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What's up brand builder Stephen Hurahan here on the brand master podcast. And in this episode, I'm joined by Mr. Brian Kurtz. Now, for those of you who don't know him, Brian Kurtz is a direct response copy master and author of the engaging book Overdeliver. Build a business for a lifetime playing the long game in direct response marketing. Now, Brian Kurtz is definitely a throwback marketer to a madman time where copy was rightly king and an expert who I associate with the likes of industry legends such as Eugene Schwartz and Jay Abraham. Now, Brian positions himself as a serial direct marketer who believes that marketing isn't everything, but the only thing for nearly 40 years.
Now he's followed a specific set of direct marketing principles that helped him to build an iconic publishing company to one hundred and fifty million dollars at its height. Principles which are even more applicable with today's state of the art modern marketing methods. So if you want to learn techniques to persuade your audience to choose your brand over your competitors from a man who has spent his life persuading tens of millions of consumers to do exactly that. And stick around for this episode of the brand master podcast. Welcome to the brand master podcast show specializing in helping branding professionals and entrepreneurs to build brands using strategy, psychology and creative thinking. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the brand master podcast.
And I'm absolutely delighted to have me on on the show today with me, Mr. Brian Kurtz. Brian, thank you so much for taking the time out to join us today. You know, when you reached out to me for this podcast, even I didn't know who you were. And then I looked you up and then I really didn't want to do the. I don't care. That's New York sarcasm. But basically, I was really in I was intrigued by how you have structured this podcast, the idea of branding and what branding really is and how it fits into marketing and advertising and everything else.
And being a direct marketer, which is, you know, direct marketing, which is actionable, measurable, accountable advertising, you have to get an ROI every time you advertise. It's counter to the idea of branding or public relations or publicity. And yet, you know, having a brand, you have to know, like, do you have a brand and whatever you have, you need to use it to your advantage and then build it. But within a direct marketing context, you also need to get an ROI on the branding and their counter. And yet they're symbiotic. And we talked before you record here of my approach to it. And I'll I'll come up with some examples.
And I was just very excited to to get your email and the invitation to be on this particular podcast, because it's a topic that I that I know a lot about based on my 40 years in direct marketing. Absolutely. And you know, I I read your book over deliver and and you know, it really is a throwback to to to to really simplified communication, getting down into the you know, what makes people you know, make decisions, what what is it that we're trying to get at? We've kind of lost that a little bit.
So so in you know, it it it seems like just a couple of months ago that that I was listening to you every day on the way to the office in the car and to have you on the show now is great. That's a scary. I know. I know it is. But listen to me like more than like two minutes. Well, I get to pick your brain now beyond just the book. So it's it's it's really, really good. And the reason that I wanted you specifically on the show is because, first of all, the copywriting is is such an important aspect of of branding that is really in my app. From my perspective, has been overlooked.
If I was to to, you know, to to give it a role, I would say it's probably our greatest tool of influence as brands is the copy and the messages that we put out there. And I know from from our brief chat offline there that, you know, there even within the world of branding and marketing, we've got two very distinct camps. You know, you've got the marketers, the pure breed marketers who look to branding as, you know, they they believe it's fluff and bullshit. And then on the branding side of things, we look towards marketing and direct responses, this kind of dirty world where we don't want to be associated.
But really, you know, the the what you kind of alluded to before, the symbiotic nature of the two, you know, somewhere in the middle is is true. And I want to dig into that. What's your idea about the crossover between the two worlds of branding and marketing? Yeah, I mean, it's it's it's interesting. You know, you can't you can't just will a Nike swoop, you know, you can't just will, you know, a logo. You can't just, you know, and branding is so much more than that. And as I said initially, that you need to establish what you have already. You always want to know the J.
Abraham, who wrote the forward, who's a marketing genius, wrote the forward to over deliver my book. And, you know, he always says that, you know, his book is my favorite. J. Abraham book is getting everything you can out of all you've got before you build anything you've got to do. You got to see what your assets are. What do you have? And some people have a brand built in to what they've already done. So to me, that's the first step. The second step is not to throw money away indiscriminately on, I'll say, building a brand or on publicity or public relations that doesn't pay out. You can do both.
You can you can build a brand and get do do direct response marketing that pays out at the same time. One example from my career was when, for example, we had a database of I think we had probably nine million names of buyers and subscribers to the newsletters that I I ran at boardroom. And the books we sold at boardroom, mostly consumers, mostly business people at home was kind of the marketplace. And this this market was so ingrained with the with with the first newsletter, which was Boardroom Reports. And then we launched another newsletter later on, which was more consumer oriented, called Bottom Line Personal.
And all of a sudden, the business took off and we realized that Bottom Line was the brand that we should we should hitch our, you know, hitch to as as the as the key brand. And so what we did was we everything after that was branded Bottom Line before it was Boardroom Books. Then it became Bottom Line Books. Before that, we started doing like we had a health newsletter called Health Confidential, and we changed that to Bottom Line Health. And it was just the simple name change to where because it wasn't like we were building a brand. The brand built itself from the marketplace that we were going after.
