Episode #16

Interview with Dan Kennedy

Episode 16:

  • Dan shares the most valuable advertising lesson he ever learned
  • What you actually get paid for on the high end of the money scale
  • One media dumb locals are abandoning while smart nationals are adopting
  • PLUS: Dan shares what he’ll be talking about in Phoenix and the REAL reason he’s coming at all

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Dean: Hey, everybody, it’s Dean Jackson.

Joe: And Joe Polish. What’s happening?

Dean: Joe, we’ve got a special guest, today, don’t we?

Joe: Oh, yeah. We’ve got a very special guest. It’s Mr. Dan Kennedy. Dan, how are you doing?

Dan: I’m doing great.

Joe: Awesome. First off, thank you for coming on. The people that don’t know you, most people in the marketing world know who Dan Kennedy is, you’ve written a bazillion books. There’s a lot of things that I could say about who you are and all of the famous clients you have and thousands of people you’ve spoken in front of. But I just like to straight out ask you, who is Dan Kennedy? What do you do? What are you known for? Why should people listen to you?

Dan: Oh, okay. I suppose I’m best known for direct marketing, bringing direct marketing to non-direct marketing businesses. Virtually created something of a movement of it in hundreds of niche industries, including the one in which you began, often in concert with advisors and coaches and consultants in those industries. Now, every year that we can track, I directly influence over a million folks a year, who are almost entirely entrepreneurs and small business owners. I’m sort of known for a very blunt, straightforward, no BS approach, very results- oriented, very pragmatic. As you said on a couple of occasions, you don’t have to be that harsh. I guess the reason people should listen is because, generally speaking, I tend to make folks a lot of money.

Joe: Yes, you do.

Dean: Present company included, yeah.

Joe: Me and Dean have been massively influenced by you. Gary Halbert’s the first guy that I was introduced to direct response from, and that ended up leading to you, which ended up in a very long-term relationship. The first 9 years of my business, you wrote predominantly most of my sales copy that actually worked. Millions of dollars were generated, as a result of the stuff you helped me with. You’ve spoken at a lot of my conferences; I’ve spoken at quite a few of yours in the past. You’re our featured speaker at our first ever I Love Marketing conference on September 21st and 22nd, which is one of the reasons we wanted to introduce you to the I Love Marketing crowd and the listeners, so they can get an idea of who you are. You have a pretty rabid following of people that have made a boatload of money with what it is you do and how you do it. You’ve written a whole series of books called No BS books. I think you’ve written 7 of those, and something like 13 other different business books.

We’ve done a lot of stuff, including I even had an investment with you in racehorses that didn’t really make me any money, which I’m not happy about. You do a lot of stuff. Dean, I’ve got a lot of questions for Dan, but I want to give you an opportunity, since I have such a history with Dan, to have you first hit him with some of the first questions.

Dean: Yeah, absolutely. Dan, in the first few episodes of I Love Marketing, we talked about they’re kind of like our life in advertising story, the discoveries that kind of sparked that fire for us, sparked that love for marketing. For me, starting out as a real estate agent and doing cold-calling and all of the traditional things that you have to do to get business, and then discovering my first direct response postcard, sending it to an apartment complex and getting all of the business reply cards sent back to me, and talking to those people on the phone, calling them up, was just like a dream. That moment, for me, I knew that I would never have to make another cold call again. That really was the beginning of what has completely changed my life. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of giants, you being one of the giants that we learned this whole model from. How did you discover direct response, and contrast it with what you were doing before, and how that came about?

Dan: The sort of spiritual conversion from ugly, cold prospecting, manual labor, unwelcome guest at the door, to marketing and use of media in place of manual labor, that’s a very common experience from people who come over from the sales side. The way you just told it, I’ve heard it thousands and thousands of times. Perry Marshall leaps to mind as somebody who would tell it exactly the same way. I never really didn’t do direct response. I have sales experience, as you do, and very quickly figured out that I didn’t like cold prospecting, and I didn’t like having to literally or figuratively batter down the door and play the classic numbers game. I did a brief stint in traditional advertising, at a small advertising agency, and doing brand image in a very traditional stuff, very quickly figuring out that you can make money that way, but the clients can’t; which is one of the reasons that you see all of that done by bigger, dumber companies more than by small companies.

