May 8, 2022

Those of you who have been in my online family for a while know about my mom, an expert in direct response marketing (and the concepts covered in my book, Overdeliver) …without actually realizing it. 

I like writing about her on her birthday, which became a virtual holiday after the release of Star Wars (you know, May the 4th be with you…from a galaxy far, far away). 

It’s a time for me to reflect on her life well lived…while she’s still living it…as she begins her 98th year on the planet. 

Two years ago, we had a socially distanced birthday party, which included a delivery of 4 sweet potatoes, 3 cans of sardines, 2 bags of prunes (pitted of course) …and a small cake, which unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy with her (but rumor has it she ate it with gusto). 

In 2020, doing her shopping was much more important than a birthday party (we were in the middle of a pandemic in case you don’t recall) …and thank goodness the store had prunes in stock. 

Last year we had something that resembled a proper celebration—we were masked which was not part of a costume requirement…and still with a delivery of all of the essential items from her shopping list. 

And that visit included a hug on the way in and on the way out. 

This year was a full-blown celebration, without masks…and with a little more fanfare (and some awesome Italian food). 

Now back to my mom, the direct response marketer, who was born on “Star Wars Day”… 

I find it remarkable that despite only reading the first chapter of my book, admitting that she “needs to get back to that,” her expertise in many of the principles expressed in Overdeliver, including creating irresistible offers, being multi-channel and making exquisite customer service the cornerstone of her marketing education, is uncanny. 

While she will never be an expert in RFM…and she has no need to understand the “41/39/20 rule” …she is an absolute expert in three areas covered in my book: 

1. Telemarketing
2. Direct mail
3. Lifetime value

Mom on telemarketing

To my mom, if it’s not a phone communication (or an in-person visit), it doesn’t count.

Email? That’s for the “new generation.”

Although if she was on email she’d hear from me more often, that’s for sure.

Forget about texting…she’d have to give up her flip phone for that so I don’t even mention that texting is a “thing.”

My mom with a smartphone would start a chain reaction of events (beginning with hundreds of calls to Verizon customer service) that would change the world of mobile communications forever…and not for the better. 🙂

And where the Internet is concerned, that is a place where she can browse for latex gloves, research contraptions that can reach and grasp items on high shelves and shop for her favorite skin cream (not available in stores)—and call me to have her buy them for her at the “store” called Amazon.

Funny story: For Mother’s Day a few years ago, I bought her an Amazon gift card at CVS, put $0 on it, and told her there was a special number on the card that only worked if she called me with the items she desired…which I could then order for her.

She keeps asking me “how much money is left on the card?” and my answer is always the same: “A lot.”

That keeps her ordering, one item at a time, without disrupting the natural order of the World Wide Web.

Back to mom on telemarketing—her favorite direct response medium.

She is actually ahead of the curve since it’s become a forgotten medium to many marketing mavens.

Most of us are attached to our smart phones all day long but we rarely see it or use it as a “phone” (as opposed to being a vehicle to post vacation pictures, photos of our latest meal, or to participate in a political rant).

Using the phone as a phone for marketing purposes seems to elude many of the smartest marketers I know.

But it’s still powerful…especially for my mom.

Despite laying on the guilt regarding how infrequently I call her with “inbound” telemarketing, her “outbound” operation is quite extensive.

Sort of like a boiler room from her kitchen.

When she buys a can of tomatoes that are past their expiration date, rather than simply return the can to Shop-Rite, her first move is to call the CEO of Del-Monte.

She’s got the time and the patience to sit on hold for days so why not?

And every time I see her, she always has a story about how she got “satisfaction,” calling anyone who will listen, at any company or store who has stepped out of line (in her opinion), responding to her tales of woe.

She’s relentless and won’t stop until her demands are met.

Does that sound like any of your customers?

Hopefully my mom is one of your customers…because she will force you to pay more attention to your business…and she will be with you for a lifetime as long as you solve her issue.

Read “The return on returns” for a deep dive on this topic…but if you’ve been part of my online family for any length of time, you’ve already been drilled about customer service being a marketing function.

When she tells me about her adventures in telemarketing, I picture her talking the ear off of the person on the other end, for an hour or more, about the new step stool she bought that’s missing a screw…maybe even accusing that person of missing a screw as well…and how they better satisfy her…or else.

She’s no different from any other customer on your list…and the way she’s going, she will outlive many other customers her junior…something to keep in mind even if your audience is “older.”

Note that I affectionately called my mom’s practice as “outbound telemarketing” rather than “complaining.”

In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter to this topic (that’s customer service and fulfillment, not complaining) in my book, Overdeliver.

