we folded in anyway. The extra boost that we got by calling it Bottom Line business and getting it to the big database of Bottom Line/Personal was key to what we were doing. You have to understand your list completely and know what they’re expecting, know what they expect you to be delivering. In my first book, Advertising Solution, we profiled six grades of direct marketing including Gary Halbert and Gene Schwartz and they were great copywriters. It’s amazing that all of the great copywriters, you start talking to them about their copy, they don’t want to talk about their copy. They want to talk about the list that they’re going to because that’s how they write their copy.If you create the best copy from the best copywriters and it goes to the wrong people with a bad offer then you're going to get zero orders. - Brian Kurtz Click To Tweet
Gary Halbert has a quote, “It’s not the brilliant burger, it’s a hungry audience,” or something like that. What I’m saying is somewhat so simple but it’s brilliant in its simplicity in that. Understand your list and understand what that customer is experiencing so that you can develop copy and approaches and offers that appealed to them. The other thing is always talk in their language. You have so much access to this through forums and on Amazon when you see reviews. If you read the reviews of Amazon books that are in your category, you can start seeing the language that they use in their reviews. You should use that language in your copy.
It’s simple but it’s not easy. By the way, speaking of simple and not easy, if you want to know how to Overdeliver, if you want to know how to have a bigger impact, bigger reach, a bigger contribution, if you want to generate more leads, build your list, build better offers, I want to encourage you. We’re going to explain to you how you can get this book, plus a world class package of bonus because of Brian being who he is and he’s got available for you for free as a bonus, as part of getting this book. We’re scratching the surface with what we’re talking about here. I want to fast forward to chapter nine, you talk about long-term value. In chapter ten, you talk about the long game. Knowing you as long as I’ve known you, to me in many ways they’re synonymous. The long-term perspective, as well as the long game. What do you want to say about long-term value as well as playing the long game?
I put those chapters next to each other on purpose as you figured it out. My secret is no longer safe. In chapter nine, I’m talking about lifetime value and from a marketing perspective which is really important. Lifetime could be any length of time.
I want to stop there because I don’t want to assume anybody knows what lifetime value is or the last time they pulled their report of a lifetime value. Speak to how can someone go about it or what can someone do to identify their lifetime value and what’s the importance, why is it important?
I’ll use the example that I use in the book, which is we had a subscription offer. What we did was when we were starting out, we had to make money on the first order. At least close to it or at least break even so you could sell other things to that list. As time went on and we accumulated some cash, we had a great consultant, Dick Benson, one of the other bonuses is a PDF of his classic book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail on my site. There were two full-length PDFs of two classic books. Dick Benson, who was the smartest guy I ever met in direct mail said, “Let’s figure out what your bogey is.” What’s a bogey? I always say, “Be aware of the bogeyman.” Benson was the bogeyman. He would say, “Brian, what is the renewal rate of you get a group of first-year subscribers, let’s track them into year two, what’s the average renewal rate?” Lack that money on top of the original order. You could mail at a loss. If you could mail at a loss in year one to make it back by year two, that is as good as long as you have the cash and as long as you’re precise in that calculation.
It takes a while. It takes at least a year to get a one year bogey. We got it and it changed everything because now instead of mailing to break even, we figured out with a 30% or 35% renewal rate, at one point we were able to mail it to an $8 loss per order. We had a lot of other products which is very important. That’s another piece of a lifetime value. You’ve got to have other products to sell. We throw that value in but not as much. We decided, “What about a two-year bogey?” We were getting sophisticated in this. We were starting to see that the second renewal of the first renewal was 70%. It was a smaller universe and you can start seeing that we could start making calculations and at some point, we developed a bogey for a loss of $14 an order in year one to make it back by year three. In the meantime, we were selling them other products. That is a quick down and dirty lifetime value.
You can do this in any business. Even if you’re selling high-priced products or high-priced coaching programs or whatever, you can do lifetime value calculations. It’s not as critical in a high price. If everybody leaves you after one year, it’s significant. It’s not as significant as when you have a million subscribers and selling two million books and you can’t have a bogey on top of the bogey. If you’re going to have a two-year bogey on Bottom Line/Personal, you can have to break even on your book mailings or something like that because you can get into a lot of trouble.
You can go upside down fast. As Brian said, that is the kiss of death. I love how some direct marketers, business owners, they’ll go, “Let me double down on the losing money.” If it doesn’t work small, it’s not going to work better, bigger.
