01:00 – A long time coming
03:20 – The argument for multi-channel marketing
06:22 – Why send physical mail?
13:15 – Acquisition versus retention
18:17 – When the launch is the business model
21:12 – Deciding what market to enter
25:47 – When you haven’t got a background in numbers
27:33 – A few decades’ highlights
32:02 – Using what’s there
34:25 – Relationships and networks
38:38 – How to avoid being boring
James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com, Episode 669. And today we’re going to be talking about how to overdeliver. So the best person for that is Brian Kurtz from overdeliverbook.com. Welcome.
Brian: Thanks and, wow, is it 669?
A long time coming
Brian: You’re a busy guy. I feel like, you know, it took this long, but I’m pleased to be here.
James: Yeah, well, we get there eventually, like, we were just chatting before we went on to record. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, so you know, it’s a slow, long game. I think that’s one of the latter chapters of your book, Overdeliver.
Brian: Yeah, it’s playing the long game. Yup.
James: Yeah. So we get there eventually. Right?
Brian: Yeah. And you know, life’s long. So, you know, we play it that way. So I like that. I like that.
James: I liked a lot of things in your book because there are things that I was often nodding my head as I read it, thinking, yeah, we’re on a very similar page. And it makes sense that we have so many friends in common. You have your foreword by Jay Abraham. You’ve got Ryan Levesque, John Carlton, David Deutsch, Paris, Frank Kern, Ryan Deiss. So we are circling in the same field. It was just inevitable over time. I guess I could have done more database mining and statistical analysis to arrive at you a little bit earlier. Even Kevin Rogers. I’m just absolutely surrounded by copywriting and direct response marketing people. Throw in a few Halberts, you know, we’ve got the whole game sewn up.
Brian: I’ve been an admirer of yours for many years. So this is a real treat. Thank you for having me on.
James: It’s something I love to do, is to have book authors, because I know my audience are rabid book consumers. Every time we have a book author, the book gets purchased in multiple formats. I want to talk about a couple of things in there, because I think you’ve provided some great information in the book. The book itself, wonderful.
Brian: Thank you.
James: And there’s a couple of key points I just want to zoom to. We’ll have a conversation around and see where we go, and I thought was interesting, especially something that you mentioned that we don’t hear too much about, is you provide for the concept that we shouldn’t expect that Facebook will be the single source of traffic that we could depend on in the future, we have to be careful about that. You specifically talk about multi-channel marketing. I’d love it if you could start there. And as we go, we can unfold a little more about the story of Brian. But I want to dig straight into a topic that’s close to my heart, because I’ve been talking about this concept for the last decade. And I don’t think everyone’s on the same page yet. I know a lot of people are single-source dependent for their traffic. And more specifically, they’re single Facebook-dependent, you know, their Facebook paid ads is the only traffic source they’re relying upon. And I’m wondering, your thoughts on that?
The argument for multi-channel marketing
Brian: Yeah. I mean, it’s the old story that the most dangerous number of business is one, you know, one of anything is dangerous. And not only is it dangerous, it’s also really boring. I have a website called www.singlechannelmarketingissoboring.com. And if you go to that site, if you actually take the time to type that in, you get to my webpage. So it’s near and dear to me. When I launched my business five years ago, it was super important that the crux of my mastermind groups were all about multi-channel marketing. I didn’t want anybody in my group that was committed to one channel, or even two or three. I wanted people to explore more channels.
“The most dangerous number of business is one.”
I think that you can test channels inexpensively, whether it’s offline or online. I mean, direct mail is kind of expensive, so I wouldn’t go there first, necessarily, but there are so many different ways to test online and offline channels. And as you said, with Facebook, while it’s the largest, it’s the most prevalent, I think that the big mistake there is that they’re Facebook, and we’re not, and you know, in a heartbeat, you could get kicked off, which we all know about. And if that’s your only channel, you’re out of business. I know of people that have been in that situation. But it’s not just Facebook, you know, it’s Amazon. I know somebody who had a business on Amazon, a $30-million business. And Amazon one day said, I don’t like your ads anymore, and they kicked them off.
