Our guest on the 324th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is Brian Kurtz. His 3rd appearance on the show is a good indicator that there’s no lack of what Brian is able to share with our audience. From gaining rights to one of the most notable books in advertising history to teaching copywriters how to be better marketers, this a conversation you won’t want to miss.
Here’s what we cover:
- What Brian learned from having a near-fatal stroke at the same time as a book launch.
- Why he decided to launch a mastermind.
- Gaining rights to Breakthrough Advertising and selling over 10,000 copies.
- Is Brian a copywriter in secret?
- How he makes the principles inside Breakthrough Advertising doable.
- Can a book from the 60s still apply to today’s marketing arena?
- Creating upsells and bonuses for added value to customers.
- Is it a good idea to write a book?
- The reality of book launches.
- How to get better at relationship building.
- Why Brian hates the word “networking.”
- Giving more than you get – is it worth it?
Press play or read the transcript below.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | Email | RSS
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Join The Copywriter Accelerator
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Rob Marsh: If you’ve been a copywriter for more than a few days, you’ve almost certainly been advised to read Eugene Schwartz’s book, Breakthrough Advertising. It’s listed on almost every list of the best copywriting books that I’ve ever seen, and it’s true, this book is a must-read, but it’s probably not the first book that you should read about copywriting, or marketing. It’s a bit of a hard book to read, and the concepts are a little bit challenging.
Our guest for this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast is Brian Kurtz, who along with Eugene Schwartz’s wife, makes that book, Breakthrough Advertising, available to the world. He has recently created a companion volume called Breakthrough Advertising Mastery, that makes Schwartz’s book even more accessible for anyone who has struggled with the concepts that he lays out in the book. So, we talked to Brian about that book, what he’s been up to since we last spoke about a year and a half ago, and it’s always great to connect with him. We think you’re going to like this interview. But, before we get to our interview with Brian, I want to introduce my co-host this week. She’s our friend and A-list copywriter, Kim Krause Schwalm. Welcome back to the show, Kim.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Oh, it’s great to be here.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I’m excited for this. You’ve been on the show a couple of times. We’ll share those episodes at the end, so we make sure everybody can come back and listen to it. You’ve also spoken at TCC IRL a couple of times.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Three or four times. Yeah.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. You’ve been an awesome friend to The Copywriter Club, and just getting your ideas and feedback on the show. I’m really looking forward to it.
Kim Krause Schwalm: I am too. Thanks. It’s weird to be in this role on the podcast, but I am excited. As soon as you said, “Brian Kurtz.” He is somebody that I have so much respect for. I’ve known him for many years, and so yeah, I’m happy to be here, and hopefully I can add some value as well.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Knowing how close you and Brian are, it was just a no-brainer to have you come and share some ideas. So, thank you for that. So, before we jump into the interview, let me just take a moment to remind you that this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast is sponsored by the Copywriter Accelerator. It’s not a course, it’s a five month long mentoring program, where we follow the Acceleration Formula, to create the foundation for a profitable business that doesn’t struggle, doesn’t struggle with things like pricing, or packages, or finding clients.
You learn critical mindset strategies, you set goals, get accountability, and dive into the business skills, like positioning, pricing, creating client experiences, and getting yourself hired by the clients you want to work with. Most importantly, we’ll introduce you to a curated network of copywriters who will help you get unstuck, and build a business that lasts. The next round of the Accelerator starts soon, so get on the waitlist now at thecopywriteraccelerator.com.
Kim Krause Schwalm: So, I think we need to get on with this interview. That was a great intro to that program, and I know a lot of people that have gone through it, and I think it’s an excellent way to kickstart your copywriting career. But yeah, let’s get on, and hear from Brian.
Brian Kurtz: Just to catch people up, I’m still alive, which is a good thing. Had a near-fatal stroke the day after my book, Overdeliver launched, which taught me a lesson which we could talk about later, that you can launch a book anytime. You can only live once. So, weighing those two things, it made sense to continue to live, and not pay much attention to the book launch. And the book did well, it didn’t… I mean it was never going to be a New York Times bestseller anyway. So, and you can always… Book launches are forever, in a way, especially if it’s evergreen material, which my book is. So, that was April of 2019?
Rob Marsh: Yeah.
Brian Kurtz: Yeah.
Rob Marsh: It was the year before COVID, yeah.
Brian Kurtz: Right, right. So it was April of 2019, and then the rest of that year, I was really recovering. I mean, I didn’t miss a beat on my business. I still had Titans Mastermind. I didn’t know… I’ve always wanted to launch a virtual mastermind. So, in December of… And then I started getting better. I went on my own little tour, my speaking tour in October. I did a GKIC event, it was my first event. And then I spoke at Jeff Walker’s Launch Con.
So I got myself out, after spending four or five months, not in hibernation, but kind of just kissing the ground I was walking on, and saying, “I’m alive, and it’s great.” And I didn’t have a come to Jesus moment, either. It was like, it’s just that I always live my life day to day. But when you’re faced with the fact that the neurosurgeon, when I went to see him two weeks after my stroke and he said, “I’m surprised you’re still here,” that kind of hit me with a jolt.
Rob Marsh: Not the kind of thing you want your doctor to say to you.
Brian Kurtz: Yeah. He said it, and he certainly thought I’d be paralyzed, or my speech would’ve been… And of course my kids were hoping that my speech was gone, but that didn’t happen. So, in late 2000… So, I did those speaking engagements, I’m coming out of it, and in December of 2019, I launched Titans Xcelerator. And the interesting thing is that, I always said after the fact, that I predicted the pandemic, because I launched it as a virtual mastermind, all on Zoom, in December of 2019. And I launched it, got 150 members, and in March, we were shut down.
And so one of the things that I learned through all of that was that it’s really good to have a virtual mastermind during a pandemic because my live mastermind became virtual for a while too. But also, it was interesting, because it also taught me to overdeliver. Now, my book is called Overdeliver, but it taught me to overdeliver in a new way, and how that would affect renewals long term. Because I’m a big on renewals, I’m big on the second order, versus the first order. I’m not the guy that teaches copy, cold copy, to cold traffic. It’s much too frigid for me.
I want to go to warm copy, and I want to go to warm copy, to warm traffic, to hot traffic, and renew people for their lifetime. That’s where my business has always been at Boardroom, and it’s always where my business is now. So, one of the features of Titans Xcelerator, when I launched it in December of 2019, was a once-a-month live call with me, where I would do hot seats. I didn’t even think I was going to bring in speakers or anything, but I guess I probably would’ve gotten to it eventually. But I was going to do hot seats. discussions, just an open-ended, ask-me-anything Q&A, and I thought that would be enough.
And so, in March of 2020, all of a sudden I said, “Well, I’m home. I’m going to go to weekly calls.” And so, I went from monthly calls to weekly calls. I had nothing else to do anyway. And they were fantastic. It was like, I already realized that Titans Xcelerator was kind of what I was born to do. I mean, I was born to connect people, and contribute to people, but contributing not so much on Zoom, because I did end up getting a lot of Zoom fatigue, as we all did. But it was very much in my DNA to do it virtually, as well as live.
And so the weekly calls, then I started getting guest speakers. All the guest speakers that were… Getting them on virtual is… I got them live. I got Jay Abraham live, not bragging, but I did. I got Perry Marshall live. I’m not bragging, but I did. I got Dan Kennedy live, but I got him on video. He only comes on by phone, actually, doesn’t come on video. So, what was interesting is that the weekly calls… And I promised right from the beginning that weekly calls would not be forever. That the pandemic would probably end, maybe in six or seven years, and then we would no longer do… I didn’t say that, I said it would end before that, but we’re not going to do weekly calls forever.
But when I went to like… But then, we’re not going to go back to monthly, either. So, I built in an over delivery that was huge, and then I still had an over delivery, even when we came back to normal. And by the summer of 2020, or late in the summer, in the fall, I said, “We’re going to do at least two calls a month now.” And sometimes I do four calls a month. And that’s the nature of the mastermind now.
And what happened was, lo and behold, I got really good renewal rates. Imagine that. And so, it was by accident. I mean, would I have gotten the same renewal rates if I had stayed with a monthly call? I don’t know. I didn’t test against it. But, I do believe that… And it’s the kind of thing over-deliver on, that people… It’s tangible. And even though I send out a USB every month with all the calls of the month, and a swipe of the month, and stuff from the Titans Vault from my masterminds, it’s not the same, because that piles up on their cabinet.
But when you’re live, and you’re being with people, and you know that, because you guys do TCC IRL, right? And when you’re in real life, it just makes such a difference. But, when you’re in real life, on Zoom during a pandemic, it really added a lot. So, I was getting, on first year renewals, I didn’t think I’d get 50%, and I was getting close to 75%. And so, I realized I had something here, and then I did a launch, and I got the membership up to about 250 through 2020, ’21. And then I said, “I want to do more with Breakthrough Advertising.”
Those people who aren’t on this call, who haven’t been on the previous calls, might not know, but they probably all know anybody who’s following you guys, know that Breakthrough Advertising is one of the most important books for any copywriter. Actually, it’s for anybody who wants to learn about human behavior. But it’s copywriting, it’s marketing, written by Gene Schwartz in 1966. Not one word has been changed in the manuscript that I sell, and it’s 100% relevant to today’s marketplace.
And so, I have the exclusive rights to it. You can ask me how I got it, but that’s not the important thing. But the important thing is that Gene was a mentor of mine. I knew him well. He wrote copy for me, at Boardroom, for Boardroom, that is. And I made a deal for exclusive rights with his wife Barbara, who is a wonderful woman. She can’t believe the appetite for Gene’s work right now. We’ve sold over 10,000 copies of Breakthrough Advertising over the last four or five years, at $125 a book, and I think we’ve sold, probably it’s up to like 65 to 70 countries, which is just amazing. I got my first order from Eleuthera or something, it was a country I had never heard of. It’s not Eleuthera, it’s something else. It’s a country in between Spain and France, a little country.
Rob Marsh: Andalusia.
Brian Kurtz: No, it wasn’t Andalusia. Anyway, so I’ve sold books in Mozambique, and everywhere in the world, and it’s just a blessing that I have this book. But then, of course, with every book, you wonder how many people are actually reading it. You can buy books, and if you look at my shelf here, I’ve got dozens, and dozens of piles of books. I buy them, I look at them, I pick them up once in a while and read a chapter or two, but I don’t read them cover to cover. So, how can I get people to read Breakthrough Advertising in more detail?