The key is the stay disciplined and also keep bringing in light products and that goes to surveying and research. I have a thing in the book about how we did our Q testing, questionnaire testing, concept testing, where we go out to the audience if they bought a book. Frequency, recency, you buy a book. Here’s a survey of six books we’re thinking about. The blurb for the book was exactly the book that we were going to sell. We get, “Would order, would not order,” and that would knock out the dogs. It’s a little more involved and it’s outlined in the book but it was imperative to do that so that you know what the next product coming on board is, which made all the difference. That was mostly chapter nine.
Speaking of all the difference, if you want to go deeper on what Brian shared with you on understanding how to calculate your long-term value, how to do this Q testing that he referred to which is in chapter four. You want to understand long-term value which is in chapter nine. You’re going to want to get this book and use it as a lifetime companion to building and growing your business using direct response marketing. It’s there for you. Speaking of chapter ten, talk about it.
We’re talking about lifetime value on a more personal level. I have a series of anecdotes and stories that illustrate some big lessons for me. I have a whole thing about the intentional dinners that we did at Boardroom where once a month we would go to a restaurant, we’d invite. Bottomline would have tons of experts who were regular contributors to our publications. We had our direct marketing people. We had our vendors and we bring together every month, ten, twenty, sometimes as many as 30 people at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, private room. I talk about these intentional dinners and how to run them, why we did them. That’s playing a long game because the price of dinner, you don’t know what that’s going to yield. You have to be intentional about it. You have to put people next to each other that could work together. Martin and I, before the dinner, we would do a puzzle. You’re putting together the pieces at the table. It was so much fun. I still do it when I go to events or at my Mastermind groups, I still create these intentional dinners by putting people together. It’s phenomenal.
I also have another form of a smaller thing that you can do of six people on a round table, in a quiet restaurant and I talk about how to put those together as well. I got another thing in chapter ten which I blogged about. I put the excerpt in my blog which was How Not To Make Your Lawyer Rich. It was a story about don’t start if you can with a lawyer letter or litigation. Start with that person’s a human being hopefully and that you can reason with them. It’s an interesting story about someone who ripped off my logo, how I went about it. I turned lemons into lemonade by making them a client and helping them. It’s an interesting story. I have others like that, but that’s the one I chose for the book. In that chapter, I also talked about when I went to Gary Bencivenga, who’s one of the great copywriters of all time, he’s the best living copywriter. He doesn’t write anymore. In my bonus package, I have a whole set of the Bencivenga Bullets, which were all of his writings over the years. He did an event when he was retiring called the Bencivenga 100, which was an amazing event. The meeting was on May 20th and May 21st. I went to the event, I went that night to the Mets-Yankees game at Shea Stadium with my brother-in-law. I caught a foul ball that night.
The next day, I went through the room and got the ball sign. Every great copywriter was at this event. It was Gary Bencivenga’s farewell party and he was teaching everything that he had taught and done for the last several years. I got all the copywriters to sign it. I presented it to Gary but the story is about some years later, when I started doing my blog, I got an email from some guy when I published that story in my blog and he said, “By the way, I was at that event and you sized me up and walked right by me when you were getting the ball sign.” I have to admit, I was a rookie at the time so I don’t expect you but I wanted you to know that I remember that and I didn’t have to apologize, but I did apologize because I didn’t pay attention to him. You never know, what you do today is going to affect you who you meet on the way up and who you meet on the way down. There’s a big lesson in that as well. I have a bunch of other stories in there about why life is long and not short. That’s my quote to start the chapter. Marty Edelston used to say, “Life is long and it’s the only one you got.” I had a stroke and survived and I’m doing fine. I’m not paralyzed or anything but I could have said life is short but I’m coming out of it and saying life is long. It’s all I got. I might as well play big and I’ll continue to play big.
You do play big. By the way, as reading, we’re going to talk to you about how you can get your hands on this book, Overdeliver. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve had a chance to attend a dinner that Brian has explained these intentional dinners. You and Richard Rossi cohost in one a couple of years back when I still got invitations to those things. It’s one of the best business building tools. The concept carries through whether it’s in a small or larger setting. It’s laid out in the book. It has a PDF available online that walks through it. If you go dig for them enough, you can find them about the intentional dinners that him and Marty talked about. Marty Edelston is one of his mentors. Where can people go to get the book to learn more about you, to get in touch with you, to connect with you and all the amazing tools and things you make available?The more content you give, the better the product launch. - Brian Kurtz Click To Tweet
The best way is to go to www.OverdeliverBook.com. It has amazing bonuses, I already told you about the Benson book and the Grossman book. I have a whole course that Jay Abraham put together that he doesn’t sell. He said it cost them $200 to put together and he just gave it to me digitally. That’s available. Jay Abraham also gave me 21 keynote speeches and those are all on there. I have a swipe file of going back to 1900 of great direct mail, it’s 400 pages. That’s a PDF. I have a PDF and I call it The Lost Chapters of Overdeliver because it’s everything I’ve written since the book came out. Since I started, I put the book to bed. That goes back to the last year or so. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. The Bencivenga Bullets. I have a Dan Kennedy swipe file from my Titans Direct Response event. I have a video of a full day with Perry Marshall. That was a $2,500 a day event. It’s mind-boggling. There are eleven bonuses on the page at OverdeliverBook.com. You have to buy the book. You go to the page, you go to Amazon.