So that’s the one reason to be in multi-channel. But the other reason is when you start getting channels to work with each other, in tandem – so, you know, I remember one of the stories I tell in the book was about when we went into the infomercial business, and it took a long time, but we finally got in it. And once we got in it and we had a couple of successes, we not only were working in the infomercial business, but we took the product and brought it back to direct mail. And in direct mail, it was a product that was kind of dead. But with the new stuff that we were doing on TV, we were able to take all the stuff from the infomercial and put it in the direct mail package, and then we started doing some display advertising on the same thing.
So to get to a multi-channel approach, if you get one working, you can start getting other channels working simultaneously. And sometimes you can’t even tell where the order came from; attribution becomes an issue. But as long as you can attribute it to one of the channels, you’re fine. And I think that it’s dangerous, and it’s boring to be in one channel and to be just in Facebook. Now, having said all that, you know, Facebook is a powerful medium, and I don’t dismiss it at all. But to be there alone, or to be there with 60 percent of your business, I think is just dangerous. And just not as exciting.
James: I think it might have been Jay Abraham who said, you know, what some people do is they find the traffic channel that’s more profitable, like higher return on investment. And then they dump one and go to the other, when they should just add it.
“It’s an ‘and’, not an ‘or’.”
Brian: Right, right. It’s an “and”, not an “or”. And that’s such an important point. Jay talks about that a lot.
Why send physical mail?
James: You mentioned about direct response via physical letters. And you said something in the book about filling their letter box. I liked that. Like, sending big things that blow them away. I still send packages that won’t fit in a letter box. And it’s so rare, because there’s not much mail going around. The guy who delivers our mail, the lady, I see her sometimes when I go for a surf. She doesn’t have a very big cart. Like, there’s not that much mail, like you could go for days without receiving a letter these days. That was different twenty years ago.
Brian: Right. And so that’s one reason why a lot of people are, you know, let’s try this new medium called direct mail. You know, the least crowded inbox is the one at the end of your driveway or the one in the lobby of your building. But the interesting thing, chapter three of my book says how paying postage made me a better marketer. And one of the interesting things for people that, you know, are not in direct mail, and don’t want to be, they still can use the disciplines. I think that the advantages of doing promotion that has to pay out when you’re spending, you know, $300, $400, $500 per thousand makes it so that you can just hit send when it’s cheap.
And so I’ve taken that premise, and said to online marketers, and email marketers, you know, you can use the same kind of discipline and the same kind of thought, when you’re sending out email. And what happens is, you know, the best email marketers I know, and a lot of the people you mentioned before, are the people that understand that everything’s not a revenue event, but everything’s a relationship event. And you’ve got this opportunity online. I mean, you know, I’m 61, so I’ve been around. But I’m also, like, wide-eyed, and excited about the possibilities of being able to give away great content before going in for the sale. Whereas in direct mail, you know, you really had to go for the sale, because you couldn’t afford to just send out information.
Now, the interesting thing is one of the things we pioneered in direct mail was the magalog and the bookalog, which are longer pieces, you know, 32 pages, 64 pages. And in the bookalog or the magalog, there was some content. So it was almost a precursor to Product Launch Formula, or a precursor to an email launch. And so I think the disciplines of direct mail are really interesting when you start taking a look at them, and then putting them into an online environment. But as you say, you know, you’ve got less crowded mailboxes; you’ve got a lot more opportunity for ingenuity; and as far as the packages that don’t fit in the mailbox, you know, I always say that mailing 9 million pieces is the same as mailing 900 or nine. And the reason I say that is that if you’re doing an online business, and you’ve ascended people into a higher ticket, and you want to do direct mail on the back end, and it’s high ticket, you can be investing a lot more in the direct mail to excite them. And so sending out physical products, sending out all kinds of lumpy packages to people who are your best customers makes perfect sense. And as you said, it’s just not being done that much. And so there’s a lot of opportunity.
And again, it’s still an “and”, it’s not an “or”. I don’t even think that people should start with direct mail. It’s just too expensive, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll screw it up. But if you can use direct mail on the back end of an online business, it’s outstanding.
And you can go back and forth. I have a section in my book called O to O to O, which is online to offline to online. And the beauty of this multi-channel approach is that it can go either way. You can go online or offline and back online again, and you meet the customer where they want to be met. And we have so much at our fingertips today. So it’s an exciting time to be a marketer, and using media that is underused.
