June 17, 2023

Building your castle (i.e., business) on a firm foundation, so it lasts forever, beats building it on sand (or in the air)…and I want to share with you today some ideas on how to do that.

Firm Foundation=Bedrock Principles

In last week’s post, I included two endorsements for my book, Overdeliver, to support the upcoming Overdeliver Bootcamp.

One was from Gary Bencivenga, arguably the world’s best living copywriterand the other, from Dan Kennedy, arguably the top marketing consultant who has ever lived.

A member of my online family wrote to me and asked me how I was able to get Dan to write the testimonial because Dan is very particular about writing them.

It reminded me that Dan did, in fact, make me “work for it” (i.e., it was not unconditional) …and he taught me a valuable lesson in the process.

Before I share that lesson, let me share a couple of other lessons I learned from Dan four years earlier when I partnered with him on what he called “the event of the decade” (that decade would be the 2010’s).

Lesson number one came about when I “ruined the stampede” at the Titans of Direct Response event in 2014—and he never let me forget it.

As you know, I have been dubbed by some as the “Director of Sales Prevention.”

In fact, I was the only speaker at one of Dan’s Info Summit events who got a standing ovation because I didn’t sell anything after my presentation. 🙂

Back to the Titans event…

When Dan finished his keynote presentation, while he was instructing folks to run to the back of the room and grab his carefully constructed offer (with a time limit and scarcity play that he would only give out X packages), I was on stage letting everyone know about lunch and the afternoon agenda —a very bad move.

The “stampede” (i.e. attendees walking briskly with determination) to the back of the room was curtailed…Dan shot me a look that could kill…and I didn’t even know what I’d done wrong (clearly, I was not an experienced stage seller). 🙁

Afterwards, Dan explained what a terrible thing I had done…and all I could do was offer a sincere apology.

Dan never forgot my faux pas.

He added this story of how I ruined the stampede to his repertoire of “great moments in lost sales opportunities” when teaching what not to do when selling from the stage…and we joked about it many times, at my expense, specifically when he appeared as a speaker at my Titans Mastermind.

I clawed back some respectability because many of the people who “stampeded” ended up being “whales” (a Kennedy-ism for big clients) in the years that followed.

I decided that my disruption created the highest quality buyers.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

At least I dodged a bullet and learned three lessons in the process:

  1. An offer from the stage cannot be rushed and every step of that offer is important. I guess that’s true for all offers, stage or not.
  2. To shut up while it takes shape if you are not the one making the offer.
  3. The offer is even more important than lunch.

Here’s another story that illustrates Dan’s commitment to marketing excellence:

The Titans of Direct Response event included a special tour of Boardroom’s headquarters for those who signed up as “VIP’s” (for a higher fee, a Kennedy technique that he made famous).

Note: Boardroom was my company at the time and the event was a tribute to Boardroom’s founder and my mentor, Marty Edelston…who had passed away a year before.

At the conclusion of the tour, there was a spirited discussion (in the hallway by the elevators) among the Titans VIP’s about “auto charge renewal on credit cards” vs. standard renewal billing and collection.

One marketer, seeking to garner the praise of Kennedy, made this observation:

“With auto-renewal you generate a lot of money from customers who don’t realize they are being charged.”

Dan shut him down immediately saying, “That kind of thinking is exactly what’s wrong with the easy money for nothing hucksters out there. If you are running a business counting on a bunch of zombie customers paying you monthly, you’ve got a castle built upon sand.”

The hallway fell quiet and everyone boarded the elevators.

Dan is a serial (and serious) direct marketer and no one loves making money and generating sales as much as he does.

However, he sells with fairness and integrity…which encourages his customers (and the customers of his clients) to continue to buy from him.

And he always delivers the goods.

I understand that Dan can be an acquired taste for some…but no one can argue that if you had to pick one person in direct response marketing who more people trace their initial (and ongoing) education in this wonderful business, it’s Dan Kennedy.

The idea that he is “old school” and not up on what is happening in the marketing world today is a story only told by those who have never spent time with him or followed his work.

I’m proud to say that I have done both. And will continue to.

It’s true that he does not suffer fools gladly and he expects a lot from his clients.

And his students (like me).

And also from his “event partners” when he orchestrates a perfect pitch and that partner doesn’t cooperate (that would also be me). 🙂

Spoon-feeding is not his specialty and you have to work to get to him.

But he always plays full out when he’s with you and his expensive consulting fees are only an expense if you are not listening to what he is telling you.

That brings me to the lesson I referred to at the beginning of this post…when I asked him to endorse my book.

Since Dan doesn’t do email, I sent the Overdeliver manuscript via Federal Express (in lieu of faxing 300+ pages, his preferred way to communicate) … and I kept my fax machine on 24 hours a day for the next couple of weeks waiting for his reply.

Finally, it came around a week later…and page one of two began with this:

Brian Kurtz-URGENT


  1. Blurb for your book follows on page two. It CAN’T be used unless the correction noted next, in #2, is made.
  2. Your page 41 has the [infomercial] story all wrong…

He then explained how I mangled “informercial history” while relating Boardroom’s greatest success story using infomercials, by giving the wrong credit to the wrong people…of which he had intimate knowledge.

It was an honest mistake on my part…and of course he was right.

Given page one of his fax above, I assumed page two would now be a disappointing (lackluster) endorsement of my book.


The blurb was amazing—he called Overdeliver “…a definitive presentation of direct marketing, as apart from all other marketing.”

And he ended with a reference to marketing and copywriting legend, David Ogilvy and said, “…were Ogilvy alive, he would applaud Brian’s work here.”

I share this as a lesson learned, courtesy of Kennedy’s high standards, that rubber stamping anything when your name and brand are on the line is not advisable.

He was crystal clear that I could not use his blurb until I corrected the story—his principles could not be violated—but once I came through with the correction, he overdelivered on his blurb for Overdeliver.

His blurb is the first one on the back cover of my book.

Of course it is. 🙂



P.S. Learning from Dan…and Gary Bencivenga…and hundreds of other marketers and copywriters I’ve partnered with over my 4+ decades in this wonderful world of direct response marketing…has prepared me to share and teach a boatload of knowledge.

The Overdeliver Bootcamp begins with call #1 on Tuesday (June 20th) at 11:00 a.m. U.S. EDT…followed by six additional calls (all on Zoom) over the next two weeks…dissecting Overdeliver, chapter by chapter, bedrock fundamental by bedrock fundamental…with exercises, discussions, hot seats, Q & A…and even a little homework (for your own good). 🙂

Call #1: First Principles

Call #2: List Building and RFM

Call #3: Offers

Call #4: Creative and Copy

Call #5: Multichannel Marketing…and Customer Service as Marketing

Call #6: Continuity and Lifetime Value

Call #7: “Playing the Long Game”

There will also be a private Facebook Group during the Bootcamp so you can interact with other Bootcampers during the two weeks (and beyond) …post ideas for discussion…and access recordings of the calls (especially if you miss one or two).

We will have a blast…you will make some friends for life (and maybe even a future partner or colleague)…and you will come away with wisdom you can’t get anywhere else.

If Dan Kennedy can applaud my work (even after I ruined his stampede), I’m confident you will applaud (and learn a lot) as well. 🙂

Please join me by clicking here.

And if you are reading this after we begin on Tuesday, you can still join the Bootcamp anytime…you will have access to the call replays you miss…and you will be able to catch up quickly.

Go to OverdeliverBootcamp.com

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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