From there, you come back with your receipt with your order number and you plug it in and then you get on my list. You’ll get my blog every week. I don’t sell stuff in my blog. No affiliates, no nothing. I sold them, offer for the Muppet’s movie because it was free and I don’t get an affiliate commission. I do a couple of things as friends. I did a thing for Charity Water, but it’s not an affiliate deal. It’s content every Sunday morning. They’re on my list and you can email me from that list anytime once you’re on there and you get a welcome series and all that. That would be the best way.
I want to jump in, Brian, because if you’re somebody who wants to work and connect with somebody who walks their talk and lead by example, maybe as you’re building a business or growing a business as a parent, as a spouse, as a community leader. Brian is all three and then some. He is a champion of champions and walking front stage, backstage being congruent. You can go get the book. I encourage you to go get the book at OverdeliverBook.com. The bonuses are amazing. One single post from Brian in his blog, one single piece out of this book will more than pay for the book times ten, times 50, times 100. If you then use multiple strategies that he’s going to share with you and your business, it’s a game-changer for you. Meeting Brian Kurtz will not be a mistake. He’s a legend. He’s an icon. I made a post that I borrowed part of the thinking of that line from you. I said, “A legend, an icon, an introvert, walked up on stage.”
At first, I didn’t have that video yet but I had the video of me, you, Jay and Mike Agugliaro. That was a philosopher, a warrior and a direct marketer. I said, “I would not have used an introvert. You’re an incredible. You’re like a Renaissance Man of Marketing because you transcend industries.” I’ve stayed pretty tight in my niche. The amazing people that you’re working with now, I’m amazed because you’re with Mike Agugliaro in HVAC and then you’re doing amazing stuff with people totally outside of that. I said, “How do you pick your clients?” You say, “They got to be in growth mode. They got to be doing the right thing, but they don’t have to be in any one niche.” You’re very versatile in where you can go. I’ve always been impressed with what you can do.
Thank you. I hope that I can continue to do and represent the industry like you have as a legend, as an icon. Go get Brian’s book. This is a character builder. It’s not just a business builder, it’s a character builder. Go to OverdeliverBook.com. Brian, what are one to three action steps you hope our viewers and our audiences take as a result of our time now?
One of the things that I always tell a new client or a new person entering my mastermind group and I get together with them, I assess their assets. You might have people listening that have done this but it’s always good to redo it on a regular basis. Assess what you have. It goes back to Jay Abraham’s thing about getting everything you can out of all you got. Assess your assets. You don’t realize, the stuff that you own, I’m talking about lists, I’m talking about content, I’m talking about things that you don’t own but maybe you could partner on. There’s a whole list of assets that if you could put into a bucket and be able to figure out how I can use them better, that would be step one. From there, you get to the list segmentation, you get to offers, you get to all of that. Assessing your assets would be one for sure. There’s stuff in the book about that and what you can do on the different areas to assess your assets and getting swipe files and all that stuff.
Another thing, let’s say adopt some form of either an intentional dinner, intentional lunches, small groups. When you go to a conference, go look around and see what five people would I love to have a meal with and create that environment for stimulating conversation. That would be one thing that they could do immediately. This is broad but it comes up a lot in the book. Both in terms of when I talked about the eulogy that I did for Marty and also I talk about every great copywriter, I said the seven things every copywriter has that I ever work with. It’s insatiable curiosity. Don’t assume that you’ve got it when you’ve got it. Let’s assume a copywriter was given a book to write a package for. Gene Schwartz, one of the greatest copywriters ever, always asked me when I gave him the book, he always say, “What’s not in the book? What’s on the cutting-room floor? What is available that I could write great copy from but is not in the book but that we could go deeper, go further?” Insatiable curiosity, some people are born with it. A lot of most entrepreneurs are. If you’re not born with it, you’ve got to teach it to yourself. Whatever the final answer you have, it’s not the final answer. Those would be three things. That’s a little more broad but the specific things are intentional dinners and assessing your assets.
