Bacon Wrapped Business With Brad Costanzo
BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Direct Marketing Titan Brian Kurtz: Lessons From Sending 1.3 Billion Mail Pieces and Over $80 Million Of Media Buying


Brian Kurtz is a true TITAN of direct response marketing.

With a career spanning nearly four decades, he has sent over 1.3 billion pieces of direct mail, mastered the marketing of newsletters and books via direct response television (infomercials), and using e-mail and the Internet in huge numbers.

At the height of his infomercial success, Brian was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million and sold over three million books via direct response television over a three year period while at the Boardroom.

It doesn't matter if you're just getting started or trying to scale your business to a billion in revenue, Brian Kurtz reveals some time-tested, hard-won lessons that will help you on your journey.

This interview is a real treat because Brian is extremely generous in sharing his wisdom and letting us borrow his brilliance to use in our business.

Some Topics We Discussed Include:

  • Why a product/promotion is not a business and how to make certain you don't get stuck on an endless loop
  • Determining lifetime value, low/medium/high scenarios, customer loyalty
  • Understanding the consumer's “barrier to switch”, the hassle factor and commodities vs. specialty products
  • The 40/40/20 rule and how to use it in your business
  • RFM – Recency, Frequency, Monetary… the 3 most important letters to any direct response marketer
  • Regression modeling and how it relates to Facebook
  • How to cater to your VIPs
  • The difference between the “Intrepreneur” vs. Entrepreneur
  • How to hire the right creatives and copywriters – what to look for and red flags
  • Brian’s Online to Offline to Online method

To learn more about Brian, visit his website:

About The Guest: Brian Kurtz

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response MarketingI love direct marketing. Starting in the list business gave me a solid foundation in learning about audiences, demographics and database marketing; then, working in all media helping Boardroom sell millions of newsletter subscriptions and consumer books put all of that list training to good use.

While direct mail is my bread and butter…I’ve overseen the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third-class mail over the past 20 years…I have been able to market and sell newsletters and books via direct response television (infomercials) and using e-mail and the Internet in huge numbers.

At the height of our infomercial success, I was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million and we sold over 3 million books via direct response television over a three year period. And since I’ve never met a medium I didn’t like, I’ve learned the ins and outs of every possible medium where direct marketing lives and thrives.

I’m proud to have cut my teeth in the offline world of direct marketing and I am finding that the principles I’ve followed over the past 30+ years all apply to any and all “new media.” I am committed to educating any and all online marketers who will listen…and I am also committed to “learning while teaching” because there is still so much to learn. And in my free time, you're likely to catch me working with my other passion – being an umpire for Little League Baseball.

Direct Marketing Titan Brian Kurtz: Lessons From Sending 1.3 Billion Mail Pieces and Over $80 Million Of Media Buying

I am honored and thrilled to have Brian Kurtz on the other line. Brian is one of the Titans of Direct Response. He’s been in the business for over several years. He has sent between 1.3 billion and 2 billion pieces of third-class mail over the past several years.

At the height of his infomercial success, he was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million selling over three million books via DirectResponseTV and that was just in a three-year period.

Brian has seen it all, done it all. He’s got an amazing breath of experience that spans even past the internet. Those things were done when we had to sell postage stamps.

Brian, welcome to Bacon Wrapped Business. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.

I’m glad to be here and it’s definitely one of the best titled podcasts I’ve ever heard.

Thanks, I appreciate it. It’s a funny story, the reason that I’m doing it is that I happened to have the idea for this name of Bacon Wrapped Business.

It accelerates the taste buds.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the subtitle of it which is, “Sizzling hot business advice guaranteed to make you fat profits.”

It’s great to have you on. I’ve followed you from afar for several years and have been a big fan of what you’re doing. I remember with the Boardroom back in 2009 or 2010 when I started with DirectResponse and internet marketing back in 2008.

I recall hearing that you were one of the big, heavy hitters and I was thinking how to get on your list. I bought one of the big books of secrets of inside information.

I said, “I have to get on that list, I have to see what they’re sending.” I can’t remember how much stuff I got in my Swipe File from you.

We were renting our list heavily back then we were selling books by the pounds. If you bought a book that was 500 or 600 pages, it was a good model for many years and it’s still going they’re still able to sell books like that.

Direct mail while it still scales in terms of response rates and if you do it right is still profitable but you don’t have the same amount of list universe available because many people are no longer doing direct mail. The last time I checked, the internet is a much cheaper postage.

You get that, you get the postage going up and a lot of people probably leaving direct mail because of that. I never even thought of that until you said it.

The barrier to entry online is so low. The funny thing is that there was an urban legend email that was floating around years ago about how they were going to charge postage for email.

I thought that was the coolest idea because the barrier would be harder for anybody to do email marketing. All of the sudden, you might start thinking about your messaging in a whole other way if you start pay something every time you send something.

I wrote a blog once called How Paying Postage Made Me a Better Marketer. I don’t like to sound like grandpa. I always say that.

You’ve heard this argument before but I will tell you that it is important. I know that what had to go into what we did in terms of direct mail before we send something was so much more thought, work.

Making sure the creative was right, the list segmentation, the authors, everything was perfect because the cost per thousand was so high, whereas online you could throw anything out there and something would stick.

You can’t afford to be sloppy when you’re doing that. I don’t know if you know Luke Jaten by any chance.

I do, I’m a big fan of Luke. We were both guests at Jeff Walker Mastermind once. He’s very smart.

I’m a good friend of Luke’s and he was on the show before. That was one of the things he was saying too because he’s made his bones in direct mail.

The level, detail and thought that goes into every communication had to be much better it makes you a better marketer. You’ve helped oversee 1.3 billion pieces of mail?

Yes, it’s not an exact number but I did a good estimate.

 Did you count it all manually by yourself?

No, I didn’t look at every stamp, but 1.3 billion pieces of direct mail over a number of years, if I go back to my origin when I started at Boardroom, this was a huge direct mailer for a long time. We mailed certainly somewhere between 1.3 to two billion.

The mail didn’t go out unprofitable. There were metrics we follow. We were looking to throw good money after that, 1.3 or 1.5 billion, direct mail that was targeted actually made a profit. It made a profit by year one, it made a profit by year two and that was also part of the metric.

