March 3, 2018

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist”

I use this quote from Pablo Picasso a lot…most recently two weeks ago when talking about Steven Spielberg’s career in “Sharks, aliens and dinosaurs.”

And I was reminded of it again this past week as I completed the chapter in my new book on the importance of “original source” and why building your future business on the fundamentals of direct marketing is so critical for long term success.

As I continue my adventures as “T Rex in the wild, wild, west,” it becomes more apparent every day that knowledge of the fundamentals of direct marketing will only make all of us stronger, no matter what medium we use to sell our products or services.

Dan Sullivan, the top coach for entrepreneurs in the world, teaches that looking at our businesses quarter by quarter is often far more powerful (and effective) than doing 3 or 5 year plans…and I want to share 3 observations I made “4 quarters ago,” with some updates, that not only didn’t lose momentum in the last year but have only been accelerated.


1. The world is a very big place 

One of the things I always regretted during my 35+ years working at my previous company Boardroom, was that creating a global presence for our books and newsletters was never a priority…and probably not a great use of our time and resources either.

Our products were very “U.S. centric” and even when we ventured abroad, even into Canada, we saw lower renewal rates due to the content not resonating the same way.

Since launching my second career as a direct marketing educator and coach, some of the greatest insights I’ve had about marketing have come while speaking to audiences from foreign countries.

The world is so hungry for the marketing knowledge we take for granted in the U.S; the fundamentals of direct response marketing–and how to apply all we do here in the U.S. as standard operating procedure—are often not as widely known to many audiences abroad.

Therefore I see an incredible opportunity for all of us to teach a lot more…and as we all know, we always learn when we teach. 

This will result in many new partnerships and  opportunities with all kinds of entrepreneurs and marketers, all over the world.

I encourage you to seize any opportunity you can to teach internationally if you are based in the U.S.—and those of you in foreign countries who have accumulated great knowledge, please share that wisdom wherever you can, both in your own countries and around the world too.

Much of my online family, the readers of this blog, come from many different countries–and all of them who are in touch with me regularly (you know who you are!) are always interested in learning more about the fundamentals of direct marketing. I love hearing from you. 

It is always the highlight of my day when I have an opportunity to email with you, offer advice and resources, and then hear how grateful you are that so many people in the U.S. (and elsewhere) are willing to share all we know and all we do.

I currently have members in my two mastermind groups from Germany, Romania, Portugal and Canada…with possible new additions coming from Finland, Australia, Thailand, England, Malaysia, Hungary, The Netherlands, South Africa and elsewhere.

And with the launch of my third group, all virtual with no live events, I expect to extend my reach to many more countries.

In 2016 I had the privilege of speaking to audiences in Hungary, The Netherlands, Germany and France (for the second time).

The message that resonates “over there” is one that needs to be preached over and over again whether at home or abroad:


“Marketing isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.” 


For some audiences abroad I need to make the case that “marketing is not evil” (and to make distinctions between “selling” and “marketing”) and define “congruent marketing” (and why everything we send, online or offline is a relationship event and not necessarily a revenue event).

Once their fears are alleviated that marketing is not evil, we can have a much deeper conversation about why they must understand marketing at its core…and specifically measurable (direct) marketing.

My goal is to teach anyone who will listen that without marketing they have little or no chance of truly sharing their wisdom and genius with millions (as opposed to dozens).

And with a true understanding of marketing, the world grows exponentially.

Regarding this global explosion of marketing, I’ve also had the privilege of watching best-in-class thought leaders and marketers from around the globe–who are brothers and sisters in the mastermind groups I am a member of–coming to the United States to learn and share and teach.

And then they go back to their respective countries, where there is such a hunger to learn, and they create game changing events, educational programs, books and courses for those who cannot get the exposure to world class marketing as easily in their native language from top experts.

The unbelievable tidal wave of marketing intelligence going global gives me so much joy since thousands more entrepreneurs, inventors and marketers will get to share their super powers in bolder ways.