If you want to know how to do intentional dinners, you want to have a plan of how to assess your assets and then leverage those assets, the details of how to do that are in the book at OverdeliverBook.com. Get the book, get all the incredible bonuses Brian’s making available for you. Brian, what’s one question I should have asked you that I didn’t?
We didn’t want to get too personal but my stroke and I had cancer in 2008, what did those events do for me one way or the other? I would’ve answered that in both cases, I didn’t have a come to Jesus moment. I didn’t say, “Now, I’m going to live. Now, I woke up. Now, I’m going to do it.” I certainly am grateful that I survived. The cancer was not life or death. It was early and it was manageable. The stroke was life or death. When I went into the hospital, I was out and afterwards the doctor said, “This is a miracle. I didn’t think you were going to make it.” Even though I’m still recovering, it’s not that what did I do? What have I not done that I still want to do? It’s what I still want to do. It’s a big difference because if I died, I wouldn’t have had any regrets but I can think about maybe the Little League World Series, it’s not like one of those things where I had this epiphany and now I’m going to live. I’ve lived a good life and I hope to be living a lot longer and I’m so grateful. Being grateful, we talked about that on Mike’s stage. The biggest problem with gratefulness needs to pop into your head, especially when you’re envious or when you’re looking at the other guy and seeing what they have that you don’t.
Always be grateful for what you have, for what you can learn. This ties into being a lifelong learner. In the blog post I wrote was something like why do you write like you’re running out of time, which is a song from Hamilton. What haven’t you done that you’re still yearning to do and make it so that you’ll have no regrets? I’ll have to think about where I have regrets and now that I have another lease on life, what I still want to do. It’s not because I had an epiphany. It’s because I’ll keep thinking about that all the time. I hate to be so bland about it, matter of fact about it but it is true. I hope I can still do a lot more and a lot more sharing. That’s why the book’s important to me and why the bonuses are important to me and why my mentors are important to me. I’m going to be alive longer so I can remember my mentors who are dead and they’ll get remembered. I hope that there’s somebody that remember me.
If I can help in any way, one of the ways is you can get Brian’s book is go to OverdeliverBook.com and use this as your business builder and character builder for you and your team as well. Speaking of gratitude, I’m always fascinated, Brian, not just the business side but the personal side. I can’t repeat it enough about you as a human being.
You are amazing on stage. The stuff you shared about how you can turn something around in 30 seconds, you have some good thinking on that.
Thank you. Now you’ve been married 37 years.
I’ve known my wife 33 years.
She has seen the ups, she seen the downs, cancer, this recent stroke, your business building phase, all these different things, the new journey you’re on now. If you’re going to turn to your wife right now and be grateful and say, “Honey, I’m grateful for the way you’ve shown up to help support me to do and be this champion.” What would you say to your wife in that spirit of gratitude?If you’re somebody who wants to be a business builder, you want to be a character builder for you and your team. – Dan Kuschell Click To Tweet
I say it to her as often as I can and she doesn’t believe me because she knows that I’m motivated and she knows that my business is my business. I share a lot from my business but not everything. I’d say, “I couldn’t do it without you. If I knew you weren’t going to be here or that you were going to leave me, I don’t know what I would do because I don’t think I would want to do this.” I thought what you’re going to ask me is like, “What would she say?” She would say, “I wish you would pay a little less attention to your business and a little more attention to family sometimes.” I’ve listened and I’ve tried to abide by that but when I’m building my new business, I had to spend a lot of time building it and then I apologize for that after I do it. There’s always going to be that. I’m an entrepreneur now. It’s very hard to juggle that.
I would definitely say, “I could not do this without you. First of all, it wouldn’t be as meaningful.” I do my blog every Sunday. On Friday, I have her come down to my office, I read it to her. I get some feedback from her. I definitely have evolved also when I realized that she thought that I was all business, no play. To me, it was all the same. It’s not the same for her because she has a play world that’s different from my business world. My business is in play like this. She’s my business and her play. That was important to try to bring my business into her and then also when we’re together, displace my business sometimes and be with her. Thirty-seven years together is a long time and it’s way more than half my life. It takes a lot of work. I don’t think we’ve ever been on the outs for very long but we’ve had some ups and downs. Having that open communication is important too. I know that you send your postcards out and I don’t think I’d be able to do that. Plus my kids are older and they don’t care anymore. You do that and it’s not to show off, it’s to show that to lead by example. To say, “You’ve got to be like this with your wife and your kids and don’t forget about all that.” I admire that about you. I open your postcards and I read them and they’re very meaningful. It helps me in whatever I’m doing in my family. You’re on the right track for sure. I’m getting there.
