January 2, 2018

During the “go-go 1980’s” in direct marketing, everyone seemed to have the answer (i.e. the hot new technology or methodology), especially in the areas of database building, regression modeling and advanced list segmentation techniques through cooperative databases.

And if any of the terms above don’t ring a bell, shame on me for trying to mention things you never heard of…which is precisely what this post is all about.

I’m sure you are used to this sort of thing already since every vendor or innovator today seems to have the quick solution to your biggest marketing problem whether you can understand what they are talking about or not.

I recall walking through the exhibit halls at the Direct Marketing Association annual conference for over 25 years (which at its peak probably had 10,000+ attendees and an exhibit hall as big as a football stadium) and being a bit overwhelmed…but also very wary.

My rule of thumb as to whether I would stop at a booth in the exhibit hall for more than two minutes was if the person at the booth could explain their new whiz bang technology in no more than two sentences.

And…I needed to comprehend the meaning of those two sentences (and exactly how what they were offering could help my business) in that same 120 seconds. 

During those encounters, I often thought that there must be some kind of competition to see who could explain something with the least amount of comprehension. 

More times than not, obfuscation trumped clarity…they were selling hard but hiding way too much…and when that happened, I was off to the next booth.

The need for people to use big words to prove they are the smartest person in the room…or in this case, the smartest person in their booth…was my indicator to run away.

These are the kinds of salespeople/marketers/potential partners/consultants who would prefer to sell you (or teach you about) a black box of wonder rather than have you understand the fundamentals behind what built their black box.

When they do a lousy job of explaining, you then have to trust them about their expertise and that they just know their stuff–which could be the precise state-of-the-art technology you need–but you’d never know it by their explanation.

When this situation happens, trusting them is high risk with low reward.

This practice of hiding behind big words and the need to impress above all else is as prevalent today as ever before.

Today I give you permission to say to anyone at any time:

“I have no idea what you are talking about and unless you can explain it so I can understand it, the odds of us working together are pretty slim.”

This is precisely why our written marketing messages (in email, print…anywhere), and our verbal messages, need to always be in the language of our customer/prospect/conversation partner.

I have written about this a lot in the past as it pertains to copywriting.

But this is equally important when we deliver verbal messages too.

I love this Gene Schwartz quote:

There is your audience.

There is the language. 
There are the words that they use.     

And now that I have re-read Gene’s lost masterpiece The Brilliance Breakthrough I understand more clearly why he subtitled it:


How To Talk And Write So That People Will Never Forget You 

Here’s another potential subtitle which I know Gene would love as well:


How To Talk And Write So That People Will Never Misunderstand You 


Gene realized that there was little difference between communicating verbally or in writing in terms of how we can be best understood.

Please keep in mind that I am not talking about speaking to the “least common denominator”; but I am talking about speaking to educate (and connect) rather than to impress.

In short, be brilliant but always accessible; and never just dumb things down as a shortcut either.

Just give everyone easy access to your brilliance.

And when in doubt, choose small words over big ones.



P.S. There is no better training to help you choose the right (small or big) words, when you talk or write, than the Gene Schwartz masterpiece,  The Brilliance Breakthrough: How To Talk And Write So People Will Never Forget You

Please click here to purchase your copy with an exclusive workbook.

And to read about why words matter—and why grammar is overrated—please click here.



My offer below expires at midnightDecember 31st so please give any amount in a monthly donation on my personal site and email me with “Send me those ethical bribes” in the subject line. 

Here are the details on the 4 free bonuses I will send to you for a monthly donation in any amount at my personal charity:water page:

1) Titans and Tweets: This is a 136 page priceless document which was put together by direct response marketing legend (and Titan himself), Ken McCarthy.

During the landmark Titans of Direct Response event in 2014, Ken wrote (and then tweeted) as many of the gems as he could–during the event– from the most amazing lineup of speakers ever assembled in one place.

2) “Titans Collection” from Jay Abraham: This is a 100+ page document that another Titan (and one of my mentors) put together–which came as a surprise to me.

Jay Abraham took 22 of my past blog posts (his personal favorites) on a variety of subjects and put them into one document…and since he thought it was worthwhile to gift this document to his tribe, who am I to argue that it might be worthwhile reading for you too?

Hope you can get some useful tidbits from my writing, especially if you are new to my online family.

And I know not all of you open my emails every Sunday…

3) 10,000 of the greatest headlines ever:  This is something else Jay put together–a personal collection/compilation of the best headlines he could find…anywhere and everywhere.

These headlines are applicable to any medium.

It’s also a swipe file that will prevent you from ever having writer’s block as you think of your next great headline, subject line or lead for a sales letter.

And one extra “Jay Abraham bonus” for anyone who donates $500 a month:A one hour private consult with Jay Abraham himself (he normally charges $50,000 a day and never does anything hourly). 

Your consult can be by phone or in person. 

If you are interested in this additional bonus, please send me an email as soon as you make your donation and I will connect you directly to Jay. 

Why is Jay doing this? He knows that one idea from him can create exponential growth for many of you…he also loves the charity:water cause…and he has gotten to know many of you, my online family, over the last few years, and it’s a family he wants to serve in a bigger way. 

4) Dick Benson’s 31 Rules of Thumb: In my post from last week, “The ethical bribe,”I spoke about two of Dick Benson’s 31 rules of thumb pertaining to the use of premiums and bonuses (in any medium, despite Benson being the guru of direct mail).

You can read that post here and get the other 29 rules of thumb by donating to charity:water.


To receive the four gifts above, go to this special page (and please watch the video)…and once you donate (any amount monthly), email me back here and put “Send me those ethical bribes” in the subject line.

I will send the four bonuses (immediately) to you.

But this offer will only be available untilmidnight December 31st.

If you would like to read more about charity:water in detail and why I have chosen them as my “uber charity” for this year, please click here and read the P.S.

I am looking forward to sending out ethical bribes to everyone who donates.

If you have donated already, thank you!

And if you have not yet gotten your bonuses, please email me with “you owe me those bribes!” in the subject line.

Please donate here.

Happy New Year!

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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