I’ve seen this happening first hand in Brazil, France, Hungary, Australia, the U.K., Norway, Germany, Russia, Japan, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and Portugal…and I know I am leaving out many other countries on a fast track to marketing at an entirely new level.


2. There are books worth reading which were written before the Internet 

The appetite for learning the fundamentals of direct marketing is huge.

Way bigger than I ever imagined.

And this is true both internationally and domestically.

While I know my sampling of the marketing world is only a small slice of everything out there, the hundreds of people who have bought Breakthrough Advertising and The Brilliance Breakthrough from all over the world tells me that there are some amazing students who want to learn as many rules as they can… like pros….from a pro’s pro (in this case, Gene Schwartz).


There was also an outpouring of support for my book, The Advertising Solution, which profiles 6 of the greatest advertising men of all time, all of whom are no longer with us, and all of whom did their ground-breaking work pre-Internet.

Their portfolios are 100% relevant to all we do today–which is another indicator that there are lots of folks out there who don’t simply want to throw marketing messages and programs against the wall to see what sticks.

I’ve heard from many readers of the book who are using it as a checklist for their sales letters, headlines, subject lines, offers.

This is so gratifying and keeps me focused on continuing  to bring those eternal truths of direct marketing forward. 

I have a feeling that there are many more books about the fundamentals which are out of print and begging to re-published. And I am working currently to bring forward the work of Bill Jaymeand Jim Rutz, two of the greatest copywriters who have ever lived.

I welcome your suggestions for others. I’ve got my eye on some classic books that may be in public domain that I can bring back to life.


3. What about this “new medium” called direct mail?

My third observation over the last 3 years is getting this question from quite a few very successful and large marketers who are exclusively “online”:

“How would you structure a test for us in direct mail (and other offline media)?” 

How smart is that?

A diversified portfolio is what almost every responsible financial planner recommends… you wouldn’t put all of your money into ONE instrument (e.g. stocks, bonds, real estate, insurance, commodities etc.) would you?

Therefore, why would you put all of your marketing dollars into only ONE medium?

I have heard too many horror stories over the last few years where companies were beholden to one online source (e.g. Facebook, Amazon or AdWords)…and when the folks who own the platform stop liking you for some reason, you are out of business.

Diversifying into direct mail is an “AND” not an “OR”…and with “advertising opportunities now being infinite” (as I discussed last week), why not look at an opportunity with a successful track record that goes back many decades?

Online marketers diversifying into offline media is such an untapped opportunity for most…and the beauty is that all of the assets they have created digitally (content and promotion) are usable and adaptable offline.

And since direct mail has been around forever, the added special sauce is being able to tap into specific expertise and knowledge from those decades of successful marketing campaigns– all readily available (but not known) to these newer marketers will now create many new ideas and platforms to get their messages to a new audience—perfectly appropriate for that new audience.

This might seem old school to some; but what I am seeing is that it is actually state-of-the-art for those who are boldly testing–and these top online marketers are powerfully becoming multichannel marketers.

My core premise in forming my two mastermind groups–and committing to direct marketing education for the rest of my life–is that multichannel marketing is not a choice but a necessity…and the strategy of having all media working together is as exciting as anything any of us can tackle.

I still own the URL …it’s on auto renewal just in case you had some evil plans to steal it from me…


Big world, great books, new media…that will keep us all busy for a while.





P.S. Last chance for you to apply for a seat in Titans Master Class and to be with us in Cleveland April 25-27 with Dan Kennedy, Ray Edwards Robin Robins, Craig Simpson, Richard Armstrong, Lee Euler…and some of the most prolific marketers and copywriters who are already members in Titans.

If you are interested, fill out the short application at

And of course we will be thinking and talking globally, giving out (and recommending) great books and talking about state-of-the-art new media opportunities.

Note: Anyone who applies and is approved will immediately receive complimentary copies of the two Schwartz classics mentioned above (Breakthrough Advertising and The Brilliance Breakthrough)…plus a copy of my book too.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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