December 1, 2018

“The most dangerous number in business is one”                                                                                          


At our Titans Master Class event last April, and then again in a meeting in August, marketing icon Dan Kennedy emphasized “the danger of one of anything” in our businesses…which goes like this:

“One is a very bad number, anywhere you find it … [for example] if one media produces a disproportionate percentage of your customers…you are subject to being summarily put out of business.” 

You can extrapolate this to so many other aspects of your business life where you could be vulnerable:

One marketing technique to get new customers

One winning promotion

One primary customer

One prospect

One key employee

One company you’ve applied to for a job

One product (or service) that you sell

One skill you are good at

And as Dan said above, one medium—and that is where we will mostly focus today.

I find myself repeating some version of this as often as Dan does whether I am coaching someone new to direct response marketing or having a group discussion with seasoned marketers.

In light of the dangers of marketing in one medium, where the pitfalls are obvious and getting more dangerous every day, let’s focus on the myriad of opportunities available when we expand our thinking–which includes both online and offline media.

Note: Part of what I am sharing today is an excerpt from my new book, Overdeliver, which comes out next April.

Despite all of the challenges around attribution (i.e. “where did that order really come from?”)–and calculating an accurate lifetime value (LTV) of every new customer–the opportunities available to us by combining online and offline media are too rich to ignore.

Online to Offline to Online (or offline to online to offline, or any combination that fits for your audience) is a concept worth exploring.

To define “O to O to O,” let me state it this way:


Always be aware of the life cycle of every customer entering your world. They can start in either “O” (online or offline), then be directed to the alternate, and then pulled back to the original source where they started. 

This is why are living in the most exciting time (ever) to be a marketer.

We currently have, at our fingertips, the most efficient and state-of-the-art technology which we can combine with the fundamentals of direct response marketing learned over decades of testing. 

For example: Bringing a highly qualified buyer or prospect from a direct mail piece or a print ad into an online funnel will certainly create customers with higher lifetime value (LTV), especially if the promotion uses longer and engaging copy.

Marketers I talk to regularly who work primarily online, and who have customers originating in various types of offline media like direct mail too, have told me that offline to online customers have a higher LTV than customers whose first engagement with them is online.

And the marketers who have figured out that starting online doesn’t mean they have to be exclusively online during the life span of a customer, have had incredible results by adding offline media and physical products on the back end.

I recently heard from a very skilled online marketer who had only sold his training videos digitally in the past–and he recently added as an additional format, some of those instructional videos as text inside a spiral bound book  (yes, words on paper).

In addition to giving them digital access to the training as in the past, he customized the training based on their specific needs and shipped a hard copy of the game plan to his students.

Then to give them “360 degree access,” he added QR codes with each lesson inside the physical book so that students could point their smart phone at any specific lesson they wanted to focus on and they could watch any of the videos on their phone at any time.

Why not give your customers a choice in the way they consume your content?

It’s true that you could just make the digital content super-mobile friendly and not bother sending the book…but the book adds even more to the overall value of the product and the experience…and adds choices of consumption and use.

I spoke about this in more depth in “Your smart phone will not reverse aging” where I maintained that people under 30 years old still like to receive, open and read physical mail.

And contrary to popular belief, they don’t need a GPS to find their mailbox.

When you differentiate by selling in places and with formats none of your competitors are using, there are some huge benefits.

And this can help enormously whether you have a product or service that is a commodity or a specialty.

The example above of O(nline) to O(ffline) is all about using direct mail and physical product on the back-end of a winning offer from email or the web to create more intimacy and value with those customers.

An example of O(ffline) to O(nline) can be found by studying numerous health offers (e.g. for newsletters and nutritional supplements)  geared toward an older audience, who often prefer to engage initially through direct mail but can often be moved online easily if they prefer.

I’ve seen other examples where shrewd marketers who do all of their prospecting online create programs and sequences offline with personalized notes, lumpy packages—they spare no expense once they know how much a new customer has spent with them (and can potentially spend with them in the future).

Cross-sells and upsells to your best online customers don’t have to be 100% digital. 

Your best customers–those who buy the most product or are repeat students, patients etc. (and therefore spend the most money)–sometimes deserve more than just another email.

This is all about meeting the customer where they want to be met…with a variety of formats, copy and accessing any and all media where you can connect more deeply with your customers.

And don’t forget about direct response television, space advertising or inbound and outbound telemarketing to weave in and out of different kinds of offers, whether they start online or offline.

The breakthrough really comes when you get consumers to transfer from one medium to another.

When you can use lots of different media, you’re in a better position to monetize in a variety of different ways.

And the odds of you being put out of business because you are beholden to one medium or platform are considerably lower too.

Another example:  Many marketers who you would probably classify as “online only”— that is, they send traffic to a landing page — offer a free physical copy of their book for shipping and handling only. I know many of you are aware of this kind of funnel.

They send that book all over the world, possibly losing money on the “first sale.” (Actually many can still breakeven with this technique). But that doesn’t matter since they are in a perfect position to play a multi-channel long game.

Shipping a book means they now have a physical mailing address in addition to an email address.

