Marketing Like Picasso: The Ultimate Crash Course for Busy Entrepreneurs


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Marketing Like Picasso: The Ultimate Crash Course for Busy Entrepreneurs

I found an excellent article about “Marketing isn’t everything... it’s the only thing,” a conversation with Brian Kurtz marketing guru. I know many authors hate marketing and think it's an interruption to their business, and if I can be blunt, "that it’s evil' when just the opposite is true. Marketing is just as important as writing your book and may be even more important. If people don’t know your book exists you’ll never sell it. So, “marketing isn’t everything… it’s the only thing” is not some catchy phrase. To me, marketing is 99%, and your product or book is 1%.

I’ve curated what I consider the two most important takeaways from the article to save time and with the hopes that it will open your thinking why you should dive deeper on your marketing efforts.
Disclaimer: If any writer objects to having their work curated on this platform with backlinks to their site send me a message, and I'll gladly remove your content and extend my apologies for any inconvenience that it might have caused. Click Here.

Marketing Like Picasso: The Ultimate Crash Course for Busy Entrepreneurs
by Brian Gunderson

“Marketing isn’t everything... it’s the only thing.”

That’s the line Brian Kurtz used to kick off his marketing crash course to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs in Hungary — a country under communist rule until 1989. Communism put a lid on entrepreneurship for decades, but within this new generation exists a flourishing entrepreneurial spirit.

Conversely, in 1989 Brian Kurtz was busy transforming Boardroom Inc. into a multimillion-dollar direct marketing icon. He helped sell tens of millions of books and subscriptions, famously leading the company from $5 million in revenue in 1981 to nearly $160 million in 2006. Brian recently traveled to Hungary to share insights from his 35+ years in business with up-and-coming Hungarian entrepreneurs.

I had the chance to talk with Brian Kurtz about his marketing crash course in Hungary and his latest book, The Advertising Solution. He gave me three key marketing rules — plus a fourth bonus rule about “Marketing Like Picasso” — that today’s entrepreneurs and startups need to know whether they are directly involved with marketing or not.

Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:
Rule #1: Marketing Is Not Evil
“When I was on stage in Hungary, I had the privilege of speaking to 300 entrepreneurs. And I wanted to start with ‘marketing’ is not something they should be scared of — but just the opposite. They need to embrace it. And I would say the same thing to American entrepreneurs who have a mission in their heart, yet they think somehow that marketing is evil.”

Do you know what the essence of marketing is? It’s to find people who are hungry for a message — your message — and to share it with them in an engaging way. Many entrepreneurs and startups look down on marketing as sleazy or beneath them. But it would be more helpful and accurate to see certain sales tactics as sleazy or beneath them.
Brian used three questions to make that point in Hungary:
1. “How many of you have a message that you want to share with the world?”
2. “How many of you want to get that message out before you die?”
3. “How many of you would rather reach millions of people instead of dozens of people with that message?”

Despite Hungarians generally being reserved and less than participatory, Brian got them all to raise their hands.
Brian also likes to differentiate between selling and marketing. Selling can have a negative connotation, especially when it seems just about quickly extracting cash. Marketing is about preparing people to buy through long-term relationships based on value and trust. It’s about building a community and not just a pile of money.
That’s why one of Brian’s favorite marketing tenets is: “Everything is not a revenue event but everything is a relationship event.”

Important Takeaway: If you have an important message to share, marketing is the way to share it with the world. And it can be done through relationship and community building rather than pushy sales tactics that may feel sleazy.
Bonus Rule #4: “Know The Rules Like a Pro, So You Can Break Them Like An Artist”

Brian Kurtz recently wrote The Advertising Solution with Craig Simpson. It’s a brilliant overview of the most time-tested advertising and marketing rules and strategies in history. It draws lessons from six legendary 20th century advertisers: Claude Hopkins, John Caples, Robert Collier, David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert and Eugene Schwartz. Many would consider these legends “Mad Men,” but they were really the forerunners of direct marketing (see Rule #2). Kurtz could have written a crash course in marketing using just his own experience — but by including these legendary advertisers, he and Simpson really have created the ultimate marketing crash course.

And Kurtz feels introducing these advertising icons to a new generation is important: “Claude Hopkins wrote a book called Scientific Advertising that was published in 1923. And the book is still 100% relevant because Hopkins understood direct marketing — and the rest of these 6 “Mad Men” understood direct marketing, too. So it’s important to study these people so you know that Facebook didn’t invent everything. I recently did an interview where I was talking about some very specific ways that we modeled our list statistically in the 1980s and ‘90s through what we call regression modeling. When the interview was posted on Facebook, someone commented ‘Wow! I thought Facebook invented lookalike models. Mind blown.’

“So, yes, you can do a great lookalike model on Facebook and market your product without any understanding of what came before. But if you do have an understanding of what came before you’re going to be way ahead of the game. I guarantee that the questions you’re going to ask of your media buyer on Facebook, and what you’re going to understand about human behavior, and the instincts you’ll develop for how people respond to offers — will be so much better.”
Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” And that’s the purpose of Kurtz’s book: Focusing on 6 dead advertising men isn’t about taking a stroll down memory lane — it’s about the importance of learning from original sources. It’s about learning the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. (Kurtz recently gave an interview on the topic with a marketing legend in his own right, Perry Marshall: 6 Dead Guys and 1 Marketing Legend.)

“The book actually becomes a checklist that you keep next to your desk even if you’re not a marketer so that you can at a minimum ask questions of the person writing the sales letters, writing your headlines, or buying your media,” says Kurtz. “The book is pure gold at your fingertips, almost like a marketing dictionary or thesaurus. You may not need to know everything about marketing, but you need to know something.”

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Important Takeaway: If you want an education in marketing, study the many books written by these 6 legendary advertisers. If you want a shortcut, check out The Advertising Solution by Brian Kurtz and Craig Simpson.

Brian Kurtz is also the founder of Titans Marketing where he continues to share his wealth of wisdom with a new generation of marketers.

Garrett Gunderson is the founder and Chief Wealth Architect of, and a financial advocate for entrepreneurs.

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