February 2, 2019

I’m all for killer offers and compelling calls to action (CTA’s)—but it was obvious during the Titans Mastermind meeting two weeks ago in Miami that the marketing  landscape is changing quite a bit and almost on a daily basis.  And I think it is for the better.

We had an all-star cast of guest speakers assembled: Dean Jackson, Eben Pagan, Todd Brown, Nicholas Kusmich, Mark Ford and Bob Burg.

Special guests also included A-list copywriter Clayton Makepeace and direct marketing legend Richard Viguerie.

And of course the Titans members themselves are all world class marketers, committed to multi-channel direct response, which made for another epic event.

To give you a peek inside, I’d like to share some key lessons we learned at the event from the guest speakers.

A theme that came up time and again throughout the two and a half days we spent together is that you can’t talk about compelling offers without talking about compelling copy, content and congruence.

Relationship marketing has taken over in new and exciting ways and it’s not enough anymore to just put your fishing pole in the water with a hook and some bait.

It takes so much more to play a long game in direct response marketing today.


Dean Jackson gave us an image in his opening presentation that I could not get out of my head:

Imagine you are in a boat on a lake “fishing for new customers” and instead of catching fish (i.e new customers) , they are jumping in the boat on their own when they are ready to engage with you…or order your product…or join your mastermind…or whatever you might want to do together.

And when they jump into your boat on their own, they also have a much better chance of staying in the boat longer assuming they can breathe outside of water. 🙂

I’m taking the metaphor too far–sorry. But I hope you see the distinction:

They jump in your boat when they are ready–assuming you have reminded them regularly you are always there for them and occasionally letting them know what you have to offer. 

Instead of fishing in a traditional sense, pole in hand with an effective “hook” and delicious “bait” at the end of it (i.e. an irresistible offer), you instead shine a light over the lake all the time (i.e. communicating regularly and powerfully without selling) therefore creating a relationship over time on their terms and not always on your terms.

I guess we can say when the fish (i.e. students) are ready, the fishermen (i.e. teachers) appear.

We can relate this to something I mentioned in a recent post (and Dean repeated it for us at Titans):

“There are two times. Now and not now.” 

And I will add my personal favorite on top of that one:


“Not everything we do, in marketing (and life) is a revenue event…but everything we do is a relationship event.” 

I am by no means saying that we should be completely passive with our marketing messages—urgency and deadlines and timed launches and making offers at live or virtual events are all important to have in our tool box.

But it’s clear that in today’s competitive and distracting marketing environment—which has way too much noise, is full of overflowing in boxes, and exposes us to way too many pictures of food and vacation spots on Facebook–patience can be a virtue.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive (i.e. “don’t ruin a great offer with a CTA”) but it is fascinating how much we kept coming back to this theme with so many world class marketers in the room.

Dean was not alone with this observation–you will see in some of the other highlights from this most recent Titans Mastermind meeting that there are other variations.


Following Dean we heard from Eben Pagan who is a pioneer in online marketing and made a name for himself practicing and then teaching –as evidenced by the many marketing stars of today who point to him as their mentor.

Eben is known for never standing still and he is always re-inventing himself…and in fact, he has a new product he’s working on that covers that very subject since he believes that without constant re-invention, life is far less compelling and impactful.

When you ask this visionary about “marketing” he coyly says, “I haven’t been interested in marketing for over 10 years.” (Although Eben knows how important marketing is to make sure he can fully share the knowledge he is absorbing in areas such as “mental models,” “futurism,” “collaborative romantic partnerships,” and “visionary art”).

Two huge takeaways from his talk:

1) When reading up on anything new, instead of just Googling it, go to Google Scholar. This is information you can really trust. Eben reminded us that 90% of all the scientists that ever lived are alive today. Did you know that? I didn’t. Let’s access them more because we can.

2) You need to have “self-esteem as a creative visionary.”  I touched on this in my post “12 Notes”—that is, it is less important what you “invent” and far more important what you share with the world in your own way. But Eben went much deeper on this, reminding us that protecting our self-esteem is critical to keeping our confidence level as high as possible as entrepreneurs and business leaders–even when we often feel like we are only re-doing and re-hashing work from others. Our unique creativity is everywhere all the time and we need to take pride in it.


Todd Brown, who is on the cutting edge of all things online marketing, dissected a blockbuster promotion he created that stayed with the theme of delivering as much valuable content as you can before you are even thinking about a CTA or asking for money from prospects or structuring your offer.

It was a unique take which he labels as “Narrative Lessons”—and while on the surface this is also a bit counter-intuitive, it’s consistent with what we are seeing in the marketplace today from top marketers.

Throughout his case history, he proved how narrative often trumps offer and CTA–and he talked about this methodology “not disqualifying anyone from the promotion.”  I loved how he phrased that.

One thing he said in particular was such an important reminder to all of us who write any kind of copy:

He said it is much easier (and more compelling) to write dialogueinside a narrative piece of copy.

And there were so many more gems as Todd performed “copy forensics” in real time.

Here are some notes from Todd’s presentation taken by Titan member Eric Bakey, a copywriter, entrepreneur, military veteran, total badass and as you can see, an accomplished cartoonist too:



After Todd spoke, Nicholas Kusmich took the stage and gave us a blueprint for maximizing the effectiveness of Facebook advertising.

And true to our theme, he focused on both desirability of the content you should offer along with ease of consumption of that content.

Once again offer and CTA were not front and center in terms of “selling.”

He stretched us to think out of our boxes since so many of the direct response skills we know and love are having trouble being applied to a platform (e.g. Facebook) that is not currently “accepting those skills.”