Dan Kennedy always says, be the only person. Be alone in something, whether it’s in direct mail or anywhere else. He told a story – he spoke at one of my events recently, and he told the story about, you know, he’s a jockey. And he goes to horse auctions. And so with these horse auctions, you have all kinds of vendors there for saddles and spurs or whatever they do. And there’s always this one guy, he’s a pop-up jeweler, and why is a pop-up jeweler there? Well, he’s alone, no other jeweler is going to be there. And these guys are spending, you know, a million dollars on a horse; make sure they get the tennis bracelet for their wife. And you know, you think about that, it’s an extreme case. But there’s a guy that understands that if you’re alone, and you’re the only game in town, and it’s a game people want to play, you’re in the driver’s seat. And so it goes all the way down to media. I don’t want to be known as the direct mail guy. But I do want to be known as the multi-channel guy, and direct mail is included.
James: Yeah, there’s so much in what you just said. I’m glad you came up for air. You could take a video sales letter and have it transcribed and send it out as a letter in the post, and you’ll get a high open rate, of course, with physical mail. So that’s one practical way people could start to implement this.
Brian: Right, yeah, you know what, that’s true. That’s true.
James: Another way that I found particularly effective is sending out great things to people who purchase stuff. And that’s a great retention and loyalty thing. You mentioned a great point, you can spend more than you think on your customers, especially if they’ve just purchased as well. You know, it’s validated. And that is the next opportunity, your O to O to O to O. So sending out things. Even when I run my live events, I gave people quite a few gifts at the last event. So many that it cost me a fortune to mail a few to people who couldn’t come to the event for various reasons. It was two and a half kilograms of package, which you multiply by 2.7 to get pounds. So it’s heavy.
James: Yeah, some people had to reorganize their luggage, which was great.
A couple of other things you said there, which were interesting – the magalog. I didn’t know you were one of the pioneers of that. But I definitely have used those in the past, especially when I spoke internationally. I would hand out a magalog to people who purchased at the event, because then they had something tangible that was educational about the thing they just purchased. And it was a physical thing, you know, it was a high-quality, double-sided printed brochure, summarizing everything they’d purchased in the offer. And I haven’t seen people do that when they speak from stage. But that was the way that I was going to cover the objection of being from another country and having a fully digital delivery, like with websites and coaching and education. So I wanted to give them something in their hands to cement that sale.
Acquisition versus retention
Brian: That makes such sense. I’ll add to your point that you can spend more than you think. I had a client a couple of years ago, who had a $20,000 or $25,000 program, and a $10,000 program. And they were basically, you know, their main form of getting new customers was mostly a lead generation to a phone call to an interview. And I started asking them, I said, well, “You got this great program,” – you know, they’re paying $20,000 or $10,000 a year – “What’s your renewal rate?” And they said, “Oh, people generally stay with us for at least three years.” So I said, “You need to look then at the fact that your allowable is not 10 or 20, your allowable is 30 or 60. And if you’ve got that much money, do you realize that you can do direct mail? You can do a lot of other things. You could do broadcast if you want. You’ve got the ability.” They weren’t thinking out of the box to spend more money because they were doing okay, and they were getting enough clients. But they could take more, but they’d have to spend more.
“You get a renewal, you get a much higher lifetime value, and you can invest more to get new customers.”
And I did talk about that in the book when I talk about lifetime value and continuity. Because, you know, that’s the premise of direct marketing. I mean, no direct marketing business can succeed without repeat business. And the repeat business gives you an opportunity to get renewals. You get a renewal, you get a much higher lifetime value, and you can invest more to get new customers. So that’s a beautiful thing, but you have to deliver a great product. And they were delivering a great product. That’s how they were getting three-year renewals. But now once you’ve got that, use that to your advantage, and reinvest without being stupid. I mean, you don’t want to throw good money after bad. But it’s a great way to reinvest. So, these kinds of things are just so obvious, but maybe not to everybody. So, you know, I like to bring it out. And that’s why I wanted to put them all in my book.