And we the creative and the copy just went with that. I'll say something else about copywriting and branding in a minute. But the thing that that was so interesting is that we launched the company was called Boardroom Inc. We launched it as a business newsletter, Boardroom Reports. Everything was Boardroom, Boardroom Books. By the time, you know, 15 years later, everything was Bottom Line. In fact, Boardroom Reports, the initial newsletter became Bottom Line Books. It was a bottom line business. Everything came under the bottom line brand, if you will. And then it was interesting because it was Bottom Line Business did much better to the database. Now, this is a very simple example of a brand.
I know it's very simple, just the name. But you can see that we didn't go after a brand. We saw what our audience was doing. And that's way more powerful. As far as the idea of copywriting being the most important, I'll just not going to play devil's advocate, but I'll give you the opposite of that. I say that creative is the least important element until it's not. And what I mean by that, and I already illustrated it by the idea of our database moving toward bottom line from Boardroom. But the interesting thing is that the creative is the most important, but not initially.
And there's like three legs in a direct marketing program, like any marketing program, it's definitely direct marketing. There's the list, the media, the audience. That's one. The offer that you're making is two. And then the creative or the messaging. And there was a theory that said it's the 40-40-20 rule. And it's in my book in chapter four about RFM and list building. And I made it the 41-39-20 rule. The 41% is the list, the media, the audience. It's all about them in terms of what the, because Dean Schwartz, who wrote Breakthrough Advertising, talks about the copywriter doesn't create desire. The desire is already in the marketplace.
It's your job as the marketer copywriter to find where it is and then just tap into it. So if you have the right audience, then you come up with the offer, 39%, and then that 41-39-20 rule kind of implies that the creative is half as important as the media list and the offer. It's not. What it is is that you have to get to that third. Once you get to the creative that you want to do specifically for the audience, that's the example I gave, writing for bottom line as opposed to boardroom to a bottom line database is changing the creative.
And my experience over 40 years of doing this is that the creative is, and that's where I'll agree with you, the creative, I said it's the least important until it's not, then it becomes the most important as you suggested because once you have your list of media dialed in and you have an audience that's hungry for what you have, you have an offer that's irresistible, then the creative takes it to direct marketing nirvana and that's where you get your biggest lifts. So you can tweak the offer, you can tweak the list selection once you have it or the media selection, but if you have those two things dialed in, the creative takes it to a whole new height.
Now, the reason why I say 41-39-20 and the way I prove it is that if you have the perfect list, perfect media, perfect whatever, you have an irresistible offer and you use mediocre creative, we'll say online, you have a flashing red box and an arrow saying order here, you'll make some money, you'll get some orders because you have the right audience with the right offer with mediocre creative. The opposite is not true. You can have world-class creative and messaging, a branding philosophy and if you have an offer that's wilting and just not a good offer, not irresistible and your audience is not interested in what you're selling, you're going to get zero order.
So that proves the 41-39-20 rule in essence and it also makes the creative the most important once the first two are dialed in. That's the critical way that I look at it. So if you're just going to go for creative and branding and websites that are pretty colors and aren't doing anything in direct response, that gives me hives. I really resist that, but it's not that I'm resisting branding.
I don't see branding as this evil thing, but it's got to be within a direct marketing context and I see it played out over and over again and it's amazing if you start with your audience and your offer and then work the creative to the audience and the offer, you will see what your brand is and then the creative takes it to new heights. So that's kind of the 30,000 foot view of how branding and direct response and we can dig in on any of that. I have other examples that I've seen in my career that really prove this out.
Look, I love everything that you're saying there and to really unpack the idea of where you went to with Boardroom and just providing that clarity and following what the audience said to build a brand without even realizing that the brand was being built and that kind of ties back to. . . Or you didn't know it was there even. Exactly. And it kind of ties back to. . . I like to distill everything within branding back to the human aspect of it because I'm a firm believer in the human brand philosophy and the brand that we're building is a human entity to connect with another human.
And if we do it like that, then I see branding as the relationship side of things and I see the marketing as the ask. Now, you can be a great person being friendly to everybody and building relationships all over the place, but without that ask, you're never really going to get anywhere. Yes, you'll have a lot of relationships, but if you don't ask, then you're not going to get. Likewise, if you just go around asking people without really building relationships, then you're going to get a lot of no's as well. So there's a symbiotic relationship there between the two. We kind of need to do both very well.
We need to build the relationships as this slow burning thing where we're giving value and we're kind of talking to our audience and understanding them. But at some point there has to be this ask of a favor. You build that relationship and then you ask and then the circle is complete. How do you differentiate between direct response marketing and branding? And how can you create a copy that is both persuasive on one hand, but also relationship building on the other? Yeah, that's the ultimate question. And I have an expression. I say everything in marketing and in life basically is not a revenue event, but everything is a relationship event. So we're on the same page there.
