April 24, 2021

Eugene (Gene) Schwartz, author of  Breakthrough Advertising, had this to say in his preface to the 2004 edition (now out of print) which I had the privilege to publish while working at Boardroom…and then re-publish in 2017:

“…this book is not about building better mousetraps. It is, however, about building larger mice, and then building terrifying fear of them in your customers. In other words, it is about helping to shape the largest and strongest market possible, and then intensifying that market’s reaction to its basic need or problem, and to the ‘exclusive’ solution you have to offer it.”

 It sounds like Gene is talking about manipulating customers (through “terrifying fear”) but it is just the opposite. 

He is talking about creating mechanisms and solutions for whoever you want to impact with your product or service…with integrity. 

I know that’s what he meant because he told me so many times…he was my friend and mentor. 

He is as far from a “black hat marketer” as there ever was…he was as good as gold. 

If you are a student of direct marketing (or any form of advertising for that matter), you probably know that Breakthrough Advertising, remains 100% relevant…and applicable…to everything we do in marketing today (despite being written in 1966). 

In fact, the Titans Marketing edition, published in 2017 is, word for word, an exact replica of the 1966 manuscript…with some additional information added. 

Those of you who have bought the book know this and let me say “congratulations.” 

And so many of you have reached out to me over the years with success stories from what you learned and applied from the book, to your copy and marketing, which I love hearing about…keep those emails coming. 

You have undoubtedly “built some larger mice.” 

Or maybe not (yet)…because as A-List copywriter Parris Lampropoulos says, “It is an advanced text, not for beginners. Yet it is also a must read for anyone and everyone who wants to market and sell anything anywhere.” 

That’s the paradox I want to solve in the P.S. below with an exclusive offer to help you get through the book, step by step, in order to, in Gene’s words, “…shape the largest and strongest market possible, and then intensifying that market’s reaction to its basic need or problem, and to the ‘exclusive’ solution you have to offer it.” 

More on that later. 

My main purpose today is to get you inside the mind of one of the greatest copywriters and marketers who has ever lived by sharing the afterword I wrote for the 2017 edition of Breakthrough Advertising. 

If you already have the book, this is a rerun worth re-reading; or if you own the book but don’t read the front matter or back matter of the books you purchase, you can read it here for the first time. 

And if you don’t have a copy of this once in a generation masterpiece, you will at least get a glimpse of this mountain of a man…and what you are missing.

Afterword to the 2017 Titans Marketing edition of Breakthrough Advertising 

Human behavior hasn’t changed since 1966. 

Actually, I could plug in any year before 1966 (1066?) and say the same thing. 

And while many think this classic book is only about creative, copywriting and direct marketing, it is more importantly about human behavior…how we can predict it and how we need to be immersed in what it takes to understand why people do the things they do at the deepest level. 

Gene said over and over, publicly and in private:

“The greatest mistake marketers make is trying to create demand” 

And one of the most fascinating things you should know about Gene Schwartz (and so many other legends we consider the greatest copywriters of all time) is that he was never about trying to create mass desire; rather, he saw his job as channeling and directing mass desire. 

He makes it sound so simple. 

But when a man who could write copy as well as anyone in history lets us in on his secret to success, we must pay attention. 

And it’s why this book might be the most important book ever written for anyone who markets any product or service in any medium. 

It would have been a crime to change one word of this original manuscript that Gene penned in 1966…so you will be pleased to know I have not done that…and what you have here is the original, word-for-word version of Breakthrough Advertising, which Gene wrote in 1966. 

I take the responsibility of being the shepherd of this sacred work very seriously. 

Gene’s wife Barbara has entrusted me with making sure this book lives on forever…and congratulations that you now own a copy. 

For this afterword in this new edition, I wanted to expand a bit about Gene, someone I was lucky enough to call a friend, mentor and business partner.

Gene playing the long game 

Marty [Edelston] mentioned briefly in the foreword of this edition the story of Gene getting paid in “names” (lists) for the copy he wrote for us at Boardroom (and other large direct marketers like Rodale). 

The lesson? 

“It’s not always about the money.” 

Gene taught us that even in a world where the best copywriters could command the highest fees for writing promotions for their clients, it’s better to play the long game. 

A blog post, I wrote a couple of years ago, excerpted here, details this further and gives you the essence of this remarkable man:

During the 1980’s, Gene wrote many of Boardroom’s most successful direct mail packages–and he also wrote some of the biggest winners for Rodale Books (publishers of more health books than anyone at that time).

And here’s the kicker:

Boardroom and Rodale never paid him a dime (in cash that is) for any of those landmark packages.

Here’s how that came to pass…

Gene had his own company called “Instant Improvement” which published health books on many esoteric and eclectic topics which were sold with some of the most famous direct mail packages ever written.

Classic headlines included “How To Rub Your Stomach Away” and “The Tao of Sexology.”

Instant Improvement was a small but mighty company…and Gene got there because he understood that without being able to mail the best lists of other health book buyers, he didn’t have a business.

His house list was quite small while Boardroom and Rodale had the most responsive and largest lists of health book buyers in the country.