A big-name owner of a big-name agency told me, very early, that if you’ve got a decent-sized account, you want to keep it for a while. So, imagine you have a dog food company as a client, and the wife of the chairman of the board has little white fluffy poodles with pink ribbons in their ears. Make sure you put little white fluffy poodle with the pink ribbon in it’s ear in all of the ads, and you’ll see the account for at least 2 calendar quarters, because it takes them that long to figure out nothing is happening. They can’t evaluate on a day-to-day basis. I very quickly determined that that’s not the way I wanted to play the game. I became a student of direct response pretty much on my own, and really identifying that the folks doing mail order, which now we would call direct marketing, had a very, very different approach than everybody else.

In the traditional advertising world, one of the first people who I made of a point of getting all of their stuff and studying it was David Ogilvy. I even purloined internal materials from an Ogilvy & Mather office, where I was doing some work. Ogilvy, although he built a full-service, full-scale ad agency, was constantly telling his people that the only people who really knew what the hell they were doing were the mail order guys. That sort of led me now, “Okay, let’s study the mail order guys.” Halbert sort of parallel-tracked, if you will. I grew up a stone’s throw from Gary. Although at this point in time, I’d never met him. Where I went to high school, a goodly number of my fellow students worked after school in Halbert’s offices, that he rented above the banks in little, small town bank branches. So, everybody could open the envelope, separate the checks and the money, and it could be deposited right downstairs.

We all knew of Halbert’s, and we all knew what that was. In high school, my first freelance copywriting gig was a cattle call from Halbert’s, a beat-the-control for beer mugs with the family crest on them. It was some years later that I met Gary. I actually got a sales letter in the mail at my office in Phoenix for his newsletter and, of course, knew of him. I picked up the phone, and got him on the phone and said, “I’m from Bath, Ohio, you’re from Barberton, Ohio. Everybody I went to school with, except me, was working for you. Everybody I know has got the family crest. I got your picture with Ernie Borgnine’s photo on it and, on an impulse, I just thought I’d pick up the phone and call.

An hour later, I was booked to come speak at one of Halbert’s seminars; because, candidly, he wasn’t all the discriminatory about who he invited to come speak. Circumspect might be a better word. I certainly was influenced by Halbert and a number of other really great, direct response copywriters. But, I’ve been entirely DR, direct response, since 1975, and pioneered a few things of my own; although, the fundamentals and the principles of this do not change, and it is still really about applying tested and proven mail order methodology to non-mail order businesses.

Joe: That’s an interesting statement that you just made, because one of the things I was going to ask you about is what is different today, or no longer works, as it relates to the principles of marketing versus the Internet and social media, because you hear it all the time, we hear it all the time, how long sales letters don’t work anymore, Yellow Pages are dead, advertising doesn’t work. It’s all about social media. There’s certain truths on certain things. But, for the most part, I think most people have their head up their ass when they make those sort of comments.

Dan: There aren’t any truths in anything that you just said, the way you phrased it. It’s all bullshit. Today was my private coaching call day, and I talked to a lot of my private clients today. One, in a particular field, is consistently making over a million dollars a month, and I write copy for him, and we’re mailing postcards, 16-page booklets, and 8-page sales letters that drive leads to a website. The website is fairly elaborate, and then they come back offline, out the backside, in order to be sold various things. So, first of all, not only is direct mail not dead, still, the overwhelming majority of commerce of all kinds is driven by direct mail; everything from the credit card industry to the apparel industry, to the information business, to local service businesses.

The length of copy argument is as dumb today, as it ever was, because you don’t win by reducing your marketing to appeal to large numbers of fundamentally uninterested people. In fact, the fundamental principle of my approach to marketing is let’s make sure we’re talking to highly-interested, highly-motivated, very appropriate prospects for what it is that we have to offer, who will have a high level of interest the minute we show them ourselves. Therefore, because they have a high level of interest, will read a lot, listen to a lot, watch a lot. So, we can do a decent job of selling to them, instead of trying to reduce everything we do to 146-character tweets and no video longer than 3.8 minutes, and no sales letter with words more than 2 syllables, so that everybody can pay attention to it. But, what good is that? The truth is, there’s more media. The whole plethora of online media. But Yellow Pages, not for all businesses, and, of course, in some cities they’re foolishly eliminating it because advertisers are abandoning it, in a number of categories, Yellow Pages is still a very viable media, including your core category.

Joe: I was just in Alaska a few months ago, and one of my clients is running Yellow Page ads, doing 5 to one, just loving it.

