The Same Fundamentals Are Always Required For
By Dan Kennedy
The "Millionaire Maker"
Many of the leading Internet marketing practitioners and wizards, including those at the Internet Marketing Center, frequently look to me for business and marketing advice.
Why? Many reasons, actually...
But one is very relevant to you and your fortunes -- especially if you happen to be young, under 40, certainly if under 35, and/or if you primarily or exclusively use the Internet as your media of choice.
It is the same reason that, for about a decade, the folks at Guthy-Renker Corporation (the company that runs the hugely successful Tony Robbins and Proactiv skin-care infomercials) paid me to review their scripts, attend brainstorming meetings, and serve on project teams.
During that time they went from a few million per year in sales to over a billion. No, I'm not taking credit at all. But they've called to get my opinion on everything from fitness gadget shows to their skin-care businesses to Dean Martin DVDs that they sell on their infomercials. Why?
Greg Renker said: "We rely on Dan Kennedy to keep us from straying too far away from direct marketing fundamentals."
I realize the word 'fundamentals' is not very sexy. But it is a very important thing to understand.
The fact is, the fundamentals of direct marketing -- the things that serve as a solid foundation for growing and enduring success regardless of the media involved -- have not changed
since before I was born... and won't change after you're dust.
It's tempting to think that they do -- that the combination of a new media like the Internet, the times, and your target market can change the fundamentals.
I understand the temptation.
I can only caution against it, and invite you -- urge you -- to be a serious student of direct marketing history and both evolution and revolution in direct marketing, as I am.
If you take that entrepreneurial responsibility seriously, you will study the businesses, ads, media choices, economics, and life stories of people like Lyman Wood, George Haylings, Joe Cossman, Gerardo Joffee, Robert Collier, and Joe Sugarman... and you will see
how the same fundamentals are always required for
Going back in time and studying these successful marketers is the
foundation for what I call... a Time Machine.
In other words, learning the proven and successful fundamentals of what has worked in the past will give you the tools needed to predict what will work today... and tomorrow!
Because of our relationship, Derek has invited me to run through
"four" of these fundamentals with you.
First... A really big idea
Here are a few examples of a big idea:
- A pill that burns off body fat even while you sleep.
- The secrets of restoring teenage metabolism without exercise.
- The stock market strategy that guarantees you will make money every
day, whether your stocks go up or down in value.
- How to buy a million dollars' worth of real estate with less than $1,000.00 cash and lousy credit.
- How to teach your pet parrot to speak in just one weekend.
- The golf ball that goes straight as an arrow no matter how bad your swing.
In fact, these are examples of big ideas that have made millions,
and in a couple of cases, billions of dollars.
A big idea instantly captures the imagination, arouses curiosity,
conveys the intrigue of secrets, and holds forth a big,
bold, even unbelievable promise.
One client of mine grew rich with "How to turn $399.00 into $3,999.00 in one weekend."
A big idea is short, sweet, and succinct.
A big idea compels people to want to know more.
Second... The development of a great story about you or your product(s)
Because direct marketing must sell...
- WITHOUT the consumer entering a bricks-and-mortar location.
- WITHOUT the consumer having the opportunity to touch, feel, taste, or smell the product.
- WITHOUT the consumer having the security of a physical place to come and seek satisfaction if disappointed.
And because there is no interaction between a salesperson and the consumer -- the sales job is much, much harder.
It is unwise to underestimate the difficulty of this task.
One means of countering the difficulty is with a sensational story. To be successful in direct marketing, you must be a great storyteller. A great story has curiosity, drama, strife, resolution, interesting people and places, possibly humor.
An herbal concoction that gets rid of cellulite is of some interest to any woman over a certain age.
But a herbal concoction that gets rid of cellulite using a secret, ancient Chinese formula stolen from the concubines of Mao Tse Tung... that's made with a kind of kelp and volcanic ash only found in a certain part of the ocean... that has heretofore been provided only in tiny quantities to the wealthiest women in the world and, by movie studios, to its actresses, but has finally had its code broken and is now available in a safe, affordable gel capsule...