James: Well, you know, I was definitely going to zoom in on that recurring thing, because that continuity, it’s been the key to my business. My SuperFastBusiness membership has been going for 10 years now, and my SilverCircle membership’s been going for nine. So I’m a huge fan of recurring income, and the lifetime customer value for those programs is very high. In fact, I don’t spend anywhere near as much to acquire a customer because I do these podcasts, as most businesses, so you end up with a high-profit-margin business. But I see your point, a lot of people are just looking at that first sale. You could often spend more than the first sale to acquire the customer, and then make all the money in the back. And that’s what the big players are doing in the market, right? And that’s why they can out-advertise you. And they can scale much faster, because they’re prepared to spend more to get the customer and to wow the customer out of your hands and into theirs.
Brian: Yeah, I think I talked in the book about, you know, our whole Boardroom with our newsletters, we started off with, once we were successful, that we didn’t have to make money on the first sale. So we went out to the second sale. And ultimately, we went out to the third and in some cases, the fourth, because we accumulated cash, and it was smart to reinvest that. You don’t want to go out to third year when you don’t have any cash. But you will accumulate cash when you start going out more than a year. And you have to look at year two.
And the other thing that you said that was really important was, I think acquisition is the sexy part of our business. You know, getting new customers. Everybody wants to get new customers. But to me, the sexy part of the business is the renewals, which you just reaffirmed. I mean, you don’t have to go out on Facebook and get leads, because you’re keeping your customers happy, and you’re keeping your customers with you. And in a B2B environment, like with a mastermind, or a coaching group, how many people can you have? I mean, it’s a finite number. So you can keep that group full. I mean, my mastermind groups, I have 70, 80 percent renewal rate as well. So I don’t really have to fill it with any new people. At least, you know, not a constant attrition and then fill the blank spaces. So I think that the sexiness of acquisition blinds a lot of marketers to the real sexiness of retention.
James: I’ve noticed a trend where people are obsessed about acquisition, so the people who are Facebook ad dependent, who are spending 99 percent of their energy getting customers, often have a pretty weak product at the back, it seems to be a correlation there.
James: So the suggestion here, of course, reading between the lines, is focus on having great product and dial up that frequency. I mean, for me, my repeat sale is more or less the next payment for the membership. As you’ve mentioned before, that renewal rate, that’s the gold. If I can have a client staying for three years, that’s very valuable to me, but it’s also very valuable to them, because they wouldn’t stay unless they’re getting a great return on investment.
When the launch is the business model
Brian: Well, and that speaks to, you know, quality of product or quality of service. And so you can’t ignore that. I can’t believe, and I don’t know if this astounds you, but so many marketers today, they do a launch, they get a 30, 40 percent return rate. They make money, and they’re content with it. And I just wonder, if they worked on the product as much as they worked on the lead generation and the traffic, I think they’d have a much better business. But that’s me.
James: When you say return rate, you’re talking about refunds, right?
Brian: Refunds. Yes, I’m sorry.
James: Yeah. No, it’s like, I have a whole chapter in my book, pointing out some of the flaws of a business model where the launch is their business model, and they haven’t figured out that it’s just a promotion.
Brian: Yes, it’s a channel.
James: Some people just sell the same product every year for 10 years in a row the same way with a big, hyped-up launch. The other thing that people don’t realize with the launch is, from the launch math, which is the fantasy number, if everyone paid their payments, and if no one refunds, like, that’s the millions of dollars people actually document when they’re talking about their launch. Take out the annual payments and the payment defaults, which will be quite high on a part payment plan; take out the 30 percent refunds; take out the 50 percent commission; take out the override for the copywriter, and then your excess service costs and bandwidth and hosting and affiliate manager and all the other extra costs – you could easily have what looks like a seven-figure launch netting a couple of hundred thousand dollars at the end of the day. And then you’re toast for another year until the next big launch. And I’m seeing now, finally, some of the people who were doing that for years and years and years are starting to think about recurring continuity programs, monthly subscriptions, etc. It took them a long time. I just couldn’t figure out why it took so long. But it’s good to see sensibility restored. And I got off that launch bandwagon even as an affiliate.
Brian: Yeah. One thing I’ll say about it, though, is to me, if you look at launches as a channel, it’s like, Okay, I have my launch channel, and I have my membership channel, and I have my search channel, and all of a sudden your business has multi channels. And it’s not just the launch to launch. And of course, those launch businesses are vulnerable, because if you’re doing one or two launches a year, and that’s all you’re doing, and one of them goes south or a bunch of affiliates don’t mail for you, you know, all of a sudden, you’re in the red.