Dan: I just showed this in one of my newsletters. Here’s interesting proof of how dumb local businesses are to abandon it. National direct response advertisers are coming into it more than ever, so there’s a major weight loss company that advertises in every Yellow Pages in America. One of my clients, who’s in the skin care business, advertises in almost every Yellow Pages in America, driving customers to websites and 800 numbers and making sales at a distance. So, as the foolish local advertisers have left it, the smart direct response advertisers have come in. Really, no media goes away. My financial advisor clients, newspaper, free standing inserts. So, you hear all the time, “Nobody reads the newspaper anymore,” well, except people 50 years of age and up with money. So, it depends on who you want to sell to. A place strategy, which is really media strategy, is all about what customer you want. So, no media has really died. I can’t even actually think of one that’s died.

So, there’s new and additional media, and there are nuances about how to use different media, just as there have always been nuances about how to use it. But they are nuances. The fundamentals of the principles apply, and when you get away from that, and anybody starts to think that any one particular media is now unique, and that the rules and the fundamentals of the strategies that drive response don’t apply to this particular media because it’s blue, or because it’s on a particular machine, or because people click to it, or whatever, they’re dead wrong. One of my clients is Guthy Renker, and I’ve had them for 20-some odd years. Very recently, I did a lot of work for them on Proactive, the acne product. On TV, where we’re creating demand amongst teens, you see TV commercials right now with Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, and the radio spots, including some I’ve written, have Jennifer Love Hewitt in them.

However, a little secret. The overwhelming majority of that business is not driven by television, either short form or infomercials, nor is it driven by radio, although a lot of it is driven by radio. The overwhelming majority of that business, because we’re actually selling to Mom, and Mom has to write the check, or actually, Mom has to provide her credit card, the overwhelming majority of that business is done in good old-fashioned print media: credit card statement stuffers, newspaper free-standing inserts, direct mail, Valpak, etc, etc. Every few years, somebody pronounces a whole bunch of things dead, and a whole bunch of old rules don’t apply, and it’s all just goofy.

Joe: The vast majority of my money, even to this day, does not come from online marketing. It comes from direct mail, it comes from prerecorded messages, it comes from things that I’ve been doing since 1992.

Dan: Even a lot of e-commerce companies, like in my mail stack yesterday, I have a printed catalogue from 1-800-Flowers for Mother’s Day, I have a printed catalogue from Amazon, etc. So, a lot of companies that people think of as e-commerce companies are at various stages in their sales process or in their customer relationships. They’re using a lot of offline media.

Joe: When you hear, Dan, terms like someone says, “I’m an internet marketer,” not that you probably care that much, but what goes through your head? What do you think of, when someone says that?

Dan: Well, I essentially sort of feel sorry for them, because they’re not differentiating. It’s as dumb as saying you’re a Yellow Pages marketer because you advertise in the Yellow Pages. Seriously. Dean No, it’s true. Absolutely.

Dan: Or because you have signage on your companies van, you describe yourself as a sign marketer. First of all, anybody who limits themselves to any one anything, one media, one of the principles I teach, entrepreneurial principles, is one is the worst number ever in business. One of anything, one key staff person, one key account, one product, one income stream, one sales process, one media, one anything. You’re just asking to get whacked. That’s foolish. Second of all, you do not want to think of yourself as a practitioner of one media. Why on earth would you want to be that? It just doesn’t make any sense. In all probability, your business is not that. You are using the internet as a media and perhaps as a delivery mechanism for deliverables. But internet marketing is not a business, nor is it a profession. It’s a use of a media. So, ultimately, we’re in the marketing business. We’re in the money business. We’re in the customer development and nurturing business. We’re in the influence and persuasion business, tied to whatever products and services that are deliverables.

But we certainly are not internet marketers or direct mail marketers. Hardly anybody who makes a great deal of money from marketing would think of themselves that way. Again, an outsider might. Let’s go back to Guthy Renker. Most outsiders would look at them and think they’re an infomercial company, and might describe them as a direct response TV marketer. But that would be an uninformed, superficial look at how their businesses are fueled, and what their businesses really are.

Joe: Absolutely. Fantastic. I just love the distinctions and I think that will really freak out some of the people that are listening.

Dan: There’s a lot of people who confuse a website with a business.

Joe: Yeah, totally. “I’m in business, I have a website.” How, in your opinion, has the internet changed marketing?

