July 16, 2023

Those of you who follow me through these weekly posts know that I consider myself a “serial direct marketer.”

What does that mean?

It means that I am obsessed with “measurable marketing” (i.e., marketing that must always pay out) …and with every and any medium utilized, I demand an acceptable ROI (Return on Investment) from all of my clients and mastermind members…and myself.

What’s an “acceptable” ROI?

It’s something you can’t make up as you go along, you need to be a slave to your numbers, your cash flow, and all of the things I outline in my book Overdeliver…which has been repeated many times before in other works from the pioneers of direct response marketing.

Saying “ROI is overrated” is a sin for someone like me…but I’m saying it…as long as you combine it with another flavor of ROI which I call “Relationships of Investment.”

Of course this is a rerun with a purpose…as outlined in “The compound interest from relationship capital.”

This new angle about ROI popped up when I received an email from one of the best copywriting coaches on the planet (and good friend) Kevin Rogers:


I’d love to get your input on a puzzle I’m solving right now if you have a minute…

Twice a year we have in-person meet ups for our coaching students.

And we sell a few extra seats to offset the cost. I know you are familiar with the model 🙂

My idea for the theme for the upcoming meet up was going to be “AI proof” — essentially why the best copywriters will never be threatened by AI because they are true creators, understand the nuances of marketing, etc.

However, I suspected that the market is completely burned out on concepts around AI so I surveyed my list and that was solidly confirmed.

Of course, there is a nuance to the response as well that I could explain more, but suffice to say putting AI in the title is something I want to avoid for this one, but it will be a [BIG] bullet.

[NOTE: Kevin and I are in agreement that “AI fatigue” is a thing in terms of what we teach and write about…but that doesn’t mean we don’t think it may be the most important thing to talk about with our respective online and offline families. Just not around the clock. It remains a “BIG Bullet” for me as evidenced by the fact that I’ve had five of the leading AI “gurus” for marketers and copywriters speak to my Titans Xcelerator Mastermind over the past couple of months…but that doesn’t count as “around the clock”…at least I hope not. :-)]

Back to Kevin…

The number one thing that came up in responses was that people want to make a “human connection “and are attracted by the idea of being in the room with copywriters they look up to… sort of a “greatness by osmosis” concept.

Now, you and I both know that that is the true value of attending any event… and it is encouraging that they say they want the same…but do they really mean it?

When I think about promoting it that way with a hefty per seat price (and very limited space), my marketing brain insists that there has to be some way to equate the ROI.

Since I imagine you’ve battled similar situations, I’d love to get your thoughts on whether I should focus on “being in the room” as the true value of attending.

And…do I need to “do the math“ for prospective attendees?

Not an easy puzzle to solve…but I had to have an answer for my buddy…which is now the subject of this post…and I gave him this template to work with:

“ROI is overrated”

I know just saying that as a direct response copywriter (and copywriter coach) is blasphemy.

But hear me out.

When you attend any event–live or virtually–time is money.

But doing money math in your head at every moment gets tiring doesn’t it?

Yes…you need a “Return on Investment” for everything you do…but I maintain (and I know many of you agree), “Returns” can take many different forms.

I prefer a different form of ROI in addition to the traditional form:

“Relationships of Investment.”

Combining these two ROI’s creates a more lasting form of ROI…because everything is not a Revenue (another “R!”) event…but everything is a Relationship event.

I understand that if you attend the upcoming meetup, you’ll want it to “pay out”…but payouts can come in many forms and I submit to you that “cash” or “revenue” is important…but it is a short term play.

It’s all about who is in the room, what you can contribute to them and what they can contribute to you…and creating collaborations that will exceed any quick “Ninja tactic” or some new way to rig the system using ChatGPT.

Playing the long game (with a healthy dose of what’s hot right now) is the true prescription for success.

Here are the current agenda topics, any one of which will lead to a direct Return on Investment:

  • xxxxx Yes…this bullet can be about AI 🙂
  • xxxxx
  • xxxxx

And here is who will be in the room, and any one of these people could change your career forever (through a Relationship of Investment) with one idea, quote or lesson:

  • xxxxx
  • xxxxx
  • xxxxx

Etc., etc,. etc….

While Kevin may or may not use my approach, I loved that we went from talking about AI as the undesirable theme of his event (which is getting soooo tedious) …to the possibilities that arise from human connection.

And…getting your online and offline families to stop thinking about “getting their money’s worth” at every step along the journey with you.

Read “The five ways we get paid…and the fifth is cash” if you are not familiar with this game changing concept.

The combination of being a serial direct marketer (“making everything pay out”) with an “I like people more than math (and cash)” attitude has made for some confusing days (and weeks and months) during my 40+ years in marketing.

But I would not have that confusion occur any other way. 🙂



P.S. Kevin doesn’t just send emails to me…he sends regular observations to a much wider audience as the “lead chief” at Copy Chief…and this was his thesis in a recent email which got my attention:

“Teachers make great copywriters for the same reason comedians and musicians do… they spend a lot of time interacting with a live audience.”

He also mentions that they receive immediate feedback from students based on what is resonating and what is confusing; and they can do up to seven “shows” a day. 🙂

Having come from a family of teachers, I resonated with Kevin’s thoughts here…to once again prove that I am a capable copywriter wannabe.

Teachers are essentially the best students first and foremost…which is what prepares them for the rigors of teaching.

And dare I say copywriting and marketing.

I went deep on this topic in “Learning by teaching…reflex generosity…and a pink tie,” which honors all teachers (lifelong learners) that I have met during my lifetime…and those I haven’t met …and my dad.

If you haven’t read it previously, read it here and let me know what you think.

I was also reminded (when Kevin said that teachers make great copywriters) of one of the best copywriters of all time, Gary Halbert…who taught his writing apprentices (and anyone else who would listen) to write to a fifth-grade level to get the most response from their audience.

So…in conclusion:

Teachers make great copywriters…but fifth grade teachers will ultimately become the best copywriters. 🙂

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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