The problem becomes and the thing is the fact that I mean, I'm a lot older than I look and so I've been doing this since I was nine years old. That's why I've been doing this. So I would say that in Chapter three of Overdeliver, I say how paying postage made me a better marketer. And it's about direct mail because direct mail was the ultimate marketing, direct marketing medium. When I started in the business in 1981, I was not nine.
And so the interesting thing is that knowing direct mail and knowing that you are paying postage and printing gave me the training that said, you know, I can't do ultimate just relationship building, but I could give away content that's valuable. I could lead with value still. That's one of the keys in building a relationship. You need to lead with value. You need to lead with contributing to whether it's even one on one. I mean, I need to lead here contributing to your audience and to you before I could ask them for anything or before I could do anything. And the problem with now fast forward to online marketing. And I'm an online marketer.
I do a lot of email marketing. I do a lot on Facebook. I do a lot on whatever Google AdWords and a lot of online advertising. The thing is, when you're not paying postage and printing, you tend to, you know, move into sort of a lazy, sloppy way. And you start asking, asking, asking without the privilege of having a relationship. You identify. And the beauty of online marketing is that for the most part, it's pretty inexpensive. You're certainly not paying postage and printing. I remember there was an urban legend going around.
I don't know when it was probably early 2000s that there was something happening there, US Postal Service, probably an April Fool's joke, April, that the US Postal Service was going to start charging for every email, postage for every email. And I thought that would be a really good idea, believe it or not, because that would weed out all the riffraff and it would teach online marketers a discipline that not that I learned, but all more, all direct marketers learned in the age of direct mail when you had to pay for postage and printing. Now, of course, that didn't happen. And email is still pretty inexpensive.
However, that doesn't give you a license to just, you know, barrage your list with a bunch of crap. And so some people do it. Some people do it and they make a lot of money. And I just don't choose to do that. And you'll find that the really choose email as the example here, because I think email is the killer app right now. And it still is. I mean, email is the relationship building media. It's not Facebook. It's not Instagram. It's not TikTok. It's not Google AdWords. It's email and email to equate it to direct mail, which was not quite relationship building.
But the way we did it at boardroom when we did, you know, 32 page Magalans, 32 page promotions that talked about the product. It talked about it gave you some of the steak and not just all sizzle. That was the precursor to like launches online where you give away your best content upfront because you know that there's more best content in the future. You have to have this confidence in online marketing that you can give away your best stuff initially, which is the leading with value. And that when people then are really into that content, then the ask becomes so much easier, but you have to have the confidence that you've got more best stuff behind it.
What happens is most online market or not most, but a lot of online marketers. I don't want to do a broad brush of every online marketer here, but a lot of them feel that, well, if I give away my best stuff, I'll have nothing to charge for. Yeah. Well, that's a scarcity mindset. And you've got to have an abundance mindset in terms of your content, what you can contribute to them, what you can deliver to them. You might want to save some incredible content. That's your secret sauce to charge for later on. But you still have to lead with value. And I encourage people to lead with their best thing for free.
And it's just it's a model, you know, moving the free line. There's a lot about that. And it's not just you have to give it away for free. I mean, people think that writing a book, the only reason to do it is to use it as a lead magnet, give it away for free, free shipping and handling, and then get people in this elaborate funnel and start selling them stuff. So I I'm not a fan of that. I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm not saying it's it's still a legitimate direct marketing model.
But if you're looking at building a brand, building relationships with your audience, whatever it is, I mean, I call my I have a list of about 15000 people that I blog to every week. And I never call them my list. I always call them my online family. And it's not bullshit. I'm not doing it to be like you. I'm doing it because I train myself that they really are my online family. Doesn't mean I don't ask them to buy stuff for me. But my consistency and congruence also needs to be there. So whatever you're doing, just selling all the time, asking, asking, asking.
If that's what you're doing consistently and it's working for you, then that's what's your congruence that you do. Isn't what I do. I like to build the relationship. And I even wrote a blog post. It was it was more about not so much selling online, but it was the title of title. It was never asked. You said ask asking. So it was perfect. I said never ask from nowhere again. That was the subject line. And the concept was that, you know, asking somebody for anything, asking somebody to be on their podcast, asking somebody to be a guest speaker.
One of my masterminds asking somebody to for a favor like they're a Facebook expert and you want some advice, you know, anybody, anybody who says, I'm going to pick your brain. You said it, but you said it in the in a good way. But anybody is asking to pick your brain. All they're doing is picking your pocket. I mean, most times because they're trying to get information for free. But the opposite of that is that if you want to deliver up front the value, deliver what you can give them that can improve their life. The asks and you don't have to.
I think that there was a guy at I was at this big event not that long ago, late last year, and there was a guy stood up and it was like 250 people in the in the ballroom guy stands up. He says, I'm 26 years old. And I'm struggling because I want to I'm developing great contacts. I'm developing great list of people that I'm meeting and I don't know how to monetize it. And, you know, so I'm throwing up in my mouth because the way I look at it is completely opposite, like you're 26 years old. What what deep relationships have you developed that you need to think about? Monetization immediately. So that was my premise.
