Brian Kurtz is the founder of Titan Marketing, an educational consulting business that teaches direct response marketing to online marketers. Brain started in the list business which gave him a solid foundation in learning about audiences, demographics and database marketing. Brian helped Boardroom, Inc. create tens of millions in revenue from mastering the skill of direct response marketing.
Brian has been able to market and sell huge numbers of newsletters and books via direct response television (infomercials) and email/internet. He has overseen the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third class mail over the last 20 years. He has been responsible for buying media in excess of $80 Million and selling over 3 million books via direct response television over a three year period.
Going into full-time business
Brian worked for Board Room, Inc. for thirty four years as a partner in the business with an equity position, and so never felt like he was working for his employer. He says he considers himself an intrapreneur rather than an entrepreneur because even though he didn’t participate in starting the company, when he became partner, he came up with a lot of innovative growth ideas that contributed to the company’s continuous success. Working there honed his entrepreneurial talents.
After his employer passed away, Brian left the company to start a direct marketing educational business through which he could share what he learnt at Board Room, Inc. about direct marketing. It’s been two years now, as of 2017, since he started the business.
So far, within the two years, he has created two high-level mastermind groups for entrepreneurs, marketers, and copy writers. He has written a book; created different products; republished books by other classic direct marketers and copy writers; and he does a lot of public speaking internationally.
Core revenue streams
He generates revenue from the mastermind groups, the products that he sells and his speaking engagements. He also does a lot of consulting for different clients. He says he doesn’t prefer the consulting work because it’s not as scalable as the other revenue sources he engages in.
Board Room, Inc.
Brian says Board Room mostly sold books and newsletters (magazines without advertising) directly to consumers and most of the books that were the biggest sellers were the health-related ones. Books on personal finance, investments, and consumer information also did very well. They had a big newsletter called Bottom Line Personal which was the largest broad-based consumer newsletter in terms of circulation in the US. At some point it had 1 million subscribers and Brian estimates that it now has around 300,000 subscribers. There were years where they sold up to 3 million books a year through direct mail, the internet, e-newsletters, affiliates, radio, inserts, and TV.
Brian says he prefers to work with companies that are willing to use multiple channels to sell their products. He even owns a url called http://www.singlechannelmarketingissoboring.com which directs people to his regular website, http://www.briankurtz.me. He says he bought that url so he could talk about it wherever he speaks in order to emphasize how dangerous single channel marketing is.
Tip: Using one medium of marketing is very dangerous. Make sure you do multi-channel marketing
Transition from Board Room, Inc. into self-employment
He says it’s been better than he expected despite some challenges. The most challenging part of the business is the consulting service he offers because he can’t be as deeply engaged in the businesses he consults for to ensure their success. That is unlike his work at Board Room where he was 100% responsible for all the operations of the business and therefore was always able to ensure all the necessary processes were implemented to facilitate the company’s success.
The mastermind groups have only been more of a great opportunity than a challenge because Brian always wants to over deliver to the members of his groups by getting them the best guests, incredible information, and game changing resources for their businesses.
The easiest thing to do when he was starting the business was building his mastermind groups, because they were made possible by the strong, long term relationships he built with clients for the 34 years he worked at Board Room. When starting out, he knew the first 50 people he wanted to put in the high level mastermind group and he actually got 25 of them into it through one on one interviews.
He says the second mastermind group, which is for up-and-comers, has taken longer to develop, because it’s made up of people who were not part of his network but knew him from his work.
Secret to growing a business massively for people who have no list
Brian doesn’t sell a lot of stuff to his list and gives away a lot of free content. He says direct marketing is about playing the long game.
Tip 1: Get my video on “…how I built a database of 9 million names…most of which were buyers…without the internet” by opting in through my site
Tip 2: When using direct marketing, develop a relationship with your potential clients first, through for example, giving them free content and then later ensuring that you over-deliver
Tip 3: It’s okay if you don’t figure out how to monetize your product right away. Focus more on building your list first
Successes at Board Room
Board Room, Inc. had 3 newsletters including Bottom Line Personal and Board Room Reports (business-oriented). Brian realised that the health information in Bottom Line Personal was getting the most responses from their audience which indicated that there was a lot more interest in health than in their core personal finance editorial. That prompted them to launch a health newsletter called Health Confidential but they struggled to market and sell it. Brian discovered that the problem was in the messaging to their audience about the newsletter and their positioning, so they moved the whole branding to Bottom Line Health which ended up becoming incredibly success.