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Direct Response Marketing: It doesn’t matter if you have what you think is a killer product because if you don’t have any backend product, then you’re dead. One killer promotion is not a business.


The metric of lifetime value was at least understanding that you’re going to make money in year two if you break even or lose money in year one.

That is actually one of the best online marketers I’ve met since immersing myself in the online world. The best online marketers understand lifetime value as well as I did when I was doing direct mail.

For a new entrepreneur with a new offer, I’ve dealt with this in the past where there is that “chicken and the egg” syndrome.

You know you will have a lifetime value of it, you have to totally estimate it because you don’t have the back tested data to prove what it is. If you were going to do something brand new right now, how would you estimate that?

Let’s say that your frontend offer is whatever and you know what your backend offer is going to be. With your experience, do you call on past averages?

It’s a yes and no. You want to use every experience you have. Jay Abraham’s classic book such as, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got, which I highly recommend.

In that book, it run into my head that you’ve got to go in deep ends with what you got and he was my direct mail guru. He used to say, “You’ve got to believe in all your numbers, it’s all you’ve got.” A couple of things on your question is if you’re just starting out a new product.

Two things, a product is not a business and a promotion is not a business. “A product is not a business,” is a quote I got from Chris who is a great direct online marketer.

What that means is that the scenario that you gave me is that you have a backend product, you’re already in place. No direct marketing business is going to survive without repeat business. That was true in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and is still true today.

The idea that you have a product and you think that it’s going to be a killer product that’s going to crush it but you don’t have any backend product or any subscription for continuity, then good luck with that.

“A promotion is not a business,” that’s from the great copywriter John Colton. Promotion is not a business means that you get this killer promotion that’s working on ClickBank or working with affiliates and it’s doing great.

You’re doing all this great stuff and you did a million-dollar launch but you don’t have any backend product, then you’re also dead. One killer promotion is not a business. Starting there, that’s the key, having the second to fourth product.

We already assumed that now you have the second and third, how you determine lifetime value and what you might want to lose on that first promotion in terms of your money to get that later on.

I couldn’t predict the numbers exactly. One technique I always did is that you want to have what I call low, medium and high scenarios for everything that you do.

For example, I would take whatever experience I have. I had a lot more as time went on, but if you ‘re starting out, you might not have as much.

Try to get as much on the field experience from other people you may know to share with you what kind of click rates, what kind of stick rates and if you have an affinity product on the backend, what types of numbers could you expect from the price point.

If your first product is 47 and your second product is 99, then find some people who have done that. Get some rough numbers and do a list of low, medium and high scenario, so that you’ll know what your worst cases on the low to know that after year two, you won’t breakeven and won’t run out of cash.

The medium scenario hopefully will be something that will help you make money in year two. The high scenario would be something where you’re rolling in the dough.

I think that’s a good rule of thumb. If you don’t have the experience yourself, get it. Be in mastermind groups of people who have been there and done that. When you join those groups, make sure that you’re bringing your own knowledge, whatever that might be.

Everybody’s got experience getting everything you’ve got out of everything you have. Everybody, bring something to the party and find out what other people have done on the battlefield so you can start doing all those kinds of estimates.

To do best guess is not a good idea. You still may be wrong. It’s true that you can do a low medium and high for the backend but you may be off. Your low may be high and your high is too low. You’ve got do something to figure it out because you don’t have unlimited cash.

You have to make sure that you start calculating those things and figure out the worst-case scenario. What’s the medium case and what’s your best-case scenario? That’s how I did almost everything in business for years when it came to marketing.

That’s great scientific way of doing it because you’re guessing it’s not going to work. I guessed in the past, hoped and prayed and I realized that’s not the best strategy.

Couple of things you brought up about somebody else having the answers, I forgot who told me this but I would tattoo it on my body if I wanted to. Someone told me that I don’t have to know all the answers as long as I know the people who do. That’s why I am a huge fan of masterminds.

You’re not inventing, most people are inventors and that’s wonderful. It’s been done before and you’re putting your personal spin on it.

I didn’t invent everything I’m talking about. I didn’t make up lifetime value. I didn’t make up low, medium and high scenarios. I didn’t make up, “A product is not a business and a promotion is not a business.”

You take your accumulated knowledge and adapt it to your business and people’s business you’re trying to help.

You might have 35 years of experience or have one-year experience for 35 years, that’s a huge difference. If you don’t accumulate, it’s like a compound interest. You’ve got to accumulate and that curiosity is key. I know that’s one of the reasons you started this podcast.

Everybody’s got experience getting everything you’ve got out of everything you have. Find out what others have done on the battlefield. Share on X

That’s 100% of the reason. I wanted to have conversations with people like yourself, people that I find highly interesting. I may as well record it and share this with other people. It obviously helps me as well, but that’s exactly the reason I do this.

I’m probably the most selfish podcaster in the business. I oftentimes forget that there’s anybody listening because I would want to have this conversation with or without my audience. If they aren’t into this or not into this, then that’s fine.

One of the things that you brought up going back to the whole idea of lifetime value, as I mentioned to you offline and a lot of my listeners heard me say, my wife and I launched a coffee brand called Stiletto Coffee.

One of the things we’re dealing with because we’re new is we don’t have that data. Coffee is such a low margin business, just an individual product. You’re not going to make a lot of money selling one bag of coffee.

However, it’s got a tremendous reorder rate because if people find a coffee they like, they continue to come back for more. The one thing we don’t know is because how long is the retention typically? Is it like in DirectMarketing, three to four months or is it a year?

We’re trying to decide how much can we pay to acquire that frontend customer because it makes a big difference in what we’re doing. Going through that exact same thing, I like what you said about the low, medium and high scenarios.

Going through your situation not only do you have to figure out what the stick rates are going to be. There’s a concept I learned early on in my career, a barrier switch. An incredible lure to increasing the amount of time someone is going to stay with you.

It’s always based on what the hassle factor for the consumer to switch to some competing brand. In different categories, it’s not that deep.

For coffee, it’s a lot tougher to find something you love. That’s why you have loyalty programs and accumulated points. The first time I heard this concept was in relation to one of the first shopping services called Peapod.