These savvy direct marketers initiate an opportunity online to get into the direct mail business…without abandoning their email channel.

It’s always an “and,” not an “or,” when talking “O to O to O.”

Having the physical address of their customer means that they may be able to make offers in “snail mail” that no one else is making in their space–since most online marketers don’t have direct mail (and other offline media) on their radar.

And even if you have never shipped physical product on the back end, if you are selling digital products with a credit card, you have captured postal addresses…it’s a huge asset you definitely want to look at more closely.

Are you aware that while email is an “opt-in medium” (i.e. you can only email folks who give you permission) direct mail is an “opt-out medium” (i.e. you can mail to them until they tell you they no longer want to hear from you)?

Here’s one more thing to add to your “O to O to O checklist”:

If you have a digital product only right now, can it be converted to a physical product?

I was privileged to consult with a company that created life-saving health material which was all digital–although they figured out by creating physical product versions of all of the content, the overall perceived value of the offering increased significantly—and it allowed them to charge a higher price for the full package–and the lifetime value of their customers also went up too.

Multi-channel encourages multi-format.

These marketers practicing “O to O” know their numbers (i.e. costs of physical over digital)) and they also know how much they are willing to invest for a long-term customer… and that makes it easier for them to do it online or offline, using techniques and strategies that truly give them an unfair advantage.

Short version: Don’t be scared of paper…ink…binding…printers… postage.  I promise you they are not evil. And getting cozy with physical product and print is a differentiator in a totally digital economy.

Other marketers who make their initial offer on television, radio or even at a live event, (whether a book, course or something else) have another offline gateway into their ascension program with the ability to use multiple channels and platforms, online and offline.

I heard about a marketer just yesterday who is selling a diet and nutrition program exclusively with radio ads…and while vulnerable today to the “dangers of one,” the potential is huge.

TV is an obvious next step for them but so are many online channels because they have developed audio files and scripts which are working on radio—that is, they have already done the heavy lifting on creative and copy offline to set them up for a bigger future online.

Of course my first recommendation was “time is of the essence”—multiple channels are waiting–being in only one right now puts them at risk. However, their current assets and ability to go multi-channel smoothly and fairly quickly reduces that risk considerably.

You must also know how much you can afford to lose in any new medium, and for how long. That’s a topic covered in a different chapter of my book.

It varies in every medium but can be (and must be) calculated.

Multichannel marketing may not be all that complicated but knowing your numbers and allowable costs intimately gives you the most flexibility and it is the key to building a business for lifetime.

With this approach, your customers can be communicated with in all the places that they spend their time (online and offline) and it also protects your business against unpredictable events that you can’t control.

It makes you a more robust marketer and opens up all kinds of opportunities that you just can’t access when you’re only focused on a single channel.

I began with “The most dangerous number in business is one” and I will end there:

This has never been truer than in today’s world of infinite marketing opportunities, so many of which have a very low cost of entry.

Facebook being less expensive than other online media (and most offline media) doesn’t mean you should ever use it exclusively. Or that you should use any other medium exclusively, cheap or expensive.

I’ve quoted Bill Bernbach, the great advertising “mad man” many times in the past:

“Adapt your techniques to an idea, not an idea to your techniques.” 


Just because a particular audience you can buy into is big…or cheap…or both…is not the sole reason to use it.

Regarding Kennedy’s notion of “one” being the most dangerous number in business goes way beyond “one medium” but in terms of media:

You want backups and Plan B’s everywhere.

Having technology at our fingertips is awesome but it is not a panacea for everything.

And always keep an open mind.






P.S. I purposely did not have a P.S. in last week’s post and only a few of you noticed…and while we all tend to assume that a P.S. is “mandatory,” wasn’t it refreshing not to see one? 🙂

Got one today though–inspired by you.

Many of you wanted to buy “The Bill Jayme Collection” when I offered it recently but decided against it when you heard that the 210 successful promotions from 138 companies (many of them direct marketing giants), written by one of the greatest copywriters of all time, were only available on  11 CD’s and 1 DVD.

I’m not a Mac guy so silly me for thinking everyone still has a disc drive on their computer or laptop…or that everyone still has a working DVD player somewhere.

But in the spirit of “physical product” still having higher perceived value than digital product in many cases…especially with an offering like this…I am producing “The Bill Jayme Collection” on a single USB thumb drive (in a nice case with a full directory) for those of you who wanted to buy it but didn’t know how you would be able to access it.

The new version of “Jayme”  should be ready to ship in a few weeks (I sold out of the disc product).

If you send me an email today with “Jayme USB” in the subject line, I will send you a special link to buy as soon as they are ready–with a one-time 20% discount before I make it universally available later on at full price.

And if you have no idea what I am talking about or if you have never heard of the legend of Bill Jayme, please read “Deeply and Irrevocably Personal”

Thank you to so many of you who have already bought the collection—it’s been all raves and no returns.

And for those of you who missed out last time (or if you were “CD/DVD challenged”) the USB will enable you to now access this research tool for the ages.

It’s a must for your direct marketing and copywriting library.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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