Brand Master Podcast logo

Branding vs Direct Response Marketing with Brian Kurtz

Brand Master Podcast logo

Branding vs Direct Response Marketing with Brian Kurtz

Now for those of you who don’t know him, Brian Kurtz is a direct response copy master and author of the Engaging book Overdeliver, build a Business for a Lifetime, playing the long game in Direct Response Marketing.

Brian Kurtz is definitely a throwback marketer to a madman time where Copy was rightly king and an expert who I associate with the likes of industry legends such as Eugene Schwartz and Jay Abraham. 

He positions himself as a serial direct marketer who believes that marketing isn’t everything but the only thing, for nearly 40 years now. 

He’s followed a specific set of direct marketing principles that helped him to build an iconic publishing company to 150 million at its height, Principles, which are even more applicable with today’s state-of-the-art modern marketing methods. 

So if you want to learn techniques to persuade your audience, to choose your brand of your competitors, from a man who has spent his life persuading tens of millions of consumers to do exactly that and stick around for this article.

Branding vs Direct Response Marketing with Brian Kurtz

One-click subscribe for video updates

The Crossover of Branding & Marketing

Stephen Houraghan

Copywriting is such an important aspect of branding that has really from my perspective has been overlooked.

If I was to give it a role, I would say it’s probably our greatest tool of influence as brands are the copy and the messages that we put out there.

I know from our brief chat there, even within the world of branding and marketing we’ve got two very distinct camps.

You’ve got the marketers, the pure breed marketers who look to branding as they believe it’s fluff and bullshit and then on the branding side of things, we look towards marketing and direct responses in this kind of dirty world where we don’t wanna be associated.

What you, kind of alluded to before, the symbiotic nature of the twp somewhere in the middle, is true and I want to dig into that. 

What’s your idea about the crossover between the two worlds of branding and marketing?

Brian Kurtz

It’s interesting you can’t just will a Nike swoosh,  a logo, and branding is so much more than.

And as I said initially, you need to establish what you have already, you always want to know.

Jay Abraham who wrote The Forward, who’s a marketing genius wrote the Forward to Overdeliver my book and he always says that his book, my favorite Jay Abraham book is getting everything you can out of all you’ve got.

Before you build anything you’ve gotta do and see what your assets are, what do you have. Some people have a brand built in to what they’ve already done, to me, that’s the first step. 

The second step is not to throw money away indiscriminately on building a brand or on publicity or public relations, that doesn’t pay out. 

You can do both or you can build a brand and get do direct response marketing that pays out at the same time. 

One example from my career was when we had a database. I think we had probably 9 million names of buyers and subscribers to the newsletters that  I ran at the board and the books we sold at Boardroom, mostly consumers, mostly business people at home, was kind of the marketplace. 

This market was so ingrained with the first newsletter, which was boardroom reports and then we launched another newsletter later on, which was more consumer-oriented, called Bottom Line Personal.

All of a sudden the business took off and we realized that bottom line was the brand that we should, we should hitch as the key brand.

What we did was everything after that was branded Bottom line before it was boardroom books, then it became bottom line books.

Before that, we started doing like health news, political health confidential, and we changed that to bottom line.  It was just the simple name change to where, because it wasn’t like we were building a brand, the brand built itself from the marketplace that we were going after.

The creative and the copy just went with that way. The thing that that was so interesting is that we launched the company, it was called Boardroom Inc. 

We launched it as a business newsletter. Boardroom reports, everything was boardroom, boardroom books. By the time, you know, 15 years later, everything was bottom line. 

In fact, boardroom reports, the initial newsletter became bottom line business everything came under the bottom line brand, if you will. It was interesting because bottom line business did much better to the database and this is a very simple example of brand.

I know it’s very simple, just the name, but you can see that we didn’t go after a brand. 

We saw what our audience was doing, and that’s way more powerful. 

As far as the idea of copywriting being the most, creative is the least important element until it’s not.

And what I mean by that, and I already illustrated it by the idea of our database moving toward bottom line from boardroom. 

But the interesting thing is that the creative is the most important, but not initially the most. 

There’s like three in a direct marketing program, like any marketing point, but specifically direct marketing.

There’s the:

The list, the media, the audience. 

The offer that you’re making

The creative or the messaging. 

It was a theory that said it’s the 40 40 20 rule that it’s in my book, in chapter four about RFM and list building, and I made it the 41 39, 20.

The 41% is the list, the media, the audience, it’s all about them in terms of what the, because Eugene Schwartz, who wrote Breakthrough Advertising talks about the 

Copywriter doesn’t create desire, the desire’s already in the marketplace. It’s your job as the marketer copywriter to find where it is and then just tap into it.

If you have the right audience then you come up with the offer 39% and then tha 41, 39 20 rule kind of implies that the creative is half as important as as the media list and the offer, “It’s not”.

What it is that you have to get to that third, once you get to the creative that you wanna do specifically for the audience, just the example writing for Bottom Line as opposed to the boardroom to a bottom line database is changing the creative and my experience over 40 years of doing this is that the creative is the least important until it’s not. 

Then it becomes the most important as you suggested because once you have your list of media dialed in, and you have an audience that’s hungry for what you have, you have an offer that’s irresistible.

Then the creative takes it to direct marketing Nirvana and that’s where you get your biggest lifts. You can tweak the offer, list selection once you have it or the media selection but if you have those two things dialed in, the creative takes it to a whole new height. 

Now, the reason why I say 41, 39, 20, and the way I prove it is that if you have the 

perfect list, perfect media, whatever, you have a irresistible offer and you use mediocre creative, 

We’ll say online, you have a flashing red box and an arrow saying order here, you’ll make some money, you’ll get some orders.