February 25, 2018

Advertising opportunities are now infinite
      -A wise investment banker, circa 2012


 If there is a number called “more infinite,” that would be more appropriate for 2018.

There are just so many media opportunities out there, making this the best time (ever!) to be a marketer.

But it’s a dangerous time too.

With all that opportunity comes more risk…and also more charlatans and imposters.

While we want to dive in and test every new thing we hear about, we also need to be very careful.

One thing has not changed, however, from the days when advertising opportunities were “far less than infinite”…when dinosaurs ruled the earth and all we had was direct mail, print, broadcast…and billboards…and maybe the back seat of taxicabs:

Never buy everything in one place. 

Back in the 1980’s, with far fewer media choices, I still bought media and creative (and all marketing services)  “a la carte”…and it’s even more important to buy that way today when the choices are infinite.

1) More choice means more specialization and therefore more experts

2) Experts are better than charlatans and imposters

3) No one can be an expert on everything

After spending my entire career knowing exactly where to find the experts I needed in every aspect of direct marketing, the fact that the choices are now more vast and more specialized than ever, got me thinking even more about “the dangers of one stop shopping.”

I wouldn’t do it then…and I certainly wouldn’t do it now.

I don’t want to make any agency folks feel bad but even in the prehistoric era of “finite advertising opportunities,” I never met an agency of any kind that I liked very much. It wasn’t about the people…just the model.

Often they had one thing they specialized in that I could trust them to do…but there was no way I was putting all of my eggs in a basket called “full service direct marketing agency.”

I went to a specific source to rent lists for direct mail, another who knew more about space ads in newspapers than anyone else, another who just placed inserts in outgoing packages from catalogers (what we called “PIPS” or package insert programs)…and yet another to buy broadcast (radio and TV).

Even within something like “broadcast,” remnant radio was different than other kinds of radio buys and short form TV was different than long form infomercials. Buying “broadcast” (i.e. radio and TV) could be four different vendors…or more.

And don’t get me started about “buying” copy and creative in one place or as “part of the full service model.”

When it came to hiring the best copywriters, it was painfully obvious that any great copywriter who was working in an agency (when they could be making ten times their salary as a successful freelancer if they were really good) was not at the top of my list as a prospect to write for me.

Of course if you could find Gary Bencivenga while he was still a pup at Ogilvy & Mather (ad agency) and get in on the ground floor before he became the greatest living copywriter, that’s a win.

But now we’re talking about getting lucky, not buying copywriting services wisely.

“A la carte buying” was, and still should be, a rule of thumb for everything you do in marketing, not just media and creative.

Database building, sophisticated modelling and list segmentation, purchasing, production, printing—every role required experts.

That was true in the world of “finite” (and even commodity) buying and it’s never been more true today when marketing opportunities and technology has put our world on steroids.

We truly live in a world of “infinite.”

And the more things expand, the more specialization there is…which leads to much more expertise in specific roles.

Anyone who tells you they can handle all of your marketing needs with one-stop shopping is someone you should run away from …quickly.

Run away even if they tone that down and say something that sounds more logical like they can buy all of your “online media”…because as we have all found out, Facebook is different than display advertising which is different than AdWords which is different than funnels which is different than email marketing which is different than Amazon which is different than LinkedIn…you get the idea.

And there are experts who specialize in every one of those areas…with a track record of success due to their intense focus on “one thing.”

Those of you who know me know that I am a very nice guy…and I respect every person’s talent and their ability to make a difference in their own business and with other businesses.

But to be frank, when it comes to “buying marketing intelligence,” trying to get it from one place means you will settle for mediocrity in one or more areas. You need to call it out…nicely, of course.

This is especially true because so many have gotten so smart in a single niche and there is so much more to know in each of those niches today.

I always prefer a “category of one”…with products, brands, positioning…and I prefer it when I spend money on marketing or creative.

The level of mediocrity you will encounter with one stop shopping could be multiplied quickly since you have not spent the time to focus and hire only “best in class”—and lazy hiring always leads to lazy results.

I believe this concept is the make or break in terms of how you sell and market in a world that is as noisy as ever…and a world that demands excellence as much as ever too.

Then and now…we begin with intelligent outsourcing…and then we buy a la carte from specialists.

The legendary Dick Benson, a man who mentored me in a world where advertising opportunities were still “finite,” drilled this into my head so I could share it with you today:

 “Do what you do best and buy everything else around the corner…and never settle for second best.” 






P.S. My good friend and marketing thought leader, Dean Jackson, recently talked about the topic of only working with the best once you determine  the most important things to focus on for your business…which is not always so simple.

However, it gets a lot easier when you surround yourself with the best minds you can find since they are ones who can help you narrow that focus and find the best people to help you.

And we agreed that there is no better way to do this than to be in mastermind groups where everyone is sharing their best practices and resources freely.

He put it simply:

You don’t need to find out the “HOW (to do it)” first…you really need to find out “WHAT (is hot and relevant and working and applicable for you)” first…followed by “WHO (is the expert or resource that will be able to execute or teach it to you)”.

I have never heard a better reason to join a mastermind group…that’s why I am a member of six and host two.

One of my two groups,  Titans Master Class , meets in Cleveland in April…I’ve mentioned it before…and if you are interested in hearing the “what” and meeting the “who” as they relate to state-of-the-art multi-channel marketing today, you need to be there.

Titans Master Class  is actually two live events a year but there are many more benefits…membership includes office hours with me during the year, a content portal with all previous presentations from expert, “category-of-one speakers,”  group calls with special guests and presentations plus a private Facebook group where members can share ideas—the best “what” and “who” throughout the year.

All new members must be on boarded through a one-on-one interview…and if you would like to interview for a seat (which would be the only way to join us in Cleveland in April) please fill out the short application form at:


Here is the agenda for the April meeting…and our discounted room block for our hotel is only available for one more week…we have a special rate of $189 a night at the Ritz Carlton…so if you are interested, please apply ASAP:


Wednesday afternoon April 25th

We will do two afternoon workshops, one on direct mail with Craig Simpson (who is the co-author of my book) and one on couples/relationships with Ellyn Bader (who not only a therapist but also an expert in online launches…so she will be sharing marketing wisdom as well).


Wednesday evening April 25th

I will host a cocktail party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with complimentary access to the Hall plus a meet and greet with fellow Titans.


Thursday April 26th

Our special guest will be none other than marketing icon Dan Kennedy for the entire day.

He will do a presentation of brand new material in the a.m., I will do a “fireside chat” with him at lunch (i.e. totally interactive) and then we will do focused hot seats in the afternoon (using a technique we have perfected in previous Titans meetings).

Then I will host a special dinner which is a staple at all Titans meetings.


 Friday April 27th

We will continue with additional guest speakers, Titan Spotlights (presentations from our members sharing their super powers), plus additional hot seats and marketing related discussions.

Guest speakers who have confirmed as of now:

Perry Marshall, Robin Robins, Richard Armstrong, Ray Edwards, Lee Euler.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Title Goes Here

Get this Free E-Book

Use this bottom section to nudge your visitors.