It’s based on the premise that it may take a lifetime to win (and keep) a customer but you can lose that customer in a heartbeat (with one misstep).

My mother is teaching this to anyone who will listen every day.

This is what links new customer acquisition to customer retention and/or renewals.

Always focus your customer acquisition effort with the second order in mind…


…it is always easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.

Of course, be ready to answer the phone when your new or existing customers call and need something more.

And if it’s my mom, please tell her I will be calling her soon. 🙂

Mom on direct mail

My Mom might be the most loyal and trusting (euphemism for gullible) person you will ever mail to…and the perfect person to have on your postal list.

She must give money to Paralyzed American Veterans because, “…they sent me free return address labels.”

And the free calendar from U.N.I.C.E.F.? That deserves an additional bonus contribution.

If you practice the art and science of direct mail and want her to buy, donate or do anything with you, it will cost you in freebies and bonuses–but if you do this, you will reap the benefits of her generosity as a result of her need to reciprocate.

My mom takes ethical bribes very seriously.

As do all customers and prospects.

And smart marketers too.

For her outgoing direct mail operation (a different way to say “mailing her bills and birthday cards”), how’s this for a philosophy:

She only uses the prettiest postage stamps I can find at the post office for her, which she then uses for all her outgoing mail…because she thinks the electric company and cable TV provider will be kinder to her if she sends her payments with a beautifully stamped envelope.

And for the birthday cards she sends to her grandchildren, she thinks it’s the stamp that they will be giddy over.

But we know it is the check inside…please don’t tell her. 🙂

My favorite stamps—the “T.rex collection”—are off limits…which I guess is understandable.

They are too scary!

Regardless, I’ve got her back on the power of direct mail…stamped appropriately of course.

Mom on lifetime value

This one is simple for her…and here’s a story to illustrate my mom’s understanding of the most important concept in direct marketing.

Six years ago, she broke her hip—we rushed her to the hospital for emergency surgery and eventually all was well (and giving you the gory details would be TMI).

When I got home from the hospital, there were four messages on my answering machine—from Shirley, Rita, Thelma and Eleanor.

These ladies were all 91 at the time, all “with it” (despite some aches and pains), and they all wanted to know the status of Terry (my mom).

I had lengthy conversations with each of the four other “Sistas” (as I like to call them).

These five women have known each other, as close friends, for over 80 years.

That’s a brand of “lifetime value” that goes beyond anything I am familiar with and it’s not covered in my book.

Except when I open Chapter 10 with the quote, “Life is long.”

Their friendship was a one-time sale that lasted a lifetime…no funnel or upsells needed.

Here they are in their prime…that’s my mom on the far left:

Three years ago, Shirley passed away (second from the left) and two years ago Eleanor passed away (far right) …but the 80+ years of memories (and lifetime value) will never pass away.

Now you know why my mom is an awesome direct marketer and why this seemed to be an appropriate post to share with you as my mom is a year older…a year wiser…and a year savvier in the principles of direct marketing.

May the 4th be with you…and may it be with you the other 364 days during the year…as you practice the art of multi-channel direct marketing (including telemarketing and direct mail) …and become even more diversified than my mom.

And may you experience a lifetime of value (which has little to do with the value of an average order).



P.S. Please take me up on the offer I made last week to access the free, 3-part video training titled:

“How to surround yourself with mentors who will stop at nothing to help you succeed”

Just click here for free and unlimited access.

My mom hasn’t watched these—just like she hasn’t read my book—because she knows it all already. 🙂

But you can’t afford to pass on watching these since I’ll bet you have less than 97 years of accumulated wisdom.

Just a guess.

P.P.S. Until midnight tonight, you can join Titans Xcelerator (which is currently closed), which was inspired by the video training series described in the P.S.

Titans Xcelerator is my virtual (and very affordable) mastermind community where you can surround yourself with folks like yourself—marketers, copywriters, media buyers and more—who want to help you with your business.

And I know you can help them with theirs.

It’s so rewarding to be in a group where everyone is getting smarter together…and remember, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

Titans Xcelerator is the perfect room to strut your stuff (i.e. what you are most smart about)…contributing to everyone…

As I mentioned, the group is currently closed to new members…and will be closed for the foreseeable future after tonight.

But if you like what you see and hear from my training (not including my “COVID hair”), check out Titans Xcelerator.

The page has success stories from Xcelerator members and outlines everything that’s available in this very special group.

It’s a group where you come for the information (from the best of the best in direct response marketing) …and stay for the inspiration.

I’ll leave enrollment to Titans Xcelerator open until Sunday May 8th at midnight PDT in honor of my Mom’s “force” of a birthday…and Mother’s Day.

Click here for more information. 

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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