Today I’m interviewing Gordon Jay Alexander. You might have read his insights on the Warrior Forum and his Seeds of Wisdom forum, which has been online for over 10 years. He also contributes to other forums too.
But even if you haven’t heard of him (yet), Gordon has some tremendous ideas, to offer those interested in Internet marketing, direct marketing and copywriting.
Much of what he teaches you’ll find contrarian to what being pushed today in the usual Internet marketing education circles. In fact, some of his teachings may seem downright controversial.
Onward to the interview!
RYAN: I believe you mentored under legendary direct marketer Ben Suarez. What are some key things he taught you?
GORDON: Yes, Ben Suarez did personally recruit me to work for his company, Suarez Corporation Industries, with over 500 employees and doing 200 million dollars a year in business. What he offered was total access to his archives and direct guidance from his COO, Rod Napier. I was already established when Ben made his offer.
What I learned from the experience was a total A to Z, soup-to-nuts, how-to of remote direct marketing. I learned graphic design on both the Mac and PC. Multi-channel copywriting. Product assessment. Product development. And most critically, how to TEST and determine what products have the highest chance of success.
I had several writing assignments and spent a good amount of time reviewing the swipe files, which contained every ad SCI ever ran, including all direct mail pieces and full-page ads, and also the ads of almost everyone in the business from 1976 to 1996.
You can’t buy that kind of an education. Thank you Ben.
RYAN: You once noted “The biggest opportunity the Internet presents is…to waste a lot of time.” Do you still feel this way, and if so, why?
GORDON: Still true. Especially for the unfocused. The vast majority of people who want to start an “Internet Marketing” business do not have any business background or understanding of how hard it is to get people to part with their money. As a result of this lack of background, many are susceptible to the hype and hyperbole tossed about by savvy copywriters who like to “pick the low hanging fruit”. And the quest of easy money, the get rich quick crowd has always been the lowest hanging fruit there is.
Truth is, the Internet presents the very best, low-cost, effective way of testing your ideas and finding a ready to buy market. Then it is so easy to simply create or acquire a product for the market. Easy, simple, quick and profitable, IF, you have some “understanding”.
RYAN: Do you think there are too many courses floating out there on copywriting, direct marketing and Internet marketing today?
GORDON: I don’t know. I haven’t noticed. In my time, I bought everything that existed, even and much of it was garbage. But I would be more focused today and only invest in information, especially how-to type of stuff from people with a track record, not a trash record. It is just too easy to find out who the scammers are, a Google search will yield enough information so as one can avoid the garbage.
As for courses on copywriting, it is, and has been for almost a decade now, in my opinion, copywriting has become a biz-op, and those selling the courses, especially with the big promise , implied or inferred, of a fast track to a six figure income, are the ones making the money. If the numbers increase exponentially, there will be more copywriters than people who can hire them.
However, you can never stop learning, studying and growing and should always be mining other minds for gold. Just be careful whom you pick to buy your shovels from.
RYAN: What would you suggest to someone who is learning Internet or direct marketing, but doesn’t yet have a product to sell?
GORDON: My suggestions are seldom followed, mainly because they require thinking and work. And thinking is the hardest work there is. But, to answer the question, I suggest the first thing to learn would be to learn about life! I’m amazed at how many people don’t understand it isn’t about “selling” something to someone, but it is (success that is) almost always about providing a service or product people want.
So, it follows, learn what people want. The ones with the money to buy. Does you no good to try to sell to the cash poor, it just doesn’t add up in dollars and sense.
Find out what they already buy, why, how and then simply “plug into” the market.
As I tell my kids, “I ain’t no Einsteim and this ain’t Rocket Surgery!”
RYAN: Without giving away too much, is a formula or process you follow in developing information products?
GORDON: Yes. And I’ve already given it away many times over. It doesn’t matter if someone learns the “process”, they still have to do it and over the years, I’ve had very few people who “do it”.
