Around this time each year, I pull all my old Dan Kennedy NO BS Marketing newsletters out and read them, one-by-one. The first issue I ever got was the September 2002 issue (front page has a picture of a dwarf stuck in a airplane toilet…). I’d just started learning copywriting a handful of months earlier. And, I remember the “back page” of that particular issue (titled “The Fallacy Of Security”) having a profound effect on my mindset at the time — and has through all these years, as it’s kept me healthily paranoid and discontent no matter how good things get.
I just re-read it again, and everything he said was true then, and is even more true now.
What was that back page about, exactly?
About the fallacy of security.
i.e. Security (personal, financial, business, etc) simply doesn’t exist.
Dan starts the article off by talking about how that month was the one year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One day, Americans thought they were secure, the next they weren’t. Yes, even with Pearl Harbor having happened, and multiple examples of our embassies and terrorist attacks in Europe showing it was possible, Americans (thinking we are somehow immune to such atrocities, because America) got complacent and forgot that there is no security.
He then related it to the financial and business world:
One day huge numbers of people were feeling secure in their investments and nest eggs… the next (thanks to Enron/Global/Adelphia/Big-8 Accounting, etc… combined with the stock market turning to mush around the whole affair) they had nothing.
These fellows thought they had financial security and were “set.”
Reality declared they weren’t.
And, just like with Pearl Harbor et al. as a precedent for being attacked, there had been many prior historical demonstrations of just how insecure people are financially — like the 1929 depression, Black Monday, the confiscation of gold, numerous retroactive eliminations of tax shelters, etc.
As Dan put it:
“Could they retroactively change the IRA laws and tax and confiscate your savings to save social security? Of course not, you say, yet history says, you betcha. Could a trusted, big-name corporation in which you’ve invested actually be a charade run by criminals? Of course not, you say, yet history and current events say yes.”
“But Ben, I’m a business, I don’t rely on investments!”
Well, according to Dan’s essay, you ain’t any safer, Chuckles.
He brings up all kinds of examples of entire types of businesses, media, and products that were legal one day, then outlawed the next. Like the Sherman anti-trust law that destroyed numerous companies instantly. Or the various laws defining what “pyramid schemes” are. I am friends with some players in the MLM world. When one of the big companies Vemma was declared a pyramid in mid 2015, it had an impact and scared a lot of big time distributors doing tens of millions per year into getting serious about marketing themselves instead of their companies. Good for people who understand how to mine gold from adversity like my pal Ray Higdon, who now trains many of these top earner blokes to build their own brands instead of their main company’s. Not so good for someone who’s income and whose team’s income were dependent on a so-called “secure” business structure that collapsed with the pound of a gavel.
And what about infomercials?
As Dan observed, there one minute, gone the next.
Then, brought back again.
Who’s to say when they won’t be outlawed again?
Even flipping properties and JV’s between certain professional practices have been targets of states.
In Dan’s words:
(This was 2002, the marketing *medias* have changed, not the specter of the threat)
“If they can outlaw broadcast FAX, what makes you think they cannot outlaw all telemarketing or all ‘junk mail’”
And, I would add email marketing.
Or text marketing.
Or even marketing on social media.
“That would never happen!”
Don’t be so sure about that, Mr. Miyagi.
History says you’re wrong — and, even though a lot of people seem to think direct response marketing didn’t exist prior to the internet (and, for certain clueless millennials, before Facebook), there has always been a battle between marketers and the U.S. government, and there always will be. Even the late, great copywriter Gene Schwartz went to bat for all of us at one of the higher courts (maybe even the Supreme Court, but I don’t remember exactly) to make sure we could advertise what it actually says in the books we sell.
But, even that could easily be overturned some day.
Imagine having to get a bureaucrat’s opinion of your copy in addition to your client. Or, needing a government-sanctioned license to practice copywriting, coaching, consulting, etc. (I hear tell certain states like Utah are cracking down on “Life Coaches” if they aren’t licensed…)
Something to ponder, if you’re a freelancer.