I know you thought about this concept but I can’t emphasize it enough. In that concept is the barrier to switch is the commodity versus specialty.

Either you have the specialty over the commodity or you better have something else going on if you’re competing for the commodity. For anybody whose commodity is just on price, good luck with that. I don’t want to be in a business like that.

I appreciate all the barrier switch and loyalty program. That goes back to what you were talking about the lifetime value, understanding if you can go negative in the beginning and how much to acquire a customer. These are a lot of things entrepreneurs and my readers face.

Switching gears a little bit, before the call, you talked about a lot of things which was gold and I don’t want to let that go. You talked about the 40-40-20 rule.

I’ve been using it a lot. It feels like all of my clients need to understand this and a lot of them don’t. I think it’s an important basic of marketing.

With the 40-40-20 rule, the success of any campaign, whether online or offline direct marketing, is you’re dependent on 40% of the list and list segmentation, 40% on the offer you make and 20% on the creative and messaging.

It sounds simple and I don’t want to start playing games that it should be 38% versus 42%. It doesn’t matter.

The concept is sound, which is if you think about it doesn’t mean that the creative is the least important. Think that if you had the best copywriter writing an amazing video sales letter online for you or a direct mail package or a TV spot.

It went to a completely wrong audience with an offer that no one would buy, you’re going to get zero response rate.

Whereas the opposite if your list segment is ideal, perfectly suited for you, your offer is the right offer at the right price because you’ve tested it. Your creative is done by an amateur copywriter.

You’re probably going to sell something because the list in the offer is targeted for that product that you didn’t need a word class copy to make it sing.

Put world class copy on top that you’ll have what I call the holy trinity of direct marketing where you’ve now done world class creative, offer and list segmentation all working together. That’s how it will explode.

Couple of things that I want to mention about the 40-40-20, I read something online that mentioned that the 40-40-20 rule was written by an online technologist.

He said that the rule was actually 25-25-25-25. I look at it and it said, 25% list, 25% offer, 25% creative and 25% technology. Technology is wonderful, but what a horrible way to look at marketing.

I’ll quote the great Bill Bernbach here, “Never adapt the technique to your idea. Adapt the idea to the technique.” The idea that, “Because there’s some cool technology out there, let’s work our offer into it,” is completely the wrong approach.

The right approach is, “Let’s find out if there is demand for the product list. Let’s find out if there is a price point that works great and if there is a messaging that might work.”

If it ends up being something we just want to do on Facebook, great. If it’s something we want to do on direct mail, great. If we want to do both, greater.

The idea that the 40-40-20 rule is old hat, I don’t buy it. The first thing I do with a new client, online mostly, I start looking at their list.

Who are their customers? Who has bought from them? Who are our customers, prospects, suspects? How are we messaging to each of those groups? Are we segmenting them based within the buyers file, by how much they bought?

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Direct Response Marketing: The success of any campaign, whether online or offline direct marketing, is dependent on 40% of the list and list segmentation, 40% on the offer you make, and 20% on the creative and messaging.


The other big concept over this whole 40-40-20 rule is the rule of RFM, which is not going out of style. RFM is the basic tenant of direct marketing and it stands for Recency, Frequency and Monetary.

Recency means that someone who bought from you three months ago is more important than someone who bought from you six months ago or a year ago. It’s counter to what you would believe coming out of college. Recency is key.

Frequency, put it on top of Recency is how frequently do they buy? Are they multi-buyers? Did they buy from you three months ago and two months ago? That’s someone who’s worth more than someone who just bought three months ago only.

Monetary, you should know how much they spend, total spend of every single list on your database and every single model that we ever did. We used to mail hundreds of millions of names in indirect mail. The same is true anywhere. The concept of RFM ruled everything.

We used to do these models on millions of names to try to figure out which 10, 15, 20, 100, 1,000 names to mail of the millions and it was all based on models based on RFM.

They were all based on the transaction data of all of your customers. How recent have they bought? How frequent do they buy? How much do they spend?

Maybe there was some demographic data that was important, like if we had a book for women’s health you had only the marketing to women. While the demographic data sounds sexy. How much do they make? How much household income, etc.?

All that stuff is important, but the most important thing when your marketing is transaction data. How people buy? What do they buy? It’s a behavioral thing. Once you have that information, the other stuff gets overlaid, not the other way around.

When you can segment on Facebook based on likes, based on what people follow. It’s all incredible but it’s all based on database marketing. All based on frequency, recency and monetary.

It may not be much monetary on Facebook. You can see that finding people who are most frequently on multiple sites or products that are similar to yours, you can see how this data-based marketing would permeate any medium online or offline. This is direct marketing success playbook.

What was it like to calculate RFM before the whole personal computers were ubiquitous?

There were big mainframe computers. I got into the business in 1981 and people were already doing sophisticated modeling at that point. I remember hearing Reader’s Digest, a big marketing company back in the ‘60s to ‘70s.

They were doing these Regression models using RFM on mainframe computers, but it was more painful and expensive with the technology being what it was.

In the early ‘80s, we did not have the budget at Boardroom to do high end models. We were basically doing RFM by hand. We’ll keep track when people bought by date. You had records on every single buyer. You were able to do it on computer, but you had to do based on names and address.

It was a lot more difficult than doing it in mass. By the 1990s, we had a sophisticated marketing database where we were able to do a regression modeling, which is an amazing concept.

What a regression model is not just matching names from your list to a big database, those are called look-a-like models.

A regression model mean that you would actually mail some segment of the two million name universe that you think you can mail, you would mail 50,000 to 100,000 of them in real time to actually send your offer to them that would actually lose money because it would be a cross section of two million.

By getting real responses and people actually paying for products and services, that 100,000 became 1,000 or 2,000 buyers. Those buyers are the names you did your RFM analysis on.

By doing a model on those people, you would then go out to the entire two million and you would find people that look like the 1,000 or 2,000 and start building these game’s charts that would actually predict what segments of the list you can go into and how deep you could go.

You have to put some dollars behind it but you let customers basically show you their wallet, their spending behavior and purchasing behavior.

How would you find people that are similar to them? It started with the transaction data of what made this particular group of people buy and how do we find people like them, which is exactly what’s going on with Facebook now.

Do you find most of your clients now are not keeping track of that data like they should when you start to work with them? You do work with clients now, right?