Dan: Well, it has done a number of good things, and it has done a number of bad things, like just about every innovation prior to it. Every coin has a head and a tails, right? Everything has its plusses and minuses. The biggest plus, probably, is it has virtually erased all barriers to entry and made testing cheap, easy, and quick, made startup launches faster. Secondly, it provides essentially, which is an asset a lot of people aren’t using, because they’re buying into this “have to be brief” idea, but it provides unlimited real estate without cost. If you and I want to mail a 36-page sales letter, that costs more than an 8-page sales letter. If we want to put 36 pages of stuff up on the internet, it doesn’t cost us any more to do that than it does to put up 6 pages. So, it provides unlimited real estate, which if used wisely, is an enormous asset.

The third big plus is that it allows instant and frequent communication. We can be timely. The Collier copywriting principle of entering the conversation that’s already occurring in the customers mind, we can do that, literally, on a day-by-day or hour-by- hour basis, whereas most other media doesn’t really give us a practical way to do that. In sequential marketing, 16-step, 48-step campaigns, obviously, you can put in more steps affordably, because of the way you can communicate online. The big negatives are it has virtually erased all barriers to entry. It has erroneously democratized the marketplace with very confused consumers and moral equivalency among very unequivalent competitors. So, a lot of old advantages for most purposes, like traditional credibility or leadership positions, now are severely compromised in the online environment, because the consumer really can’t differentiate between your company that’s Grand- dad founded and is 83 years old, and somebody who copycatted you, and maybe copycatted you better, and really people are looking at 2 websites and making a decision.

In the content world, the pimply-faced doofus who lives in his mother’s basement is now equivalent to the New York Times. Free content is equivalent to paid content, so all of that has made both intellectual property marketers and marketers in general jobs harder. It allows parasitical feed on market makers. So, again, to use them as an example, Proactive, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in media every year, and there are parasitical marketers who do nothing but work online and feed off of that traffic and essentially step in and say, “Hey, we’re the same as that glop, but we’re cheaper.” They couldn’t even exist were it not for all of the money the leader is spending on media, but they are able to prosper with hardly any investment, at a lower level. All of that is a muddy mess, and when you leave customers or prospects online, you’re very susceptible to it.

In the financial advisor community, where I’m doing a lot of work, they call it the Google slap. They generate a prospect, they nurture a prospect, they educate a prospect, they move a prospect along, but if they’ve left him online and they are communicating a lot with him online, right in front of him is the enormous temptation and ease of typing in the word “variable annuities” and seeing what else comes up. Now, he’s in a world of comparing rates and yields, but really he can’t compare quality, and you’ve lost control of this guy. In many businesses, that’s a real problem. It requires us to get that customer, even if we generated him online as a lead, or we took him through an online media, we’ve got to get him off of there and get him back to selling in a vacuum.

Nothing has made me more money in my life than the existence of the internet, directly and indirectly, in terms of working with clients. But having said that, your statement also applies in that hardly any of that money has been made solely and exclusively by use of the internet, without comprehensive support of other media, marketing processes and sales processes. Societally, that’s a whole other question. But in marketing, it has provided a fascinating, fast, very agile collection, really, portfolio of media; social media, websites, online videos, YouTube. There’s a nutrition company I do a lot of work with, and they are very effectively monetizing YouTube exposure. But, to sell their highest-end products, that lead and every other lead comes offline at some point and is FedExed an information package, and the person is then driven to a counselor on the phone.

Joe: There you go.

Dean: That’s interesting, because you have been a pioneer and you mentioned you pioneered some different approaches, one of them probably being the multi-step, smaller lead generation as followed up by multiple direct mail pieces. I think a lot of people have gone the route of taking people from using tradition offline things to drive people online, hoping to complete the cycle and the sale there. And what you’re just describing is the most successful of them that you’re talking about are actually doing it the other way; getting people online, then taking them offline.

Dan: Yep. Or, they may be lead-generating online, even, but then taking them off. Or they may be taking them back online after they have a customer relationship with them in order to do backend business. But nobody, no big, successful direct marketing company, even those people think of as e-commerce companies, and no client I’m working with, and keep in mind there’s, at this point, no client paying me less than 6 figures a year, so they’ve got to be doing well enough to justify that expense to me, let along everything else they’re spending money on, none of them are generating a lead, making a sale, doing the delivery, in other words, doing everything within the cyber walls of cyberspace. I have rescued clients in trouble from doing that.

The other thing about media, which, as you know, is only 1/3 of the whole marketing puzzle, there’s message, there’s market, there’s media in my triangle, the other thing people don’t get about media, and especially younger marketers, is how vulnerable it is to change or disappearance. A lot of people have never lived through the disappearance of a media. But if you work backwards, it’s only a few years ago that there were a ton of marketers and companies, small businesses locally, big companies nationally, making tons and tons and tons of money with broadcast fax. By law, it’s virtually gone. Cold telemarketing, mass cold telemarketing, the Do Not Call List has decimated that business. Major impact on the mortgage industry.

Infomercials were on the air in the early days of TV, then they were outlawed. Infomercials were possible only after Ronald Reagan deregulated the airways. As you click around the dial tonight, people had infomercials on the air that they were minting money with, and they went to bed at night and woke up the next morning and couldn’t run them anymore. People went to bed at night making a million dollars a week with broadcast facts, and woke up in the morning and couldn’t do it anymore. There’s nothing that says anything is safe from that, not to mention just the disruption of, especially with online media, the constant change, Google changing all of the rules every other day and email deliverable issues. That doesn’t make any of it unprofitable or unproductive, but it makes it very foolish to be overly dependent on any of it.

Dean: That comes back to having one avenue. Again, that’s dangerous.

Joe: That sounds like, man, there’s a lot of things going on with this. There’s a lot that one can know. I guess the obvious question is, why do you love marketing, Dan? You’ve been in this many, many years; it’s where your primary focus is. There’s a lot of different aspects that create business success. I, personally, and I think I speak for Dean, would probably put marketing as the number one thing. I’m sure maybe that’s the same for you. But, why is marketing so damn important?

Dan: Well, for me, personally, the alternative would be asking people if they want fries with that.

Dean: Or otherwise unemployable.

Dan: I have a certain level of personal affection for it. I tell this story often. For almost 2 years, I was doing a lot of consulting with Weight Watchers International. One day, the CEO of that particular year, I’m at their headquarters in Long Island, he comes and gets me and takes me to office. As we’re going in his office, he says, “We have to talk.” And that means exactly the same thing in a client relationship as is does in a marriage. Nothing good is going to come of this. We go in his office, and he closes his door, and sits down at his desk, and he says, “Look, I’ve recently done an analysis. And to my surprise, I’ve figured out we’re paying you more per hour that we’re paying me. And I’m the CEO.” My temptation is to say, “Is there a question in there somewhere?” But, it’s not the time to be sarcastic.

So I patiently explained. I said, “Well, look. There’s a very good reason for that. You presumably know everything there is to know about every aspect of your company, and you know how to do everything here far better than I know how to do it, with one small exception: I know how to put fat people in meetings who will sign up for weight loss programs. And about that, you’re clueless.” “So, unfortunately for you, without me knowing what I know and applying it, everything you know is worthless; which means you would get paid even less. So that’s why it is the way it is, and let’s just keep it our little secret,” and I was out the door. That describes the reality. Iacocca told me this story when he took over Chrysler. This is Chrysler’s first rescue; this is many moons ago. Not the most recent government one. Iacocca took over Chrysler, and he spent the first week calling people into his office, handing them a piece of chalk, and telling them to go over to the chalkboard, and you’ve got 7 minutes to show me a diagram of how whatever the heck you do around here ends up selling cars.” Anybody that couldn’t draw the diagram, be fired.

His theory was, if it turned out they actually were important, everybody’d figure it out and they’d go get them. But it was a fairly safe bet you didn’t need them. All of the money is in marketing. All of the juice, the fuel, the drive of a business is in marketing. A lot of people get confused about this. They think they’re in the book business or the training business or the publishing business or the carpet cleaning business or the dental business, and they confuse what the business is with the product or service deliverable. Now, with shorthand, if you’re at a cocktail party and you’re a dentist, and somebody asks you what you do, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m a dentist,” or, “I own a dental practice,” as long as you understand that you’re just giving a convenient, shorthand and completely incorrect answer, if you want a high income, because everybody with a high income understands the distinction and difference between product and service deliverables and the business they’re really in.

The business we’re really in is the marketing business. That’s where all of the money is. So, if you don’t love it, and you aspire to high income, high financial security, high autonomy, being able to live on your terms, do things where you want, if you aspire to those things, you better to damn well better learn to love it. You better become fascinated with it, like you are fascinated with by nothing else on the planet. You better be more passionate about it than Charlie Sheen is about hookers and cocaine. You have got to be into it. Because, really, if you look for the commonality in all great wealth and wealthy individuals and all high-income individuals, it is this commonality. You go back in history, the person who inspired Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich and all that, Andrew Carnegie, the history books treat him as if he was a steel magnet. Well, read the big biography of Carnegie, read Carnegie’s own writings, and you will quickly figure out that he didn’t know shit about steel, and didn’t care the he didn’t know anything about steel. He could hire people who knew about steel.

He was a marketer and a salesman. Mostly, he was about raising money, which is a marketing function. So, you can come forward now, and go through any industry you like, all the way to now contemporary terms, and analyze any business you want, and you’re going to find, when you separate out product and service deliverables, what you really have is a marketing business. So, you have to love it. Now, for an intellectually curious person, it happens to be a fairly easy thing to love, because 50% of it is behavioral psyche. So, half of it’s math, and half of it’s behavioral psyche. So, we are really spending our lives decoding the conscious and subconscious motivations and psychology of the people to whom we sell and deliver whatever it is we sell and deliver, and actually knowing more about what drives their behavior than they do, and then applying that as storyteller, speech maker, human interest writer, motivator, demonstrator, in interesting ways.

If you are an intellectually curious person, what could be more fascinating than that? We are solving mysteries, we’re making deductions about particular prospects, and in my case, about clients’ prospects. I’ve worked in hundreds of fields, but in any one given time I’m working 5, 6, 7, 8 different. So, for Proactive, I’m dealing with teenage girls’ and boys’ moms, mostly. For financial advisors, I’m dealing with 55- to 72-year-old married men and women, with a very different set of concerns and a very different frame of reference, and different values. The deductive part of all that, Sherlock Holmes-ian part of that, the figuring things out part of all of that, is fascinating. The business owner who sort of retreats into the doing of his thing, the stocking of the shelves, the driving of his truck, that’s really sad, actually, because he’s missing out on not only the opportunity to make an exceptional income from fundamentally an ordinary business, but the opportunity to do exceptionally fascinating work instead of mundane, ordinary work.

Joe: Clearly, you know your stuff. And I hope people that have never heard of Dan Kennedy before, who either found I Love Marketing on iTunes or wherever, clearly see how much you know and value to reading your books, come see you speak at our event, and that sort of stuff. A couple of things I want to ask you about. One being time; how you use your time, how you get shit done. But really, before we do that, if there is some secret sauce, if there are “the” main characteristics of people that are successful, make money, versus ones that don’t. What’s the big difference?

Dan: There is no single secret. That’s all nonsense too. To use the analogy of secret sauce, yes, there is a collection of commonalities that separate the people at the very top of the pyramid from people in the rest of the pyramid. What’s most interesting about them, I suppose, is that, for the most part, they are behavioral more than they are attitudinal, and certainly more than they are background education credentials, genetic upbringing, any of that kind of stuff, and they apply universally across all professions and businesses and industries. So, there’s no particular difference in the commonalities, whether we’re talking about a guy that has a chain of restaurants, barbeque joints in Louisiana, or we’re talking about Donald Trump, or we’re talking about Bob Iger running Disney, or we’re talking about Chris Cardell, who most people think of as an internet marketer, although he does a lot of direct mail, or we’re talking about your or I.

I’ve been very fortunate in that, really, the overwhelming majority of my work is not with big, dumb companies like Weight Watchers. It is with first generation, from- scratch, self-made, multi-millionaire, 7-figuring income entrepreneurs, salespeople, business builders. The 2 guys that Guthy Renker, that company did $1.8-billion last year. When I started working with them, they were doing $10-million. These guys build businesses. It doesn’t really matter. There are commonalities, and they tend to be behavioral. You went into one category, 30 seconds ago, when you wanted to talk about time. We really have been in another category of emphasis, focus on marketing, on how you use marketing and how you use direct marketing. It’s a profound commonality amongst those at the top of the money pyramids.

By the way, there’s a link between the 2, because one of the things that really good marketing does, and that being adept at marketing does, is it makes your time infinitely more valuable because it provides leverage. It allows you to better monetize both your time and all of your other talents, and it liberates people from drudgery of otherwise getting a customer/client/impatient, making a sale, and putting money in the bank through manual labor, repetitive labor. Just the ability to sell one to many versus one to one is a life changer for many, many, many people. I have a client here, Health Source, and Chris has gone from 4 chiropractic clinics to 336 franchised clinics in 4 years. That speed of franchising is almost unheard of, but it’s because he’s very adept at, with some early help from me, but very adept at selling one to many, instead of one to one, which is the way franchises are typically sold.

And then, his chiropractors are very successful because they’re very adept at one to many versus one to one. They have a particular treatment program for diabetics, and those numbers typically work like this: 20 to 30 people in an evening class yields 15+ patients at $6,000 apiece, average case. That’s $90,000 put on the books in an evening. The average chiro, not adept at one to many, to generate that same revenue, is going to have to do 90 to 180 one-to-one report of findings, new patient presentations. And then, of course, you’re putting them in the room with effective direct marketing. You’re not putting them in the room with manual labor, so forth and so on. There is a profound link here, really a 3-way link, between time, marketing, and autonomy. And it all gives you leverage.

These commonalities, back to your bigger question, yeah, obviously there are things that people in the top 1%-earning category, throwing out the very small percentage of that 1% that is freak show stuff, so the superstar athlete, of which there aren’t that many, and there is actually talent, not just skill; or the complete freak, briefly, like Snooki’s going to be in the top 5%. She is. The Kardashian’s, last year, earned $28-million.

Dean: Isn’t that amazing?

Dan: It’s an important principle, by the way, I teach a lot, is the higher up the money curve that you go, the more somebody is getting paid for who they are, rather than what they do. That deletes the whole long conversation that we don’t have time for, but kind of is an, “Oh, by the way, it’s an important principle.” And it explains both the Kardashian’s, it explains Trump, it explains me, it explains why one carpet cleaner makes $200,000 a year, and 5 others in his town can’t make payroll. Somebody gets good at who-ing, not just at what-ing. Yeah, I made it a verb.

Dean: I love that.

Dan: Yeah, there’s clearly things they do and things they don’t do, those at the top of the pyramid, that are dramatically different from what everybody else does. And that’s really why coming to the right events, tuning in to the content like this, being on your own personal search, all the time, for models, examples, information, inspiration, and what can convince you of commonalities that you then decide to adopt for yourself. I was backstage with Trump at an event where we were both speaking, not long ago, a couple of years ago, and after a few minutes, when he determined, in his mind, that I was not a moron, he immediately asked me 3 questions. So, 2 of the questions had to do with how the money is being made at this thing. In other words, what’s the business model here? The third question was, what 3 books are you reading right now?

It’s significant that Trump asks a question, because a lot of people would think, “He isn’t bothering to learn anything.” The second significant thing is he didn’t ask, “What book are you reading?” He asked, “What 3 books are you reading?” There’s significance in that. And third, why is he asking? Because something might have escaped his attention, and he has discovered there’s a fairy smart guy here, and maybe this guy’s paying attention to something I’m not, that I ought to be paying attention to. Why not ask that question instead of waste the 3 minutes on trivial conversation? I’m sure it didn’t fall out of the sky and hit him on the head that day and I’m the only person he’s ever asked it of. It’s probably routine procedure with him. So, a big commonality is that kind of routine procedure. Losers, if you want to go to the bottom of the pyramid, the average adult American doesn’t even read one book a year. They aren’t looking for anything. They aren’t paying attention to much. They drive past the library every day and wouldn’t dream of stopping.

At the top of the pyramid, even all of the way at the very top of the pyramid, they’re still searching. They’re practitioners of the slight edge, so they’re still looking for, “Can I tweak this a little? Can I tweak this a little? Is it possible this guy knows one little tiny gem about something that I don’t know? And if so, I want to know it.” And that extends into everything they do. One of my private clients I spoke with earlier today, he’s in the fitness and gym industry, essentially, what you are to carpet cleaners, Joe, he is to that industry. He’s also a franchisor, he’s also an information marketer and coach. He’s got a big business.

He said to me today, “You know, I sat down and figured it out, because I got curious, and I’ve spent over $220,000 with you over the years.” He’s only recently been a private client, so most of that other money is attending conferences and buying courses and stuff like that. I said, “And your point?” He said, “I’m just wondering, what we’re really looking for is a gold star. I’m just wondering if that’s a big number.” And I said, “Like anything else. It’s a big number compared to 95% of the people who pass through my front door and go out my back door. It’s not a particularly big number for the top 5%, and it’s a little low for the top 1%. So by the way, if you’d like to be in the 1%, we should take a look at what you have in your pocket.”