James: They always stop working eventually.
Brian: That’s true. That’s true.
James: You know, the number of people I speak to when they’ve left it too late to start diversifying is astounding. So that’s one of the clear, overriding messages. You can’t overdeliver for your audience if you don’t have great product. And if you’re single-source dependent and something stops working and you go out of business, you’re not helping anybody.
James: You know, that’s the great shame.
Deciding what market to enter
James: You talked about going into certain businesses five years ago, etc. And I’m wondering what sort of decision-making filters do you use when you decide what business or market you want to go into?
Brian: Well, you know, that was a big decision, because I had been at Boardroom for 34 years. So that was the biggest decision, to leave Boardroom and go out on my own. But I knew what I wanted to do, I knew that that one was, I did this stuff for 34 years, and now I’m going to teach it. And so that was an easy one. During the 34 years at Boardroom, trying to decide what business to go into, was, you know, as the years went on, at Boardroom, I used to do a lot by the seat of my pants, and it was successful and not successful. But when I started doing some research, and I talked about this in the book, I started doing concept testing, I started letting my audience tell me what I wanted, what business I should go into, rather than me being so smart, and telling them what they wanted. And it sounds simple, but you can get caught up in your own success and say, Well, you know, I’ll invent this, or I’ll do this product, and it’s going to be fine, because, you know, I said so. And it doesn’t work that way.
James: I like that you talked about humility in the book. But you know, I’ve seen an even worse scenario, where people don’t even have the success, and they’re going to come up with a first-time-in-the-world product and take their wonderful idea to market. I mean, it’s very common in the early phases.
Brian: Yeah. I think you have to be a lifelong student. As soon as you read your press clippings, and I talked about that, we had an infomercial business that probably with all the different sources, and you know, in three years, we probably did well over $300 million or more. And then everybody told me the infomercial business is one out of 20 work, and three out of the first four that I did worked. So I think I could do no wrong. And so I started coming up with shows, with my team, I was approving it, but I was coming up with the shows, and the next nine we did all flopped. And a couple of them were really expensive. I mean, one of them cost us a million dollars. So, you know, you can make up a lot of mistakes when you make 300 million plus. And so I could make those mistakes, but that I made nine of them after three out of four successes is interesting that I could let it go on that long. So you know, that was like a big lesson in, don’t read your press clippings. Nobody’s assuming you’re a genius. You know, you’ve got to come up with the products that your customers want.
And, you know, I had a call just today with a potential mastermind member. And we were talking, and he asked me a question. He goes, I think I’m an expert in this, I think I could do this, blah, blah, blah. And I said, “Well, do you want to do that?” And he says, “No, but I’m good at it.” I said, “Well, you know, that’s one way to go. It’s possible. But why don’t you try to find something that meets your need for fulfillment and meets your customers’ needs.” And that’s the sweet spot, that’s when you hit it.
And so, when I created the Gene Schwartz books, you know, the Gene Schwartz books were given to me as an opportunity, I knew that I could turn that into a really good business. And it was something that it was a labor of love, because Gene was my mentor. When it came to my mastermind groups, I knew that I could run a group in my own image. I would do it the way I want to do it. But I would keep asking the group what they want and what they don’t want, after every meeting. And so it’s always been reformatted. So I guess the answer to your question, in my current business, it’s a lot simpler in that, I’m just trying to keep the customer satisfied, but not assume that I know all the answers. But the same was true at Boardroom, except it was with consumer products. And when I was launching a book or a newsletter, I wanted to have a lot of data before I launched. So I think that’s my best answer for that question.
James: I like it. I mean, the evidence is out that business can be tough. Look at Google and their attempts at social media. I mean, Wave, Buzz, Plus… I mean, big company like Google with all those smart people, they failed spectacularly multiple times. So yeah, it is tough.
When you haven’t got a background in numbers
You have a background in statistical analysis.
Brian: No, just the opposite. I mean, I was an English major.
James: Oh, really?