Yes, I have quite a few.

Do you have to go forensically to figure that out?

Yes, I’d say some but not all. In some it’s not the worst thing in the world because their list is not that big, so we can go back in and there are many tools out there that you can start segmenting out.

The ideal avatar for me as a client is someone that at least can identify who’s on their database, the high, mid and low-ticket buyers, prospects, suspects, how people are coming in, and where people are coming from so we can start messaging different people.

Everybody that I work with must be open because it uses my skills, otherwise they don’t need me. They must be open to messaging to different list segments based on behavior as opposed to one size fits all creative to one list.

The answer to your question is that even the least sophisticated marketer today can do some good segmentation. They can do more than what they are doing now.

Keep your mind open that someone in your organization might have a good idea as you might have. Share on X

You mentioned people who are buying high-ticket and most expensive ones. I know that this has been a hot button for me as well as a lot of my readers.

There was an interview you did with Joe Polish and one of the points there said the most effective way of selling high price products and services to high ticket buyers. I was curious if you have any insights that you care to share.

Basically, what that discussion was about was an interview I did with Joe. It’s called Everyone is Going Right. Time to Go Left. We weren’t going to talk about direct mail.

I said, “Joe, we’ve got to set this up correctly. We can’t run around telling all these online marketers to jump right in direct mail. It would sound like telling them to give up something to do something else,” which we wouldn’t.

I went a step further and said, “Direct mail was going to be way more expensive for most people to do cold prospecting. They’re much better doing it online.” However, the idea of going from online to an offline environment and back online, to me, would be nirvana.

It’s what I’m working on with a couple of my online clients now, taking their incredible online digital information product, creating hard copy physical products from it, then creating direct mail campaign.

The people coming from direct mail are going to be more engaged with the promotion than in an email or during an online launch. Although those people will be engaged to a large degree as well.

You’re going to get a different type of buyer coming out of direct mail. Imagine taking that direct mail buyer who is way more engaged from day one, then moving them online into an online funnel to sell them digital products which would be a lot cheaper than the initial physical product.

You have the best of both worlds. You have a higher engagement level in direct mail and an online feeder program so you can deliver less expensively. I know anybody who’s done this type of thing can prove that the people that came in from direct mail have a higher lifetime value.

The answer to that fascination that you brought up in that interview of what you do to high ticket people. You should have high-ticket people segmented differently than low and medium tickets because those are your VIPs.

It’s a typical ascension program for any online marketer, $47 product, $99 product, $1,500 coaching, $25,000 mastermind, they move up the food chain. It’s the same principle but you have all that list segmentation done and you have to know what to do with the people on top of the food chain.

You should be sending stuff that might be a lot more expensive to send because they’ve already proven to be your best customers and your best friends.

I remember a friend of mine, she got an online business, great business. It does amazing, she got maybe a $4 million or $5 million business selling most of the information product digitally. Let’s say she had a list of 10,000 customers over the last years.

What general market is she selling to?

She’s selling to a more of a B2B market. The principle is going to be sound for everybody reading. I asked, “What is the break out of your database?” She was sophisticated enough to tell me.

She said, “Of the 10,000 people, 8,000 have bought just one product from us. One digital download or course. Then another 1,000 people have bought two products. Another 600 have bought three.” At the bottom of the spreadsheet is one person who bought nine products.

My joke which was not much of a joke I said, “Let me ask you a question. That one person who bought the nine products, who spent $10,000 with you, when was the last time that you invited them over for dinner?”

I didn’t say that literally, but it was wanting to get to drive home the point that the person who also bought the eight products is somebody that deserves more attention, than someone who bought two. What can you do with that person? Have a brainstorming session.

It may not be selling the ninth product to the eight-product buyer, but it might be engaging with them at a different level. Getting them to participate in some of your content. Clearly, they are so engrained on what you’re teaching them, what you’re doing.

This is an example you can extrapolate this to any business. I had another client that was selling a product that sold for $24,000. It was a big product that you brought into a big facility.

They have people on their list that bought two or three these at $24,000. In a list of 100, there might have been 28 people who spent a minimum of $21,000 with them.

Those people need to be communicated in a whole different way and all of the sudden your direct mail, so to speak, becomes direct mail to 28 people. It’s target, it’s personal, it’s wanting them to do something.

It’s a granular example so people can understand how important it is to have your list segmented and to start changing the messaging.

This particular one with the $24,000 product, they bought three of them. It’s about a $70,000-plus buyer. I have them send a $50 gift that’s something they can use with the original product. The engagement factor with referral.

“Who else do you know that I can sell the $24,000 product to?” It was more of a referral mailing. That was very personal that was followed up by a phone call, that sent out $250 credit.

Sending out had a $250 product to someone who spent $70,000 with you is nothing. That’s going to open by the way and that’s the answer to the fascination.

I mentioned to you what we did. We sent out these video greeting cards to people. They opened it up and the video started to play. It has a personalized message and they don’t throw it away, especially if it was a good message and not salesy. It’s inspiration and cool, they’ll keep it there.

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Breakthrough Advertising

I’m a big fan of those. If anybody wants information on that, you can email me at and I’ll send you the source for that. You talked about being in entrepreneur versus being an entrepreneur, care to elaborate on that?

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I also didn’t have to eat what I killed from day one in my business. I was fortunate to get a job at Boardroom. I had a salary and I had health benefits.

My first salary at Boardroom was about $12,000 a year in 1981 and I got a big raise to $14,000 a year, but it was job. It was not like I started a business. The guy I worked for was an entrepreneur and working in an entrepreneurial business.

I realized that I had to make sure that all the stuff I did is seen by the person who signs my checks. That’s step one. I needed to have a score card on me, good or bad that the entrepreneur that was calling the shots knew about what I was doing.

Plus, I needed to figure out early on what’s the avenue for me to become a potential rainmaker. What’s the avenue for me if I had an idea to get my day in court to be heard? It’s not easy depending on the size of the company.

There is no reason in an entrepreneurial company if you’re working on your way up and you’re doing all the work you are supposed to do and adding as much as you can to do that. To become what I call entrepreneurial, where you start being able to get your ideas out there.