And I was thinking about going up to see him, you know, and, you know, not lecturing him, but kind of maybe ask him some questions so he could see the flaw in his thinking, which is what I like to do, do a Socratic method, which J Abraham taught me, but I I I I chickened out. I didn't go find him. But lo and behold, I'm at one of the breaks. Guy taps me on the shoulder. It's him. And he goes, You're Brian Kurtz, aren't you? Not that I think I'm that famous. I said, Yes, I said, Yes. He says, I've read your book over delivery.
I knew you were here and I really wanted to meet you. So I immediately thought, OK, he's going to put me on his list and he wants to connect with me and then probably monetize me because that my thought my thought went there because that's who this guy is. So I had to get to the what I wanted to say to him quickly. I wasn't mean. I was very generous with him. It was clear that he had mentors in the room when he stood up. So he was bold enough to say that he wanted to monetize his list and people were mentoring him. And I also checked with one of his mentors.
And he said, Yeah, he's young and he doesn't. You know, I hate being grandpa at the picnic, but you can't you can't develop your and J Abraham calls it your relationship capital. He said it's the most important account you have, much more important than your bank account, it's your relationships. So I kind of said to him, I said, you know, you want to monetize your list, but do you contribute to your list on a regular basis? I asked him all the questions that you would think I would ask him. You know, do you interact with them on a basis of 100 zero? You give to this is in my book.
I said, obviously, if you read my book, you would know about it. So I said, you give 100 zero to everybody in your life so that when when and you don't ask for anything return, you have no expectation for anything return when you give 100 zero, even if you don't get something back from that person, I believe you're putting good karma in the universe. And so the only thing I could tell him was that I only have I only have 40 years experience doing this, not a lot of time, right? Only only half a lifetime. And so I've been doing this my whole life, not saying you have to do it like me.
But when I ask somebody for some something, anything, especially in the marketing area, I know that it's not an ask from nowhere. It's an ask from, you know, yeah, I'm ready to ask this person because I have a deep relationship with them or it's so much in their advantage to say, yes, that's the ask. I will make and Joe Polish, who's one of my great friends, and he just wrote a new book called What's in it for them? That's the essence.
Yeah, what's in it for them? And so I I'm a big believer in everything you said about, you know, it's about relationship, it's not about revenue, but with deep relationships comes revenue, comes the ability to ask people for something. And it doesn't even feel like an ask. I ran an event in 2014 for the Titans of Direct Response, which was a tribute event to the founder of Boardroom who had died the year before, and I got the best of the best in direct marketing to speak at it. I got Dan Kennedy. I got Joe Sugarman. I got Jay Abraham. I got, you know, Gary Bensavango, America's best copywriter. I got the best of the best.
I got Greg Ranker, who runs Guthrie Ranker, the top infomercial. I'm not bragging. You know, it's not bragging if you did it, but I'm not bragging to saying that. I'm not name dropping either. But it was every one of the asks was not an ask from nowhere. It was an ask from the fact that they all participated in the growth of Boardroom. They all loved Marty, who is now dead. They love me. I'm alive. And let's go do this tribute event together. Everybody said yes. And Dan Kennedy called it the event of the decade last decade. But it's the event of last decade.
And so how do you do a 10 year anniversary next year? But the whole point is that none of the asks were from nowhere. And on the on the opposite, they were all asked from somewhere. It's the same thing when you're doing email marketing on a lesser scale. You're not asking somebody to go come cross country and speak at an event at their expense. They all pay their travel and all that. But I'm not going to pay them a speaking fee. But I can make that ask because I have, you know, 40 years of relationship building.
So the equivalent on an email list would be what's 40 years experience with a person on your email list doesn't take 40 years. Yeah. And look, you can't do it in 15 minutes. No. And you know, I'm I'm a big believer in that. And that's my exact philosophy as well. My my my list. My list is is is everything. And I'm actually pretty ruthless with my list. If you're on my list, you know, it's because you're engaged in my stuff. You know, I call my list pretty ruthlessly.
Like I've I've deleted probably 40 to 50 thousand people off my list simply because I'm sending, you know, great content out into the world and they're not engaging with it and that's absolutely fine. And because I do that and because, you know, 90 percent or more of of the messages that I send this list are value, they're value driven. And that's why I have open rates of between 40 and 50 percent. And, you know, because of the same reason. Exactly. And that's the philosophy that we're kind of we're we're we're getting into here as branding.
And I think everybody on this listening to this podcast is probably more subscribed to that philosophy than the the the other side of the spectrum where, you know, everybody is a marketer and, you know, as as Seth Godin said, all marketers are liars and, you know, there is that perception out there in the world, you know, yeah, I know. Your marketing is not evil. And when I know it's it's it's not.
But what I want to do is I want to bring those who are already within the world of branding and and and subscribe to the philosophy and the idea of branding that there is a place for direct response and you just have to you just have to need the two together, that is to continue the relationship building, but to to create persuasive copy at that at the same time while honoring that relationship. And that's that's really what I want to kind of introduce to professional brand builders is that copy or that marketing is an evil.
