July 10, 2020

I received an order for Breakthrough Advertising a few weeks ago from a chap in the U.K.

He then sent me an email telling me how thankful he was that I had brought this all-time classic back to life (because he thought it was out of print).

We got into a lively email correspondence from this “first domino” (one of the lessons from this email—I will expound on that in a minute) and I asked him, “Where did you hear about Breakthrough Advertising and Gene Schwartz?”

He said it was from a newsletter coming out of the U.K. called The DO Lectures…and he gave me a link to check it out.

I did just that. And I subscribed.

I then sent the co-founder of the newsletter, David Hieatt (who I had not heard of previously), a warm and detailed email letting him know how appreciative I was that he mentioned Gene Schwartz’s masterpiece…and that I received over 30 orders (at $125 each) from his subscribers. An additional detail that made meeting them both even sweeter.

I wasn’t looking to pay an affiliate commission nor was he asking for one…but the correspondence has grown into something more special than money.

We are each getting “paid” by utilizing, enhancing, appreciating and referring each other.

This may eventually lead me to speaking in the U.K post-COVID…I will have to brush up on the language 🙂 …and it may also lead to David utilizing me in the future for my contacts in the U.S. to enhance his subscriber base, speakers for his conference and more (beginning with this blog post to you—see the P.S.).

You already know about the “five ways we get paid” with the fifth being money—from Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish—and if you don’t, you can read about it here.

And a simple lesson from this story:

Be inquisitive about your email. There’s gold in there. You just have to mine for it.

Also, think in terms of being the “first domino” and how that can lead into a series of other dominos to fall.

Look for signs or a pattern of speech from your subscribers, students, customers that can take the relationship deeper.

And always try to be utilized, while enhancing, appreciating and referring others first, so that your contribution leads to a real connection.

I could end this blog post here.

But there is a lot more valuable information from David’s newslettermay I enhance your life with it now?

It’s about truly absorbing what we read.

And it’s brilliant.

The subject line for the newsletter in question is:

This second hand book cost £743.44? Hmmm!

And I immediately went to my currency calculator app and converted 743.44 British Pounds to $940.08 in U.S. Dollars. Just to make sure I had the figure…well…converted. 🙂

If you don’t want David’s insights (and mine) on how to get the most important knowledge under your skin and into your brain from the books you read, I won’t hold it against you if you stop reading here.

But at least take this with you to the bank:

Whether the book costs £743.44/$940.08 or £13.441/$17, the process is the same.

If you would like to read about what The DO Lectures and David Hieatt have to say about this process, please read on.

He begins by mapping out the case that Breakthrough Advertising, available on various British websites (used) for as much as £743.44, is actually a “bargain” at that price.

Here’s how he makes his case:

  • This book is perhaps one of the best books on advertising. Ever.
  • He then asks: How can you spend that much on a book, no matter how good it is?
  • Will it help me grow my business? YES WITHOUT A DOUBT.
  • OK, by how much? By 10% a year? EASILY. Hold up Hieatt, let’s be cautious here.
  • OK, let’s say it will only grow my business by 5%.
  • For the sake of easy math, let’s assume our business does £1 million a year in business.
  • And so, if I did that each year for a decade, that one book would grow my business by around a half a million pounds.
  • That is the mindset that I use when I invest in knowledge, regardless of its price.
  • Would I invest £700 in a book to grow my business by £500,000 in a decade? YUP, ALL DAY LONG.

But what do I (David) know that others don’t about garnering this knowledge?

Below are David’s three lessons—and also a dynamite system to get the most out of books.

It begins with the obvious:

Choose important books. Only. Not what is the most hyped that month.

And as my mentor Marty Edelston believed, when he launched the newsletter Boardroom Reports in 1972, “There are lots of great business books but there is only a chapter or so in each that is really worth retaining and absorbing.”

Lesson 1


Who you learn from matters. Research the author before you embark on reading their book.

The biggest investment in a book, regardless of its price, is time.

Learn from the best.

Lesson 2


Ever read a book, and when you explain it to someone just a month later, you have forgotten most of it?