I teach a lot of people on my list who are not ready to go out on their own. They’re afraid to go out on your own. I coach a lot of them on what all the different things they could do to get noticed, to get their ideas turned into an organization.

I also talk to the people who are the entrepreneurs, who I’m in mastermind groups with and who have a lot of people in their organization who they complain about, “No one else has any good ideas.”

The entrepreneur always says, “I’m the only one who has the best ideas.” To get them to understand that there might be rainmaker in their midst, in their company that they could be training. They could be bringing along like how I was brought along by the entrepreneur who ran Boardroom, Martin Edelston.

I was lucky he noticed me. I worked my ass off. I did a lot of good things so it wasn’t by magic, but has also an open enough mind. It was hard for him because he didn’t think anybody had good ideas besides him and he had amazing ideas.

He was an incredible and legendary direct marketer, who people think is one of the greatest of all time, as I did. Keep your mind open that someone in your organization that might have a good idea as you might have or one that you could consider is step one.

It is a two-way street you have to create. It’s hard to be in an organization where there’s no avenue to be heard. Some people want to work in big organizations and that’s fine. I’m not saying that intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial is right for everybody, but to do it you have to work hard.

I worked hard at it. It was frustrating at times when Martin wouldn’t hear my ideas, who basically Poopooed my ideas and thought that I wasn’t worth very much in my early days. You work your trust, you go out and learn and bring ideas from the outside in.

You don’t have to invent everything. I’m not sure when it was probably nine years in when I became a partner in the business and all of the sudden, I became the second rainmaker in the company. That took a long time, probably over ten years.

Once that happened, then all bets were off because I’ve got my avenue. After many years of building that business with Martin, he passed away. I stayed on for a little longer after that. I realized it was time to go out on my own completely. I had all the skill that I learned from him.

What is it to become a good entrepreneur, to understand entrepreneurs in my business and being an entrepreneur of the level I was? I had some fears, but my fears were something I knew I could deal with as I went out on my own. It was something I can teach the people.

It was a good journey. Every path, now that I said it, it’s sounds like it’s so easy and it’s not my thing. I went from entrepreneur to intrapreneur. It’s not so easy and you have the right circumstance and you have to be a little bit lucky which I was, but you do create a lot of your own luck.

Switching topics, I wrote this down prior to and I didn’t want to skip it. It’s important to me especially for some stuff I’ve got going on. We talked about hiring creative and how that can be torturous for a lot on entrepreneurs.

In the past, I hired copywriters for instance and I know copywriting is in your blood. You’ve hired and worked with the best in the planet and I know one of the problems of a business owner who’s going to hire somebody to write sales copy for them is you’re to a degree hoping that works.

You don’t ever know if it works until you deploy that person’s copy and if it sinks like a turd. You can be out $1,000 or even $10,000. Knowing how to hire the right copywriter and creative can be challenging for myself, for some of the people I know, my colleagues.

You have some process in place and some questions you ask. What are the best practices in hiring creative and copies?

I wrote a blog post based on a previous blog post, it was called You May Not Know It When You See It. It goes through a series of things and the analogy is that what people say about pornography is you’ll know about it when you see it.

With a copywriter, you won’t know it when you see it. They’re all going to look different. I am not saying this is full proof, but what I did was after working with some of the best copywriters who ever lived. I came up with a list of things what they all had in common. That’s a good way to start the process.

If they all had this in common then, there are probably traits that there is a trend there.

Some of those things are insatiable curiosity. Every great copywriter I’ve ever worked with is incredibly curious about the subject matter that they’re diving into and into that end, not only that they have insatiable curiosity but they are passionate about that particular topic.

One quick identifier of someone you who might be a copywriter to throw a red flag on is someone who claims to be able to write in any category for any type of product and any type of service. There are so few of those. We are talking about dozens at most in the world.

They’re very expensive, but it took them years of getting there because they became so good at a particular niche. They became particularly good at a particular industry first and then branched out. The narrow niche out to the wider part.

If you look at it in a way of a funnel and it is coming from the bottom to become a master of some category and start branching out. The narrower the niche it started, the better. That’s also a good telltale sign.

What was your journey like? Where did you start? Were you always a copywriter that could write for anything under the sun? Did you start in the health category? The finance category? What part of the category?

It’s hard to be in an organization where there’s no avenue to be heard. Share on X

That’s always a good give away of where they’ve been and where they’re going. I also want to know what they read. What are the books that guided you to become a great copywriter?

Telltale sign if the copywriter hasn’t read books like Breakthrough Advertising, Scientific Advertising and they haven’t read David Ogilvy and they haven’t read John Caples.

I’m not saying that you should have read them all, but are you a student of this craft or what or are you a copywriter because you say you are a copywriter?

That’s a telltale sign. What do you read? Also, who do you follow? Who are the copywriters that you follow and what swipe files do you have? If they don’t know what a swipe file is, that’s a red flag.

Look at the great packages that have ever been written, the great sales letters ever been written, the great video sales letters and the great email marketers. They should have a swipe file of all the stuff they love and why they love it. You want to emulate it in their own style. That’s another telltale sign.

Another one is the stuff we have talked about. I want them to have a basic knowledge of marketing. Do they even know what RFM is when you assign them a project?

Here’s one, when I’ve assigned a copywriter a project, any copywriter who, the first thing they would ask me is a list of history. If it’s a product that’s been around, what lists have you mailed? If you’re online, what affiliates have you worked with? Who is the avatar of this product?

The idea of a project start kit. If they don’t want one as a copywriter don’t work with them. They should want every package that’s come before them for that product if it’s not a new launch. If it’s a new launch, what products and services was the client thinking about when they were launching this thing?

If the product had mailed before, who are the affiliates they’ve worked with? What are the lists they’ve mailed? If it’s something that has been a while, what creative have you mailed that didn’t work? I want to see what didn’t work.

If a copywriter is not asking you those kinds of questions, they should be asking you about life time value. They should be asking you, “Are you looking to breakeven in your first sale?” They should be talking the language of direct marketing from my money even they are not marketing experts.

It is tied into what they’re going to write about and how they’re going to write it. If you get past a lot of the gatekeeping that you need to do to before you spend thousands of dollars on copywriting, you are saving a lot of heartache.