And Breakthrough Advertising is a very dense read. So I decided, and Chris Mason, who’s my marketing partner at Titans, he decided that we should do Breakthrough Advertising boot camps. And he devised the agenda. He went through the first three chapters, mostly, set up worksheets, homework. We came up with seven or eight calls we could do. We set it up over two weeks. And of course the goal would be to… We charged $97 for it. The goal was to get people into Titans Xcelerator, which at the time was $2,000 for the year.
And it seemed like a good stepping stone, because the bootcamp was on Zoom, and then we sell them into Titans Xcelerator, which is a year on Zoom. Much wider, broader than just Breakthrough Advertising. And that’s how we did, we’ve done three boot camps, and each time we get 60 or 70 people in a boot camp, we have 10,000 buyers we can go to, to get new people on the bootcamp. And then we get anywhere from, I don’t know, 10 to 20 people join Xcelerator.
So, it’s a nice feeder for Xcelerator, but I realized how enjoyable it was to teach Breakthrough Advertising. And I don’t think anybody could be an expert on that book. I’d say the closest person alive that would be an expert is Parris Lampropoulos. And we actually have a video of him that we use in the bootcamp, because it’s wonderful when he talks about all the states of awareness of your product, from most aware to… From least aware, to most aware.
And I’m never going to be Parris in the book, but I’m getting there. He’s got a PhD, I got a master’s. Chris is getting his PhD. And so, that’s been a big initiative for us, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s something new. It’s something that I feel like… And when I’m with you guys, or I’m with Kevin Rogers, or I’m with anybody who’s teaching copywriting, I always feel a bit inferior, because I don’t see myself as a teacher of copy. But I do see myself as someone who can help copywriters incorporate marketing into their copy. It’s what I spoke about at the first TCC IRL, which I had a great time at.
So, it’s something that’s in my blood, to teach copywriters. But, people write to me as if I’m a copywriter sometimes. And while I write copy, and I like to write, I’m not a soup to nuts copywriter. I don’t do it. That’s the magicians of the world, that’s for you guys. But I do feel very privileged to be in rooms with the copywriters, and I can bring something to the table, and now I can bring an additional skill to the table, of teaching Breakthrough Advertising, and in incorporating it into their education, and not just selling the book for them to waste $125, to have it sit on their shelves.
So, that’s been a great initiative. And what I’m going to do next, which I think will be a lot of fun, is I’m going to do an Overdeliver bootcamp, because it’s in the same notion of, if you sell a book, you want people to read it. And Jason Fladlien taught me this, he’s a great webinar guy, and he just taught me that… He had this thing called the E-class, and he basically would sell a book, and then he would offer an E-class to go through it chapter by chapter online, on Zoom.
And with Overdeliver, I can have all kinds of homework, and assignments. Go make your own intentional dinner, and go do some Christmas cards in July. All the things that I’ve done my whole career, and put them into the bootcamp. And those people, if they don’t join Titans Xcelerator after being with me for two and a half, three weeks talking about Overdeliver, I don’t know how I can sell Titans Xcelerator better than that.
Because if they’re not… They’ll either drop out of Overdeliver, and never want to see me again for the rest of their lives, or they’ll be with me for the rest of their lives. And so, that’s the plan. I’m not doing too much different, in a way, but I’m just continuing to teach, and learn, too. I mean, when I teach, I learn. I just did two hours of hot seats on the Breakthrough Advertising Bootcamp before coming on this call with you guys, and it was great. I mean, I learned as much as I taught. It was just wonderful.
So, that brings you up to speed today. I don’t know what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I’ve got to get a negative COVID test, because I’ve had COVID the last week and a half. But outside of that, I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be with the two of you. And you’re always smiling, you’re always doing great stuff, and I’m your biggest fan.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, we are happy you’re alive, and happy you’re with us too. And I can’t wait till the day where you say that you are a copywriter, and you just admit it, finally.
Rob Marsh: It’s coming.
Kim Krause Schwalm: When is it going to happen?
Rob Marsh: It’s slow. Yeah.
Brian Kurtz: I have gotten away from saying I’m a copywriter wannabe. I definitely got away from that.
Kim Krause Schwalm: That’s an improvement. That’s great.
Brian Kurtz: Right. But I just say, where I’m at now is that I write copy. I don’t… The reason why, because I was a copywriter when I started in 1981, and that was a long time ago, neither of you were even born yet.
Rob Marsh: Of course, that’s not true. But, yeah.
Brian Kurtz: So in 1981, and during the ’80s, to me, copywriters were just magicians. Gene Schwartz, Jim Rutz, Gary Bencivenga, Mel Martin, Clayton Makepeace, going a little more current, David Deutsch, Parris Lampropoulos, Arthur Johnson, Eric Betuel, just the best of the best. And I could not put myself in their category, as a writer. They wrote soup to nuts, 24 to 34 page magalogues, 64 page bookalogs, 12 page letters, that were so compelling. I couldn’t do it then, I didn’t want to do it, and I can’t do it now. So when I say I’m not a copywriter, I’m not that kind of copywriter.
Now, do I write a weekly email that sells stuff in it, all educational? Yeah. Do I sell a shit load of stuff? No. It’s not a selling vehicle, but I sell stuff in it, and it’s all… And like I sold your event, for example. Now, I don’t take any money for that. I don’t take affiliates. I sell stuff that I think is valuable to my audience. If you’re lucky, you got two people to show up for my list. It’s not a selling vehicle, and so they’re not used to buying. So, is it because of my writing style, or is it because they’re not used to buying? If you think I’m a copywriter, then it’s because I haven’t gotten them used to buying it. If you don’t think I’m a copywriter, then it’s because I suck at writing.
But, I have gotten rid of the whole idea that I can write, I know that I’m really a content writer, that loves to teach at the same time, and I can subtly sell stuff. I mean, when we launched this Breakthrough Advertising Mastery book, which I think you guys wanted to talk about, I sold a lot through that.
Now, I did multiple emails that I didn’t really write. I had Chris write them, because I don’t really like writing the sales emails, so he wrote them himself, and then if you sign my name to it, I edited it, so it was in my voice, because I’m just not comfortable sending anything that’s not in my voice. That’s another thing that prevents me from being as good a copywriter as I can be to sell stuff. But, I have to admit, we sold 500 copies of the book, and that’s nothing to sneeze at, of a brand new book. Selling it to people who bought Breakthrough Advertising, and some people who didn’t. So, that’s my spiel on me as a copywriter.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, before we hit record, you mentioned that, I think you said that you read Breakthrough Advertising, you typically read it every year, but this past year you read it four times. Is that right? You said four times?
Brian Kurtz: Yeah, well I read it at least three times, because we had three bootcamps. So, we went through it during the bootcamp, and not just… We went through the first three chapters in depth. So the first three chapters I probably read six or seven times, and then the rest of the book maybe two or three times. And I get something new every time I read it. I’ve gotten something new out of every bootcamp. We’re in the second week of the fourth bootcamp that we’ve done, and I’ve learned something new in each bootcamp.
In this bootcamp, I learned that the chapter later in the book, on redefining yourself, and redefinition, how I was able to bring that back into levels of awareness. Actually no, yeah, levels of awareness of your audience, because we had a bunch of hot seats with people with commoditized products. I mean, one was a supplement for dogs that had nothing new in it. And another one was car washes. And how we redefined those products to make them specialty from commodity, was actually later in Breakthrough Advertising.
I didn’t realize, because Gene’s mind was like a maze, and when you talked to him, you didn’t see him that way. He was really personable. He always talked in really good language. He always has the… Good language. What does that mean? So he talked in words that people can understand, and why shouldn’t a copywriter talk like that? Right? Because he writes like that. And so, he had such a complex brain. And so, seeing the intricacies of the later chapters, and the earlier chapters has been a revelation for me because I spent a lot more time on the first three chapters.
And Parris Lampropoulos, when he teaches his Copy Cubs, he teaches them Breakthrough Advertising, and he basically says, “You read the first three chapters multiple times before you go on to the rest of the book.” And when you buy it from me, I basically put that as a note on the front of the book. It’s glued on the front of the book when they get it. It says, “Pro tip for reading Breakthrough Advertising, first three chapters multiple times. Don’t forget the rest of the book.” And now I just found something in the rest of the book that was so much more meaningful to me, as opposed to something that was a throwaway. So, there’s nothing that’s a throwaway in the book.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Can we dig deeper into that though? The redefinition, before we move away from that? I think that will grab a lot of copywriters’ interest, as far as, what does that mean, and how do we do it?
Brian Kurtz: So, I’ll give you the example I gave on the hot seat. So, it was this guy, he had a supplement, and it had three ingredients in it. One of them is an ingredient that’s in a lot of dog stuff. It begins with an F, fermentin, or something. I had a dog, I don’t have one anymore. The other one was lavender, and the third was chamomile, maybe. I know it’s tea, but it’s also an ingredient, right? So it’s like those three ingredients.
And so my first question for him, I said, “Is the interaction of those three ingredients like a new US…” Speaking in Todd Brown’s language, “Is that a new, unique mechanism? Is it a new thing?” He said, “No, there’s a lot of it out there.” This guy wants to do e-commerce on Amazon. I said, “Well, how are you going to differentiate yourself? How are you going to redefine a product, or something to your audience, that knows? I mean, they’re most aware of this product if you’re going out to dog owners.”
So, we started getting into… I kept on quizzing him on what the product is. And so, there was nothing new in this product. However, then a light bulb went off, and I thought about when we sold books at Boardroom, I used to get trade books off the shelf at Barnes and Noble. I used to take the… I’ve written about this in my blog, I might’ve even done something about it on one of my… I’ve written about it on other podcasts. It might’ve been on one of yours.
But basically, the premise was that, and I won’t go into the whole story, it’s in my blog archive, but I will go to… We went at Boardroom to Barnes and Noble, and the blog post is about walking around Barnes and Noble with a hand truck. And I walked around Barnes and Noble with a hand truck, and went to all the categories that our nine million name database would buy books in health, tax and accounting, finance, home improvement, because our newsletters covered a lot of areas, in health, and consumer issues, and all that.
So, we used to go through the books, and I’m not going to go through the whole process, but there was one book that we took off. It was a health book, it was a natural healing book. And what we did was, so the book that’s sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, it’s got an inch of dust on it, and it’s already in the discount bin, basically, selling for $7. It probably sold 3000 copies in its lifetime. And we would then take the book, test it with our copywriter, see if they could write fascinations for it, or write good direct mail copy for it, and make a direct mail version, a direct marketing version of that book.
What did we do? The book off the shelf was a soft cover. We made it a hardcover. The book off the shelf was 600 pages. We made the hardcover 500, because we took some stuff out to reduce the weight a little bit, because we had to ship it now, in direct mail. But also, there was stuff in the book that we didn’t even want, our editors didn’t think was so good. So we made it our book.
Then, we added premiums, and bonuses, like all kinds of special reports that would go with the book on natural healing, from our own archives at Boardroom. Now we had a Boardroom product, started with an outside product that was so foreign, but still in the same category of books that our people buy. And if you looked at the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Boardroom’s hardcover book with premiums, versus the soft cover book that was sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, apples to oranges. We redefined that book for direct mail, even though the bulk of it, same book. So, that’s a really extreme exam-
Brian Kurtz: Oh, the bulk of it, same book. So that’s a really extreme example. So I put that on… Chris and I both quizzed this guy with the three-ingredient dog supplement, and we started saying to him, “What could you add to your supplement that would make it so that the other supplements that look just like yours, you couldn’t compare them to? And if you could possibly add a continuity to it, then you’ve got people that could come back, not just for the supplement, but for whatever you add.” And we were brainstorming, I said, “You have to do the research. I’m not doing… ” The hot seat is not… I don’t do it for them, but I give them the tools to go do it.
And one of the things that came up was like a ball that you give to your dog when they’re frightened. They can chew it or maybe… And also the vest that they put on during thunder and lightning storms, something like that. Because I guess the supplement is to calm them down and make them not bark when they go to the door. So you get something that’s related, but maybe something that needs new batteries or a new charger or something like that so there’s some renewability. But if the supplement has renewability, so you don’t need the bonus to have renewability, even better. So you have built in continuity, but now it’s a kit.
And you rename it. You don’t call it the ingredient, you don’t call it what everybody else is calling their supplement. So that’s a major redefine. He has some work to do on his hands, but I think he can get to a place where he’ll have an apples-to-orange comparison, his product versus the others. And hopefully, he will stand out and have an unfair advantage against his competition. That’s the best-case scenario.
Rob Marsh: We love talking about copywriting principles, marketing principles, and how he differentiates. Awesome. So let’s talk about the book, because we’ve talked a little bit about the events that you do, the virtual events and going through that, but you’ve actually taken the principles that Gene laid out and you’ve put them into a book, you and Chris, in a format that makes it doable.
And I think the problem with Breakthrough Advertising, aside from the fact that it used to cost $900 or more to get it, the problem is that, like you were saying, Gene was so smart and the book is so dense. I think even Parris talks about only reading the first three chapters until you are an expert copywriter and then go deeper. But-
Brian Kurtz: He doesn’t recommend Breakthrough Advertising to novice copywriting.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you guys have taken the principles though, and you’re making them doable. At least that’s my impression of this book. My copy hasn’t arrived yet. Still waiting for it, but-
Brian Kurtz: It’s coming off the presses soon.
Rob Marsh: So yeah, tell us about the book.
Brian Kurtz: Yeah, so the issue was that the bootcamp was our first attempt, actually it started in Titan’s Accelerator. One of our members, Theresa Pantanella, who’s a wonderful… She does Facebook advertising. She’s a wonderful lady. And she was like, got a copy of Breakthrough Advertising and she was struggling with it. She’s not a copywriter, but she’s a marketer and she wanted to get the principles. And she said, “Brian,” and she did it in front of all the accelerators, said, “Brian, you know all these copywriters, you know all these people who know the book really well. Why don’t we do a Breakthrough Advertising study group inside Titans Xcelerator?”
And so we did that. We started having like… So the Titans Xcelerator calls are on Thursdays between 11:00 and 01:00. And then at 01:30, we started doing these Breakthrough Advertising study groups once a month or twice a month in addition. And we had Paris come on one, we had David Deutsch come on one, we had Kim Krause Schwalm do a couple of them. Then some other writers like Brian Chudzinski, who’s one of Parris’s former cubs, he did a session. And so it was just a wonderful little study group.
So after a while, like everything else, it fizzled out and everybody lost… Didn’t lose their attention span. We said, “Okay, we had enough of this.” But Chris and I said, “Let’s continue this as the bootcamp.” And then we launched our first bootcamp. We’re on our fourth now. So then in the bootcamp we started doing worksheets and resources that we created so that they could go through the… So we gave them exercises, homework, all of that. And we put them in the Facebook group during the bootcamp so they could go get them and print them and have them forever with the book.
So then we said, “Well, wait a minute. Maybe we could put those in a book that could be a standalone.” And at the same time we’re thinking about that, and I believe in fate. You put good karma in the world, stuff comes back to you. I got an email from this guy, Luis Flavio Nunes. A young copywriter, 25 years old from Brazil, sends me an email. He goes, “Brian, I’ve been accumulating all of the ads, the real live ads, like real ads from the fifties and sixties that Gene cites in Breakthrough Advertising.” There are some ads in Breakthrough Advertising in the version that we sell, but he mentions ads all over the place and he gives you the headline, but you don’t see the whole ad.
This guy on his own just accumulated… He has a database of 15,000 ads. He’s like an archivist. He’s like a Denny Hatch of Brazil or something and he had all 300 that Gene mentioned. And basically, he wasn’t going to hold me ransom for them. He goes, “Brian, would you like them? I’m going to put them in a little book. Or if you want them, maybe you want to use them.” And I said, “Luis, how about I trade you? I’ll give you a lifetime membership to Titans Xcelerator. In exchange for that, I’m going to give you an annotation for this, but I’m going to take the ads, I’m going to scan them and I’m going to put them as the second half of this Breakthrough Advertising Mastery book that we’re putting together.”
I didn’t have the title yet. We did a title contest on my blog, and that’s why I know I can write copy because I got hundreds and hundreds of responses. If they have to buy something, it’s different than just sending in a title, but whatever. But I can get people to respond. So we ended up titling it Breakthrough Advertising Mastery and we decided we were just going to go all out. And so it ended up being a… It’s a 500-page hardcover book. The first half of the book are the worksheets from the bootcamp plus some additional worksheets, some explanations from stuff in the book. Chris put all of that together on his own. Chris has become a real student of the book himself.
And then the second half of the book is in color. I decided I’m going to do it in color too. We did every ad that Gene mentions in Breakthrough Advertising in color with a cross-reference at the bottom of every ad to where he mentions it in Breakthrough Advertising. So you can basically… It’s a little inconvenient, but you can go a little bit back and forth. I’m not digitizing the book, I’m not doing it. The book will work as a collector’s item as well as a workbook of sorts. And we also have a digital site with all of the worksheets so you don’t have to write in the book if you don’t want to. That’s what I did with Brilliance Breakthrough, Gene’s other masterpiece, which I gave away, I think, at your first live event.
And that book comes… I put it with a workbook because the exercises are in the book, Brilliance Breakthrough. And I was taught in third grade never to write in a book. So you can write in it, but we give them the workbook with the book. So in the case of Breakthrough Advertising Mastery, you could write in the first half of the book, but we have this site, which you get the URL when you buy the book and you have access to all of the stuff. So the book is… It’s not going to make a lot of money because it’s so freaking expensive to print. My fault, my bad, my good, my bad, right?
I wanted to do it in color. I wanted to do the ads in color. I wanted it to be every ad. I wanted it to be hardcover as opposed to softcover. Not that it was that much more expensive to do hardcover. I’m excited about it. The goal would be to sell it as a bump or an upsell when people buy Breakthrough Advertising. So Breakthrough Advertising is $125. I don’t want to make it more than Breakthrough Advertising, which I could. I mean, the book could be a couple of thou… It could be a Ben Settle kind of encyclopedia. He sells books for thousands of dollars and they’re amazing. You have a couple of his books, right?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I’ve got a couple. His email, Enomicon…
Brian Kurtz: Oh yeah. It’s amazing.
Rob Marsh: It’s ginormous.
Brian Kurtz: It’s ginormous. And he charges, I don’t know, 2000 bucks for it or something.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, they’re expensive.
Brian Kurtz: They’re expensive. It’s like 800 pages too. And so he did softcover though. It’s an 800-page softcover book. It’s interesting. So anyway, I actually went to Ben. I said, “I’m freaking out. The postage is more than the book.” Not for the United States. The United States we… It was on discount. So we did an early bird offer for the book. We wanted to make it really cheap to get it in everybody’s hands immediately who bought Breakthrough Advertising, who would jump on it and that’s how we sold 5,000 of them immediately.
And it was $49, but the shipping was 20 in the US and outside the US, it was always more than 49. And we had to send a note with it. It’s like, “Don’t get sticker shock on the postage. It’s 500 pages goddammit.” But I didn’t foresee that. A guy who’s been in direct mail all his life, who sold millions and millions of hardcover books in the mail, millions, didn’t see that problem coming.
Rob Marsh: Yes, shipping costs should be at the top of your list, Brian. I’m surprised.
Brian Kurtz: But I was so mad at myself. So now the book is an upsell bump or whatever, how we’re going to position it, at 75. So it’s $199 for the book and Mastery together. That’ll be the new offer. And the postage will be a little bit less because it’ll be shipped with Breakthrough Advertising. But international shipping is expensive when you’re shipping a 500-page book, but not going to apologize for it. If you want the book, I’m not going to pay the shipping and the book will last on your shelf forever. And it’ll be something that you’re going to want to have, especially if you’re a student of the craft. And it will be a collector’s item.
I was thumbing through… On the manuscript, I don’t have the book yet. I don’t even have the book yet. I was thumbing through the ads. They’re amazing. It’s like these girdles and cigarette ads and all these ads, the Mad Men era. And Chris did a presentation at my last Titans Mastermind. He took some of the ads and he did call-outs where Gene called out the awareness level and the sophistication level of the audience on these oral space ads and magazines. Gene was doing bliss segmentation before they were even doing intense list segmentation, in direct mail, much less email.
And one of the things I say about Breakthrough Advertising Mastery is that I didn’t put the ads in just for nostalgia. There’s a lot of learning, just swipe files, right? I mean, you guys, I’m sure you teach all your copywriters when you’re coaching, you steal smart. Stealing’s a felony, stealing smarts an art. But you’re going to get your ideas, your copy platforms. Everything’s been invented to some degree. I mean, I always say… I say I’m not a copywriter. I also say I’ve never invented anything. That’s true.
And you can say that Jeff Walker maybe didn’t invent it… He invented PLF. Ryan Levesque invented the ASK Method quiz funnels. But even they will admit that Ryan Levesque learned in his neuroscience courses at Brown. He was like a brainiac when he went to college and he understood list segmentation and he understood regression modeling, which is what I understood. I didn’t create quiz funnels from it, but he did and he invented that. Jeff Walker invented PLF, Product Launch Formula, but he said to me in one meeting with him, he said, “Once I realized it was all direct marketing, then PLF took off.”
