I’ve been thinking about “original source” a lot this week with the release of the “Titans Marketing edition” of Breakthrough Advertising by Gene Schwartz.
Gene was one of many “originals” who paved the way for everything we do today in marketing, copywriting and the study of human behavior. And as mentioned above, Gene is the man responsible for the most important book ever written for marketers and copywriters, Breakthrough Advertising, which is now available to everyone.
Why is knowing the original source of things so important?
Why do we need to look at the past in order to create a bigger future?
The reason is summed up in the Picasso quote (which I have shared with you multiple times in the past):
“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
Gene Schwartz, in particular,
is one of those pros who, because he learned all of “the rules” first, became one of the most prolific “artists” in so many areas of his life.
I talk about that in detail in the afterword in the new edition of Breakthrough Advertising.
And now we can all pay it forward by learning the rules from him and then making it our goal to become the next generation of artists.
I know Gene is smiling down on us right now since he was as much a teacher as he was an artist.
Inspired by those thoughts of Gene’s smile (he had a magical one), I began to think more about this idea of “original source”…or what I am calling today, “where babies come from.”
I recalled the interview I did with one of the smartest and most insightful marketers active today, Perry Marshall, talked about this idea in detail.
Perry’s track record of successes–based on his application of this principle in everything he does–makes him the perfect person to bring into this conversation.
This interview was released last year…but given its relevance to the new edition of Breakthrough Advertising, I wanted to send it to you again today.
But before I do that, I want to talk more about this critical concept.
Perry called the interview, “6 Dead Guys and One Marketing Legend” referring to my new book at the time, The Advertising Solution…but for today’s purposes, I like my updated subject line about where babies come from much better: I finally realized that it was NOT “the stork” who brought us direct marketing fundamentals.
Hopefully, your Mom or Dad told you that as well.
I think this interview is a must listen for anyone who plans on being a world-class marketer over the next 50 years.
Of course, I am not objective…
More background about today’s interview:
Hopefully, you know by now that my new book (which is not so new anymore!) profiles 6 of the most legendary advertising men of all time…all no longer with us…and all pioneers of everything we consider sacred in direct marketing today.
I guess you would define them as some of the original “Mad Men” (i.e. the most prolific general advertising minds of their eras).
However, I believe they were all actually direct marketers trapped in the bodies of general advertisers.
What I have learned by diving into their work, thanks to my amazing co-author Craig Simpson, has been game-changing for me–and the thousands who have already read it.
I hope you will buy it, read it and also grab all of the free bonuses at:
“Rules from pros.”
Back to Perry:
He wrote a blurb for the book, calling it “the make sure we don’t miss anything checklist.”
That gave me an idea:
I would have Perry interview me for his list…maybe sell a few books…and then in that interview, talk about what he is currently involved in with the incredible Richard Koch and HIS new book, Simplify.
This was inspired by the fact that I kept seeing Richard’s new book popping up on Amazon next to mine.
The surprise element that came up during the interview was a discussion of the importance of knowing the “original source” of the techniques we use and deploy today.
The punch line:
Knowing those fundamentals…where they came from…and how they were “invented”… makes us better at everything we do today…and not simply to take a stroll down memory lane.
Case in point:
I was on a podcast not long ago and the interviewer decided to take a deep dive into the topic of “regression modeling.”
This is the technique used to statistically predict response rates before mailing names (using direct mail) on large databases and individual lists, sometimes modeling millions of names at a time with incredibly predictable results.
It’s a technique I used throughout my career (with the help of a top-notch statistician since I was an English Major in college!)…and a technique that has been around a very long time…yes, even before the Internet!
And it still works.
I was surprised the interviewer decided to go down this path in our discussion since I was getting the sense we were getting a bit granular for his audience…and I was afraid we would lose them.
But it was an interesting discussion and a topic so few people in the online world today ever ask me about so I went with the flow…and then he posted the interview on Facebook.
One of the responses was both flattering and telling:
“Wow! This interview with Brian Kurtz is fantastic. In it, he talks about this incredible modeling technique he used earlier in his career. And I thought Facebook invented lookalike models. Mind blown!”
That is, having a deep understanding of the modeling techniques that came before (including “lookalike models” which are far less predictable than “regression models,” a topic for another day) can only make you better as you buy ads from models created on Facebook.
Knowing “where babies (i.e. modeling on lists) comes from” will enable you to ask different (and more probing) questions of your Facebook agency/media buyer (using this example), and it will lead to ideas you would never have thought possible.
And I have to tell you, stuff like this happens every day with my own clients and with some of the greatest online marketers I know and love.
We regularly see examples where having a historical perspective on the fundamentals of direct marketing will always lead to new insights (and higher levels of success) using a current, state-of-the-art technique.
I am sharing it today in honor of Gene Schwartz–and to serve as a reminder the power of, and never forgetting, the value of re-learning the fundamentals–and everything that got us to where we are today.
I regularly say that this is absolutely the best time in the history of the world to be a marketer…and having as much knowledge and information of what has worked in the past will only make you bigger and stronger using the incredibly effective tools and methodologies being developed every day…many through advanced technology, many through advanced logic, but ALL based on direct marketing principles of the past.
The interview with Perry