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Tired of the fake gurus teaching stuff that doesn’t work? Overwhelmed with the seemingly endless amount of information on how to build your business? There are a few specific things you need to know to succeed, and Brian Kurtz discusses them in this episode.

Throughout his career at Boardroom and now at Titans Marketing, Brian has accumulated an unparalleled wealth of direct marketing knowledge, which he shares in his book Overdeliver.

In the first of this two-part episode, Brian and Jonathan dive deep into a sustainable approach to selling, the most important numbers in your business, and why direct mail still works.

Show Highlights Include:

  • The unbeatable benefit of being a patient marketer (9:40)
  • How preventing sales helps you stack cash (12:18)
  • Why your sales process is scaring away your best customers and what to do instead (14:20)
  • If you don’t know this metric, you’re killing your business (16:55)
  • How to uncover the hidden marketing budget that already exists in your business (22:05)

Are you picking up what Jonathan’s laying down? Then go to wherever you listen to podcasts, subscribe to the show, and leave a 5-star review.

Read Full Transcript

No don't go in there, Daddy's working.

You are listening to the show for dadpreneurs who want to have it all. Each week, you'll see how you can have harmony in the four pillars of purpose - family, faith, fitness and finances.

Jonathan: I am daddy, your host, Jonathan Rivera. We're back for another edition and today, today I am going to be a selfish, selfish daddy. Today, I've got a guest who I respect, who is actually well respected all around the world of marketing, especially direct response marketing, which anybody who knows me knows I'm kind of a fan boy of. I've got Mr. Brian Kurtz. [0:01:01.1]
Let me give you this guys' rap sheet here. Forty years in direct response. Built Boardroom Publishing from $5,000,000 to $157,000,000 company. Two billion - b - b- b - billion 2,000,000,000 mail pieces sent out there and more importantly than all of that, family and baseball are what the guy loves. Welcome to the show, Brian.

Brian: Oh, thanks, Jonathan. I'm really glad to be here. I followed… you know, it's funny - I followed you for a while and very, you know, as far as podcasting goes, you're like a, you know, well respected and you're like a guru in that area and I didn't know you had this show. When I found out, I said, I think I want to be on that.

Jonathan: Yeah. That tells you what a bad job I've done marketing. Shame on me.

Brian: No, you're marketing to dads with… you know, my kids are like 30 and 26, so I am a dad but you know, not a dad that's looking for freedom because I have the freedom now. [0:02:01.9]

Jonathan: You have already gotten them out of the house. You've got that empty nest as they say. I've got a 5-year-old.

Brian: They're still on the payroll a little bit, but you know, I've got a…

Jonathan: Does that ever stop, though? I mean, tell me the truth.

Brian: It's about the cell phone bill. I think that's the key, but I will tell you, though, interesting about that, that both of my kids are pursuing what they, their dream jobs. Now, what that means is that I have to keep them on the payroll a little bit but it also is exactly what I wasn’t told when I was a kid because my parents were like, "be an accountant, be a lawyer, be a doctor, be something that we can tell our friends that we can explain." Direct marketer was not going to make it. So, you know, my son is a football coach and my daughter is a dancer and they're both pursuing it and pursuing it a nice level at this point and I'm so proud of them and so, there's my…there's my dad pitch right there.

Jonathan: This guy's done it all. This guy has done it all and I think that one of the things that I'm going to probably want to work in here because I'm going to get all fan boyed out about the new book, it's OverdeliverBook.com. You guys got to pick it up and he does overdeliver with the bonuses, the swipe files and everything else. It's just a beautiful package and just so you know, I didn't need your .pdf because I did have the book right when it came out. I preordered it. [0:03:22.0]

Brian: Thank you. Thank you, I appreciate that.

Jonathan: Support the people that are important to us. So let's jump into this, man. This is going to be like a lesson in marketing and I want to start with this phrase: "Marketing isn't everything. It's the only thing." Why do you say that?

Brian: You know, I say it because the first time I said that in a speech was in Hungary, believe it or not because I've spoken in foreign countries. I've spoken in France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Germany and I'm going to be speaking in Italy, and what happens is when you go out of the United States, that most foreigners, they look at us, us Americans, I mean, one good thing is that they know we're the leaders in marketing, so they know that we're that, but then again, they also know that we're the leaders in marketing. [0:04:08.2]