But wait, I know, that would NEVER happen here, right?
The myth of security doesn’t stop with money and business and marketing. Dan even went into how there is no real security in romantic relationships or even personal and familial relationships. At the time, he’d just been abruptly divorced at a time where he was 100% convinced any problems could be worked out in his marriage.
Yes, I know, *your* unicorn would never leave.
And, hopefully you are right.
But, there are millions of examples each year and multiple millions of historical examples (and a proverbial horde of rich divorce attorneys) of people who had the “perfect” marriage who have demonstrated otherwise.
Fact is, unless you have mind control powers, you cannot control others.
To paraphrase what a popular concealed carry handgun instructor said:
You’re going to do what you’re going to do, your person is going to do what he/she is going to do, the lawyers are going to do what they’re going to do, both your families and friends are going to do what they’re going to do, the marriage counselor is going to do what they’re going to do, the family court judges are going to do what they’re going to do…
Anyway, point is this:
There’s a Pearl Harbor and a 9/11 and an Enron for every aspect of life.
There is no “security” and never has been, and never will be.
Even the “impenetrable” Helm’s Deep in The Lord Of The Rings had a drain the orcs could get through.
Which brings me to the hook:
I distinctly remember this particular back page essay having a huge impact on my mindset, my beliefs, and the realities of life. And, while it seems like it was a lot of doom and gloom, Dan’s message was ultimately optimistic.
(In my way of thinking, at least.)
Specifically, when he got to the entrepreneurial lesson, which was:
“The only real security is your ability to produce”
This one sentence has stuck in my psyche for the past 17 years.
So has this part:
“… you had better sustain a very, very serious commitment to maintaining, improving, enhancing and strengthening your own ‘ability to produce’, because, in truth, it is all you’ve got and all you will ever have. Anything and everything else you see around you, you acquire and accumulate, you invest in, you trust in, can disappear in the blink of an eye.”
The goal of that issue was to get people thinking about getting (if you don’t already have one) a “gigantic, awesomely powerful ability to produce”, and having that be the only goal (I would even say “Mission”) you put all your energies into. And then, to nurture, feed, exercise, strengthen, and invest in it.
For me, that ability was copywriting.
And, I worked as hard as anyone for many years at that.
Then, it became email copywriting, specifically.
But, over the past few years it’s become more than the skill of writing words that sell and pushing that “send” button on the email broadcasting platform I use.
It’s about persuasive communication as a whole.
When you have that, you can apply it to pretty much any media you want. Some of the nuances and dynamics might be different (i.e. daily emails are not the same as long form sales letters or 3 line classified ads — something I notice even some very smart, old school copywriters get wrong) but, the same principles work for and apply to all of it, if’n you catch my drift.
The same *principles* I use in email, for example, I use when speaking.
Or when I did my podcast.
Or when writing sales letters.
Or when I would post something in my old Flakebook groups.
Or even when writing articles, content, or press releases.
Another true story:
I got probably my best copywriting edu-ma-cation when I had a several month long dry spell not getting clients about 12 years ago, and wrote well over 100 ezine articles with the goal of “selling” people on clicking my resource box and joining my list. And then, later, when I wanted to learn Paul Hartunian’s PR system, writing press releases in his style. Same principles for both, just different media, all applied to every other media I communicate with.
Anyway, this is one of the longest emails I think I ever done wrote.
But you know what?
I’d best your left arm someone needed to hear it.
If not you, or someone else, then certainly I enjoyed the reminder.
There is no security but your ability to produce.
If you want to learn what I am doing to build, strengthen, apply, practice, and make sales and a living from my ability to produce, check ye out the “Email Players” newsletter.
It’s only expensive if you look at it as a cost and not an investment.
If you’re the former, that’s your first road block.
(Thinking of skills that can make you the muhney as costs and not investments.)
If you’re the latter, then here’s the link: