March 30, 2024

If you are someone who only seeks fame and the roar of the crowd, this blog post is not for you.

However, if you are someone who gets total satisfaction from being the world’s best at what you do–whether anyone sees you do it or knows you are doing it–please read on.

In marketing, this phenomenon of being the wizard behind the curtain takes place in all areas—in copywriting, media buying, customer service—and while that may have been obvious to you, I realized it by being a baseball umpire my entire life…and finally got this question 10 years ago:

“Why would 
anybody want to be a baseball umpire?”

Those of you who are outside the U.S., baseball is our national pastime (albeit not the most popular sport), and an “umpire” is the “referee” of the game…and like in all sports–spoiler alert! –no one comes to the game to see the umpire or referee.

And when they are noticed during the game it’s usually bad news for said umpire or referee.

Read How life imitates direct marketing for more about my umpiring hobby…and to give more context to today’s topic of why being invisible is a virtue…at least in marketing.

Umpiring gave me a window into why the best marketers seek excellence without recognition.

They simply get recognized in different and unforeseen ways.

Dan Kennedy would say that the size of your bank account from your sales is the ultimate recognition…I can’t argue with that…but there are many other ways to get paid. 🙂

Let’s look at this through the lens of the “invisible” copywriters, media buyers and customer service people (a.k.a. the unsung heroes of your business)…and if you work in one or more of these specialized areas, see if some of this rings true for you.



The invisible copywriter

To relate this concept to copywriters, I will share an excerpt from the obituary written by publisher/financial guru Martin Weiss after we lost superstar Clayton Makepeace in 2020 (who I wrote an annual tribute about two weeks ago):

In his 45-year career he wrote for hundreds of magazines, newsletters and books. At least 200 million copies of his works were printed and avidly read by millions of Americans from all walks of life. His works published online reached an even larger audience.

His prose is rich in history, current events, and predictions of the future.

His style is friendly, engaging, motivational and often riveting. Among all others in his field, he easily provided the best combination of creativity and prolific writing.

But like many in his profession, he rarely penned his own name to his work.

He had no desire to become famous or receive public acclaim.

He was more than content to remain anonymous.

You see, Clayton Makepeace was not a typical writer of fiction or nonfiction.

Nor was his work sold in bookstores or on Amazon.

Rather, he was a marketing copywriter, and his mission was primarily to promote America’s leading investment and health professionals [and their products].

He was their ghostwriter, speechwriter, and marketer.

They were the ones who became rich and famous.

[NOTE: Clayton didn’t starve by writing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages] 🙂


Although unknown to the general public, Clayton gained great acclaim in his field and was also the best teacher of creative copywriting in America.

He devoted countless hours to mentoring others whose lifelong dream was — and is — to follow in his footsteps.

His copywriting courses and guidebooks, which he did author under his own name, will always be in great demand in the United States and around the world, leaving a legacy and loyal following that will endure forever.

If there’s ever a Nobel- or Pulitzer-type prize for copywriting, it will almost certainly be awarded, post-mortem, to Clayton G. Makepeace.



This reminds me, on the other end of the spectrum, of the authors who will do anything to reach the New York Times bestseller list only to realize that it’s just a number.

It may lead to fame…not necessarily fortune…and there is no guarantee of making a meaningful contribution simply by selling a ton of books.

There is often much more satisfaction, impact (and maybe even more profit) in selling fewer books to a feverish audience who then readsand implements the work of the author.

Read “You can’t judge a book by its funnel” which tells the story of a bestseller…to the tune of 3 million books sold…and The New York Times was not part of the marketing plan. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong–of course “traditional” bestsellers can have a tremendous impact on the world too.

But as I learned by selling tens of millions of books at Boardroom over the years, mostly through direct mail and “behind the scenes,” books that changed lives and saved lives, without kudos or recognition by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or Amazon, it was just as powerful…maybe more so.

And in the case of Clayton (and many other A-List copywriters), writing a package, a sales letter, an email series, a video sales letter, a telemarketing script—that moves thousands (even millions) to action—is their ultimate reward.

And a big juicy royalty check is nothing to sneeze at either. 🙂



The invisible media buyer

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, my company Boardroom Inc, mailed in excess of 100 million pieces of direct mail a year…mostly for books and newsletters in the health and personal finance categories…mailed to affluent consumers.

Simply put, during that period when direct mail was king, list brokers were the most important counselors…and finding the right lists to mail with the proper segmentation was critical to the success of any campaign.

I remember some amusing/not so amusing conversations I had back then with our top list broker (and my lifelong friend), list wizard Michael Fishman.

Conversations about how we were not simply “marketers selling stuff” but we were, in fact, saving lives:

The more we mailed to an enthusiastic, targeted audience, the more money we made…which led to more people being saved by our lifesaving information.

How’s that for a couple of “junk mailers” justifying our existence?

We even once proclaimed that list brokers and mailers selling lifesaving information can cure cancer.

There is some truth to that statement.

We received a letter from a “rear admiral” (no pun intended) who took our advice in one of our books to schedule a colonoscopy when one wasn’t warranted based on standard protocol and his situation…but there were circumstances in his case to do one based on the advice in the book.

It saved his life…and he wrote to us to tell us about it…a letter that hung on the wall of our offices with hundreds like it from buyers and readers of our publications who had similar experiences with our content.

Lifetime value (in this case literally) increases the longer someone loves you and wants to buy from you in the future…like they have in the past.

Living longer is the first step in enabling the relationship to go on much longer…which makes everyone in the relationship happy.

Simply put, saving lives is a noble mission…even when we are talking about marketing.

No one rewards the list broker, the Facebook ads manager, the SEO specialist when their media is spot on and there is a match made in heaven between audience and message.