So that’s the spirit of never inventing anything. So it’s not nostalgia, it’s not taking a walk down memory lane, although I like doing that once in a while. But because I’m older and I’m older and wiser, but I am older. And so when you’re older and wiser, I’m not yearning for the past, but I’m always looking to the past for clues for the future. And I think there are a lot of them when you look anywhere in the brain of Gene Schwartz, there’s clues to the future there everywhere.
Rob Marsh: Okay, Kim, let’s break in for a moment and talk about what Brian has been sharing. So I’m curious if anything has jumped out at you as we’ve been going through what Brian’s been talking about here?
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, I definitely agree that Breakthrough Advertising is one of those classic books, a must-read. And I have kind of a funny story about that. I don’t know if you want to hear it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, of course.
Kim Krause Schwalm: So, actually there’s two funny stories in one, and I’ll try to keep them quick. The first one is way back when I was a junior, junior marketer and working at Phillips Publishing, which actually hired Gene Schwartz as a copywriter. So he was one of our top copywriters. He came in and did a full day seminar with just the marketing management and the executive team. So, it was maybe 30 people in the room and we had him all day.
And it was a Friday afternoon and it got to be around 4:00, 4:30 and it was still going on. And I leaned over to the senior VP next to me and I’m like, “You know how much longer this is going to go on? Still have to meet some friends up in Baltimore for happy hour.” And he was kind of like, “Well, maybe you want to stick around.”
Rob Marsh: Yeah.
Kim Krause Schwalm: So, I mean I literally almost skipped out early and I’m like, “Really, really?” Because now that I really… I mean, it was an amazing lecture for sure.
The second funny story is about the Breakthrough Advertising book. So when I finally became a freelance copywriter, I had a client that I was working with and he told me, “You have to get this book,” but you couldn’t find it. It was before Brian started making it available. I found it for $997 on Amazon or something. So I literally copied this entire book and Brian knows I did this because it’s illegal copyright, but I still have it. I kind of pull it out. It’s still-
Rob Marsh: You’re talking about you copied it on a copy machine? You like-
Kim Krause Schwalm: No, I mean… Well, this is on audio. Yeah, it’s right here. I keep it super handy, here it is. But this was my go-to book early on and still is with my copywriting, so that’s how important of a book it is. So that really jumped out at me and it brought back a few funny memories.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s great that Brian has made it available. I mean, it’s not a cheap book. It’s $125, but when I got my copy again, it was also before Brian had made the re-release and I think I paid like $350 for my copy. I tracked it down. And so obviously you go to, I think it’s breakthroughadvertisingbook.com. You can get your own copy of it. But when Brian is talking about this manual that he’s put together since we recorded the podcast, I’ve actually received mine and-
Kim Krause Schwalm: So have I. I’ve gotten it, but it was right from the holidays. I haven’t had a chance to really dig in, but…
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I started thumbing through, and people won’t be able to see this because it’s a podcast, but I mean there’s like 200 pages of these full-color ads that are all referred to.
Kim Krause Schwalm: It’s incredible.
Rob Marsh: It is an incredible resource. And so I think a lot of credit to Brian and also Chris Mason who helped put all this stuff together. It’s a great resource. We’re not an affiliate for it, but I think if you are at that point of your copywriting career where you’re starting to think about Breakthrough Advertising or you’ve tried to read the book and you’ve struggled with it, Breakthrough Advertising Mastery is the kind of resource that can make it more accessible and easier to get through and get those concepts into your writing brain.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, another thing I want to add real quick while we’re on that topic, in general, is a lot of those examples may appear to be these older ads. And you might think as a younger copywriter or a modern-day copywriter, what can I really learn from these? But you actually can glean a huge amount of ideas, even some that you could even borrow from in using your own copy and headlines and subject lines. And everybody is buzzing about AI right now and all this AI-generated copy and all this. But more and more the stuff that is unique that could not… Like, if somebody looks at and they just kind of know this could never be written by AI, that’s the stuff that’s going to jump out.
So I think even more importantly than ever, you have to have some unique angles, some unique ideas, different words, different phrases. Not the same old, same old. It’s going to be more important than ever. And you’re going to glean a lot of ideas from going through some of these older ads.
Rob Marsh: I think another thing about some of these older ads that we don’t see when we’re looking at, say Facebook ads today is because they were mailed, because they ran so long and were tested over and over against different copy points, different calls to action, different headlines. What is in that book, that collection of ads are ads that actually work. We know people’s responses, they made in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars.
Oftentimes we’ll look at swipe files today and we see all these sales pages that people have collected. I’ve got a thousand maybe that I’ve got in a swipe file. And I don’t know all the time which ones really work because some of them run one time or… And the ads that Brian’s put together, we know that the vast majority of those were effective. And so like you’re suggesting, if you can borrow an idea, a headline, a copy point, you know that it’s going to connect with the reader.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Right. It’s telling you something about human nature. It touched into some kind of desire or want or need. Or as Gene liked to say, if you told us in that lecture, you want them to sometimes feel, am I really in such grave danger? If you’re trying to build in urgency or you’re informing them about the hidden cause of a problem or whatever. So yeah, it’s good stuff.
Rob Marsh: Going along with this book, Brian, as we said in the interview, he says he’s not a copywriter. He’s got a heart of a copywriter but doesn’t love to write a lot of copy, but he does a really good job of teaching copywriters and other people how to be better marketers and copy is a big part of that. And he was talking about this process of adding bonuses to make a meh or a me-too offer more palatable. The same thing that he did with the book and adding all of the ads to the book. And it just kind of got me thinking when I’m thinking about what we do at the Copywriter Club, some of the things that you do in your business, Kim, what we all do as copywriters is, instead of just writing about the thing, taking a step back and saying, “How can I make this offer better?”
And that, I think, is a superpower that a lot of copywriters don’t harness on behalf of their clients. Oftentimes we’re just like, “Okay, well, the offer is the offer and I’m just going to write about it.” Instead of breaking it up and saying, “How can we turn some of this into a bonus? Is there something else here that maybe I can create that will make it even more valuable?” And that’s something that Brian really good at.
Kim Krause Schwalm: And you can do things that are more timely or of the moment, whereas maybe your core product, you’re not going to change. And it’s interesting because a lot of us old-school direct mail copywriters came up through the newsletter publishing world. And still, obviously, there’s a whole lot of that going on in finance today, and you’re never selling a newsletter partly because you can’t tease about the content of the newsletter because it’s ever-changing. So you have to have premiums or bonuses that’s basically what you’re selling in your promotion.
And so yeah, that you’re always, as a copywriter, you are very much involved with coming up with what those bonuses should be about and even finding some of the content to go into them because you want to come up with the juicy, teasing bullets and other copy that’s going to really sell the people on the premium so that they get the newsletter. So it’s that whole thinking that you can apply it, I think, to any product.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I agree. Hopefully, I’m not putting you on the spot, but do you have a process for thinking through when you are working with the client or some of the clients that you’ve had in the past where you know you’re writing about the thing? But do you have a process for stepping back and saying, “How can I make this better? Or how do I break out some of the stuff and create bonuses around it?”
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, a couple of things. One is I might look at what they already have available. For example, if I’m going up existing control for, let’s say a boardroom newsletter, which again, it’s been a while or bottom line, right? What are the ones you got on the hopper? “Oh, those look interesting. Oh, that looks really good.” Or could you mind creating new ones? Fine. And as I’m going through and doing my research, I will start to grab onto articles, things that look interesting, like that’s related, that’s related, or I’ll find other stuff within their existing content. I’m like, that could be basically its own report.
I’m not actually creating the report for them, but I start to find maybe five or six really cool things that I know could be great bullets or a few paragraphs of copy. And then I’ll say, “Can we create one and make sure we include this stuff?” And then whatever else you want to put in for this topic. So, that’s generally the process that I’ve used.
Rob Marsh: And I like it because again, you’re not just showing up as the order taker. You’re not the person who’s, “Oh, we need copy for this,” so you write copy for this. But you’re actually thinking bigger about, how do I make this thing sing?
Kim Krause Schwalm: But it could be other things too. It could be, “Let’s have a bonus live call,” or it depends on what it is you’re selling. Or we’ve even used physical premiums before. I mean, it’s been a while, but I had one client have a calculator or a pedometer. I mean, those were big. And again, if the direct mail audience, is a bit senior, older audience, but there could be other things that could appeal to your audience that… And I think more and more, we’re going to see physical stuff actually kind of making a comeback too. Just having something on your desk that your person’s using with your branding on it, for example, could be really valuable.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Now, you got me thinking about stuff that [inaudible 00:48:19] accelerator or some other program, but-
Kim Krause Schwalm: Exactly.
Rob Marsh: So there were a couple of things too that Brian mentioned almost just as… He just made a brief comment. We didn’t even talk about them. But one of the things, and I agree with both of them, so I just want to point them out. One of the things he said was, he really believes in karma, putting good things out into the world. Good always comes back. And I know that this is maybe a little bit of a woowoo thing and I’m kind of known for not being very woowoo, but this is one thing, one woo-woo idea that I buy into 100%. If you do good things to the world, if you share your genius, I’m not always expecting a financial reward, good comes back. And it’s not always financially coming back, but good things happen. And Brian practices this in his life like no one else I know.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yeah. No, he’s huge. He is very much a giver. And you’re right, it all kind of comes back. I have felt like that throughout my copywriting career for many, many years when I’d get myself booked up a year in advance and I have other people coming to me. I mean, I’ve turned so much work away, referred it to other copywriters, my copy. It depends on what level of copywriter they needed. I remember at one point, it was probably 10 years ago, one of my friends told me, she’s like, “I’m making over a hundred thousand dollars this year just off your referrals.” I’m like, “Cool,” you know?
Rob Marsh: Some of that. Yeah.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yeah, I’m like… But I never took anything of it. I mean, I once had somebody want to refer me and they wanted me to give them some money for it. And I was like, “I’m sorry I don’t roll that way.” And honestly, whenever I refer people, I don’t take money either. I want it to be an honest referral. I mean, I don’t want people referring to me just because they’re going to get paid. Plus, I was already booked up. But I feel like it does go around.
And the same thing when I started writing my Copy Insiders E-letter and I really didn’t have any kind of plan. I just knew I want to start sharing stuff and be like, “Oh my God, you’re sharing so much value,” and I still do. But again, it kind of comes back to me. I have my loyal audience and now I have programs and products that people buy. But again, it’s not just about that. It sounded like it felt good to… Holiday season, I get these responses, “Thanks for everything you do for us.” And I’m sure you hear that too and you just feel like, “Yeah, you know what? I’m making a difference for somebody.” There’s somebody out there who maybe doesn’t have other sources of training or insights and there’s so many valuable things, which I do want to mention real quick.
