August 22, 2020

How did we advertise in the “good old days” when there was no email, internet, product launches, VSL’s, Facebook and a myriad of other media?

And if you were a small Mom and Pop retail or service company, how would you know how to advertise if you never read a Dan Kennedy book or even knew there were other consultants who specialize in that sort of advertising either?

This is not a post about direct mail, print, TV or Radio advertising either—all of which were prevalent in those prehistoric times.

While I abhor general advertising (as compared to direct marketing) for the most part, marketers still sold stuff back then too.

I’m sure you might think it was a miracle without the Internet or email– but they did it very successfully nonetheless.

I was reminded this past week of my introduction to advertising, marketing (and whatever else was going on in the early 1970’s)—and it was a new revelation because it traced back to high school.

It’s about “clock advertising.”

I always thought, jokingly, that because I was voted “Most Likely to Become a List Manager” in my high school yearbook, my future was preordained.

Obviously that is not true…nor did I recall how I really decided on this career path until last week.

Before last week, I assumed that I simply fell into it (like everyone else in direct marketing in the 1980’s).

That’s been my story for anyone who has asked me during my 40 years…and on over 200 podcasts…and even in my book. I thought it was the truth but I was mistaken.

How did I come upon this new revelation?

Because last week Stan Drescher passed away.

You don’t know him but I’m sure you know his son Ron Drescher (my best friend from high school).

Ron is a creative marketer and entrepreneur trapped in the body of a bankruptcy attorney.

Well maybe you don’t know him after all.

He has worked with Richard James (a Dan Kennedy protégé) which honed his skills–but I guess that’s not quite enough to make him recognizable to you?

How about Stan’s brother Morty ? You must know him?

He famously appeared on the TV show, The Nanny a couple of times.

Not recalling him either?

Hmmm…well, Morty’s daughter is Fran Drescher, who did a little acting in Hollywood…she only has 242 credits on IMDb for acting, writing etc. on TV and in movies–so she’s pretty obscure too. 🙂

All I know is that Fran’s claim to fame is that she bills herself as “Stan Drescher’s niece.” I’ve never heard her say that but I just know it’s true.

So in honor of Ron, Morty and Fran, and in memory of Stan, I must tell you the marketing case history of Stan Drescher.

Stan was an insurance man from Spring Valley, New York. He was successful because he was relentless when pursuing a client, which usually included a meal (which he always paid for), the warmest handshake, and if you were lucky, even a warmer hug. And of course he knew his stuff.

And whether or not he won you over to buying a whole life policy, accident protection, or a car insurance package, he would always present you with a clock which said on its face:




Fortunately for me (and many others), you didn’t have to buy insurance from Stan to get one of these prized clocks.

In the 70’s and 80’s, there wasn’t an establishment in Spring Valley (or the wider Rockland County) that didn’t have a “Drescher Clock” in its dining room, changing room or waiting room.

Restaurants, retail stores, doctor’s offices and more were adorned with them at the time…and a suggestion to buy insurance to boot.

And yes, even the bedrooms of all of Ron’s friends had the same clock and message (although I’m not sure who I was entertaining that would buy insurance).

The plastering of the walls of an entire county with his clock made Stan “famous”…or as famous as he needed to be in a geographical area selling a commodity…which led to a super successful practice.

In addition, there was no call to action (CTA) on the clock (i.e. no websites which wouldn’t be available for a long time to come anyway…and he didn’t even put a phone number on the clocks either).

How is this a marketing lesson?

It’s educational due to the fact he was working with what he had available, he was reaching out everywhere he could whether he could make an immediate sale or not, and of course he may not have put a phone number on anyone’s clock, but he had the phone numbers of everyone who received one in his rolodex.

A rolodex is like a contact list on your phone. I’m sure many of you have never used one…or even heard of one.  🙂

Stan was playing a long game, selling insurance like the best of us sell other products and services today.

Planting a seed (i.e. a clock) and rather than waiting for the phone to ring, he made it ring.

It was a “Mad Men” approach to advertising (i.e. “I don’t know if it’s working but look at all the insurance premiums I’m writing!”).

And there is a lot to learn from Stan’s clocks beyond its decorative and utilitarian characteristics.

I had a client recently who had a billboard company…outdated, inefficient, and “old media” right?

While I wouldn’t put all my eggs (or advertising) on billboards, they could easily be part of a mix for many advertisers (although admittedly, if I used them, I would put a website or a phone number drivers or a passerby could remember).

I’ve often said, “I never met a medium I didn’t like” –and even though the back of yogurt lids (too messy!) and the back of ATM receipts (not enough cash left to buy anything after a withdrawal!) were only “good ideas at the time,” I’m glad I tested both.

They failed miserably as media…but testing them kept me (and keeps me) on my toes in terms of what I think about today and every day I am in the business of buying media and selling stuff:

Advertising opportunities are now infinite…anything can be construed into usable media.

With the corollary:

You need to go to experts to buy each of those opportunities. (Not a topic for today but I covered it in “The dangers of one stop shopping”)

That’s how I construct my mastermind groups–looking for the “what” and the “who” before the “how.”