... Well, that's a lot more interesting!
A diet that actually works is interesting.
But a diet developed by a Harvard-trained doctor, who was plunged into despair after being divorced by her husband of 20 years after she put on 40 pounds and couldn't
take it off...
... Well, that's more interesting.
A means of meditation is of some interest to some.
But a means of meditation that comes from Himalayan monks who live to be 150 and never, ever have heart disease thanks to their peaceful mental state... and that was secretly used by
Tiger Woods before every golf tournament...
...That's more interesting.
A very good showcase of how great direct marketing can make ordinary things seem extraordinary is the home shopping channel, QVC.
Many of the products sold there can be found at Home Depot or Target or CVS -- yet on TV they become amazing and novel and compelling.
In the infomercial world, very successful half-hour programs are devoted to selling things like ladders, countertop hamburger grills, and big rubber balls.
The art, science, skill, and devotion to detail required to make the most mundane of products so fascinating that people will sit and watch 30-minute presentations about them is something to aspire to, be in awe of, and strive to master.
Everyone I've ever known who has really dedicated themselves to this is rich.
You see, it's just not enough to cut and paste some swiped copy together and slap it up on a web site. You need an interesting story.
Oh, and trying to prop up a weak story with streaming video and talking testimonials and other 'techno-gimmicks'... well, that's like taking a movie with a crappy plot and adding great special effects.
Third... A strong offer
A lot of advertising wimps out when it comes time to ask for the order.
There are about a dozen key ingredients to great offers -- and these direct marketing fundamentals have remained unchanged since the 1920s.
You need to learn them, grow familiar with them, and use as many as you can each time you construct and present an offer.
Fourth... Good structure
This is important, because a lot of people selling things on web sites ignore this fundamental, stubbornly insisting that the Internet as media -- and the people who use it -- are so 'different' that
it does not apply.
They are wrong!
I have sold successfully using every imaginable media.
Person to person... speaking to groups of 10, 100 and 10,000... on TV... on radio... with print ads... with sales letters... and yes, with web sites and with e-mail.
With all of them, structure matters.
By this I mean there must be a single charted path that the prospective buyer is led along from first step to last he cannot be left to wander around as he pleases.
Also, the sales copy itself must be "hung" on a successful structure.
One of my favorites is Problem, Agitate Problem, Present Solution. Another is Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Yet another I got from legendary copywriter Gary Halbert is Star, Story, Solution.
In short, regardless of media, you must build and deliver a sales presentation that controls your prospects as it is delivered.
These are just a few of many direct marketing fundamentals, too many unknown to (or ignored by) Internet marketers.
One final thought...
Too many using direct marketing merely try to copy what they see without understanding the "why" -- the fundamental psychology behind it.
The other night I was watching a college football game, and former Dallas Cowboy receiver Michael Irvin was there being interviewed about what tips he was giving the young receivers.
He gave this example: Every receiver wants to catch the ball with his hands, but if you can't see the defensive back, it means he's about to hit you, so you want to get the ball up against your body.
Now you might observe receivers doing that; you might never notice it. But it is a fundamental principle of playing that position. If you understand it, you have an advantage.
I'm convinced I have an advantage using direct marketing, and as a copywriter, because of my Time Machine. I've gone back and studied the fundamentals from previously successful entrepreneurs to gain a deep understanding of them.
Finally, I'll share one other thing.
The late Corey Rudl, my friend, client, and a member of my coaching group, talked about this in a lengthy set of recordings he and I made prior to his untimely departing.
Corey observed that the Internet is a media, not a business, and it's important not to be confused about this.
To succeed and keep getting richer, you need good business fundamentals, as well as a sound business plan that develops and sustains value, not just income.
If all you want to do is fool around, make some quick cash, and be a flash in the pan, you can get by during a brief moment in time just knowing how to get e-mail delivered or drive traffic
to a web site.
But don't give yourself too much credit for learning a couple of isolated parlor tricks. They do not a business make.
I have customers that I acquired 25 years ago supporting me today. Will you?
Dedicated To Multiplying Your Income,
Dan S. Kennedy