So what that means is that we're going to sell them and we're going to grab money from them and we're going to do all that. Now these are actually, in those foreign countries, these are the people that understand entrepreneurship. They understand that selling is not evil, for the most part, but eh, down deep, you know, they're thinking, "Eh, maybe, you know, we got to watch this guy, you know. He's the ugly American, you know." When I say … I start with marketing isn't everything; it's the only thing because … and then I go into… the first thing I go into is "I want to prove to you that marketing is not evil." So I always start with "How many of you," whether it's in France or Hungary or wherever, "How many of you have a mission or a vision that you want to share with the world?" Now, they're at a marketing conference, so I figure that they'll all raise their hand. Only about half of them raise their hand. So then I say, "What about the other half of you? Are you just people who don’t raise your hand?" That's my second question - "Are you the people who don’t raise their hand at marketing conferences?" [0:05:07.8]

And then my third question is "Okay, if you have a mission or a vision, do you want to reach millions or do you want to reach dozens?" And so without marketing of any kind, you're… you know, to have people just come to you, I mean, you got to have a Nike Swoosh to do that. You got to have a brand building strategy for decades to do that, and then I try to convince them, and it's not a tough argument to make, that you can market at any level you want. I mean, you want to be congruent to you. You know, as a dad, we want to be congruent with our kids and so, everybody needs to market at their level. They can go up or down. They can toggle it up and down, but I think it's really important that you still have to market. And so, like I don’t do affiliates, for example, on my list. I don't know if your audience is familiar with affiliates, but I don’t do like other third party offers to my list. [0:06:00.5]

I only recommend things to my audience that I don’t get a compensation for. That's congruent with who I am because I'm not after additional funds, not that that's bad, but I'm not into that. So, it's congruent. But then I'm also congruent with the fact that I have all these educational materials that I do sell, but I sell them in the p.s., after I give them a big piece of content, and that's the way I sell, and that's the way I market. So, long answer to your question, but marketing isn't everything; it's the only thing - is speaking to the fact that if you're not going to market, you're just not going to be able to get ahead to the place that you want to get ahead in the world and where you're going to be able to share your mission or vision, but hand-in-hand with that is that you don’t have to market at all costs. You don’t have to market like everybody else does. You know, somebody is doing a sales funnel with a free plus shipping and handling and a you know, five different things. If that's not you, don’t do that, but do something. And then I go into a whole thing about content marketing and congruent marketing, just basically saying you really can market that is fitting with who you are. [0:07:11.3]

Jonathan: Talk about the part, and this is where I think they're disconnected, first of all, if you are doing good things in the world, you are doing your market a disservice by not telling them about it.

Brian: Well put.

Jonathan: That's for sure, but you talk about, in the book, marketing with integrity and purpose, like that's what makes it different than what you said, marketing at all costs, isn't it?

Brian: Yeah, I mean… in the book, I talk, because that's one of my premises that you don’t have to fish with bait. You can fish with, you know, you're on a lake and you can throw your rod in the water, put some bait on it, the fish are the prospects. They hook onto it. You bring them into the boat and then you sell them on the things. That's one way to do it. Nothing wrong with it. But what I do and what I recommend for the long-term is if you have a list and you want to market to them, why don’t you just tell them, I'm ready when you're ready - I'm going to be here for you when you're ready to come. [0:08:03.9]

So you shine a spotlight over the water and eventually, the fish just jump in the boat. It might take a while because they're not ready to buy, they're not ready for your message, whatever, but I'm patient, like I'm going to be a patient marketer. And what's happened today is you know, I think a lot of the sloppy marketing is more impatient marketing. Again, I'm not saying anything is wrong, bad, whatever, but for my money, I'd rather be patient if I can afford to be patient - I've been in the business for 40 years. I don’t have to make money tomorrow, but it's not all about making money for me, so I want to get the right buyers, at the right time when they're ready. And that's kind of what I'm talking about when I talk about "with integrity." Now, I think you can throw a pole in the water with bait and do that with integrity. You can do it with a really solid offer or you're doing a launch with really solid prelaunch content that is giving away your best stuff first, before you even sell them anything - that's integrity, and that's a harder sell, so to speak. [0:09:10.1]

So I think you can do it in any way, but I think the bottom line is you don’t want to sell people crap. You don’t want to sell them stuff that they're going to return at a 50% clip. I mean, you know, if that's the business you want to be in, I don’t get it, and again, people are going to do that and I'm not going to talk them out of it, but if you're reading my book, I'm going to give you the reasons why you shouldn’t do it that way, even if you want to sell faster than me. I've been …Joe Polish, my good friend, says to me, "I'm the director of sales prevention." Because I spend so much time apologizing and making excuses for not selling to you and then I sell you something and I get a lot of sales because, not because I'm trying to trick you, but because I want you to buy because you want to buy and because I've made you a great offer with integrity that you're not going to return, that it fits for what you want, when you want it and I don’t have to high pressure you. [0:10:06.5]

You know, even with my mastermind groups, which are very high price, I don’t even sell it. I mean, when I'm talking to people and they say, and they're asking me, "Oh, will you do consulting with me?" I will say to them, "I don’t do a lot of consulting, but if you want to join my mastermind group, I can help you, but I don’t know if that's what you want to do. I don’t know if you want to join a group." So it's probably the best way to sell if you can get away with it, and I don’t ever apologize for being the director of sales prevention.

