January 24, 2021

Two years ago at our Titans Mastermind in Miami, the genius marketer and email innovator Dean Jackson coined a phrase that has become part of my regular “riff” when it comes to using email for good as opposed to evil: 

“Fishing without bait” 

For Dean it is just one of many observations that eventually become part of the marketing lexicon. 

It’s fascinating (yet not surprising) when someone like Dean can do this with a turn of a phrase…thanks Dean for being you. ☺

As I was thinking about that event two years ago, while planning the current Titans Mastermind event this week, I checked the post I wrote back then summarizing that event.

I found it easily since I used Dean’s quote above as the subject line.

It summarized not only Dean’s presentation at the event but it served as an “umbrella” over other topics from the other speakers who presented.

This was not “Titans groupthink” either; it was, instead, a way to think about marketing with the highest level of integrity.

It’s also a wonderful launching off point whenever a marketing discussion takes place anywhere.

And “fishing without bait” will be my launching off point today.

Titans Mastermind this week will be another one for the ages, starring (in addition to our current members):

  • Dan Sullivan
  • Steve Sims
  • Russell Brunson
  • Ryan Deiss
  • Dean Jackson (for a repeat performance…I wonder what rules of thumb he will invent this time?)

Today’s post is both a look back at timeless brilliance… and a look ahead to even more.

I wanted to remind myself (and you) that the lessons learned from the members and speakers at “Titans Miami 2018” are as relevant to everyone participating in “Titans Virtual 2021.”

Both were and are key stops on the “Titans World Tour” which has been non-stop since 2015.

If you’ve read or heard about “Titans Miami 2018” (the summary is below), read it again…you will definitely find many new insights, especially in light of the year we have all had in 2020.

If you’ve never read it, you are in for a treat.

I also realized that along with the speakers from2018 (Dean, Eben Pagan, Todd Brown, Nicholas Kusmich, Mark Ford and Bob Burg), a look back of two years may mean (sadly)  that there could be Titans who were there who might have left us…but of course, they are never forgotten.

In the spirit of the movie Coco (where no one achieves a “final death” until they are no longer remembered), I want to acknowledge that the late Clayton Makepeace was “in the horseshoe” as a special guest in Miami in 2018, dishing out golden nuggets of advice and counsel throughout.

Read this tribute about him so he can look down on us with a smile as he is remembered…while you soak up the wisdom of that event, as he did, from two short years ago.

This may seem like a sorrowful tangent but it’s necessary (and not sad at all).

To regularly remember (and appreciate) Titans of the past (and present) is a celebration.

All were (and are) world-class marketers and copywriters, committed to multi-channel direct response–which made for an epic event in 2018–and it will make for an epic event this week as well.

Titans Mastermind/January 2018/Miami Beach, Florida

Dean Jackson

I’m all for killer offers and compelling calls to action (CTA’s)—but it was obvious during the Titans Mastermind in Miami, that the marketing landscape is changing quite a bit…and almost on a daily basis.

And I think it is for the better.

So does Dean.

The thesis is that you can’t talk about irresistible offers without using compelling copy and content…with congruence…and a healthy dose of consistency.

“The four c’s of fishing without bait.”

It’s not enough anymore to just put your fishing pole in the water with a hook and some bait; it takes so much more to play the long game in direct response marketing.

Deangave us this idyllic image that I could not get out of my head:

Imagine you are in a boat on a lake “fishing” for new customers…and instead of fishing in a traditional sense, pole in hand with an effective “hook” (i.e. sales copy) and delicious “bait” at the end of the hook (i.e. an irresistible offer), you instead shine a spotlight over the lake all the time (i.e. communicating regularly and powerfully without always selling).

And instead of reeling in the fish, the fish are jumping in the boat on their own when they are ready to engage with you…or order your product…or join your mastermind…or whatever you might want to do together.

And when they jump into your boat on their own, they also have a much better chance of staying in the boat longer (as long as you give them air to breathe…I know I am now taking this metaphor a bit too far…sorry). ☺

They jump in your boat when they are ready–assuming you have reminded them regularly you are always there for them—and occasionally letting them know what you have to offer.

This creates a relationship over time on their terms rather than  always on your terms.

I guess we can say “when the fish (students) are ready, the fishermen ( teachers) appear.