And like the copywriter, the media buyer can feel proud that they created that bond to somehow better the world…and in most cases they also get paid for it… which is gravy.

However, there won’t be a parade for them…which is just fine…because like the copywriters this is their life’s work and passion.

And it is how they make their valuable contribution to the “marketing mix” without being noticed and without fanfare.

“Media buyers saving lives.”

It has a nice ring to it.



The invisible customer service representative

Chapter 8 of my book Overdeliver is titled “Customer Service and Fulfillment” and if you are a regular reader of these weekly blogs, you know that I can’t repeat this enough:

Customer service and fulfillment are marketing functions
.

And in my post marketing by walking around I go into the details regarding why this is so…from the CEO listening in on customer service calls to “secret shoppers”… and much more.

Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs and business owners treat their customer service and fulfilment as an afterthought (not just the “function” but the people they hire for those jobs too).

These short-sighted executives act as though the actual real-world interaction with real-life people who buy from them doesn’t matter once a sale is made.

Big mistake.

And these execs should also be aware that their fulfillment manager, or customer service rep, invisible on his or her best day, will get the equivalent of “nice game ump” (a refrain I hear when I umpire a good game with no incidents…just the way everyone on the field likes it).

If there are no problems, the customer service rep (or the umpire) remains invisible… but when they “blow a call,” they become the least popular employee in the company.

It takes a certain kind of personality to be a fulfillment manager or customer service representative.

Taking pride in giving exquisite service — and being willing to do it without being noticed or acknowledged— is an extremely rare quality.

My advice to those of you who employ these heroes:

It is up to YOU to give them the proper attention and kudos when they do their job well.

While they tend to not be your most needy employees (i.e. always looking for positive reinforcement), they still deserve as much praise for a job well done as anyone on your staff.

After all, they are human.

And they deserve the same kind of accolades you give to your copywriters and media buyers (and anyone else involved in the selling process) because they are the last resort for your customers, especially when a sale is about to be lost.

It’s not the sexiest phase of your “sales funnel” but it is the most critical.

Keeping existing customers happy is as important—even more important—than attracting new customers.

In addition, pay close attention to the hiring of these people… and pay them well.

They are far from “anyhow employees” …I maintain that they could be among the most important hires you will make in your business.

They are your first line of defense to protect against leakage of your best potential customers; and they are your last line of defense against customers you want to keep as part of your “family,” ensuring they don’t leave you forever over something that is easily resolvable.

Also, remember that “satisfaction” cuts both ways when you think about customer service as a marketing function.

For example:

From the point of view of the wonderful telephone operator:

When they solve a customer’s problem behind the scenes and save an order (or avoid a cancellation) it feels like they are part of “sales” and “revenue creation” (or what we can call “revenue saving”).

Those who are the best at customer service, get their kicks by saving the day, whether it’s noticed by one or by many.



From the point of view of the delighted customer: 
They enter the situation angry and agitated; but when they receive a positive outcome, their day is made and they might just become a customer for life.

Make sure you look after every part of your customer service and fulfillment because the only way to stay in business for the long haul is to focus relentlessly on keeping your customers happy.

I know that sounds obvious…but it should be written in stone (or at least on paper or on posters) and in view of every employee all day, every day.

You must do everything in your power to prevent delays, keep your returns to a minimum, and to make sure that every interaction the customer has with your business is a positive one.

Even if things go wrong, as long as you and everyone on your team is committed to making things right (i.e. saving every customer with every interaction), you will build resilience into your business — because, as we know, all businesses thrive on repeat purchases.

You can even base your entire differentiation strategy as a company on how you treat your customers.

Creating what is called a “barrier to switch” is a big part of this discussion and you can read more about that in Chapter 8 of Overdeliver and in marketing by walking around.

For now, I will just say that your product or service is only a commodity if you allow it to become one.



Coming full circle, establishing that the umpire is the most important person on the field at every baseball game…

…it’s time to recognize all of the heroes in your business who don’t “need” to be praised…but it’s a good idea to treat them like gold anyway.

These are the people writing for you (through their expert messaging talent), selling for you (through the media they buy), and keeping your customers completely satisfied (through pristine customer service).

They are your secret weapons…secret (and mostly invisible) to the outside world…but not to you.

Always ask yourself every evening:

It’s 10:00…do you know where your invisible employees are? 🙂



Warmly,



Brian



P.S. We just completed our SIXTH Breakthrough Advertising Bootcamp, and, as advertised, it was the best one ever. 🙂

Click here to be the first to hear about the seventh…and I guarantee that it will be the best one ever…again.

Exploring the mind and world of Gene Schwartz–one of the best copywriters, marketers and behavioral psychologists who ever lived–is something that everyone in my online family should experience.

With every Bootcamp, I learn more about this complex and wonderful man…someone who I called a friend and mentor.

It’s one of the most satisfying things I have done in my career.

I know Gene is smiling down on me. 🙂

And with the help of the Bootcamp attendees, there are new levels discovered each time we meet.

I need to publicly thank them here.

There were 110 Bootcampers in this most recent BA Bootcamp…our largest attendance ever…with many receiving breakthrough coaching (pun intended) in their particular business or niche…always referring back to the eternal truths of Breakthrough Advertising.

Having sold over 1,500 copies of the book in over 75 countries over the past 5+ years, Gene is more alive today than he’s ever been.

Take a look at the Breakthrough Advertising page here with additional materials (including the 500 page companion volume, Breakthrough Advertising Mastery, available in print or in digital form, in full color).

BreakthroughAdvertising.com

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Title Goes Here


Get this Free E-Book

Use this bottom section to nudge your visitors.