I’ve taken a lot of notes on that. What about advice for somebody who is relatively new entrepreneur and somebody who’s not necessarily coming to this with an enormous budget for copywriting, but they’ve got a budget.

They want to hire somebody who’s not the most world class, but someone good not someone who’s starting out. What about in terms of structuring the compensation have seen and I know this will be all over Board.

When you are taking a big risk and the copywriter comes and say, “I can do this. I can do this package for $20,000.” To throw a number out there and sometimes I want a piece of the backend and the performance of it, etc.

Is there any advice you give to structure that for people who are maybe their first time hiring a paid copywriter in the past?

You are going too far ahead. You mixed two metaphors there in terms of a start-up. They’re not paying royalties to copywriters so quickly.

Not so much as a start-up and not somebody who’s doing $10 million.

You’re not going to have a budget for it. Most entrepreneurs that I know that are starting a business, they’re not starting a business in coffee if they hate coffee.

They’re not starting a business in information product for buying and selling real estate if they don’t know anything about real estate. My thought would be that they should be the best person that could at least do the first draft of copy for what they’re working on.

What they want is to hire somebody who could copy-chief them, who might be someone that can pay for coaching. $1,000 or $1,500 an hour to look at their copy and cone it and help them with it. That’s one way to go.

If they want to hire a copywriter, I don’t like copywriters who work on spec and on spec means, “I’ll write it for you if you use it and you can pay me.” Having people work on something and not getting paid for their time.

If you can find somebody who likes your category, who’s been in the business for a while, who can write a first draft and work in partnership with them and pay them a small fee against some small royalty. If it works, that can be a nice way to start finding somebody who you can partner with.

Many people whether it’s copywriting or anything else they say, “My vendors are my partners.” Most people talk the talk of that and they don’t walk the walk. The idea of walking the walk is making them share in your success together if you’re writing copy.

I will tell you this, a lot of entrepreneurs I know have told me that one of the biggest game changers for them is, especially if they are more guru-like or they have a real voice in what they were doing in their marketing.

A lot of them used to say to me that the biggest game changer for them was finding a copywriter or someone that can write in my voice and once they can write in my voice, then I could copy-chief what they do. That’s a time-consuming thing.

You want to crawl before you walk. You don’t want to jump into a partnership or relationship until you can see that you can work together closely. There are a lot of dating that should go on and a lot of it is we should share my blog post, You Know It When You See It.

You can use those seven things that I have written. Curiosity, the swipe files and all of that. Use that as a check list to make sure that the person is someone who knows what they’re talking about and then start building this relationship by doing one project together.

Definitely, try it before you like it and as far as compensating, it’s all over the mat. As far as what you’ll pay, but a nice model is to pay them for their time. A few thousand dollars to do their first job and if it works, I’ll pay you X% of the net cash receipts of what comes from what you wrote for me.

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Direct Response Marketing: You want to crawl before you walk. You don’t want to jump into a partnership or relationship until you can see that you can work together closely.


All of the sudden, you’ll start paying them a little residual on top of what they charged you to do the original project and you start seeing that you can dance together. That’s how great relationships and partnerships are made in the copywriting world.

There are some good takeaways from there. There are a couple of questions I want to ask you. One of them is about the work you are doing. You were with Boardroom. Are you no longer with Boardroom? Is it now Titans?

Yes. That’s old news.

Tell me about the stuff you’re doing. What kind of clients are you working with? What are some of the biggest opportunities that you’re excited about? Maybe any trends that you’re seeing that are cool and looking for to capitalize.

A few of them. One that I liked, one that I hinted at before is what I call O2O2O, which is Online to Offline to Online. I left Boardroom and started my company Titans Marketing.

I’ve got two mastermind groups. One a bit higher level than the other. Lower level one is not low level. There are still experienced marketers. They are smaller companies who are in growth.

Whereas the higher-end group is more seasoned direct respond marketers. Usually $5 million to $60 million in size, the other group is probably below $5 million for the most part. I have these two mastermind groups. They are all based in multi-channel marketing.

The idea that you can weave in and out different marketing, I’ll give you an example, is a company that has an online information product. They’ve done launches online. They’ve done multi-million dollar launches online selling digital products.

They have a physical product that they create from the digital product whether it is DVD, CD, transcript and books. I want to do one of them and I have two of them. One in particular is to tape their offline product and create an irresistible offer.

I know the lists were available offline for this product, which is a health product. I knew those lists. Do an offline version of the online product and create a physical product. Sell it, bring people in to buy that completely offline, direct mail.

When I have these lists of buyers in direct mail, I can start moving them back online by offering them all kinds of eNewsletters, special online downloadable premiums to complement what they already bought online.

As you can see, it costs me a lot to get that costumer offline because direct mail is more expensive. Printing, postage and physical product. Now, I am bringing them through a funnel of backend online, raising price and moving them into an extension program.

This is a dream come true for me if I can pull this off with a few clients. You’ve got someone that came in offline in a more engaged environment called direct mail versus email. There will be a higher lifetime value.

I can deliver product and promotion in both offline and online to them that can reduce my cost. I love that model. It is something that is a big part of what I’m doing. Another big piece of what I’m working on is copywriter thing.

The paradigm for hiring creative talent has changed. When I did it the most of my career, it was I called hired gun. You find a great copywriter who will write for you and the next guy, girl and company, they’ll get royalties for all of them because they’re good.

It is harder to do that with the level of specialization that the shortage of copywriters that can write in all categories. The new paradigm is to be good at that one thing.

Be the copywriter for naturopathic health. Be the copywriter for stock options. Be the copywriter for chiropractic or dental or real estate, but real estate for flipping houses. The more specialized you become, the more you start understanding that particular avatar or demographic.

You start to become a great copywriter. The irony of course is that instead of having multiple clients, you end up with a few maybe even one, which sounds like being the opposite of a freelance copywriter with all the freedom.

It is more lucrative to be that one writer for that one company. That becomes so valuable to that entrepreneur that you’ll make a lot more money than being a hired gun where your promotions are being beaten all the time by competing copywriters. Especially online, they’ll get beat quickly.

You can keep a control, which means the winning package is for months, if not years. There's a story of these controls that hang around for twenty years in direct mail. That’s not the case online, you could lose control in half an hour.