From then on, every book they spun was under the umbrella of the Bottom Line brand. With all their direct marketing based on the Bottom Line brand, all their health books were successful. They also did deep research on the health topics that their audience was more interested in which enabled them to keep launching different marketable health books. One of the most successful books they ever did was on diabetes, an epidemic that still exists today. That’s how Board Room ended up being more of a health publisher than they did a general consumer interest or financial publisher.
Tip 1: Sometimes you have to let the audience tell you what they want
Tip 2: Every business problem can be solved with a great sales letter
Difference between direct response marketing and standard marketing
Brian says it’s all about measurability and getting a return on investment on all the advertising one does. Direct marketing is the most measurable unlike standard marketing. It is also tied into the concept of Lifetime Value which is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
Tip 1: You must always know the results of your advertising efforts to determine whether the method you are using is effective in getting you sales
Tip 2: Make sure whatever you are spending on advertising is recoverable and in case you don’t recover the money then make sure you have a second product that you can promote through a different advertising option
Tip 3: No direct marketing business can survive without repeat business. Make sure that you have multiple products that you market through multiple channels
He says it’s always about repeat business for him in as far as business models are concerned. This is why he gets frustrated with the consulting work he does because in that consulting model, he gets paid for time while it would be more gainful if he got paid for his expertise. Brian says that it’s possible to achieve that by for example, putting everything into a course that people can buy coupled with coaching and monthly webinars. That business model would be very successful and it’s part of it that Brian applies in his mastermind groups.
When he is coaching people on how to apply the business model in their own businesses, he has to know what resources they can offer so he can help them build up a way of delivering the resources to their clients. He does that through a webinar group, mastermind group, coaching group, monthly webinar group, a course with coaching and training or a live event. Brian helps them develop diverse continuity models which enable them to get ongoing revenue in the long term. He always discourages people from selling a one-off product or event without continuity.
Starting a podcast (hypothetical)
He says he would not want to start a podcast but that he is a good interviewer. He loves being a guest on podcasts because they help him think about his ideas and come up with new innovative ones to grow his offerings.
Tip 1: To start a podcast you have to be a great interviewer, know how to ask probing questions and how to pull out what is in someone’s mind that they were not even expecting to share in an interview
Tip 2: Podcasts are a great way to build an audience for one’s business
Fear of failure
This has never stopped Brian from doing anything. He is always conscious to reality and the fact that things can get bad any time so he is always prepared for anything that might come his way. The only thing that Brian fears is not delivering what he promises his customers.
Tip 1: Always stay optimistic but still be constructively paranoid because it will always keep you sharp
Tip 2: To make a lot of shots you have to take a lot of shots
Tip 3: Everything in business, everything you do, you don’t win or lose, you either win or you learn – From Susan Garrett, the dog trainer
Tip 4: For the first two years of business, everything you do is a pilot so whatever doesn’t work with time, you can get rid of it or change it
A day in life when starting the business Vs. a day in life now
When he started the business, it was hard to get some free time because he worked on the business 24/7.
Now, his assistant knows that she does not make appointments for him on Mondays, Wednesday mornings, and Fridays because he always wants time for creative thinking. That includes on weekends. On Wednesday mornings he goes to his personal trainer for a workout. Tuesdays, Wednesday afternoons, and Thursdays are always very busy.
He conducts his mastermind groups on a Thursday once or twice a month.
Tip: When your brain is working in a creative mode, it’s different than when you are responding to emails, doing coaching calls and other business activities.
Brian doesn’t look at having mentors as an investment or a cost but as a must have. He has a 5-minute video blog post titled “You don’t choose your mentors, your mentors choose you” where he says that all his mentors were created by his own sense of contribution which means he first found the people he wanted to follow and learnt from, then tried to figure out how he could help them.
For example, with two of his major mentors, Dick Benson (one of the fathers of direct mail) and Eugene Schwartz (one of the most amazing copywriters), they both needed Brian to help them with their lists. When he helped them with their lists, he didn’t have to ask them to be his mentors because they wanted to mentor him.
Brian’s new book is called The Advertising Solution and is available on www.thelegendsbook.com. The book is about 6 of the greatest legends of direct marketing ever, what people can learn from the eternal truths that they pioneered, and how they are all applicable today.
When one buys the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBooks, they can go back to www.thelegendsbook.com with the receipt for the book so they can be able to opt into Brian’s list and download numerous free bonuses which include the best ads the 6 legends ever wrote.
Book recommendation for entrepreneurs:
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success – Adam Grant
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert B. Cialdini
To be remembered as a bridge that connected all the great materials from the past, that were all eternal truths of direct marketing, connected them to where he was working in the latter years of his career, and that were being used by future marketers in every state of the art thing they were doing – Brian.
Best way to connect:
http://www.briankurtz.me – Brian’s Business website
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