Brian: Yeah. I paid people and I had hired people to do that. The one thing I was really good at, though, and I was surprised because I did not have a propensity for math or numbers is that I did have a really good sense of, once I got the numbers, I was able to interpret them. But now statistical analysis, I hired a guy with a PhD in statistics, who ran all of our models for us and all of that. But if you had told me when I was in college that I would have gotten good at this, I would have told you, you’re crazy. But I really gravitated towards adapting the numbers and if I got them in a way that really gave me the summary data that I needed, I could go to town. I mean, I really did really well, once I got the numbers. But no, I was not statistical analysis at all. But I think I talked in the book about how it was imperative for me to have somebody to do the database work and to do the list segmentation, to do all of that modeling. And I recommend to people with large databases to, you know, if they’re not good at that themselves, make sure that they get somebody who is.
James: Gotcha. Yeah. I think I read your thing where you’re saying it, you’re talking about regressive databases. And you’re saying it was a technique you used throughout your career with the help of a top notch statistician, since you were an English major in college. I’ve mushed together two sentences.
Brian: That’s okay, that’s okay. I was thinking about, you know, lying and calling myself a statistician.
James: No, no, that’s good. That’s a great correct.
A few decades’ highlights
And I’m interested to know, you know, it would be good for you to share at this point, just a little concepts of where you’ve come from over the last few decades. You’ve obviously got an enormous amount of experience, but if you condense it down into a little short story of the Brian Kurtz career record, what have been the highlights for you over the last few decades?
“First find out if you have a business.”
Brian: There’s a lot. There’s a lot of disasters, too, but you know, a couple of quotes that I can go with, and they sound simple, but they’re not. So the first one is, first find out if you have a business. That was from Gordon Grossman, who was the architect of the Reader’s Digest in the 60s. And he was a great consultant for me. And what he means when he says, first find out if you have a business, it’s basically saying, what is the minimum amount that I need to do to prove this business model? So it’s not like, you know, when you go into a creative meeting, and there’s 100 test ideas on the whiteboard, how many of those do you have to do? And it’s probably only one or two, to prove the business, so that if it works, you know that you can go on to the next group of tests, or you can abandon for the most part. Every time I did that, it was so valuable, because it enabled me to pyramid on the really good ideas and get off the bad ideas quickly. So first find out if you have a business was a big one.
I think Benson, the father of direct mail, said, you have to believe your numbers. And that’s where I went out and got a statistician to do my numbers for me. And then I had to really call in controls, understanding that when you call a control in year one, it might not be the same in year two with the renewal rate. I mean, those are lessons that are so valuable today that were just mind-boggling. And yet it was such a simple concept.
Another one from another mentor was from Adolph Auerbacher who was the architect at Meredith publishing, he was the architect of Ladies Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens. And he said to me, “Follow the anecdotal evidence.” And I use that all the time in my career. I mean, the biggest success of my career was when we went into the infomercial business. And it was after 16 years of waiting, of figuring out how to do it. And once I had the model, I was able to follow the evidence of how other people had done it, put my spin on it, and made it work for me. I was a slow learner, because it took me a long time. But it was really, really valuable to not have to invent everything, you don’t have to invent everything. You know, that’s what the chapter two of my book is called, Original Source. And it’s such an important chapter that I wanted to put in the book, because it’s not that you want to just honor your mentors and honor the past, you want to do that, and not to take a walk down memory lane, but you want to be able to take the lessons of the past, and repeat them in the future, with better results.
And that’s been my prescription now. I mean, I have my mastermind group, and I teach them and I bring in speakers, and I bring in as many channels as I can. But I’m also a member of different mastermind groups – Jeff Walker’s, Joe Polish’s, Robin Robin’s. And so I spend over $100,000 a year on my own education still today, so that I can stay on top of what’s new and hot, bring it back to the basics, the original source, and make it even better. I’m trying to think of the broader things without getting too granular. But those were the broad concepts that I think have stood the test of time for me and still do. And then of course, you know, your list is the most important thing. I mean, no matter how you say it, your audience, your avatar, your customers, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t have your list dialed in and segmented, it doesn’t matter what copy you put, and it doesn’t matter what your offers are. You’ve got to have the list dialed in right to get the program working.
James: I think that’s almost been my secret of how I get away with not being a brilliant copywriter. It’s just, I’ve got a great relationship with my audience. And you talk about relationship capital, and obviously, you’ve built a business around that with your masterminds. I want to ask you about some insights on that in just a moment.
Using what’s there
But just to recap what you said, one of my favorite lines from the movie Patton, which my mentor forced me to watch multiple times, because there’s a lot of valuable lessons in it. There’s this scene where he goes to battle in a field where there’s been many battles before, and Patton was famous for studying the battlefields for many centuries before. He even thought he could talk to the previous warlords, right? But there was a scene where he was in a tank battle against Rommel. And he utters the words, “Rommel, you fabulous bastard.” And Rommel had literally written a book on tank warfare, and Patton used that book against Rommel on the same battlefield. It was such a great lesson in using what’s already there. And it’s amazing how many things that are new are actually deeply rooted in the past and history repeats. I’m reading the diaries of my great grandfather, who, 100 years ago, was in the west coast of Africa. And he was talking about how the natives were getting replenished from the coconut water. These days, you can go to a yoga studio and find it in the fridge, because they’ve discovered the refreshing nature of it, how it revitalizes you. But you know, the old is new.
James: And I like the other idea, where you’re talking about cross-pollinating ideas from best practices, essentially the service that I offer my clients as well, see something that works well. I have a student of mine, did a new thing a week ago, and he already generated over 200,000 eyeballs to his offer from that new thing. And so now I’ve got this knowledge. I’ve been sharing this with a couple of my other students. So it’s so powerful to quickly access ideas that are already in existence rather than having to invent it.
“All boats rise when you can share ideas.”
Brian: Yeah. And also, with that, I mean, what you just said, competition is co-existence. You know, all boats rise when you can share ideas. And you know, the idea of keeping it a secret, well, you can, but you’re going to die one day, and it’s never going to get out. So why not share it?
James: Yeah, and if you can get paid for that, too. So it leads us to the topic of the mastermind groups and relationship capital. It’s funny – last night, one of my students sent me a picture of your book. And he said, “Any good?” I’m like, well.
Brian: And of course, you said, “Nah, it’s pretty sh*tty.”
James: No, I said, “Oh, actually, I’m chatting to Brian in the morning.”
Brian: Oh, that’s funny.
Relationships and networks
James: And he’s like, “No way.” Like, of all the books on Amazon that he could have sent me. He was hoping to learn how to run really good networking events and masterminds. That was his hope, because he knows you are good at that. What would be your tips in terms of pulling together great, high-level relationships and networks? Because you’re clearly good at that.
Brian: Yeah, you know, I’m reluctant to talk about what I do as networking, because I don’t really like the term. But I do think that I call it “contribute to connect.” And I think that if you spend your life contributing 100-zero, meaning I give 100 percent, you might give me zero, you might give me 10, you might give me 20, doesn’t matter; that if you constantly are giving 100-zero, what’s going to happen is if a certain person doesn’t give you back anything significant, but someone else does, I think it’s all related. And even if it’s not, it’s the way I justify it. And so 100-zero, like, I never use the term “meet me halfway”, for example, because I never think that that’s useful. I’ll get into a specific in a minute – but if you’re giving 100-zero all the time, you’re going to end up with relationships that will last a lifetime. Because you’re always contributing, you’re always in contribution.
So as far as some specifics, you know, in the book, I talk about the Boardroom dinners. And we had these phenomenal dinners, and just the idea of being intentional in everything you do, even dinner. So a lot of people, when they get a group together, they get a great group together. And it’s wonderful, you know, you get them in a room and they have a cocktail party, and then everybody sits down wherever they want. And it’s a nice evening. But imagine if you orchestrated that a lot more in terms of seating people with other people that they could do business with, or have a lot in common with, having a conversation around the table, one conversation after dinner, so that each person can share their expertise, things like that. And there’s a lot more to it.
But I have a lot of things in the last chapter of the book, which talk about relationship capital. And the chapter’s titled, Playing the Long Game. And it’s all about that if you’ve done things right, and I’m looking back now more than I am looking forward, but I’m still looking forward. But I got a lot more to look back on. And I looked back and I said, How did I get here with the amount of people that I know and the amount of people who are willing to contribute to me? And it’s because I was always contributing 100-zero all the time. And then I put things like the dinner concept. You put together a mastermind of people you’ve contributed to before they even joined. When they join, it’s just like gravy for them. And so it’s been a satisfying life. And the downside is that, you end up maybe giving a little more than you get, but I’ll take that rather than keeping it to myself and looking for a way for everything I do for somebody that I have to get something back in return. It’s so stress-free, and it’s incredibly rewarding. But yeah, I mean, I’ve gotten taken advantage of by certain people over time. And at some point, you know, you can write them off or whatever, but the amount of times that that happens versus the amount of time that the positive happens, it’s not even close. I don’t know if that’s exactly the answer to the question. But it’s really the key to it, I went to the foundation, which is contribute to connect, don’t just network.
James: I like that. I’m on the same page. I love my Maldives mastermind, I spend a week with 10 people and you go so deep in a week on a boat. You don’t escape, so, you know, you get a lot covered over that time, even when you’re not always together at all times, but the little groups that are formed are great. And at my events, I make sure we have big spaces for the meals, which I provide onsite, so they don’t have to leave anywhere. And we have round tables, and they move tables each session, which causes the venue chaos, you have to replace the glasses each session, which is a small price to pay for the networking that comes. I love the vibe that comes from the connections. It’s so important, and it’s missing from a lot of marketing.
How to avoid being boring
So, you know, we just have so much overlap, but you also bring so much new information to the table as well. One of the things that really resonated with me, I love this one, you said email when you’ve got something to say, not daily random stuff, or something to that effect. I love that because some mechanical marketing, it just gets a bit boring and contrived after a while. Once you know you’re a piece of a machine or being spat out of a production line as a customer, you start to turn off a bit or tune out.
“Email when you’ve got something to say.”
I really liked that because you know, I had that methodology for a long time. Sometimes I wouldn’t podcast for a while because I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. And then other times I’ll be more productive. Same with my videos – even though we are fairly consistent with producing them, I only record them when I feel in the moment. Things have to align. I’ve got to have not too many crinkles in my shirt; I would have had to have shaved in the last day or two. And I have to be really excited and interested in the thing that I want to talk about. And then I’ll batch a few. So I like that concept. And I’m wondering how you came about that.
Brian: You know, I want to combine it with the fact that I think consistency is also important. So, I decided a few years ago that I would blog once a week. And so that’s Sunday morning at 6AM. And every Sunday morning at 6AM, if you’re on my list, you get my blog post. And I decided that there’s no way that other than that, I was kind of like an accident because I didn’t want to be beholden to a schedule, even though it might have been better for my business, or it might have made me more money. But I didn’t want to be beholden to it for the same reasons that you don’t want to be beholden to it. And so that gives me the freedom, as you said, to do it when I want to do it. But I think having the weekly Sunday is important because then people are expecting to hear from me.
And it’s funny, my list has grown. And my open rates have gone up, which is interesting. And I think it’s a) because I go on podcasts like this where the people are serious, and they know that I’m not selling anything except for my books.
James: Well, they better go and buy the book after this. Like, it’d be crazy not to. I still got more notes that I would have liked to talk about, you know, with RFM and 40/20. And there’s a lot of gold in that book. I’ve read it twice now and still managed to mess up the statistician part.
Brian: I like that.
James: Yeah, it’s a good book.
Brian: And at some point, you know, when I launch something, I might go out a couple of times a week. But it’s not going to be all the time and it’s not going to be, you know, that kind of marketing. Again, it’s a philosophy. It’s not necessarily right, but that’s how I got there.
James: Well, you said if someone tells you to email daily, take it under advisement. And you said, respect customers.
Brian: Yes. That’s the main thing.
James: Look, some of the launch marketers, they’ll send six or seven emails on the last day, and I just can’t see how that’s respectful of a customer, no matter how you frame it. That’s just pure greed.
Brian: They’ll justify it by saying, well, I got all my orders on the last day. Well, okay.
James: Yes. Or that, you know, they’re trying to help the customer. But no one’s being helped by having seven emails in the same day. I’m sorry, it doesn’t sit with me.
But in any case, it’s all fun. We’ve shared a lot. I really appreciate you coming along and just explaining some of the concepts in more detail. It was a good first catch up, the first time we’ve ever actually spoken, and I’m glad we did.
Brian: I know. It’s amazing.
James: And I can imagine we’ll do this again in the future.
Also, we put a full transcription up at Episode 669. So if you want to read what we talked about, it’ll all be there, full PDF available for you. Every word is transcribed onto our page, available to the public. And Brian’s book is over at overdeliverbook.com and thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
Brian: Okay, thanks too.
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