October 22, 2023

If you are a CEO, president, owner (or in any senior position of your company)—or even if you’re not—I maintain that having your “boots on the ground” is part of your “job” …no matter how much you delegate to others.

From Wikipedia:

The origin of the term [“management by walking around”] has been traced to executives at the company Hewlett-Packard for management practices in the 1970s. However, the general concept of managers making spontaneous visits to employees in the workplace has been a common practice in some other companies as well. Also, the management consultants Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman had used the term in their 1982 book, In Search of Excellence. Historian Stephen B. Oates asserts that Abraham Lincoln invented the management style by informally inspecting the Union Army troops in the early part of the American Civil War.

For Tom and honest Abe, it’s much more than “visiting” with your employees (or troops) regularly.

It includes asking detailed questions…and showing you care…which will go a long way as you build your business (or army) for the long haul.

Another great author and patriot, Dan Kennedy, takes this concept a step further by specifically applying it to marketing.

He calls it, “marketing by walking around” …and he is also not talking about simply “visiting” either.

While it includes asking questions and showing you care (by being exceptionally curious) …it is a practice that includes forcing yourself on your customers and prospective customers (i.e., being where they are) to learn what makes them tick.

And then there’s copywriting legend John Carlton who takes it a step further-further when he talks about “copywriting by walking around.”

This idea came up in my post, “Rebels with a cause,” which includes a video discussion with me, John, and Perry Marshall.

Click here if you missed the post or the video.

Whether you are strolling, walking, or even running as a marketer or copywriter, on the inside or the outside, you must save your most intense activity for the outside.

That’s especially true if you are a solopreneur.

Simply put, Zoom, Google and ChatGPT can only take you so far. 🙂

Chapter 8 of my book, Overdeliver: Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing, covers the topic of “customer service and fulfillment” and it asserts that these crucial “back end functions” of your business are essential elements of marketing…and they need to be a key focus of the business at every level, from clerk to CEO.

I open the chapter with this quote (which I came up with after being lectured many times on this subject by Dan Kennedy):

“Marketing by walking around is a requirement, not a choice”

Throughout the chapter I discuss many concepts and techniques to make sure this part of your business is top priority including:

  • The importance of listening in on customer service calls regularly
  • Using “secret shoppers” effectively
  • How to plan for disasters in advance
  • The best ways to create “barriers to switch” from your brand
  • Being where your customers are…online and offline…from Facebook forums to the local Wal-Mart

And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to walking around on the outside.

All of this to say:

I have been on the outside of my business for over a month, leaving my basement…also known as the world headquarters of Titans Marketing.

With stops in Dallas, Texas…Sundance, Utah…Nashville, Tennessee…Dallas (again)…and ending up in Phoenix/Tempe, Arizona.

To make this post more than a “where’s Brian tour,” I want to share some highlights and findings from each stop.

This post does not give you permission to avoid your own walks on the outside…and hopefully it will encourage you to plan some “walks” of your own.

This will be part one of two.

Dallas (late September)

On the surface, this seemed like a fun, recreational trip, with the main event being a football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets (that’s American football) …a VIP experience hosted by my good friend and results leader, Howard Getson.

But fun and recreation always involves business (for me anyway) …because my play is my work…and my work is my play…and I always look for applications to every aspect of my life wherever I am.

I know many of you agree with this premise based on your correspondence and interactions with me.

I wrote about this first leg of my trip in detail a few weeks ago…click here to read “White glove service from the locker room” …which proves that going to a football game can be educational…humbling…and enlightening.

And not just humbling because my beloved Jets lost the game. 🙁

Humbling and enlightening because there are so many ways to run a “white glove business,” many of which I can now adapt to my business.

Sundance (late September)

This event was spectacular…it’s called The daVinci50…and while it’s labelled a “mastermind,” it’s no ordinary mastermind.

It’s a group of doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs and other curious professionals exploring age reversal at the highest level.

I found this description of the group online:

The daVinci50 Mastermind® is the highest-level mastermind in the world focused singularly on scientific rejuvenation and regenerative medicine. We know a significantly increased healthy lifespan is now possible for the first time in human history, but the science and medicine necessary will not be generally known for many years to come –we simply don’t have time to wait.

Talk about a unique selling proposition.

I learned so much over two days at this event, orchestrated by my good friend and results leader/educator, Richard Rossi.

It was wall-to-wall, bleeding edge medical findings…the latest in age reversal research, testing and data.