One of the best books I think a new copywriter can read because you said Breakthrough Advertising is a bit advanced. Maybe read that second or third, but read Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising. That was the first book I read after I left my marketing position, and become a freelance copywriter. And even though it was written over a hundred years ago, it was like, “Oh my God, it all makes sense now.” It just made sense. And I have every one of my new mentees read it. I reread it every year. I still get new insights. You can find it for free. Just search Scientific Advertising PDF. So that is a great book for someone to read. It gives them a good foundation of some of the principles that Claude Hopkins talks about.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s one of the first books that I-
Kim Krause Schwalm: I mean and Gene Schwartz. I’m sorry, Gene Schwartz talks about, yes.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I remember my boss when I was hired at an ad agency that focused on direct responses, the first time I did any direct response… Well, not really because I was writing some catalog copy, but it’s the first time I really was thinking about the response and being in this industry. And my boss recommended the same book. She’s like, “You’ve got to read this.” And I agree.
Kim Krause Schwalm: But there’s also a companion book, My Life in Advertising, and I think I still have the book with both of them in it. And that was excellent too. But-
Rob Marsh: Yeah, they’re both so good.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Like I said, you can find Scientific Advertising for free online, so why not read?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, a really good recommendation.
Kim Krause Schwalm: But it does talk about men, men, men, men. That’s the only thing.
Rob Marsh: It’s a little dated
Kim Krause Schwalm: A hundred years ago women, I guess, weren’t copywriters.
Rob Marsh: One other thing that Brian mentioned is that, again, it was kind of a throwaway line, but I think of it as something that again got my ears to perk up. He said, “Stealing is a felony,” and then talked about, “Stealing smart is an art.”
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yes.
Rob Marsh: And I think, actually Kim, you’ve probably got a lot to add here because we were just talking about these ads that we can swipe ideas from. How do you steal smart in the writing that you do?
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, I mean, again, a lot of the writing I’m doing these days is for my own list and emails. But I just got an idea last night, which I used in an email, which was somebody had this LinkedIn post about AI and it was really kind of hilarious because it actually led you to this Rick Roll video. I hope I didn’t ruin it for anybody that hasn’t opened that email yet. Some things you can just see out in the wild. They stimulate an idea like that. Reading books, hearing stuff on the news, kind of staying tuned into what people are talking about on social media. But in terms of looking at other ads, back when I was writing a lot of supplement promos, I would pull out… In fact, I still have file drawers full of promos that I’ve saved, like vision supplement promos, joint supplement promos. These are thick, thick folders. And I kind of pull everything out and I just start to get like, “Okay, what are some of the words and some of the things that stand out?”
Again, I’m not taking somebody’s headline and copying and pasting it somewhere. That would be stealing. It would not be stealing smart, it’d be stealing dumb. But yeah, I start to just get a lot of idea fodder sometimes just from that. Of course I do other research too. But yeah, that would be generally… I would also, especially did this early in my copywriting career, I would dissect and analyze promos that I knew were controls, and I would analyze, “What’s working here, what’s working in the headline, what’s working in the lead?” And I would even try to put together sort of, “How is it structured?” Because I still don’t feel like there is one magic template for that.
Although, it’s funny, right before I left Phillips, I saw, because Phillips did a lot of these long form magalogs, somebody had a formula page, they had it all written out. And I thought I took it with me and I’m like, “Where is the formula page?” And I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I was like, “I have to figure it out myself now, I have to crack the code.” There were none of these training or seminars or copywriting mentors back then. So I just studied and reverse engineered promos and tried to figure out how they were structured. And then I would say, “Okay, let me look at a structure that is similar to mine.” Again, not every single one fits the exact structure. But those were some ways that I felt that I was stealing smart and not outright stealing.
Rob Marsh: Every once in a while I’ll see somebody who literally steals an email and changes out a couple of words here or there. That’s stealing dumb, right? But like you say, looking at how something makes you feel, looking at an idea and applying it in a different context. Last week you wrote an email to our list about a business lesson from Bono’s book Surrender. And it had nothing to do with copywriting.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yeah, I remember seeing that.
Rob Marsh: But as soon as I read that, I’m like, “Oh, there’s an idea we can share an email on.” That kind of stealing is the kind of stealing I think that Brian’s talking about.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yeah, I have definitely seen my own copies stolen. It’s not fun. Although it’s sort of… Again, it’s not like it’s going to necessarily hurt the response of something else that I wrote. But for example, way back when I wrote a financial control that beat Jim Rutz, and Jim Rutz was kind of a big deal to beat. And I had this control for three-plus years, and at one point we tested into an envelope package, a number 10 envelope package. And because it was sort of a newsletter issue, what we called a faux issue, when you opened up and got the promotion out, on the outside we put the newsletter logo and “Current issue enclosed” on the front because it looked like an issue. And that did so, so well. Well guess what? Within two or three months, every time I go to my mailboxes on all these other lists, everybody started copying that, the number 10 envelope and “Current issue enclosed,” all the financial publishers.
And then I even had one of my clients do it for one of my supplement controls. I’m like, “Well heck, I might as well copy it myself, right?” But yeah, at the time I was like, “What are you going to do?” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so to some extent it didn’t really hurt me. I still had the control and I was still banking the royalties.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And of course stuff that works is going to get copied. Let’s just hope that as copywriters we’re smart about it as we reuse ideas as we go forth.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Exactly. Yeah, well I feel like we could talk about… This interview is so good. There’s so much good stuff coming up, but let’s get back and hear more about what Brian has to say.
Kira Hug: All right, Brian, I think anyone listening wants to order it. Just real quick, kind of basic question. What is the best application? Let’s say we order the bundle, so we have the book, and then we have the Mastery book. What is the best way that we can apply it immediately in our business? If I’m a new copywriter, what do I do other than reading the first three chapters of the original book?
Brian Kurtz: Breakthroughadvertising.com is where you can buy Breakthrough Advertising, $125. We haven’t set up, because we printed that first printing of Breakthrough Advertising Mastery was for the early birds mostly. And I think we’re just about sold out, because we only printed 5,000 and I think we’ve sold 4,900 something. So if anybody would want Breakthrough Advertising Mastery, I guess the best way is they could just email me and I’ll make sure if there’s a copy in inventory, we’ll get them one at $75. Or if we’re out of stock, we’ll make sure they get on a waiting list to get the book as soon as it’s ready. I mean the people who ordered it over the last three months haven’t gotten a copy yet either. They all bought it, pre-ordered it. So I was scared to do that. But it wasn’t a cold test.
In direct mail, there were people that used to do these dry tests. They wouldn’t create the product until they knew they had people to buy it. I never had the stomach for that at Boardroom. This was not a dry test. I was already printing it, but I knew it was going to take a while, 500 pages, full color. So if they just email me, email@example.com, I’ll make sure they get a copy of Breakthrough Advertising Mastery as soon as I can get them one. But they really should buy Breakthrough Advertising by itself first. So breakthroughadvertising.com. Yes, I automated that. I couldn’t have sold 10,000 copies without an automated selling page. I do have a page for Breakthrough Advertising Mastery. It’s not a simple URL yet. It’s not breakthroughadvertisingmastery.com.
Rob Marsh: And just a clarifying question, Brian. If somebody doesn’t already have Breakthrough Advertising, they should get that first, right? Or could they just lean into this second book without that background?
Brian Kurtz: Yeah, I would say that’s the case. Although we have some people who have bought Breakthrough Advertising Mastery just because they wanted to look at the ads, they had studied Gene. I think you need to at least understand the concepts. Now there’s a lot of people out there, unfortunately, that have bought illegal PDF ripoff versions of Breakthrough Advertising so they don’t count. But those people could probably buy Breakthrough Advertising Mastery and get something out of it. I have a takedown service that are always… It’s like playing Whack-a-mole with the pirates. But the real people out there know that having the real book, it’s basically honoring Gene, it’s honoring the beauty of the work. And there’s a lot more to it than just getting a PDF of it.
Kira Hug: As we’re talking about your books, I think it could feel inspiring. It could also feel discouraging, just because we’re talking about the numbers and you’re being really upfront about the fact that it’s not necessarily profitable to publish these books, but you’re doing it for other motivating factors. But for copywriters who are listening and who are currently writing their next book or writing their first book or want to write the book, I know you believe in the staying power of books and that book launches are forever. So can you just speak to what you mean when you say that, and hopefully encourage us to continue forward even though it isn’t profitable all the time?
Brian Kurtz: Yeah, postage and printing are only going to get more expensive, so that’s always a factor. However, when I was talking about books not being profitable, I was talking more about a 500-page hardcover book that I didn’t understand the shipping cost, which is just me being stupid. But as far as writing a book, writing your book, writing the book that you always wanted to write, I encourage everybody to write a book. I mean, I was just at Genius Network last week, and Joe Polish just… He’s written a couple of books, but he finally wrote the book that he wanted to write his whole life. It’s called What’s In It for Them? And so there’s a lot of discussion around his book, but people were talking about their books. And Reid Tracy was there from Hay House. They published my book, they published Joe’s book, they published Ryan Levesque’s second book Choose. They published the new edition of Launch by Jeff Walker. Because they have a business imprint now, it’s not just self-improvement books and things like that.
So the idea of not making money on your book is not the reason not to do it. And there are many other reasons that could still be profitable for your business to write a book. So for instance, it so happened that I was going to publish my book with a different publisher. I already had a contract set up, and I wasn’t getting paid for it. I was actually going to have to pay them. I had to buy 10,000 copies at cost to get them to publish my book, get it on Amazon, and get it into bookstores. And then the deal was I had to buy 2,500 books at cost, let’s say $4 a book. So it was going to cost me $10,000 to publish my book. I thought it was a very small price to pay to get my thoughts and my book in print.
And then I signed the contract, I started working on it, Reid Tracy called me from Hay House. And this doesn’t happen for everybody, but it happened for me. And he called me and he said, “Have you signed your contract yet for your book?” He had just signed the contract to do a business imprint with Random House. And he said, “If you can get out of the contract, I’d like to publish your book with Hay House.” And so I went to my publisher, my publisher I had. I said, “I’m not going to squelch on my contract, but if you let me out, you can keep what I’ve already paid you.” I paid him a portion. And he was really good about it.
Because Hay House was a better deal for me. Not only because he gave me a nice advance, but because they have a big email list, they do a lot more promoting for you, and they take care of Amazon, they take care of doing the audio version. I had to speak it, but they set me up for the audio version, all of that. So I only say that because you don’t need Hay House or a publisher to pay you in advance to still do the book. I mean, I could have done it the other way and I would’ve had a book that I could give away. You can use it as a lead magnet in things if you want. You can create a bonus page, which I did anyway for Overdeliver, it’s overdeliverbook.com, where I was able to honor all of my mentors by giving away bonuses from them. Swipe files from Gary Bencivenga’s Bullets, and Dan Kennedy’s swipe file, and all this stuff.