Since Boardroom and Rodale needed world class copy and Instant Improvement needed world class lists, these three direct marketing leaders comprised the most powerful group of allies since World War II.

(Excuse the hyperbole…but it was a huge alliance).

Gene exchanged copy for names…even though he could have commanded the highest fees of any copywriter at that time.

This amazing relationship led to millions of books sold by all three companies and also a much more efficient way to get the best health information distributed to as many people as possible.

Boardroom and Rodale were able to mail millions of names using Gene Schwartz controls for years…even after his death…and Gene was able to mail millions of Boardroom and Rodale names “on exchange” at an acceptable return on investment for his much smaller books.

But there was nothing small about Gene Schwartz…I never met a man who played bigger.

He traded his talent for the asset he needed most at the time…and money was the by-product, not the starting point.

Note: He made hundreds of thousands of dollars this way (if not millions), far more than he would have made simply charging a fee and a royalty for his copy.

Understanding how to be a true partner with those you work with leads to exponential growth and true business building–which beats a series of “revenue events” by a mile.

Gene the sociologist 

I never met anyone who read more than Gene Schwartz. 

And Gene knew it wasn’t enough to only study your client’s products or your own products; and it wasn’t enough to only study the audience you are trying to reach with those products.  

It’s true that those things are critical for success but he went way beyond studying the project or task at hand. 

What separated Gene from mortal men was that he understood modern culture and society at its core…by reading everything…scholarly journals, business books, fiction and non-fiction…everything. 

And his favorite publication was The National Enquirer

I think this explains why he was such a student of the human race. He said:

“You cannot lose touch with the people of this country no matter how successful or potent you are; if you don’t spend at least two hours a week finding out where your market is today, you are finished!” 

Gene spent way more than “two hours week” on this…and knowing him like I did, he was looking for where his market was “today” but he was also exploring where other markets might be tomorrow. 

He goes deep on all of this in Breakthrough Advertising, how to break down any product or service into five stages of sophistication, which is the heart and soul of the book.

Gene the world class art collector 

When Gene passed away in 1995, the headline in his obituary read:

Eugene Schwartz, 68, Modern-Art Collector, Dies 

There is one short paragraph about his copywriting and marketing prowess while the rest of the piece goes into great detail about his art collecting, which he did with his wife, the love of his life, Barbara. 

Barbara Schwartz is still considered one of the leading art experts and consultants in the world. 

Barbara and Gene were known for bringing the best new talent to the forefront…and I loved going to Gene’s house for regular lunches for more than just the marketing and copywriting lessons. 

Each time I visited, his apartment had a new “exhibit”—that is, Barbara and Gene changed the art regularly with new pieces from both new and established artists. 

I also loved the fact that Marty Edelston became a client of Barbara’s, and with her guidance (Barbara became an art advisor in 1988), he created an incredible collection of modern art and photography of his own. 

The way Marty decorated our offices at Boardroom with his “Schwartz collection” was a tribute to his genius (every piece of art for him had a “lesson in life”); and it was also a tribute to Barbara and Gene’s genius too. 

It is interesting to note as well that Barbara was also an excellent interior designer and helped design our offices at Boardroom. 

You can tell the way Marty talks about this part of his relationship with Barbara and Gene in the foreword how much they meant to him, way beyond their business relationship. 

What is the lesson we can learn from Gene (and Barbara) as they dominated the art world while Gene was also one of the most prolific writers and marketers in the world at the same time? 

It’s that nothing replaces passion

You can’t be a great marketer or copywriter for the long haul without being passionate about what you are selling or writing about…eventually the market will smell a lack of commitment which isn’t good for anyone. 

Gene knew this so well…he poured his heart and soul into everything he did. 

Here is how he described why art was so powerful for him:

“The arts not only imbue our sense of sight, balance, movement, touch and hearing, they also lift our logical minds—the traditional focus of modern education—into the reaches of possibility, invention and genius.

Gene Schwartz’s genius will live forever…and not just for copywriters, marketers and artists…but for passionate humans everywhere 

I hope you will read the gift you hold in your hands right now many times over…I know it’s dense so you need to read it slowly too. [SEE THE P.S.] 

Having gone through it myself probably a dozen times throughout my career, I get new insights every time I read it. 

I’m due for another read now after being reminded of what this incredible man meant to so many people and industries throughout his life. 

I have many more great quotes from Gene but I think this one sums up his overall philosophy best:

“The creativity is in your market and in your product and all you are doing is joining the two together” 

He not only makes it sound so simple, he also makes it sound so easy too. 

And while we know it’s not that easy, reading and studying this book will be a game changer for you…I guarantee it…and it will pave the way for you to live into your own genius with passion. 

It just doesn’t get any better than that. 

-Brian Kurtz, January 2017  

And now please read the P.S. for an offer to get the most out of Breakthrough Advertising…whether you own a copy or not.   



P.S. Would you like to meet Gene Schwartz? 

Well…I can’t quite do that for you because he’s no longer with us…although I wish I could. 

But I can do the next best thing. 