And, you know, really, if you've got a good product that you believe in, you know, sprinkling your your brand messaging with some persuasive copy is helping to kind of build that bridge and to deliver the product that you believe in to the people who let's call it what it is. It's it's it's relationship and it's and it's selling. And it but and the thing is, like when I've spoken internationally and I've been on some international stages, I've been to Budapest, Hungary, I've been to Paris speaking to marketers and entrepreneurs, actually entrepreneurs in Hungary is interesting because, you know, they were they were under communist rules since they were in the country up to 1989. So it's kind of interesting.
But Hungary, Paris, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, I've been on a lot of stages internationally, and that gives me an amazing opportunity not to be the ugly American, like I don't want to be the ugly American because it's clear that a lot of those countries feel that while America is the the the the pinnacle of marketing and I United States isn't the best at everything. I know that. But in marketing, we're the top. I mean, there's no question about it. Yeah. So when you go to I'm on stage in Hungary and I'm up there and they're sitting on their hands thinking, oh, this guy is going to tell me how to gouge my customers, how to sell, sell, sell.
So I start with marketing is not evil and I prove it to them. And then I get into a discussion with them about something I've already mentioned in this podcast, which is consistency and congruity. So what I said congruence. So what I see them, it's like you need to sell at some point. You need to, you know, once you have a relationship with your audience, you need to sell them what you want to sell, because, you know, why, why share your mission, vision with the world, why, why share your products or services with dozens of people when you might be able to sell it with thousands or millions.
So you need to sell at some point, but it does. You don't have to sell all the time. And you can sell with congruence with who you are, how aggressive you want to be. As you said very eloquently about copy that you massage the copy to who you are, how to be consistent all the time. And that's what you do. It sounds like with your list and your online family, it's what I do with my list and my online family, and it's not about let's let's scrape somebody's likes from Facebook and just bombard them with crap.
That's not the idea of finding out who you don't want on your list, which you already brought up is just as important as who you want to add to your 100 percent. That's why you get 40 to 50 percent open rates. That's why I get 40 percent. But the more important thing, and you've already hinted at this as well, that it's not just the open rates, I think open rates are overrated. It's engagement rates. It's how they engage with you. If you ask a question to your to your online family, I bet you get a lot of response like I do where I ask them for their opinion legitimately.
I asked them for, you know, do you agree with my premise here? I'm going out on a limb. I'm talking about like if I want to do something on branding and I say branding is bullshit, what do you think? I want to get some some real feedback both ways. And then you get into a discussion. And once you're engaged, then you can sell them because they're going to want to buy from you if your offerings are related to the content. So that's why I don't do affiliate deals. So affiliates are great. You can do affiliates to your list, make a lot of money. Some people make all their money doing affiliates.
I don't do them because first of all, I don't need the money. So that's a good thing. What I do do is I find products and services that are in my educational realm, so they're in an educational realm of direct marketing. And so then I can offer those products or services. And what I do is I tell the person, if you want me to promote this, I like your product, I like your service, if you want me to promote this, I will do it. But you have and you're giving an affiliate commission, right? And they say, yeah, I get 50 percent. So I say, you know what? Take the 50 percent.
I don't want your money, but you will try. I will be able to offer it to my audience at a 50 percent discount. You're getting the same amount of money. And I'm basically taking my affiliate commission, doing it as a discount, and I know it's a solid product or service. That that gives me consistency and congruence with my audience that I'm not looking just to make money if I'm doing some kind of an affiliate deal. And it's not really an affiliate deal. It's a discounted deal based on my affiliate commission becoming a discount for my family. And I'm giving them something of value. So I'm still leading with value and I'm selling someone else's product.
I'm fine with that. And when I'm selling my own products, I like I give, you know, I have amazing educational products, I sell breakthrough advertising by Jean Schwartz, some of the brilliance breakthrough by Jean Schwartz, I sell swipe files from copywriters, all time greats, Bill Jamie and Jim Rutz. I sell them, but they're within the context of direct marketing education. And they're consistent. I'm not saying I'm the best marketer. I'm not saying I'm the everybody should be like me. I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that I am consistent and I am congruent.
And when I when I'm on this, going back to when I'm on stage in Hungary, Italy, wherever, I'm saying, look, you don't have to do it like I do. But what way I do it would work for you because it's relationship building to sales, which you talked about. But if you want to do it the other way, you can do it that way. And I'm not going to tell you that it's wrong, but, you know, it comes with other risks. I mean, I've been accused of being the director of sales prevention by some point in the marketing field.
You know, it's kind of it's I wear like a badge of honor, though, you know, because I'm not trying to prevent sales. I'm trying to do sales under the right under the right conditions for me. Speaking of that, doing sales under the right conditions for you. So one of the things that I'm a big believer in that I want to ask you about is the manner in which we speak to our audience. Now, as people, we speak, you know, as our our personality dictates, you know, we we might be brash, we might be loud, we might be from New York, we might be, you know, we might be shy, we might be timid.
You know, how we communicate says a lot about who we are as people. And I really believe that as brands, how we communicate says a lot about our brand. It attracts the right type of person to us. If we're loud and brash, you know, we're going to repel those who are a little bit more timid and we're going to attract those who are attracted to those kinds of attributes.
How do you see personality within branding and communication? And, you know, what are what are some some some good ways that we can use that within within copy that we develop to to compel people to to to buy from us or just to give us our attention, their attention? How do you see brand personality and personality within copy as a tool for connecting with our audience? Yes. So as the director of sales prevention, which is me, I I think that persuading someone is all about I mean, it's a lot of things. One of the things it's showing, not telling. I like to show people how something works and even showing them how it works while I'm doing it.
So there's no there's no facade. You know, I even come right out and say sometimes I need to I need you to have this in your library, you know, that kind of thing. The other piece of that is this whole idea of authenticity, which I am just I'm fed up with it, not that I don't want to be authentic. But when I'm at a conference and someone's on stage and someone turns to me goes, wow, that guy or that woman, she's she's so authentic and I'm saying, OK, what is she like when she comes off stage? She's not authentic.
Is she the same in both places? And that to me, I mean, you know, it's sort of like a what you see is what you get. And it's about consistency. You know, some people play a salesperson on stage. They play a salesperson in email and in person, they're a completely different person. Now, some people need to do that because they and I probably need to do that more if I wanted to sell more, because that's not my nature to be a hard sell kind of guy, although I want people to have my material. So it's it's you know, it goes bang against each other.
Also in terms of that, that's kind of exactly that's kind of exactly what I'm getting at, right, because if if there I don't think brand authenticity or authenticity should be a term that we're speaking about, really. But the conditions of the world, this Instagram world where people big themselves up and create this facade is kind of left us feeling that we have a thirst for people who are a little bit more real. Now, I I completely agree with you. I'm fed up with the idea that we need to put authenticity, authenticity on a pedestal that should be the default, but it's not. It's not.
And I think that creates this environment where brands can kind of use it as an edge to to to help us all move past this world of facades and Instagram and trying to do the opposite to it. You know, brands used for evil can go the opposite way that everything is like that's the pedestal brand. It's like, you know, you need to buy my product because it's the best in the world as opposed. You need to buy my product because I've worked for the last 30 years building it. And I'll tell you some stories about my struggles to tell the hero's journey, how you got there. That's a show, not a tell.
So the problem with just branding and thinking that you're just going to sell the brand, I think it's a flawed concept. Unless you have a Nike swoosh. Yeah, I mean, it's much easier to do or any kind of, you know, any kind of brand. But to hitch your hitch, your hitch to the wagon that says, you know, the brand sells itself, you know, it's like I don't I can't. And it can work.
I'm not saying I'm not saying everything I'm saying is that you need to do it the opposite way or you need to do it one way, but that's not the way that brands and direct marketing, you know, work together as we talked about a lot on this on this podcast, the other piece of of that, and I just had this this happened to me in a in an email group with with it in a mastermind that I'm a member of. And the guy is is trying to brand something. And he was thinking and he was talking about the the name and the URL that he was going with was maybe not the best.
And he wanted to change the name of the company and the URL. It'll be a hassle. But I wanted to say more of what it's doing as opposed to being this, you know, you know, neuro kind of thing. And so I chimed in and I said, this is a really important concept for everybody to understand. It's that when you're starting to talk about names, URLs and logos, and that's the only thing you're talking about, you're on the wrong track. Yeah. If you want to if you want to if you want to really sell and market relationships and all of that. And so I have an expression that's on my wall.
It says, you know, if it doesn't cause a reject, if it doesn't if it doesn't lose an order or cause a rejection, it doesn't matter. And if you start with that, then you can be free to think it's like, you know, should should this URL just say what it does? Should the title of it say what it does? Should you use language? Going back to your original question of the segment, when you said what kind of language can you use for your list, your online family that will will sell it the best, it's the language that they speak in. You know, that's the way you need to go into the like.
If you have an audience that you know really well and you've gotten rid of the people who don't belong, all you have is people who do belong. Find a way they hang out. What books do they buy? Go to Google, go to Amazon and see what books they're buying and see what language they use when they do reviews, go to go to forums on Facebook and see, you know, work, work in focus in in in forums where people are talking in the language of the language that you use with your audience, hopefully authentic. That includes. So it's all about that's the research that you need to do.
And again, when we talk to my first point about the idea of letting the market tell you how to brand your product, it's your having your market tell you how to speak to them, how to write to them, but you still need to be consistent. And I think that's where a lot of online marketers fall, by the way, side, because their consistency is wavering because they'll they'll do like tons of sales of affiliate deals, which doesn't sound like them. And in many cases, it's not their borrowing copy from the affiliate to send to their list, to their whatever they're they're selling. And so it can't be consistent. That's a choice.
That's a valid choice that any list owner of an email list can make. But it's a choice that I'm not willing to make. I'm not going to take someone else's copy because, look, my copy is not always the best. It's not always great. Some days, some weeks I like my blog. Some weeks I don't. There's stuff in my book that I like more than others. And if I had to do over again, I cringe sometimes when I see stuff in my book and I say, oh, why did I say it that way? Whatever. But I'm consistent. And that helps me sleep at night where I'm not going out of my it's not even a comfort zone.
It's my zone. And it's everybody's zone. Everybody has a zone of genius. Stay within that and use and use the language that you're comfortable with. And the funny thing is, once you get a rhythm, as you do with your you've done it because you get 40 to 50 percent open rates, you get a lot of engagement as I do. So you know that you've achieved at least a different level of synergism with your audience. Now keep the consistency going because it and the only way to do that is to engage and find out like someone wrote to me recently.
I mean, I get a lot of I get a lot of feedback that says, oh, Brian, I love I love your blogs, but sometimes they're just too long. And I said, all right, if I had if I had more time, I'd write you a shorter blog. That's the you know, I just I just get going with I'm writing. That's a Mark Twain quote. He says, I would have if I had more time, I'd write you a shorter letter. So it's like I get going and I have something to say and I would just want to say it, you can read it or not read it. That's my style. And I'm not going to waver on that.
But then I have some people that say, you know, I had one yesterday, my blog last week was a profile of a great direct marketing guy, Lester Wonderman, who died four years ago, and I was reminded of him. So I I repeated the blog I wrote four years ago on him and I updated it. And someone wrote to me and said, I have a guy that work with Lester, Lester died. He was 98. That was four years ago. The guy who was asking about who read my blog was 90. So he proved that he worked with Lester Wonderman. I saw his CV and he said and it was interesting.
He said, I love what you wrote about Lester. I don't even know him that well, but I followed him. He wrote a great book in my early days. Well, in 2001, he wrote a book called Being Direct, which was one of my Bibles early in my career. And then he updated it in 2013, I think. So this guy, this 90 year old guy, Lou Adler, he writes to me and he says, I would love to reprint your blog about Lester Wonderman to my thousand subscribers to my blog, but I can't put all the links that you put in because I have links to breakthrough advertising. I have links to my mastermind.
So I went to him and I said, I am not that guy. I do it because I want people to know what I have available that relates to what I'm talking about, take all the links out, all of them. If you want to edit it. But it's the content that he wanted. And I gave it to him. I said, do an attribution with my website if they want to opt into my list. That's fine. But use it. And I realized that even my stuff was asking and selling more than this 90 year old guy who's got nothing to prove. He's got nothing to do except talk to his audience at the at the base.
Not the I don't want to say it's not superficial. It's very deep that he has this list of a thousand people that read him. I bet they open his emails like at 75 percent because they know he's not selling anything and he's just sharing his career of 90 years for his life of 90 years. So it really said that even my stuff, which I think is so pure and so, you know, here's a guy who's so pure that he can and I said, take my blog post, share it. Is that my whole point? I wanted to share the life of Lester Wonderman. But I still had asks in there. I still had my selling links in there.
But I realize that it's different strokes for different folks. It's all about what your audience expects, what they want writing in their language. His audience doesn't speak in the language of links to things that you're selling. Perfect. Yeah. Revise it any way you want. I gave him full editing rights as long as it doesn't change the meaning. Full editing rights to my blog post. And that's a perfect example of using your content always for good and not evil, being consistent, even though I'm asking and selling on a regular basis.
I do it mostly in my PS is actually that's that's how I draw the line, too, because I don't really like to sell in the body copy of my blog. I but I do in the PS. I like to throw something out there in the PS that's related to the blog that I do sell and when I'm coaching in my blog or giving advice, I have a mastermind that's inexpensive and it's it's it's virtual. And I just give them the link. I said, you want to join my mastermind, please join it. I mean, if you don't like my blog, don't join because that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to I'm going to share my career.
I'm going to share what I've learned over 40 years. I'm going to share what I've got. So don't join my mastermind if you aren't enjoying my blog. You're enjoying my blog. So I my mastermind will be you'll become, you know, even a better member of my online family. So there's all of that that gets worked in. I'm not perfect by any means. I might.
Somebody did say to me, not just the guy, the 90 year old guy, someone did say to me, I wish you would have fewer links in your in your in your blogs, I said, you know, I just want to make sure people know what I have available and if I'm talking about it, I'm just going to do a link. I don't even I don't sometimes say click here. I just I just, you know, I I casually have a link in there if they're if they're able to if they're able to find their way to what it is that you're offering, then then great.
And and and look, at the end of the day, we're we're we're all in this business to, you know, to help other people. OK, you know, the the businesses that we create, OK, we we create them because we've all got this this this vision for a better life for ourselves. We want to we want to give we want to give our value to the world. You know, if you create something, I'm not a nonprofit and you're not either. Exactly.
If you if you create something to to bring value to the world, then it's in your best interest and the best interest of those people to whom you're bringing value to give them an opportunity to take advantage of what you're putting into the world and if you use persuasive copy to do it, then that will help to bridge that gap. Exactly. Exactly. So, Brian, but before I let you go, anybody who's listening now, if you haven't read Overdeliver, I really recommend it. It's a great book. There are some great fundamental principles in there.