I’ll share an overriding principle I re-learned…something I knew but lost my way on…and it might be new or a re-learn for you too.

It is the interaction of bloodwork…with saliva…stool… environmental factors…cognitive testing…regular screenings…that leads to a wellness plan rather than a sickness plan.

As opposed to giving some blood, reading the numbers in a vacuum, and getting a prescription drug to fix a particular problem…which could be fixed by getting to the root cause of the problem first.

After the conference, I embarked on a new functional medicine protocol which includes, of course, a stepped-up nutrition and exercise plan…but with personalized supplements, peptides, and stem cell therapy…created specifically for me, my body, and my genetics.

In addition, despite everything we do to combat aging in our day-to-day behavior, “intervention” (including supplements and procedures newly developed every day), beginning as early as age 35, is a critical factor in slowing and often reversing the aging process.

If you are interested in more information on Richard’s miracle group, send me an email…but understand that it costs a lot to join (hey, buying life over death ain’t cheap) … and you will need to be approved before joining.

And I don’t get an affiliate commission. 🙂

Nashville (early October)

In Music City, I attended a wonderful event, Copy Chief Live, hosted by yet another good friend and results leader, Kevin Rogers.

Kevin’s copywriting coaching company is at the top of the food chain (nothing to do with nutrition) …and he brings together some of the most talented writers in the world…all of whom are expert storytellers…with a whole lotta soul.

There were so many things I learned being with this group.

I’ll share these:

• While speaking on stage with a panel of expert copywriters, all of whom are state-of-the-art–whether in email, list building, creating their personality online–I realized that ChatGPT and AI used for copy are a (huge) means to an end…but nothing will ever replace “the human.”

I know many of you are saying, “stop being a resistant dinosaur, Brian.”

Please know that I am not listening to you if you are saying that.

Nor am I ignoring AI as it pertains to marketing and copywriting.

• I learned that I am boring because I don’t have an origin story with trials and tribulations (i.e., a hero’s journey) …no bankruptcies, divorce, drug addiction, getting ripped off by a partner, living in my car or in squalor before I got my big break…just a middle-class kid from the suburbs with a solid work ethic and a big heart.

At least that’s what people tell me.

But I also learned I don’t need to apologize for not having a compelling origin story…but I often wonder if it might be “easier” if I had more hardship in my life for the sake of being a more interesting public speaker like many who took the stage at Copy Chief Live.

Harder life=more compelling speaker? 🙂

• And… speaking of one of those compelling speakers in Nashville, there was Marcella Allison, a good friend, A-List copywriter, who I worked with often over the past 25+ years, who shared her very personal story of struggle leading to immense success.

Her thesis was “learning to quit, the hell with grit” which seems counterintuitive for a rags-to-riches story…especially if you know Marcella (who is one of the grittiest copywriters I’ve ever met) …and she moved the room with passion and emotion.

Being present in a “moved room” is a reason in itself to walk around on the outside.

There are countless ways to move a room…saying that a harder life leads to being a better speaker was just me blabbering.

Your story is your story and sticking to it, whatever it is, is always appropriate. Telling it with passion is what really matters.

I will explore this topic in a future post…it goes back to Jay Abraham’s book, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got…and in this case, everyone has an origin story…and yours can never be someone else’s…so you might as well go with what you got.

Some are just more exciting/tragic/eventful/glorified/blissful etc. than others.

I hope you got something out of the first three stops of my “walking around on the outside tour” this past month.

I’ve got a lot more to share from stops four and five next week.

One overriding theme from my travels seems to be that the folks I learn the most profound lessons from are “good friends” and “results leaders.”

I repeated it three times for a reason. 🙂

Having people who care about you personally, often unconditionally, (friends)…and people who also care about your success (results leaders) …don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

In fact, it’s better (and more convenient) when they are both.

Walk with these people in your life regularly…on the inside and the outside…and you don’t even need to hold hands to get the full effect.



P.S. The Breakthrough Advertising Bootcamp is officially open for enrollment. If you were on our VIP list then this isn’t news to you.

We’ll kick off our 5th Bootcamp on November 7.

Click here to secure your spot.

The Bootcamp will be a walk on the outside like no other…comparing knowledge and wisdom about your business with others in similar circumstances…and in the context of one of the greatest books ever written on marketing, copywriting, and human behavior.

With discussions, meaningful homework, hot seats and a lot more.

I promise to be your friend and results leader throughout. 🙂

Click here.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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