I make all my students and mastermind members write out a one page “Hotsheet” about their concept. Then they write a four-page white paper on the subject. Then a 10-page, fully fleshed-out report on what they want and how it is going to happen.
Most people can’t get to the 10 pages because something easier, I call them shiny/sparkly things, catches their attention and they are off, once again, to the races.
When a person gets a well fleshed out concept, when a lot of hard thinking has been done, then they are provided tools to help them make this happen. What tools? Everyone I work with MUST have a white board at their desk, and they have to take a picture of it to prove they have one.
You must stare and look at your goals every single day. You must plan! Adjust your plan and focus! I give them the tools to keep them on their line that leads to their chosen destination.
Those that do, reach their goals. Most don’t do. So sad. Too bad.
RYAN: Can you describe the strategy behind your “anti-copy, the anti-persuasion promotion” style of copywriting?
GORDON: Well, just for the record, I have written “standard” copy and some would argue a lot of it is pretty much the “27 Amazing Secrets of One Eyed Copywriters in Heaven and Hell” type of stuff.
But, what I’ve found works for me, for my audience is, if I write the type of copy which spells everything out, exactly what they are getting for their money, how much – usually right up front, that varies from the “norm” – why it will help them, without blathering endlessly about it…I get better quality buyers.
And my “business model” for the past 15 years has been to serve a very small list, under 7,500 people, with a LIFETIME Value of products, which are practically an automatic buy because I don’t hype something every month and don’t promote other people’s products (with a couple of exceptions), I’ve trained them to buy when I tell them to. No need for me to write any other way.
RYAN: What is your association with Harvey Brody? What did you learn from him?
GORDON: Harvey and I are friends and he is one of my great mentors, one of the most UNIQUE – a word I try to never use in copy – entrepreneurs in the world. He is an unbelievable mind. Fantastic copywriter. Incredible marketer. Does an International multi-million dollar business from his home office working a few hours a week.
We collaborated for about a three-year period, holding weekly sessions I recorded, and he has provided me with in-depth knowledge about “Toll Positions” and how to set things up properly. He is the grandfather of modern marketing; unparalleled in his execution of a perfected business.
I learned how to think. That is, to think even better than I did. It sounds simple, but, proper thinking at the start insures success and avoids the train wrecks and crashes of so many of his contemporaries. He’s never had a down year in 55 straight seasons.
Thank you Harvey.
RYAN: Beyond Ben Suarez and Harvey Brody, who are some of your other top influences?
GORDON: Actually, those two had minimal influence, I was already established when they came into my atmosphere. I’ve had three powerful mentor influences; Fred Felice, Ed Barr and Burt Morgan.
With all due respect to the marketing crowd that thumps their chest at the drop of a dollar bill attached to a letter, Burt Morgan was a REAL Entrepreneur. Great man. Creative. Hard-nosed. Successful.
I had lunch with Burt regularly at his bank. He had some of the best advice I’ve ever received, my favorite is, “It is better to get shot out of the water than to rot at the dock.” A lesson which has proved invaluable to me over the years.
Ed Barr was a serial entrepreneur, owned a stable, several restaurants, gift shops, oil company. He was a down to earth guy and we used to make his mother’s streusel in one of his restaurants. Unpretentious. Brilliant. Giving. Ed showed me, by way of his actions, the secret is to GIVE, and you’ll get more than you ever planned for.
I saw Fred “Papa” Felice turn down a million dollar cash offer for his small pizza shop. He felt his recipe and product would not translate to a “chain” of franchises, and since his name was going to be on it, he wouldn’t do it. Talk about integrity! Instead, we are stuck with Papa John’s…HA!, I can’t even call that stuff pizza.
So, these three (and there were others) had a more lasting impression and influence on me than the men and women I met later in life.
RYAN: Where can people go to learn more about you?
GORDON: Right now, all of my online energies are being put into www.doomgloombliss.com.
RYAN: Thanks Gordon for everything you’ve contributed, both in this interview, and on the various things you’ve published online over the years.