You’re not going to keep the control which means, you’re not going to keep your royalty payment, which means you’re going to be looking for the next job. You’ll write for food and you don't want to do that.

The paradigm is shifting from hired-gun many clients, to niche copywriting for a small group of clients in your own personal passion. I’m out there working very hard to match up niche copy writers with niche clients who are great fits for each other, because that’s the future.

Those are a couple of big trends, the trend of O2O2O, the trend of new paradigm for how we hire creative talent and copywriting, multi-channeled marketing. Being behold into one medium.

You wouldn't put all your investments in one company or one stock. You diversify your portfolio. Why would you want to diversify your media options? Even within online, you don't want to be just Facebook, Amazon or search or display.

You want to diversify that and then you want to see, “Does my product lend itself to TV? Does it lend itself to online video, YouTube? Does it lend itself to direct mail, newspaper or magazine print advertising?” Believe it or not, you could get a lot of good deals there.

You want to diversify as much as possible, so you’re not shut out when Big Brother comes knocking on the door. Facebook shut you down, your entire platform is on Facebook. I’ve heard that horror story, I'm 100% on AdWords and Google shut me down.

Being 100% that whole, “Put all your eggs in one basket,” thing, it holds absolutely true for this.

I’m the guy who could be helpful to marketers who wants to be multi-channel, since I’ve had all these experiences offline in addition to online.

If you get past a lot of the gatekeeping before you spend thousands of dollars on copywriting, you are saving a lot of heartache. Share on X

Brian, what kind of a nut are you trying to crack in your business, in your life? Whether that’s a problem you’re trying to solve, resource you’re trying to get a hold of, a person you’re trying to meet. This is one of the ways that maybe myself and some of the readers can even give back to you.

There’s no big need. I'm in six mastermind groups that I run too. I'm getting a lot of feedback from a lot of people. Not to say that, people reading this who I don’t know could probably be helpful to me.

I’m fascinated with all the different models. I used to have a thing taped to my computer. I probably should put it back up there. I used to say I am two new models a day or something like that.

It reminded me that I want to hear about two new marketing models, ways to sell or ways to position. I want to hear about two a day at least.

For example, we were talking before about publishing your own book. I was talking to somebody who was talking about a book funnel on the backend when you’re stuck selling through Amazon. How you can still get names of buyers by creating a backend funnel.

If you self-publish how do you do it through a free shipping and handling offer, and then move it through a different funnel. Learning that stuff is incredible. Learning how to do online launches.

I'm in Jeff Walker’s product launch formula group. I've never done an online launch in my life. I've done versions of it and I've been launching stuff for years, but to not understand completely how to do it. The way Jeff teaches it has been a blessing, all the different things.

There’s no one thing, that’s a big missing link but there are so many pieces of knowledge that I'm trying to accumulate. This O2O2O thing, I'm still learning because I’m going to bring these online guys into an offline environment.

They’re going to teach me on how we’re going to bring these people back online. Who likes to respond through offline channels? That’s going to be game-changing for them and maybe for a lot of other people in my world.

For the publishing and the self-published authors, I have a lot of readers who either have their own books or are thinking about it. Are you seeing many books still being sold from infomercial? Seeing that as a tactic that it still works well?

I don't see a lot of it. It’s hard to sell information products through direct response TV for the most part. It’s not impossible but we did a franchise that did probably did over $200 million between TV, direct mail and online all working in tandem between 2005 and 2007.

The advent of how much DVRs have permeated our world, the world’s changed on all of that, but that doesn’t mean that everything shouldn’t be multi-channels. There are a lot of different ways to do it like doing online computer video and all those stuff.

I see a lot of people being able to use YouTube using almost a direct response TV model but playing it through YouTube. The techniques are there.

As far as the way we sold books, big hard cover encyclopedic books, I’ve never went through an outside publisher. I bought the rights from outside publishers and create a direct mail and direct marketing versions of those books.

That’s a model for a company that wants to publish. Have a big list that has an affinity to specific project product subjects and you would go out to publishers and say you have a book that you’re only selling in the book store and online, but you're not selling many.

I want to do a whole promotion around that book to my list and to list like mine. Those are deals you probably still can make. There’s an opportunity there in terms of taking outside publishers’ books and bringing them into your particular funnel is and paying a royalty on that.

All books or most books, they have their heyday and then they trickle out. Then it’s several years since the book has ever been promoted or whatever. I bet you could strike some good deals with people who have some great books and they're not doing anything with them.

That’s what I did. I created a book division where we sold tens of millions of books that way. It’s a little different now and especially it was easy to do and direct mail back then.

There are a lot of books out there that don't sell in big quantities with outside publishers. The outside publishers aren't doing anything on the marketing side. There are a lot of undervalued assets.

Is it pretty easy to get those things for very little upfront capital? Depending on what they’re going after?

You have to do all the due diligence on your price point, how many you’re going to sell, what’s your margin all of that. For example, I’ll give you the numbers on ours, we used to go after books with big publishers like a big health book. We’re talking about a 400, 500-page books.

We would go to them and say, “We’ll give you anywhere from $5,000, $20,000 against a 5% royalty that you have to earn out.” It’s an upfront against royalty, then we get all the marketing rights to it. We would start promoting it in a different format.

We would change the cover, change the title, add different premium. We would be very creative, so that the book that we were selling with bonuses didn’t even look like the book that was in the bookstores still.

We would sell way more than they ever would. They have stopped selling it already. You could probably make those deals without a big upfront.

We did it with an upfront to get the deal done quickly, but we were paying 5% royalty. There was one where I remember we did well-over $1 million in royalties to them.

You would not pay royalties until that upfront was paid out?

That is correct.

That’s such a cool strategy.

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response Marketing

Direct Response Marketing: The Advertising Solution: Influence Prospects, Multiply Sales, and Promote Your Brand

I don't know a lot of people who are buying the rights of the books yet, but it’s a concept that could play well. It’s all about margins. It’s all about what you’re going to do with the book and if the book is a bigger part of the strategy. You could look at the value of the book based on your whole funnel.

Especially if it’s in health and you get the rights to health-related books and then you’ve got other stuff that sells health whether it’s information or products, etc. It fits in well as a puzzle piece and it can be probably a short cut.