Jonathan: It's funny that you mention Joe Polish because as you're saying that, I'm thinking of Dean Jackson and I've worked with Dean Jackson on some email marketing and they have a show together, I Love Marketing…

Brian: Yes, I've been on it.

Jonathan: … and he talks about when people get on your list, you don’t need to sell them right away. You should be in it for the 2-year game or the 3-year game or whatever and I looked at that and I said, you know, because I'm from the school of Ben Settle - I'm like sell, sell, sell, sell - but I don’t need that sale today. [0:11:04.2]

Like it doesn’t matter. I need you to know that my doors are open, but I wrote an email and I actually got people that appreciated it. I said that you're mine. If you're reading my emails, whether it's today or 2 years from now or 3 years from now, I'm going to be here and when you're ready and when you've worked up to be able to afford to work with me, I'm going to be here because I have been. So I love that.

Brian: Yeah, it's like I'm here when you're ready. I got that from Dean, actually. He had that line that says, and in fact, he was at my mastermind and we were talking to the group in front of the room and we went into this whole thing about, you know, I called it fishing without bait and it's, you know, I mean and Dean is like me. It's like…I will say this, it's easier for me to say that because I don’t need the money.

Jonathan: Right.

Brian: I mean, I like the money and I think I should be paid for my services, but I'm not… and you know, and Dan Kennedy would go the … you know, go the … he'd say money is how you, you know, not just how you keep score, but it's how you separate, you know, and he's not ruthless like that but it's definitely, it's definitely a legitimate way to look at it. It's just that when you don’t need it, sometimes you will wait the 2, 3 years but the amazing thing is when you wait, when you wait, you get amazing customers and you get amazing lifelong relationships. [0:12:16.2]

Like in my book, I…chapter 10 I talk about playing the long game and Jay Abraham, who wrote the forward, talks to me a lot about Brian, you've got this relationship capital that is like it gets accumulated interest because you haven’t gone out and asked people for something, not just to sell them something, I'm just saying asking them for favors or asking them for something that, you know, would be something that you'd want them to give you and the worst thing you can do, and this is true for everybody, is when you have somebody that you want something from, to make an ask of them that comes out of nowhere. That's like the worst thing you can do and talk about integrity and talk about consistency, it's just… that's one that I can't deal with and I have trouble asking people for stuff, but I've gotten a little better at it and usually it's, it's always a win-win, so it's not, it's not just for me but you know, even with my book, you know, getting all the testimonials for my book was like hard for me, you know, because I'm not used to asking people. [0:13:18.9]

But I realized that they do want to help me, they do want to do it and I figure, okay 40 years of doing for everybody is a good track record and I can ask a little bit once in a while.

Jonathan: Bro, right. You're the farmer that won't harvest. So you talked about it. If you have a vision, mission in life, why not share it with millions instead of dozens but there's this other piece to it and this is where you're different than most people out in the world, why not measure it and why not have accountable marketing. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Brian: Yeah, I mean…it's funny - Dan Kennedy wrote the blurb for my book and on the back cover, he says, "Brian has put together a definitive presentation of direct marketing as apart from all other marketing, because direct marketing is measureable marketing. Pros will find it fascinating. Those new to the disciplines will find it a vital crash course. [0:14:12.6]

Pinhead executives and big dumb corporations wasting oceans of money on utterly unaccountable brand and image and ego advertising should be forced at gunpoint to read it. Ogilvy was right when he ranted to his own agency staff that only the mail order people knew what the hell they were doing and were Ogilvy alive, he would applaud Brian's work here." That's, you know, god, getting a testimonial from Dan Kennedy like that, but I'm not reading it because I'm bragging. I am reading it because that's the essence of direct marketing - that every piece of media that you use or send out, you're going to get a measureable response that it either worked or it didn't and worked is also an interesting thing because I have a whole chapter on lifetime value. You know, you don’t have to make the money back right away. If you have a little stockpile of a little cash, you can figure out how much you're going to make at the end of year two with that customer, whether it's through the renewal, whether it's through cross products, whatever, and if you can figure out what that number is, then you can afford to pay for more media on the front end. [0:15:14.6]