I know, I have.

So, choosing the most important books won’t matter an inch if retention is nil.

Forget about how many books you read a year and start getting better at the thing that matters most.



This reminds me of another technique fashioned by Gary Halbert in terms of promotion pieces—and I believe it applies to books as well.

Quoting Gary:

“Get yourself a collection of good ads and DM pieces and read them aloud and copy them in your own handwriting.”

This concept actually has a name which I just learned about from one of my Titans Xcelerators.

 It’s called “Structural Priming” 

Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

I had a young copywriter take this a step further.

When I ship copies of Breakthrough Advertising the book comes with a note from me suggesting the student reads and studies the first three chapters multiple times before moving on to the rest of the book.

The book is dense…it’s not a “casual read”…and this is a good way to absorb the groundbreaking elements of Gene’s theories of copy, marketing and human behavior.

What did this junior copywriter do?

He had studied Halbert (but I can’t say he knew it was actually Structural Priming 🙂 ).

And he hand wrote the first three chapters on a legal pad and sent it to me.

It didn’t even fit in my mailbox.

He got some brownie points from me…but I hope that is not the reason he did it.

I believe he knew that retention would be key with a gem of a book like this…and repetition leads to retention.

(Pro tip: Make sure you write the promotions/chapters if you do this…don’t type it out on a keyboard. There is data that suggests better retention can be linked to writing—that is, to your thumb and index finger—which is a more sound way to get a more direct “cranial implant” into your brain.)

Lesson 3


What was that book about again?

Like I said before, we have all uttered those words.

Enter Zettelkasten.

Zettelkasten created over 90,000 notes and produced over 70 books.

The Zettelkasten method is simply a better way to take notes.

The basic idea is this: Take notes on cards, review them, and then link them together.

That’s it. It’s not a complicated system, but it is powerful.

The method was developed in the 1960’s by Niklas Luhmann, a prolific German sociologist.

I do one or two cards a day – no big deal.

But the act of writing them down makes me remember it.

Also, on the back of the card, I have to say the context to it.

And combining Zettelkasten with another method of “capturing notes,” Progressive Summarization, is worth reading about here.

I want to thank David Hieatt for this in-depth analysis.

But it is way more than just getting the full value out of an expensive book.

Or a cheap book for that matter.

It’s all about getting the knowledge we can’t keep up with–and still retain what matters.

I agree with David that paying £743.44 for a book, especially Breakthrough Advertising, is not expensive.

It’s actually “crazy cheap” in his words assuming we can retain the most important elements and implement them in our business.

And when it’s written by a master it’s even easier.

And since I’m not objective, Breakthrough Advertising is clearly one of those books by a master (Gene Schwartz); and while some have paid over 700 pounds (or 900 dollars) for a copy of it, David ends his blog with this advice so no one has to make that mistake again.

You can find a link to the book for under £100 here.

How would we calculate “cheaper than crazy cheap?” 🙂



P.S. I promised you a link to The Do Lectures newsletterso click on the link and please subscribe…it’s free and comes out once a week.

David will also send you some neat material in the welcome series including the DO Lectures—the 10 most viewed talks from their global event. You’ll recognize many of the speakers.

And there’s no affiliate commission for me…because there is no money involved.

Just more utilization and enhancement. 🙂


P.P.S. Of course I can’t finish this post without encouraging you to buy a copy of Breakthrough Advertising— if for some reason you are part of my online family and you don’t have a copy yet.

I don’t want to shame you for not having a copy yet…and I won’t.

I’ll just say that your marketing library will never be complete without a copy of this one-of-a-kind book in it.

At some point you will have to buy one so why not now?

I sell it for the lowest price available—a lot less than £743.44—and this edition is the exact reprint of the original 1966 edition (I even have one of those).

I have added to this Titans Marketing edition a mini-swipe file of Gene’s most famous ads/packages…and a new afterword from me.

Grab one now if you can. I won’t be raising the price but the sooner you have it, the sooner you can apply it.

That’s the only urgency.


About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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