That happens to be the subject line of the blog post about Clayton Makepeace referenced above.

I am by no means saying that we should be completely passive with our marketing messages—urgency, deadlines, timed launches and making offers at live or virtual events are all important to have in our tool (tackle?) box.

But it’s clear that in today’s competitive and distracting marketing environment—which has too much noise, is full of overflowing Inboxes, and exposes us to way too many pictures of food and vacation spots on Facebook–patience is a virtue.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive (i.e. “don’t ruin a great offer with a CTA”) but it is fascinating how much we kept coming back to this theme with so many world class marketers in the room at “Titans/Miami 2018.”

I bet we will hear more about this again this week at “Titans/Virtual 2021.”

To bring this home, I just happened to get an email from one of my online family members this week:

I must say that you are the only marketer in my inbox who gives me the feeling that you genuinely want to provide great value to his online family instead of obsessively trying to sell something each time. Interestingly enough, you are the one from whom I have bought the highest amount of books and materials as well.

I didn’t invent this alternative way to fish…it’s not for everyone…I just learned from the best and established it as a best practice.

I humbly submit it here for your consideration.

Eben Pagan

Eben is a pioneer in online marketing and made a name for himself practicing and perfecting the craft…and then he went on to teach all he has done.

Evidence of his success:  The hundreds of superstars who point to him as their mentor.

Eben is known for never standing still and he is always reinventing himself.

At the event, he talked about a new product he’s working on that covers the very subject of “re-invention”…because he believes that without constant re-invention, life is far less compelling and impactful.

And he’s all about impact.

(NOTE: In the two years since he spoke at Titans Mastermind, he has developed many other new products, incorporating state-of-the art strategies and techniques…but “Eben-ized”)

When you ask this visionary about “marketing” he coyly says:

“I haven’t been interested in marketing for over 10 years.”

Despite this, Eben knows how important marketing is to make sure he can fully share the knowledge he is absorbing in areas such as “mental models,” “futurism,” “collaborative romantic partnerships,” and “visionary art”.

Yes…those are just a few things Eben thinks about on a regular basis.

Two additional takeaways from his talk:

1) When reading up on anything new, instead of just Googling it, go to Google Scholar for information you can really trust.

Eben reminded us that 90% of all the scientists that ever lived are alive today.

Did you know that? I didn’t.

Why this is important: We need to access these geniuses directly nowbecause we can.

2) You need to have high self-esteem (and confidence without arrogance) to be a creative visionary.

I touched on this in my post “12 Notes”—that is, it is less important what you “invent” and far more important what you share with the world that has already been invented inside your own story.

Eben went even deeper on this, reminding us that protecting our self-esteem is critical to keeping our confidence level as high as possible as entrepreneurs and business leaders…even when we often feel like we are only re-doing and re-hashing work from others.

Our unique creativity is everywhere and we always need to take pride in it.

Todd Brown

Todd is at the bleeding edge of all things online marketing and at the meeting, he dissected a blockbuster promotion he created that stayed with the theme of delivering as much valuable content as you can before you are even thinking about a CTA (i.e asking for money from prospects).

It was a unique take which he labeled “Narrative Lessons.”

On the surface this is a bit counter-intuitive, but it’s consistent with what we are seeing in the marketplace today from top marketers.

Throughout his case history, he proved how narrative often trumps offer and CTA–and he talked about this methodology as one that does not disqualify anyone from the promotion until absolutely necessary.

There were many more gems as Todd performed “copy forensics” in real time.

Here are some notes from Todd’s presentation taken by a Titan who was in the room, Eric Bakey, a copywriter and entrepreneur…and as you can see, an accomplished artist too:

Nicholas Kusmich

Nicholas gave us a blueprint (and a master class) for maximizing effectiveness of Facebook advertising.

And true to our theme, he focused on both desirability of the content you should offer along with ease of consumption of that content.

Once again, offer and CTA are not front and center in terms of “selling.”

He stretched us to think out of our boxes since so many of the direct response skills we know and love are having trouble being applied to this platform.

He eloquently said:

“Facebook is not accepting (or appreciating) those skills.”

In addition to your traditional direct marketing chops not being as effective as they are in other media, if Facebook doesn’t like the claims you make or the initial aggressive offer you construct, you’re not going to be on Facebook for very long.