Rich Scheferen says (I have it in the book), he says the true test of any marketing, it's when you can pay for outside media and get your money back, like make it pay for itself. And it could pay for itself after a year, but it's got to pay for itself and why that's important is that in today's world of affiliate marketing and so an affiliate would be like if you were going to mail for me with an offer and the orders would come to me and I would give you 50% of every order, that's a better way maybe to get started and it's one method of marketing but it's not the only method for sure and it doesn’t prove that you've got a product that can go out to cold media, whether it's direct mail or email or Facebook or anything and that you can measure it at some level that's going to make it either work or not - that's the bottom line. [0:16:09.9]

And then the tricky part gets into how much cash can I lay out in order to wait or how long can I wait, and I talk in the book about…I worked for a newsletter company and we had something called The Bogie, and The Bogie was how much you can afford to spend in year one to make it back by the end of year two, but then after awhile, I started realizing or Marty and I, my mentor who founded Boardroom, we started realizing that, you know, we had a lot of cash. We accumulated a lot of cash by this method and so we said why don’t we go out two years and all of a sudden, we're buying so many more…we're able to mail so many more names because we're willing to buy a lot more lists at a bigger loss that's going to make the money back in two years. And so we're already collecting on the mailings from two years ago, so the new mailings, we have to wait two years. I mean, you don’t want to go… but you don’t want to do that right away. I mean, initially you want to try to make the money back in a together period because you don’t have a lot of cash or if you're just starting out, but this is the beauty of playing a long game and never ratchet it up without knowing, you know, what the numbers are and whether you're making it back or not. [0:17:16.7]

Jonathan: You know what I love about this is that I, I've been at… you already know I've been at this business for several years. I mean, quite a few years.

Brian: Yes.

Jonathan: And I'm working with a guy right now who's like why don’t you start a referral program or an ambassador program and I'm like, oh shoot man - that's going to cost me a lot of money and I go into the negative mindset and then he's like, you can pay people this much, you can…how much can you afford to lose in the beginning - right? And I'm like lose?! Wait, wait. I don’t want to lose, and then I'm like, wait a second - we take care of our numbers and we know how long our people stay. We know how much they're worth and we know then that we can afford to pay out everything when somebody comes in or foot the bill.

Brian: Right, and make it better.

Jonathan: And make it back on the long run. Right? And I'm like, I know this stuff. So then I'm reading your book after I had this conversation with the guy, a couple of days ago, and I'm like, I knew this already. Like, you guys have taught me this. [0:18:11.3]

Brian: Yeah, I have one example in the book that's really interesting. It's a company, I won't say the name, but it's a big coaching program that charges, I don't know, $22,000 a year or $10,000 for their coaching and I did a marketing brainstorming with them and we're sitting around and they're doing some Facebook and they're doing this and that and they're doing well and they get a lot of their business through referrals. They're highly regarded. They get tons of renewals or referrals that become long-term subscriber or long-term members. So I said, I asked them a question, I said, well what is the average length of the person that comes in for one of these referrals that stays in your program, and they haven't, I mean some people have been in for 20 years. Some people have been in for two, but the average was around three. I mean, three years, so I said, you've got 60,000 or maybe 30,000 of money that some people don’t stay as long - other people stay really long, but that's a marketing budget right there and so now you can go out and why not do some direct mail? [0:19:18.8]

You actually have the money to do direct mail and you have a program that needs that sales approach of direct mail - direct mail is not dead, it's just, you know, it's just sleeping a little bit - but, the mail boxes are empty and you have a message that could be awesome and you've got the money. A lot of people don’t have the money for direct mail. So I made this case, you know, and that. So that's just a perfect example of that you know, you don’t think of this person comes in and it's worth 20, but if you look at the average over all your customers, it's probably worth 60 and there's a lot more money to be used to throw back into the marketing budget, intelligently. You don’t want to throw good money after bad, but you can really do some incredible marketing that way. And then, you know, it's so … it is counter to what the online marketing bootstrap business would want to do, understandably, you know. It's a cash flow issue. [0:20:17.9]

But you still have to read the numbers. You still have to be a slave to the numbers and I have a quote up here from Dick Benson, who was my guru in direct mail, and it says "You have to believe your numbers," and that's what direct marketing is all about and that's why direct marketing to me is the only way, whether it's in any media, it's the only way to market.
Jonathan: Well, guess what? Time is up for this week. I know you were just getting into that, and I don’t blame you because it was just getting good. But we're trying to keep these episodes under a half hour, so we split it up into two. We'll be back next week with part two of this interview. Make sure you tune in then, and if you love what you're hearing, why not share this episode with someone who will also love it? Thank you. Daddy's out.

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