So there’s so many applications of a book beyond the book. But as Reid Tracy says, the first step is to write a good book. So there are a lot of books. I mean just to write a book for the sake of writing a book, a lot of people do that. I have a lot of books in this big pile here that are 90 pages or less. They have one good thought in them or two good thoughts in them. They were worth doing for that author. He usually talks about the book. It’s what Dean Jackson has with his 90-Minute Book. That’s a legitimate book. It’s not the same thing as my book Overdeliver or Joe Polish’s book, but it’s a legitimate book. But I think that you have to understand, what do you want to do with the book and what are your objectives? If your objective is to be on the New York Times Best Seller list or be on the Wall Street Journal Best Seller list, that’s a completely different model than writing a book that you want to use as a lead magnet.
And then there’s everything in between. Mine was somewhere in between. I mean I wanted to write my story. I had four or five years’ worth of blogs that I knew could be the basis of my book. I thought I could just put the blogs in between two covers and it would be a book. Wrong. I needed a couple of different editors to help me with that. I needed what they called a developmental editor, which I didn’t even know what that was, to kind of formulate the book and organize the book. And then I moved over to Hay House, and then Hay House gave me another editor. So the book was heavily edited, which was good, but it was all in my own voice. That was important to me. You have to basically come up with what you won’t negotiate. What are your non-negotiables with a book?
Mine where it had to be in my voice, it wasn’t going to be with a ghostwriter. You can do a book with a ghostwriter. Had to be in my voice, my words, which is a lot more time and effort with a good developmental editor. If there was going to be an audio version, it had to be my voice. I hate books read by… I mean some people are dead so you have to read them to other people. But if someone’s alive and they have a voice that you can understand… My kids would say you can’t understand me, but that’s beside the point. So I had to read the book. In fact, it was in my contract with Hay House, as long as I am able-bodied, little did I know I was going to have a stroke and I could have had a speech impediment or something, that the book would have to be read by me. And I put that in my contract, as long as I’m able to do it.
I had a stipulation that I needed unlimited author copies to buy at cost because that opens me up to give the books. And I’ve done it already. I’ve given the books to a college class. It’s not to make money on them, it’s just that they can afford it to buy them at less than $27 a book that it would’ve cost on Amazon, to pay for something less and then I can ship the books in quantity to them. I don’t do that that often, but it’s all about the education of my audience. That was my ultimate goal. I wanted to educate my audience with my book. So anything that added to that mission was worth doing for me.
And so in fact, when my hardcover books were out of stock… I think my print order was originally 10,000 books. I’ve sold about 10,000 copies of the hardcover book, which is not a bestseller, but it’s not a small seller in the scheme of things. Then they go to the paperback version, which the book’s coming out in paperback I think, I don’t know, last week? It came out recently. And I went to Hay House and I said, “How much would you charge me to print up another 5,000 hardcovers just for myself?” And I was able to do that, all at my cost. They’re not going to store them for me, so I had to store them at a warehouse. And luckily I had a warehouse because I have it to publish Breakthrough Advertising. I have a warehouse for books. So I wanted to do that because that gives me flexibility now to use the hardcover for college classes at a lower cost. So I gave you my objectives for a book and then how that fit into how I did the book.
But if I was going to do an all-out blitz to get on the bestseller list somewhere, even the Amazon bestseller list, I would’ve had people mailing for me. I had a lot of podcasts scheduled. I think I had one with you when the book launched and then I had to cancel a lot of them because of my stroke. But I ended up doing a lot of podcasts selling overdeliverbook.com. But it was all about adding names to my list. It was all about adding names to my online family so I could blog to them, they’d be part of my world. And the book satisfied that for me. And it still lives on, I get at least one very warm email a week, maybe more than one, somebody telling me how it changed their life in terms of how they look at marketing, that they’re willing to launch something now because I put it in language they can understand.
That means more to me than any bestseller list, anything that I could have made on the book. And I got an advance, so I made some money on the book. I haven’t made back my advance yet, so you can figure out quickly maybe what my advance was and how many books I sold at what royalty rate. But most people don’t. Most people don’t make royalties on their books, even the ones that get big advances. I mean Hay House sometimes gives multiple hundred thousand dollar advances. I didn’t get one of those. A lot of times they don’t earn those out either. So there’s a lot of advances that they think are going to earn out and they don’t. So if you can get an advance, I would recommend it, if you’ve got a name and if you’ve got a platform, if you’ve got an email list, you people know who you are.
Joe Polish has a much bigger platform than I do. Jeff Walker has a much bigger platform than I do. They got bigger advances than I do, and I don’t slight them at all. But even without an advance, I would’ve gone with Hay House, because they give me an opportunity to be with a publisher that does direct response marketing, that does email marketing. That was a good fit once they had a business imprint.
As far as the idea of you’re always on a relaunch or you’re always on a launch with your book, I guess it’s only if the book is mostly evergreen. And my book is mostly evergreen. I might have to update some stuff and maybe I’ll do an updated version, and then you can launch again, right? So that’s one way to keep the launch going. But if I wanted to launch the soft cover, I could do that. I’d have to pay for the media for it. I mean I’d have to, whatever advertising I would do. You can’t do it all with organic. And I don’t have that kind of platform. I’m not that well known. So I’d have to go pay for Facebook, pay for TikTok. I can dance on TikTok. I’m sure I can sell a lot of books that way. But TikTok actually is great media these days. I don’t know if you’re into it. Yeah.
Rob Marsh: I’m not sure we’re into it, but we’re aware of it, I think is…
Brian Kurtz: Aware of it. I’ve actually sold some Breakthrough Advertising on TikTok, so it’s pretty cool.
Rob Marsh: We actually recorded a podcast recently, a little bit about TikTok.
Brian Kurtz: Oh good, good. There’s a guy, Max Finn, he’s killing it. He’s got a media agency. Do you know who?
Rob Marsh: I don’t know Max, but we’ll have to-
Brian Kurtz: Yeah you might want to interview him. You know what the place is? I’m going to change subjects just for a second. The place to go to find out what’s happening in the media is Steal Our Winners, Rich Schefren. He came to my Mastermind and he was a fire hose of information on text with TikTok, with email, with Instagram. It was unbelievable. But anyway, going back to the books-
Rob Marsh: Yeah Rich talks to a lot of people, yeah.
Brian Kurtz: Yeah. Did I answer the question about launching forever and different models for books? I think most people can also self-publish, you know? Whether it’s through The 90-Minute Book, if it’s a small book. But even a big book, you can do it through Amazon and you get a lot of services. I know because Robert Skrob, who’s a wonderful guy, membership expert, he’s in my Titans Mastermind, he did a book called Retention Point, which sold a ton of books. Now when he gave me the manuscript for it, I said, “This is a great book.” And he said, “That’s what I wanted you to tell me, not to feed my ego, but that you actually thought it was a book.” Because he set the book up as a feed for his consulting business. And the book has got great content in it on retention and renewals and all that kind of stuff.
The whole thing throughout the book, he talks about a case history, he’s got a link to his site, the whole thing is a sales pitch and you don’t even know it. I mean, I didn’t know it, I’m gullible. But it was amazing. And you can do books like that, that’s a great way to do a book. So a book can serve so many things, it can serve so many masters. It should serve you first as the author. And that’s why you have to set your objective up first. But I think it’s great.
My first book, The Advertising Solution I did with Craig Simpson, that was a different thing because I was already thinking about my book, which ended up being Overdeliver. But I was typical, “I’ll do a book someday,” usual. The usual like, “Someday, one day.” And I thank Craig for this because he came to me and he said, “Brian, I have this book, it’s called The Advertising Solution. It’s profiling six advertising men who are really direct marketers, but they came mostly before direct marketing, which was David Ogilvy, Claude Hopkins, Robert Collier, John Caples, Gary Halbert, and Gene Schwartz.” And he said, “Brian, you’ve studied them as well as anybody.” Clayton Makepeace might have studied them a little bit more. But he said, “You’re one of the people that studied all those guys. And I’ve already done the base of the book. The book is basically a profile of those six guys. And I want you to co-author the book with me. If you say no, I’m going to publish it myself. You’re the only person…” As Mark Ford once said to me, “Flattery doesn’t work on everybody,” it works on me.
And so he said, “You’re the only person I would do this book with.” I said, “I’m in.” And so I did improve it a lot, he admitted. But it’s in his writing style. And a lot of the people who… I got everybody to do a blurb for me from Jay Abraham to Jeff Walker to Frank Kern, all these guys, they all did one’s for me for Overdeliver too. But they all noticed that it wasn’t in my voice. And they were wondering, “This isn’t your book. It’s like…” But what I did in the book is I bulleted the whole thing. So Craig had paragraph on paragraph, and when you’re writing about Robert Collier’s Letter Book, it can get really stale. Not that it’s not important stuff, I mean it’s the best book on sales letters ever written. So I had to bullet point like, “What are the things he’s trying to say here?”
And so I made a lot of improvements in the book, but he did all the heavy lifting. But that book served me well too because then we had a site, thelegendsbook.com, people went to it. I got names into my online family from that. I’m still getting names from that book. So it’s a gift that keeps on giving. And that’s a perpetual launch too, because that was launched three years before Overdeliver. And so that book’s still around. I still call Entrepreneur Press to send me boxes of them. I gave them away in the third-year renewals in Titans Accelerated, they got a copy of Advertising Solution. The first year they got Overdeliver.
So books can serve so many good purposes. You have to spend a little money if you want to sell more books. But once you have a list, an online family that you can talk about stuff in the book, you can take excerpts from the book, put it in your regular emails, just take an excerpt and then put a link to buy the book. There’s so many things you can do. It’s content and it’s content that can be repurposed. So all of that said, it was a short question with a very long answer. I apologize.
Rob Marsh: I was going to say that’s the only kind you do, Brian. Long answers to any question.
Brian Kurtz: Long answers to any question. You can tell I’m passionate about it because I think it’s something that… I never say to somebody, it’s in my blog when I write about it, it’s not about everybody who should write a book. I’m not like that. But if there’s a book in you and you have an objective for it, you owe it to yourself to write a book.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I want to ask one final question for you, Brian, and hopefully you’ve got time for us. I know we have a stop coming up in a few minutes.
Brian Kurtz: Yes I do. I knew I was going to get carried away today, so I—
Rob Marsh: Book a few extra minutes, we did the same
Brian Kurtz: I looked at you guys, I just want to talk to you, but I’m talking to you I feel it’s almost like.