Dean: Give him something you can aspire to. Yeah.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely there are commonalities, and they can’t be modeled, and they can’t be applied. I think every person ultimately puts together their own short list, their own collection in marketing, Halbert used to call it clicks on the dial, their own customized person, and their own customized approach. But there are key commonalities that virtually every successful person uses. I always said, when Sam Walton was alive, if you put Walton and Trump in the room and you looked at them, or you went and hung out with Walton one day and Trump the other, and you ask them a bunch of questions, you would be struck by the thousands of ways in which they differ politically, philosophically, the way they dress, where they like to eat, the car they drive, modesty versus ego, etc. But the useful thing to do would be to identify the 3 things about which there are total behavioral agreement. One, by the way, would be understanding, looping all of the way back, that the business they’re really in is the marketing business. I am but a minute or 2 away from having to exit.

Joe: From a time perspective of how you use your time, I guess I’ll say that everyone should read your No BS Time Management book on how Dan gets things done. You have some very interesting perspectives. I guess the last thing, we’ve only got a couple of minutes left, is you’re coming and speaking at our conference, and I’d love to give a sneak peek trailer of what the heck will they learn when they come to I Love Marketing and hear Dan Kennedy presenting, because I really think it will change people’s lives, as it has many, many people in the past.

Dan: First of all, as you know, I take very few speaking gigs anymore. At one time, I did it a lot. But, I take very few. Furthermore, not only do I take very few, but I try to avoid traveling.

Joe: We’re having him come up on a private plane, so it’s not cheap.

Dan: So people don’t get confused, my office is in Phoenix, but that’s because my one and only staff person is there. I live in Ohio and in Virginia. I don’t like to be away from my racehorses, so I rarely travel. People bring the meetings to me. I try not to travel west at all. So, I’m doing something that I ordinarily don’t do, and you’re spending a lot of money, because I only fly private. And a trip all the way to the west and back is obscene to me. The cost is indefensible, other than the fact that I get free parking at the airport. So, the specifics of what they’re going to learn, I’m not going to do bullet points. And be candid about it, not only will it be a customized presentation for you, but it will timely. So, I won’t put it to bed until a couple of weeks before the actual presentation.

But in a general sense, what I want to look at and bring to the table are the handful of really big game-changers, really big areas of marketing that can lead to big breakthroughs in every and any kind of business, and do it rich with examples and diverse examples. I’m thinking 4, 5, 6 at the most, in the time I’ll have available, really big strategy categories from which people can take things to do to immediately affect their businesses. What I won’t be doing is talking about things to think, but things to do. I’ll be pulling, of course, from both current and now, a 35+-year, tenure, at best, of essentially turning ordinary businesses into extraordinary businesses through marketing tactics and methods and processes. So, that’s what I have planned.

Joe: Awesome. So, Dan, thank you so much. Not only are you a very smart marketer and business guy, but you’re also very effective because you actually give people stuff that actually works. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Dean, I’ll let you say any final things, and then we’ll call it a wrap.

Dean: It’s been great, Dan. Thank you so much. We couldn’t be more excited about having you come to Phoenix, and we’re really looking forward to it.

Dan: I’m excited, too. But when I said I’m doing something that I try and now avoid, generally successfully avoid doing, that I knew when I accepted that damned car as a gift, that there would be a day…

Dean: You know the funny story, Dan, is that he was at my house when he did that. It was my idea.

Dan: That there would be a day.

Joe: Dan drives the car that I bought for him many years ago. That’s a whole other issue.

Dean: Can I ask you something honestly? Were you at least partially hoping that we would reject this indefensible amount of money that it costs to fly you to Phoenix, privately?

Dan: Yes, of course.

Dean: “Yes, of course I was,” he says.

Joe: Oh, my God, that’s awesome. Thank you Dan. Everyone at I Love Marketing, you can get, if you’re listening to this on iTunes, you can get the transcript of this call in it’s entirety at the website, ILoveMarketing.com, along with any other information about Dan Kennedy and whatnot. So, buy his books, listen to his stuff, and come see him September 21st and 22nd in Phoenix, at the I Love Marketing conference. Thank you, Dan.

Dan: Thanks, guys.

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