I’m grateful, Brian and I shared this book, it’s 20 years, 30 years, 50, 40 some years of experience, condensed wisdom, compressed wisdom. If you’re someone who wants to be a better parent, you’re somebody who wants to be a better spouse or somebody who wants to be a business builder, you want to be a character builder for you and your team. This book can give you insights on all of those things. As crazy as that sounds, I don’t want to over-hype it.
It’s not a tactical book, although there are some specific things. I didn’t want to write a tactical but I didn’t want to write a personal development book. There are way more people that can do that. It’s a marketing book. There’s a lot in there that is storytelling. It’s not a memoir. I’m proud of it but I go to other books for the tactics. It’s not that kind of a book but I do think it’s a book that will help somebody in some of the things that you say and I feel good about that.
I’m grateful, Brian, that you made the time. I know that this book can make a big difference. Getting a chance for people to go learn about you, what you’re up to, that will make a difference. What would be one last thing that you’d want our audience to leave today with?
There’s a direct marketing guy named John Lively. He passed away. He was very theatrical and he was a heavy guy but he was all personality and he’d go, “Go forth and multiply.” That’s what I would say. It sounds corny but take my book, take tons of other books, be a lifelong learner, teach and learn. As Jay Abraham would say, “Because you did, it is your responsibility to teach it.” I’ve taken that responsibility, I would tell people to take that responsibility and then go forth and multiply.
There you have it. He’s Brian Kurtz. I encourage you, go get the book at OverdeliverBook.com. I’ve got a handful of pages of notes we talked about paying postage made you a better marketer. We talked about how baseball and life imitate direct response marketing. We talked about customer service and fulfillment being extension of your marketing and business building activities, list building and RFM. We talked about the 41/39/19 rule. We talked about getting tuning in on your assets, research. We talked about the three things that Brian wants you to take action with, assess your assets, do list segmentation, adapt intentional dinners and have an insatiable curiosity. With that, I want to encourage you, go forth and prosper. Make it a great week and we’ll see you next time on GrowthToFreedom.com.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Brian Kurtz
- Boardroom Inc.
- Titans Mastermind
- The Advertising Solution
- How Not To Make Your Lawyer Rich – blogpost
- Bencivenga Bullets
About Brian Kurtz
Brian Kurtz has been a serial direct marketer for almost 40 years and never met a medium he didn’t like…and while he’s had much success, he also must admit that trying to sell subscriptions and books on the back of ATM receipts and under yogurt lids was only “a good idea at the time…”
Brian left his beloved Boardroom in January of 2015. Over 34 years he was responsible for the mailing of close to 2 billion pieces of direct mail in his career (and he did NOT lick every stamp!); and he was also responsible for the distribution of millions of other impressions and promotions in a wide variety of alternate media, both offline and online, using the most innovative direct marketing techniques while working with the most legendary copywriters and consultants who have ever lived. Under Brian’s marketing leadership and during his tenure, Boardroom’s revenues went from approximately $5 million (in 1981) to a high of over $150 million (in 2006).
Brian was instrumental in building Boardroom’s print and electronic newsletters, including Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/Health, Bottom Line Secrets and Daily Health News. And he was also responsible for selling tens of millions of books, mostly in the categories of health and finance, for consumers.
His mission for the next 40 years (as the Founder of “Titans Marketing”), is to be the bridge between the eternal truths of direct response marketing and all that is considered state-of-the-art direct response marketing today. And to make sure everyone he works with understands the complexities and the need to be multi-channel.
In September of 2014, to kick off that mission, Brian hosted what has been called the event of the decade: “Titans of Direct Response.”
“Titans” brought together the greatest minds in direct response marketing from the last 50 years…both as speakers and attendees. Titans Mastermind and Titans Master Class (and soon to be Titans Xcelerator) are the next big steps in that mission. Brian writes and speaks regularly; recent content can be found at www.briankurtz.me and www.briankurtz.me/blog. His first book, The Advertising Solution, was released in October of 2017. His second book, Overdeliver: Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing will be released in April of 2019.
But truth be told, Brian is really just a Little League Baseball Umpire and does this direct marketing stuff on the side. His ultimate goal is to umpire in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA while he is still upright…and he hopes it happens soon. What is your favorite topic (or topics) to discuss? Our audience likes to learn systems and processes that can be applied to business. However, we can take the conversation anywhere. Let us know in advance if there are certain topics you like to discuss.: Anything from my new book: “Overdeliver,” why paying postage makes you a better marketer, the importance of “original source,” 40/40/20 rule of direct response, RFM and list segmentation, Lifetime Value, customer service and fulfillment as marketing functions, playing a long game. All chapters from the new book.