Simply put, if Facebook doesn’t like the claims you make or the initial aggressive offer you construct, you’re not going to be on Facebook for very long.

He drew up the model below (with a creative assist again from Eric Bakey).

Nicholas is solving the Facebook puzzle for what we should do to achieve the highest desirability–while also creating the easiest content to consume (and content that will not be rejected).



He made the case for PDF downloads as the best vehicle to offer on Facebook but there was a lot more to it…but clearly the theme of over-delivering on (the right kind of) content was paramount.

Later that day we heard from Mark Ford, one of the architects of the publishing giant Agora…and when we got into a discussion about “hiring slow and firing fast,” he asked everyone in the room a question:

“Can you think of a time you fired someone and after you let them go, you thought that you should have waited longer to fire them?” 

I know this is the toughest thing we do in business and most of us are too nice so we fail to “fire fast.”

Mark brought that home for us.

Mark is an author of many books and three of his best–Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, Persuasion: The Subtle Art of Getting What You Want, and How to Speak Intelligently About Everything That Matters—were given away to all Titans in attendance. I recommend all of them highly.

And I also shared with everyone four of Mark’s favorite quotes:


On flattery:

 “Flattery works. At least is does so on me. I am equally pleased by insincerely given compliments as by genuinely felt ones.” 


On curiosity: 

“The thing we most want to know is often the thing we’ve been told we don’t need to know.” 

My mentor Marty Edelston has a nice spin on this one:

“The only things worth talking about are the things you can’t talk about.” 


On teaching new skills: 

“The behavior or skill I most want to teach others is usually the one I’ve only very recently acquired.” 


On success: 

“In retrospect success looks like luck. Looking forward it looks like hard work.” 


One of our members commented about the time Mark spent sharing with us:

“Mentoring from the builder of a billion dollar powerhouse. Priceless.”


Our final speaker was Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver, which has sold over 850,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into 22 languages.

Bob came back to so many of the same themes from earlier in the event, and one in particular that is paramount in his work:

He stresses that we should always provide exceptional value firstwhich makes selling anything later on more natural (and a lot easier).

That led us into a discussion about whether you needed to be a “nice person” to truly be a Go-Giver–and surprisingly, you don’t.

While we agreed that it’s probably better if you are a pleasant person, the key is first and foremost to deliver value to others as your top priority.

We talked about the “mercenary marketer” who can deliver exceptional value at the highest level and at the same time ethically extract every dollar he or she can, making “warm and fuzzy” only a bonus in the process.

This also started a conversation about how to be the right kind of “giver”…one that does not get taken advantage of regularly but is still about contribution first all the time.

It’s a tricky balance saying “no” as a supreme giver—and it’s also important “how you say no” and how you set up boundaries for some instances when you say “yes” conditionally.

Here are some phrases I use that I shared at the meeting and in my post, “How to keep your right arm”:

1. “I can’t do that right now but if anything changes I will let you know.”

2. “I will if I can” (although this one keeps the loop open…#4 is better)

3. “While I charge $1,000 an hour, I don’t want to charge you; however for my time, I would like you to donate the equivalent of my fee to a charity of my choice” (obviously shows commitment to the conversation…and respect for your time)

4. “While I don’t like charging you for my time, overload doesn’t serve anyone and I will do a disservice to you if I say yes. I am honored that you asked me but I have to respectfully decline at this time.”

5. “I’m willing to set up that call but please send me your three most pressing questions in advance of the call so we can use the time most productively. And I have a hard stop at __.”

6. “My assistant (or I) can give you a half hour from 1:10 to 1:40 on Thursday.” (Using a specific time and not on the hour will have both parties respect the time even more)


Those are only some ways you can say “no” (or set up a “conditional yes”) nicely.

If any of you have any additional suggestions I can add to the list above (and then share with other readers), please email me.

Full disclosure: Since I keep these phrases on my phone as a note with the heading, “Keeping my right arm,” I am also always looking to add to the list so this request is bit selfish too. 🙂


To wrap this up, let’s head back to that aforementioned lake (and climb inside our boat)–and connect the dots.

As you survey the lake and its inhabitants, always think about being in service and contributing to others first…and saying “yes” as often as you can (without giving up your right arm).

In addition, feel free to put away the fishing pole and your tackle box on occasion–and instead, pull out a huge spotlight to shine on the water consistently with generosity and heart (e.g. with great content and value and as crazy as it sounds, no “offer”).

And then be patient.

The fish are always jumping –under the surface and below the surface; but more often they are jumping at their pace rather than yours.






P.S. No major offer…but I have gotten requests.

While Titans Mastermind is currently full, I am always interested in hearing from potential members so feel free to email me if you think you might be interested in joining in the future.

My other mastermind group, Titans Master Class, (also made up of big-hearted, multi-channel direct response marketers, copywriters and entrepreneurs) has a few openings.

Our next event will take place in Cleveland, Ohio April 3rd through the 5th and I am taking applications.

Guests at the April event include:

-The one-and-only Dan Kennedy

-Webinar expert Jason Fladlian

-World renowned business coach and serial entrepreneur Lee Richter

-Direct marketing legend Richard Viguerie

-Video and launch superstar James Wedmore

-Business builder and content expert Mark Timm

-One of the world’s leading thinkers on customer experience Jason Friedman

-Publishing guru Adam Witty

There will also be focused Hot Seats on request plus presentations from fellow Titans in their areas of expertise, what we call “Titan Spotlights.”

If you would like to interview for a seat in Titans Master Class (all prospective members are required to have a one-on-one interview with me to make sure it’s a fit both ways), please fill out the form at:


Back to working my spotlight now…I’m here when you need me and when you are ready.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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