And it is also fun to dream…offline and online.

Back to Stan’s clocks:

He relieved a lot of pressure in his business by saturating his market with clocks (and remember, without a CTA).

But he backed the giveaway with hustle and persistence. That was his funnel.

And, of course, a virtual (clock) hug in the present (not due to COVID!) usually became a live (bear) hug in the future.

I’m sure if Stan practiced insurance in the present he might have figured out how the clocks could have an alarm on them whenever the owner needed insurance, making them episodic. That would be the big technological advance.

At a minimum he would have a URL leading to a squeeze page or he would have a phone number…for grins. 🙂

Regardless he was willing to wait for the order in the 1970’s…and with various techniques, he might have moved the call to action up a little bit in the last decade.

But I know he would never overuse an autoresponder; and he knew that an email handshake never beat that hug.

He was a man of his times who we can still learn lessons from.

And I wanted to pay tribute to him in some way.

This is it.

He was a blast to be around. He would always take time to hang out with us–Ron’s friends–beginning in high school and until he passed. 

He was always joking and interested in what we were doing with our lives while being Rockland County’s most interesting man.

The lessons are obvious:

  • Don’t over automate yourself into oblivion
  • Market like your audience always matters…and your audience is not made up of perpetual buyers…but they are all prospects to be treated like family
  • CTA’s are critical…but they are dependent on the action you take as a marketer, not the other way around (did you ever hear of a personal funnel?)
  • A hug is a hug is a hug…the virtual ones are good and the actual ones are better
  • When push comes to shove, everything in marketing comes down to the people you touch, how you respond to them and communicate with them…and how they might decide to buy from you. Whether that’s today, next month or next year. All sales are good anytime.

It is said that a broken clock that no longer runs (but still has a nonfunctioning hour hand and minute hand) is correct twice a day.

My “Drescher Clock” began its journey on the wall of my bedroom that I grew up in; moved to my college dorms and apartments through 4 years of college; then to my swinging bachelor pad in Brooklyn; then to my apartments during my first 12 years of marriage (my wife “loved it!”); and finally to my house in Connecticut (where my wife liked it a little less and banished the clock to my office)–where it is today.

Somewhere along the line it stopped working.

I often wondered if my wife sabotaged it– but no matter.

I always knew it didn’t go with the décor of our house anyway.

Then both hands broke off.

However it still sits on my wall, proudly (and more efficient) than if it had two working (or non-working) hands.

In its present state, it always displays the right time because it’s a reminder that life is long…that time is just a detail…and living in the present is where it’s at.

And of course it reminds anyone who looks at it to insure themselves for the time when life gets a little shorter, which hopefully is a long time from now.

And it will always remind me of Stan.



P.S.  I will make another attempt at an “ask from somewhere” (as opposed to an “ask from nowhere”).

I received this in an email today from Simon in New Zealand:


Just wow.

I’ve quickly skim read what’s in “The Overdeliver Collection” and it’s phenomenal.

I can’t believe my luck.

Having paid a little over $20 for the book, I feel like I’ve ripped you off!

So thank you very much for releasing this material.

For marketers and copywriters who have or get your book, Christmas has come early this year.

I get this a lot…every day in fact…and I respond saying:

“If I have the gall to title a book “Overdeliver” (which incidentally is not a word), I better over deliver on the bonuses.”

Which I do.

My “ask” is this:

Given that my book came out on April 9, 2019 and I had a stroke on April 10th (not making excuses)…I’m looking for my online family members to join my re-launch of Overdeliver.

If you have your own online family—big or small—will you mail for me?

With the centerpiece of the offer being

Check out the page…let me know if you think your audience would salivate over the bonuses (like Simon from New Zealand and hundreds of others have as well).

And if you will send out an enthusiastic email or blog post (or anything you can) to sell the book and all of the resources, there’s something in it for you besides a virtual hug from me.

While there are no affiliate commissions, if you let me know what you did to promote Overdeliver, I will send you a special gift from my awesome archives of great marketing and copywriting books and swipe files from the masters.

That’s better than a tiny commission on a $20 book right?

I know you will treasure what I send you.


P.P.S. Maybe the fact that Overdeliver has been translated into Japanese and Italian adds to its street cred?

Here is the Italian version…I can’t read it but I’m still proud of it.

The link is

You can work a story around it any way you want…whether you read the book (English or Italian), whether you read my blog each week (and you can brag about all of the wonderful stories I get to tell you, or take a look at the endorsements on the page (which might give you a clue what to write).

Lying is not allowed…but a little poetic license is OK…:)

P.P.P.S. The Italian version of Overdeliver never would have happened without the Herculean efforts of two Italian gentlemen I met while I was speaking in Italy in February.

Marco Lutzu, the top copywriter in Italy (and also a speaker at the same event) and Francesco Zoppeddu, the wonderful CEO of the agency Marco founded, were somehow impressed with what I shared about my book.

They made a deal with my Publisher to translate it and sell it in Italy…and then they joined my Titans Mastermind as well.

They will be friends for a lifetime…and I will always be eternally grateful to both of them.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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