He drew up the model below (with a creative assist again from Eric Bakey).

Nicholas is solving the Facebook puzzle—for what we should do to achieve the highest desirability–while also creating the easiest content to consume (and also content that will not be rejected).

If you study and take to heart Nicholas’ Cartesian system above, using the axes of desire and ease of consumption creating the quadrants of Gap/Trap/Snap/Crap, you’ve got the visualization of a brilliant model.

The overall theme, once again, of delivering on the right kind of content at the right time, is paramount.

Mark Ford

One of the architects of the publishing giant Agora, Mark led us in a discussion about “hiring slow and firing fast” by asking everyone in the room a question:

“Can you think of a time you fired someone and after you let them go, you thought that you should have waited longer to fire them?”

I know this is the toughest thing we do in business–most of us are just too nice.

Mark is the author of many books, and three of his best were given out to everyone in attendance:

  • Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat 
  • Persuasion: The Subtle Art of Getting What You Want
  • How to Speak Intelligently About Everything That Matters

I recommend all of them highly.

Mark also shared four of his favorite quotes:

On flattery:

“Flattery works. At least it does on me. I am equally pleased by insincerely given compliments as by genuinely felt ones.”

On curiosity:

“The thing we most want to know is often the thing we’ve been told we don’t need to know.”

(NOTE: My mentor Marty Edelston has a nice spin on this one: “The only things worth talking about are the things you can’t talk about.”)

On teaching new skills:

“The behavior or skill I most want to teach others is usually the one I’ve only very recently acquired.”

On success:

“In retrospect success looks like luck. Looking forward it looks like hard work.”

One of our Titans commented after the meeting (regarding Mark’s time with us):

“Mentoring from the builder of a billion dollar powerhouse. Thrilling and priceless.”

Bob Burg

Bob is the author of The Go-Giver, which has sold over 850,000 copies worldwide (more now I’m sure!) and the classic has been translated into 22 languages.

Bob came back to so many of the same themes from earlier in the event, and one in particular that is critical in his work:

We should always provide exceptional value first which makes selling anything later on more natural (and a lot easier).

That led us into a discussion about whether you needed to be a “nice person” to truly be a Go-Giver–and surprisingly, you don’t.

While we agreed that it’s probably better if you are a pleasant person, the key is, first and foremost, to deliver value to others as your top priority.

We talked about the “mercenary marketer” who can deliver exceptional value at the highest level; and at the same time ethically extract every dollar he or she can, making “warm and fuzzy” only a bonus in the process.

This also started a conversation about how to be the “right kind of giver”…one that does not get taken advantage of regularly…while still being about contributing first all the time.


Let’s head back to that aforementioned lake (and climb inside our boat)–and connect the dots.

As you survey the lake and its inhabitants, always think about being in service and contributing to others first…and saying “yes” as often as you can…without giving up your right arm.

In addition, consider putting away your fishing pole and your tackle box on occasion–and instead, pull out the aforementioned spotlight to shine on the water consistently with generosity and a full heart (creating over delivery of great content and value,  and as crazy as it sounds, no “offer”).

Regularly practice the four c’s of fishing without bait: Copy, content, congruence and consistency.

And then be patient.

The fish are always swimming and jumping –below the surface and above.

Therefore, at least once in a while, you allow them to swim and jump at their own speed…rather than always at yours.



P.S. Both of my mastermind groups, Titans Mastermind and Titans Xcelerator, are currently closed…not as a “scarcity play” but as a way for me to focus more keenly on current members.

I’d rather do that than constantly “fish” for new members.

However, if you would like to get on the waiting list for either one, I invite you to do that today.

Titans Mastermind has a limit of 30 businesses for membership and it is currently full.

But I am always taking applications.

Click here for details.

Note: All prospective new members are required to do a one-on-one Zoom interview with me before acceptance.

Titans Xcelerator just had a successful launch…and while I don’t know when it will open up again, getting on the waiting list will guarantee you additional bonuses and privileges once it’s open again…and you will get first crack at membership.

Click here to get on the waiting list today.

P.P.S. I will write up a summary of the Titans Mastermind meeting being held this week at some point in the near future.

Something tells me there will be some “reruns” from the event in 2018…which I am actually looking forward to…because I know they will come with additional twists and turns.

Can’t wait to share it with you!

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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