I had the privilege of working closely with Gene for many years…as his client (i.e. he wrote copy for me), his student (i.e. he taught me so much about copy, marketing and life)…and I even worked as his “vendor” (of sorts) taking the role of his unofficial mailing list broker (which is a story for another email)… 

Because he was such an exceptional mentor and teacher to me, I believe I am one of a handful of his students alive today qualified to teach his principles of copywriting, marketing and human behavior…especially those inside the pages of his masterpiece, Breakthrough Advertising. 

However the book is dense…and even if you read it cover to cover multiple times, you still might not be able to apply it fully. 

That’s why I have created a two week “sprint” called The Breakthrough Advertising Quickstart Bootcamp.” 

Whether you’ve bought the book and read all of it, some of it, or none of it, I have an offer for you today that applies to you…and one that you don’t want to miss. 

For those of you who have your copy already, hopefully by your bedside, read on to take advantage of this irresistible (and incredibly affordable) offer. 

For those of you who don’t own the book yet, you can remedy that situation right now by clicking here.  And then you will receive an opportunity to attend a future Bootcamp in the very near future.

I think about Gene almost every day. 

I talk to his wife every month and she is blown away by the impact Gene continues to have through Breakthrough Advertising. 

We’ve sold thousands of copies in over 50 countries. 

The “Gene Schwartz way of thinking” hits you like a ton of bricks on the first page. 

In a good way of course. 🙂 

If you’ve read Breakthrough Advertising, then you already know what I’m talking about. 

In fact, if you just focus on the first 68 pages of the book, that would be enough to completely transform the way you approach marketing…forever and for the better. 

Of course you want to read it all. 

I get emails and comments every week from Breakthrough Advertising buyers who are genuinely surprised that all the hype around this book is real. 

I could have told them it would live up to the hype but I guess they needed to figure it out for themselves. 

The hype better be real for $125 right? 

But I also hear from these same customers that the book is hard to read…and even harder to understand. 

Read through it too quickly and you’re destined to miss the juicy takeaways that will absolutely change your business. 

Therefore, I want to do something to help you get the most out of your investment.

I want you to embed the concepts inside Breakthrough Advertising into your brain and your business. 

If I can help more marketers rise to the standard that Gene set for us, we all benefit through better products, better marketing and better businesses. 

That’s where The Breakthrough Advertising Quickstart Group comes in. 

This will be a group for people who own Breakthrough Advertising and want my help implementing it into their businesses. 

I’ve always wanted to take the book and Gene’s teachings and turn it into a course…this is the first step towards that…in a “short course sprint.” 

This will be a working group with regular calls and meaningful assignments. 

And spoiler alert–the cost is less than the book itself. 

We will focus on taking the most important concepts from the first 68 pages of the book and embedding those into your business.

The Breakthrough Advertising Quickstart Group will only meet for two weeks…that’s why I called it a “sprint” rather than a “course.” 

The group will be led by my marketing partner, Chris Mason, who has been by my side since 2013. Chris and I have put the training and assignments together for you. 

I will be active on some of the calls as well.

The first call will be this Tuesday, April 27, and we will meet for two weeks with LIVE calls. 

And yes, all calls will be recorded in case you miss one. 

If you would like our help implementing Breakthrough Advertising into your business click the link below to learn more. 

But please do it quickly.

You were smart to buy Breakthrough Advertising.

Don’t let it sit on your shelf as an expense.

Make it an investment instead.

Click here to sign up for The Breakthrough Advertising Quickstart Group. 

The cost is a one-time fee of $97 and it is non-refundable–inexpensive but not cheap. 

And it will be true to its title because you will achieve quick breakthroughs if you stick with it for the 14 days. 

It’s inexpensive because my goal is not to make a lot of money with this. 

Rather, it is to make the buyers (and readers) of Breakthrough Advertising the best marketers and copywriters they can be…and under the tutelage (indirectly) of Gene Schwartz.  

It’s all about paying it forward. 

To you…your staff…your customers…and to Gene. 

When you are successful using the book, it will also further cement the legacy of Gene Schwartz as one of the greatest copywriters AND teachers of copywriting who has ever lived. 

And you get rich at the same time. 

A win-win for all of us. 🙂 

We are capping this inaugural group at 60 people in the spirit of giving those who join more attention. 

You will not be the guinea pigs; you will be the pioneers. 

If you’re ready to make the most out of your investment and go through the two week training we’ve put together for you…Please click here to get started.

The first call is April 27 and once we hit 60 members, I’m closing enrollment. 

I actually don’t know if we’ll reach 60 members but whether we do or not, Chris and I will be starting this group in just about 48 hours regardless…so sign up right now. 

I would love for you to join us on this exciting (and profitable) adventure. 

But you need to sign up immediately…class is in session this Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. U.S. EDT.  

P.P.S. If you are receiving this after the April 27th deadline, don’t fret…just email me and we will put you on a waiting list for the second Bootcamp…and it won’t be a long wait.  

P.P.P.S. And…if you don’t own the book yet, you won’t be shut out– please buy it today and then watch your email for the announcement of the second Breakthrough Advertising Quickstart Bootcamp in the coming weeks.


About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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