Rob Marsh: One of the things that I don’t think we’ve talked about before with you is what I think is your superpower. You say you’re not a copywriter, but you are a connector. You’re probably the most connected person in marketing, certainly in direct marketing, that I know you. I mean, you can get Dan Kennedy to pick up your call or Perry Marshall or Kira Hug.
Brian Kurtz: He can pick up my fax. He can pick up my fax.
Rob Marsh: And I’m curious, your advice to somebody who wants to get better at that networking, relationship-building thing that you do so well. Do you have three or four bullet points for those of us who would like to get better at it?
Brian Kurtz: I actually had a new epiphany about it just two weeks ago. So I’ll start with this. Chapter 10 of Overdeliver is Playing the Long Game. There’s a quote from Marty Edelston that starts the chapter, it says, “Life is long,” so now you see there’s a pattern here, “Playing the Long Game, life is long.” And then the first sentence of the chapter is, “I hate the word networking.” So let’s start there. I hate the word networking. The origin of it was when I was 26, 27 years old, I was featured in a direct marketing magazine. You’ve heard this story before, I’m sure. And I was one of the 30 under 30, because I was still under 30 years old, 30 people to watch in direct marketing. And the title under my name was strategic schmoozer, and I almost threw up. It’s like, what does schmoozer mean to you? It’s like a glad-hander, someone who if Facebook had existed when that article came out, it would be the guy or the woman with the most Facebook friends. That’s not who I am. And so from that day, I knew I had to have a different strategy. If that’s the vibe I was giving off, shame on me, because that’s not what I meant to give off. But it was really the hyperbole of the writer. I don’t think it was me. At least that’s what I’m going to believe, anyway. But I made it my business to redefine networking.
And how I redefined it was that for me, networking is contributing to connecting, and it’s way different, way different. You have to contribute to everybody in your world at 100/0, not at 50/50. I said in that chapter in Overdeliver, “I’ve never said I’ll meet you halfway, even in a negotiation.” People at Boardroom hated me because I always gave more than I got in most negotiations. And if I didn’t and I got a windfall, I’d make it up. Copywriters were a good example. I’d make a deal with a copywriter and I’d get a windfall out of it. On the next package, I made it up to them, because I can’t sleep at night when I’m getting the better end of the deal, when I just want a fair deal.
Marty Edelson on his deathbed … I was sitting next to him. Marty Edelson was the founder of Boardroom, my mentor. I’m sitting next to him, he’s in and out. He was going to die in … it was probably two days before he died. And I’m sitting next to him, holding his hand. Everything about him, work and play were the same thing. “So tell me what happened at work today,” basically, he was asking me. And I told him about some negotiation I was in. And he just said two words. He said, “Be fair, be fair.” That’s all he said to me.
And I live by that. So how does that relate to networking and connecting? It starts with fairness. It starts with giving 100/0 of yourself with no expectation of a return, and then whatever you get back is gravy. And the thing is, when you don’t expect a return, you get a much bigger return. So the epiphany I had two weeks ago on all of this was that a kid stood up … And he was a kid. He was 26 years old. Can I call someone 26 a kid?
Kira Hug: Yeah, definitely.
Rob Marsh: I do. I do, for sure. Yeah.
Brian Kurtz: Yeah, because our kid … You don’t have kids that old yet, Kira. I think you do, Rob.
Rob Marsh: I’ve got one who’s almost that old, yeah.
Brian Kurtz: All right. I got a 35-year-old and a 30-year-old. But a 26-year-old kid stands up. And you find out Joe Polish is on stage. And the kid stands up, and Joe introduces him, actually. He raised his hand to ask a question. We were talking about Joe’s book and what’s in it for them, and all of that. So he raises his hand. And Joe says, “Oh, this guy is doing some genius network youth stuff for us. He’s doing some work with younger entrepreneurs, and things like that.”
So his question was, “I have this network, and it’s building very fast. And I found I’m really good at it. I’m really good at networking and finding people and all of that. How do I monetize it,” was his question.
And my gut said, “Wow, wrong question,” obviously. So I’m thinking, I wrote this in my blog last week, I was going to go find him at the event at some point. And what happened was he actually found me at the next break, unbeknownst to me, that he didn’t know anything about … I wasn’t looking at him funny or anything. And I wasn’t going to yell at him or anything. But he tapped me on the shoulder and he says, “You’re Brian Kurtz, aren’t you?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He goes, “I’m a big fan. I read Overdeliver. I love it. I’m so pleased to meet you. I saw that you were here, and I just had to meet you.”
So I said, “Can I take an opportunity to talk to you about what you shared inside about monetizing your network?” And I really started asking him a lot of questions: “What do you mean by monetizing? Do you mean money? Do you mean cash? You can get rich on a lot of things besides cash. What do you contribute to your network? Do you ask people in your network for something when it’s an ask that you don’t really deserve to be asking yet?” And I wanted him to see … And those are some of the bullet points that I’m sharing with you here with your audience.
You can see by the answers to those questions, those are the keys to contributing to connect. And it takes time. You got to be patient. You can’t say, “I have a network of 2,000 people or even 5,000 people, at 26 years old, and now I’m going to monetize them.” It just doesn’t work that way. And so it could happen that you’ll have a product or a service … And then one of the questions I asked him is, “Do you have some mentors? It sounds like you have some mentors. And at my age, I didn’t have that mentor yet. So did your mentors choose you, or did you choose them?” Another big question. If they chose you, you’re in great shape. Keep doing what you’re doing. If you had to go around asking them to be your mentor, you’re going about it the wrong way.
So those are the key things in terms of being connected. And so now I’m 64 years old. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. By doing that, by having 40 years experience, not one year’s experience, but 40 years’ cumulative experience … not one year’s experience for 40 years, but 40 years cumulative experience, that has ended up with me being the poor man’s Joe Polish.
So I don’t know, hopefully, I got to some of those bullet points there. It’s 100/0, no expectation of return, contribute before you connect, make sure that you contribute all the time to your network, whatever your network is. Treat your list like family. I always call my list my online family. So if you have an email list, treat them like family. There are ways to get paid from your network that have nothing to do with money.
Rob Marsh: Good bullets.
Brian Kurtz: You guys ask good questions. That’s why I can go off forever on every one of your questions. The fact is you know me well. We’ve known each other for a lot of years now. It’s like, I guess, at least 10 years I’ve known you guys, or close to it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, yeah.
Brian Kurtz: And it’s amazing … again, yes, you’re in my network, because the first time I met you … the first time I met Kira was at, I guess, my masterclass. And you couldn’t come. You couldn’t come.
Kira Hug: Yeah.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it was the masterclass.
Brian Kurtz: Right, right.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I wasn’t able to make it, but Kira was.
Brian Kurtz: And I just knew, I think I told you, I told her this, I knew that she was going to be a star, for one thing. And secondly, I knew that she was going to be someone that was going to be a friend for the rest of my life. I knew it, but I couldn’t be sure. She could’ve abandoned me if she wanted to.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, she’s not like that.
Brian Kurtz: No, she’s not.
Rob Marsh: Right.
Brian Kurtz: And when I met you, I felt the same way. So there are certain things that happen when you’re networking, and I’m putting quotes around that because I hate the word, but when you’re contributing. And after you do it for decades, I kind of know the people I want to be friends with for the rest of my life, when I meet them. Maybe not the first time. With Kira, I knew it for the first time. With you, I knew it for the first time. Some people it takes two or three times, but I know. I usually know.
Kira Hug: I was just going to say, I like, Brian, how you have circled back and we’ve come full circle talking about redefinition and how you have redefined networking so that it works for you. And I feel like that’s a great way to wrap up after we’ve come full circle in this conversation. So I just want to thank you for being my friend and mentor and for being so honest with us, as always. And we just think so highly of you and are grateful for you.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. So Brian, if somebody’s been listening to this podcast and they want to connect with you, probably the best place is on your list so they can hear about your books, boot camps, all that stuff, where should they go so they can sign up?
Brian Kurtz: Just briankurtz.net. There’s an opt-in there. My site has a lot of free content, and it’s really easy. If they want to spend $27 … I don’t make any money on it; remember my royalty? My royalty has not met my advance, so I’m not making any money on my book. But if they go to overdeliverbook.com, and especially as copywriters, going there, they’ll become part of my online family automatically. I mean, if they buy the book, they get these amazing bonuses that are all phenomenal for copywriters. There’s the Dan Kennedy swipe file from Titans of Direct Response. There’s a full day with Perry Marshall on there. There’s the Bencivenga Bullets in a single PDF that I put together. There’s a swipe file going back to 1900 of 400 pages of some of the greatest ads of all time. There are two PDFs of the most classic books on direct mail ever written.
And don’t say direct mail’s dead. And you can learn a lot from direct mail for today’s marketing. In fact, chapter three of Overdeliver is why paying postage made me a better marketer. And there are two great books, one by Dick Benson and one by Gordon Grossman, two of my direct mail mentors, full PDF. You can print them out. The books are out of print, you can’t get them anywhere. They’re there. I have 19 keynotes that Jay Abraham has done, on the site, at overdeliverbook.com. So it’s just an amazing array of copywriter and marketing resources that you get for free. Plus you get on my list, plus you get my book, which is a decent book. So briankurtz.net, if you don’t want to spend any money. And overdeliverbook.com, if all those bonuses sound like they’re worth, I don’t know, $27 on Amazon.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, they’re worth it. And we appreciate, Brian, everything that you have done for us and with us, and can’t wait to hang out with you again in person. That’s the end of our interview with Brian Kurtz. Before we wrap, let’s highlight just a couple more things that stood out. So Kim, obviously, we’ve been talking about writing a book. Have you thought about writing? You’re writing a book, you’ve got a screenplay going on, maybe a … Do you have a novel? I feel like you’ve told me that you’ve got a screenplay.
Kim Krause Schwalm: So I’m working on my very first screenplay. And I was struggling along; I mean, making some progress. And then I started doing this really intensive workshop back in late October, and it goes through the middle of February. And it’s almost like a small mentoring group. It’s about five people, and this guy who’s freaking amazing. So it was like I’m the mentee and I’m the newbie, and it’s really interesting to be … But I’ve … learning so much. So yeah, that is one thing I’m working on. But I am planning to work on my first micro book. I’m going to be actually taking a workshop in January with Vicky Frazier. I don’t know if you know her, she’s out of the UK. And I’m still flushing through different topics, but yeah, that could lead to a bigger book. But yeah, it’s definitely something I’ve tossed around and thought about doing for my business. And I think it would be a great thing to do.