There are some great tools that are really applicable that you can take in to your own work and start to apply them straight away. I definitely recommend reading that book if somebody wants to buy that book or to get in touch with you or to ask you or find out, you know, where all these links that you have go to and what you're actually offered, where's the the best place that they can they can get in touch with you? Yeah, I mean, the best place to, you know, become a member of my online family, which is another way of saying get on my list. And you know what my philosophy is. I'm not you don't have to buy anything.
I don't do affiliates. You know, all of that is true. All they need to go is to Brian Kurtz dot net. B R I A N K U R T Z dot net. There's the first thing on the page. There's a lot of free content on that page. My blogs are all on there going back to 2014. Everything is there, a lot of free stuff. And you opt in. You get an interview that I did with Harry Marshall, who's a great marketer. And you'll just be you'll get my blog every Sunday. You'll hear about when I do a launch of my mastermind and all of that.
But the purpose is to just I share every Sunday something of value. And I think, well, if you don't think it's a value, you can unsubscribe anytime. That's the best way. As far as the book goes, I have a site that you can go to Amazon and buy it. But I would suggest if you want to buy it or look at it, go to overdeliverbook. com. Oh, it's exactly as it's spelled overdeliverbook. com. I'll leave the links in the show notes anyway. Excellent. And there, you know, you have to buy the book and I don't make any money on the book. I got an advance. I've got I got an advance to write it.
I have not made back my advance in royalties yet. I've sold over 10000 copies, so I'm happy with the sales, but I don't make money on every sale of the book. But what I did was because the book was called Overdeliver, I needed to overdeliver with my bonuses and on overdeliverbook. com. The bonuses, I hate to say this because it makes my book sound like crap, but it's the bonuses are worth way more than the twenty seven dollars. Twenty five dollars to pay for the book. And the bonuses are incredible. I have I have I think I have 19 keynote speeches that you can access that Jay Abraham has given his career.
And of course, that he developed for over two hundred thousand dollars. All free, all digital. I've got two classic books on direct mail by two of my mentors, Dick Benson and Gordon Grossman, full PDFs of their books, which are incredible. They're not they're not available anywhere. So the PDFs of the books are just and direct mail is still a foundational marketing channel. You can learn a lot from in today's online marketplace. And so books are fantastic. I've got a swipe file, which is great ads going back to nineteen hundred. And I talk about swipe files and the benefit of swipe files in my book Overdeliver, so I have developed a swipe file with a direct mail archivist.
And just just to confirm, these are all only available on on Overdeliver Book. com. So if you go to Amazon and you get the book, you won't get all of these bonuses. OK, you can buy it on Amazon over to live over deliver book. Well, basically what Overdeliver Book. com is you get there and it's got a bunch of testimonials from greats and direct marketing about the book, of course. But then it says, you know, step three steps to get all these bonuses.
Step one is go to it's a link to Amazon, to Barnes and Noble and Indie books, but anyone buy the book, open a window, come back to the site, which is already open, and then you put your order number in and your name and then you get the bonus. And then you hit a button and you get all the bonuses for free. And you can buy the book on Kindle or or audio and still get all the bonus. Also, well, all of this will be in the transcription as well.
So, you know, if if if you're listening to this in the car or whatever, just jump on to the blog post, the transcription, all of those steps will be in there for you to follow and get all those bonuses. It's it's it's worth obviously getting all those bonuses as well. And it sounds like I'm selling, but I'm really not. What I'm doing is exactly what we talked about.
If I can find people who are your audience, who want to develop a relationship with me like they have a relationship with you and they have it both whether a lot of people on this who listen to this podcast or on your list as well, I'm not trying to steal names from you. I want to find out who is also because I think we are in sync on our on our messaging, on branding and direct marketing.
I mean, I've really enjoyed this podcast very much because, you know, I mean, I do look for podcasts where people I don't want people to just agree with me, but I do want people who are, you know, basically of the same ill, the same philosophy that I have. And so I assume that the people who follow you are people who want to follow me. And that's all this is about. I am my mission is to be the bridge because I'm old enough to be a bridge the fundamentals of direct response marketing to everything that state of the art today and to be a connector between those two worlds.
And, you know, I want to teach, but I also want to learn because I'm a student and a teacher every day of everything I do. So that's been my mission for my whole my whole career. But mostly since I left boardroom and became I launched Titans marketing because I said like a second career that now I'm teaching what I did, Jay, I'm it's it's it.
What expression is that? Well, he just says that, you know, if you've done it, you have an obligation to teach it and that's where I am in my life and I like I have to say I got so much value from from the book, this this interview has been has been loaded with value as well, so you're doing a great job of passing on that knowledge. And I know that when this this podcast gets released, we'll that we'll get a ton of views as well. So thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the show today. Brian really, really appreciate it. And let's do it again sometime. Great, Stephen, really enjoyed it.
And your questions were great and our dialogue was really good. So. .