Sometimes cheaper than giving the book written from scratch, by yourself and not having a name to it. I’d say that as a cool leverageable strategy.

If people like these, if there’s anybody who’d like to learn more from you whether it’s somebody who reads what you put out and watches your videos, or maybe wants to become a member of your masterminds or a client. Where should we direct them?

There are a lot of places they can find me. The best place if they want to opt into my list and get some of that content we were talking about in this interview is go to There’s a lot of free content there.

I’m trying to blog every week. I do some video blogs. Once they’re on my list, they’ll move through it pretty quickly. When my book comes out, the best way to buy it is to get all the bonuses that I’m putting together.

What’s the name of the book?

The book is called The Advertising Solution. It’s profiling six of the greats of advertising: David Ogilvy, John Caples, Claude Hopkins, Robert Collier, Gary Halbert, Eugene Schwartz. What they taught are eternal truths of marketing.

It’s a cool book. It gives you a shortcut to those who would all want to read all the stuff from those guys. My co-author, Craig Simpson, and I have gotten all the greatest hits from all six of them.

What we decided to do is I’m creating a site. It will be You would go on that site and it will describe all of these bonuses that we’ll give you for free, a swipe file from all those six people. We’re going to have rare videos of Gary Halbert and Eugene Schwartz.

We’re going to have a manuscript of the illustrated and annotated version of Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, an amazing array of bonuses.

They go to that site and they’ll hit a button, they can go right to the buying choice of want they want, whether it’s Amazon, Barnes & Noble or one of the other online book sellers. That’s step one on the site.

Step two is you then send your receipt to an email address that’s on there. You’ll then be able to download these incredible bonuses, PDFs and online access to some incredible treasure chest of stuff. That will be and that's the way they would buy the book.

If anybody wants to take a look at the materials from my epic events in 2014, which was the Titans of Direct Response where I had Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Joe Sugarman, Perry Marshall, Greg Renker, a lot of small players who spoke at events. They could go to

I have a few copies left of the DVD’s package I sold at the event. That's all big physical product of swipe files from that incredible event.

I heard a lot of good things about it. I had some friends who went. They said it was amazing. I know you’ve got a lot of great relationships and I'm sure that you’ll have people help promote it and tell people about. You’re doing podcasts like this. Is there anything else you’re doing?

The podcast interview is the best thing that I want to do. I want to send them to the sites so they can get all the bonuses when they buy the book as opposed to call on Amazon directly.

It’s to go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble through this site. The best thing would be able to do as many interviews and podcasts as possible.

I’d be happy to hook you up with some other podcasters that I know who would love to have you on there. I don't know if you’ve heard of Michael O’Neal or Click Files radio, Dave Woodward, Russell Brunson’s podcast, they've got a great big following.

I know Russell, I’ve not done his podcast. I haven’t done the other one you mentioned. I’ve done a lot.

Brian, I can't tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this conversation. I have got two pages full of handwritten notes of stuff that you’ve said. The timing will be perfect. I’ll try to get you some buyers.

I have a feeling that anybody reading this episode, or I call them episizzles, would be an absolute fool not to grab it. Not only have you dumped a ton of value on here but the people that you’re profiling and talking about are the absolute legends of the industries.

I can’t wait to jump in and devour it. I look forward to meeting you sometime in person, whether it’s in an event somewhere else. I’ve enjoyed this. I hope to stay in contact with you both as colleagues and friends.

That would be great. I’ve enjoyed this very much.

To all of my readers out there, go check out Brian’s book, his website. If you have any questions at all, for me, if any of this brought up some issues in your own business.

That you’re like, “I could use a second opinion on what I’m doing, I’m not 100% sure if I’m doing this right. I’d like to get your viewpoint on it, Brad.” You can always send me an email to

I also happily accept great other business books and other life-changing books that you may have read in the past. I’ve got a lot of listeners who send those to me. You can send those to

If this is your first time reading an episode and you stumbled across it because you saw the great Brian Kurtz was a guest. If you’re reading on my website, you can jump on the newsletter where I only share brilliant new episodes, as well as training.

Those are some stuff that I don't give out to anybody but clients. I send those on my newsletter. I know you’ll appreciate those.

It still blows me away, Brian, that I give these interviews away for free on podcast. Sometimes I have to go like, “What am I doing?” This was amazing.

I used to have a product years ago where I did monthly interviews with people once a month for $20. They were nowhere near as juicy as these interviews I’m doing now.

The internet is a lot of people getting used to stuff for free. I'll leave you with one quote which sums up that piece, “Just because the internet is free, it doesn’t mean that you slap stuff together and send it to people.”

Everybody should have this quote on their wall. I have it on my wall. It’s, “Everything is not a revenue event but everything is a relationship event.”

I wrote that out. It’s a very deep topic. We could probably talk for another 30 minutes on that but that’s exactly why I do this show. It’s to build a relationship with my guests like yourself and to build my relationship with my readers. Hopefully, it makes them hungry for more.

Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you, Brian and to everybody else. I love every single one of you. Thanks for reading, sharing and tagging me when you share because I love to see my readers take action to this and getting value out of this. I will see you on the next episode. I will talk to you later.

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About The Guest: Brian Kurtz

BWB Kurtz | Direct Response MarketingI love direct marketing. Starting in the list business gave me a solid foundation in learning about audiences, demographics and database marketing; then, working in all media helping Boardroom sell millions of newsletter subscriptions and consumer books put all of that list training to good use.

While direct mail is my bread and butter…I’ve overseen the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third-class mail over the past 20 years…I have been able to market and sell newsletters and books via direct response television (infomercials) and using e-mail and the Internet in huge numbers.

At the height of our infomercial success, I was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million and we sold over 3 million books via direct response television over a three year period. And since I’ve never met a medium I didn’t like, I’ve learned the ins and outs of every possible medium where direct marketing lives and thrives.

I’m proud to have cut my teeth in the offline world of direct marketing and I am finding that the principles I’ve followed over the past 30+ years all apply to any and all “new media.” I am committed to educating any and all online marketers who will listen…and I am also committed to “learning while teaching” because there is still so much to learn. And in my free time, you're likely to catch me working with my other passion – being an umpire for Little League Baseball.

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