Rob Marsh: You’ve taken your What’s in Kim’s Mailbox, or inbox, and there’s like two volumes. You’ve written so much of both.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yes, I have four of them.
Rob Marsh: I know you use those as bonuses for some of the offers that you make, but those are-
Kim Krause Schwalm: I actually sell them. I actually sell them. Even though people have gotten them for free, I do sell them.
Rob Marsh: I’ve still got them all in my inbox, because why not hang on to them?
Kim Krause Schwalm: Detailed files.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, you put them all together in books. It’ll be much easier to access. But so when it comes to having a book, so many of us have content, not necessarily that we’ve created for our clients, maybe we’ve created them for ourselves, we’ve got ideas, we’ve got frameworks that we’ve developed in our business. And a lot of that stuff could be a mini book. And I liked that Brian mentioned a couple things he was thinking about; what does it take to make a good book? What do you want to do with your book? What’s the objective? What’s its purpose? Is it just a lead magnet for your business? Is it to communicate bigger ideas? Do you want to be in authority in your space? There’s so many really good reasons to write a book. And I’m committing there’s going to be a Copywriter Club book this year, using some of the things that we’ve taught in the Underground and the Accelerator, but about copywriting business. We’re committed to that.
And in case anybody else is thinking about writing a book, I just want to throw out a couple of resources, people we’ve talked to on the podcast. We’ve talked to Laura Gale who wrote a book called How To Write This Book, which is phenomenal, a really good book on writing a non-fiction book. We’ve talked to Jenny Nash. Jenny Nash is a book coach that we talked to a while ago. She’s written a book called Blueprint for a non-fiction book, that’s also a great resource. And then we haven’t talked to him on the podcast, but recently was recommended by one of our mentors, Todd Brown, a book by Rob Fitzpatrick called Write Useful Books. And all three of those resources, if you’re thinking about writing a book, could come in handy, and walk through some of those same things that Brian was talking about when we were talking about writing his book.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, I think that it’s a great thing, really wherever you are in your career, but it’s amazing how much content most of us have produced that have been doing this stuff. It’s like the movie … I remember seeing this movie years ago, Julie, Julia. Do you remember that one?
Rob Marsh: Yes.
Kim Krause Schwalm: And it was a real-life story. Unfortunately, the woman passed away, I think-
Rob Marsh: Yeah, just last summer, I think.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yes, very sad. But she was a young woman. She was experimenting, working her way through the Julia Child cookbook, and trying to learn how to cook, and working as a secretary, really feeling underemployed in her jobs, taking on this whole thing. And she started blogging about it, and then it turned into this bestselling book. And then it became a movie. And so, I mean, sometimes you just never know. You just start creating content every day, just start doing it. And you never know what you’re going to have a year later. You could have the book, you could have, who knows, a movie.
Rob Marsh: That is a fantastic example too, because I think one of the best ways to get started writing is simply to document what it is that you’re doing. And like what Julie was doing following these recipes and trying to make them work, whatever, she’s simply documenting what she’s doing. She’s not stepping up and saying, “Hey, I’m an expert at this thing.” She’s not putting herself out there as anything special. She’s just simply saying, “Go along this journey with me.” And I think there are a lot of copywriters who are doing the same … or could be doing the same thing, as they explore things with marketing, things in their niche, experiences with their clients, and documenting that stuff that someday could add up to … like you said, maybe it ends up being a movie someday.
Kim Krause Schwalm: You never know. I mean, again, it’s back to my example, when I just started emailing my list just over five years ago … in fact, I’m coming up on my five-year anniversary of Copy Insiders, I didn’t really know. I didn’t have a game plan. I didn’t know what I was doing with it. And then it just led me down all these wonderful things. And I’ve mentored almost 50 people, and I’ve built a business with different courses that have helped a lot of people. And I’ve met so many new people as a result of this. And it’s just opened a lot of doors. You just never know where it’s going to go.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, absolutely.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Did you want to talk about connecting versus networking? Yeah.
Rob Marsh: This is maybe the thing that I would want to end on, because as you know … I mean, you’ve been in Brian’s circles for longer, I think than we have. But Brian is a connector at heart. I pointed that out. And he talked about his experience with the sleazy kind of description of him being this networking person, or whatever. But I just love how Brian puts people together in different situations, whether it’s in his programs, in the mastermind where we met you in his mastermind. But he’s just so good at making those connections for people. And it’s a superpower I really admire in him, and it’s one that I’m trying to develop for myself.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Yeah, no. And again, it doesn’t come from a place of needing something from somebody. Come from a place of giving. And I know there’s been entire books written on that whole topic, but the more you give and the more you reach out to people, the more you show interest in others. This is a Dale Carnegie principle, that back when I was in my marketing career at Phillips Publishing, they sent me to a Dale Carnegie workshop, which I’m kind of wondering, “Were they trying to tell me something? I don’t know.” But it was incredibly valuable. And again, this is when I would go to conferences and I’d be schmoozing, or the networking, the dreaded networking, what I would do is I would just start asking them questions about themselves. I would show interest in them, “Hey, so what’s your business like? Or what do you do,” and blah blah, blah. “What’s the biggest challenge you have right now? How are things going with this?”
And then you get them talking, and they like you. They like it a lot because you’re asking about them and they get to talk about themselves. And most people love talking about themselves. And then it would almost always end like, “Oh yeah, what do you do? Oh, you’re a copywriter. Oh wow, we could use some copywriters. Do you have a card?” And that was it. That’s all I had to do. I had to just show interest in the other person, ask questions about them. I wasn’t necessarily giving them anything, but obviously, if they had something, I might be like, “Yeah, I’ve seen some of this work, or that,” or whatever. But it’s really showing interest and not coming from a place that I need something.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And I think that’s the biggest mistake, is when we get desperate in our business, I need a client, I need to make money, I need to pay the bills, we think, “Well, I better start networking.” And that’s the wrong way to go about it. The networking has to start long before. If you want your network to work for you, you need to be giving long before you need something given back to you. And I think that’s where Brian’s superpower is so good. He’s so willing to overdeliver, to coin a phrase that he talks about so often.
Kim Krause Schwalm: So a good example maybe, because sometimes maybe you are needing something and you do have a short timeframe, if you’ve been, let’s say, off sending some of your overflow work to somebody, for example, and then you … It happens to everybody. You get in one of these spots where you’re like, “Oh no, I don’t know what I’m working on.” Next month you reach out to those people that you’ve fed some clients to, like, “Hey, actually I had something open up in my schedule. If you know of anybody, I’d appreciate a referral.” But because, again, you’ve watered that garden and the flowers can grow, but yeah, you can start to use that network or that circle of people that you’ve reached out to and helped, when you might need something.
Rob Marsh: So this is an idea that I’ll just throw out there. If people are listening to this and thinking, “Okay, well, what do I do?” Maybe we make a goal this year that every week I’m just going to reach out to one person, not with a need in mind, but simply just to make a connection, to make a friendship. And if you do that on a weekly basis … Maybe it happens in a group like the Copywriter Underground, maybe it happens in the Copywriter Club free Facebook group or some other group that you’re associated with. But if you do that over the course of a year, you now have 50 people who are friends, who are potential resources, and of course things that you can help them too. But over the course of a year or two, that becomes an amazing resource that can help you grow your business.
Kim Krause Schwalm: I think that is an excellent suggestion. And I’m going to add to it. Not everybody can afford to hire a coach or mentor to review their copy. But one thing you can do and you should do, and I did early on, is you can have a copy buddy. And maybe you meet somebody through Accelerator or through one of these programs where you’re like, “We’re at this similar level, let’s help each other out.” And maybe it’s even just doing some practice copy, or whatever it is. And you’re getting feedback from somebody, you’re just getting fresh eyes on it. They’re not necessarily a top expert, but it can help you. And I know two really well-known copywriters who did this early in their careers. You want to know who they were?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, let’s hear it.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Parris Lampropoulos and David Deutsch. They were copy buddies, okay? That’s kind of where I –
Rob Marsh: And I mean, where did they get to?
Kim Krause Schwalm: Well, I think they did okay. But I think even they did have an agreement, and I’m sure they probably still have this agreement potentially in place till today, but that they would not go up against each other for the same client. So if David was going to write something for Bottom Line Personal when Parris had the control, he’d be like, “Not going to do it,” right? But yeah, you can have a copy buddy. There’s a lot of things you can do. And then maybe your copy buddy gets overflowed and you’re like, “Oh, I could use some extra work. Here you go.” So you can become a dangerous combo like Parris and David someday.
Rob Marsh: It never hurts to have friends. And you could do a lot worse than friends like David or Parris, or Kim, for that matter.
Kim Krause Schwalm: Exactly. Well, thank you. Or Rob.
Rob Marsh: We want to thank Brian Kurtz for joining us on the podcast today. If you want to join his email list and connect with him, we’re going to link to his website in the show notes. If you buy his book Overdeliver, you get all kinds of bonuses. You won’t want to do it through Amazon, you want to do it on his webpage. And again, we’ll link to that in the show notes. They’re definitely worth it. The bonuses are worth it. The book is fantastic. And the new books that we’ve talked about are also good, Breakthrough Advertising Mastery.
If you want to hear what Brian shared the first two times that he was on the podcast, check out episode number 22 and episode number 219. And I’m going to list off a few more episodes because I mentioned them on the show. Laura Gale, whose book I mentioned, she talked about book writing in episode number 65. Our interview with Jenny Nash was episode number 139. And finally, my co-host for today, Kim Schwalm, was our guest for episodes number 257 and number 40. I know that’s a lot of-
Kim Krause Schwalm: That’s a low number.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s a lot of episodes to listen to, but over the next couple of days, maybe you can squeeze a couple of them in. They are all really good. And if you want to learn more about the Copywriter Accelerator that I mentioned at the very beginning of the show, head over to thecopywriteraccelerator.com. We’ll link to that in the show notes as well. And if you’re wondering if the Accelerator is a good fit for you and you want to talk to someone about it, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll answer any questions you might have. We promise no sales pitches, we’ll just give you the answers that you want. Kim, I want to thank you again for joining me, being here. You have a list, and it’s probably appropriate to mention that here in case anybody wants to connect with you.
Kim Krause Schwalm: I’ve already name-dropped a few times, but I do have a Copy Insiders list. And you can go to copyinsiders.com, or you can just go to my website and see everything, which is kimschwalm.com. But yeah, so I guess that’s the end of this wonderful podcast. I’ve really enjoyed being on. I want to just give a few credits here. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please visit Apple Podcast to leave your review of the show.
Rob Marsh: Thanks, Kim, for being here with me today. And thank you all for listening. We will see you next week.