Today I’m talking with J.F. (Jim) Straw. Ben Settle has called him “The Dos Equis Man of Marketing”…and I’m 90% sure Ben was referring to the gentleman in the beer commercials with a lifetime of amazing adventures. Either way, this description seems to fit well, as Jim’s sold more than $400 million of products through the mail, from fishing lures to burgler alarms, for more than 37 years.
Jim has written written well over 700 books, booklets, manuals, reports, courses and articles…so he’s an excellent teacher on the subjects of mail order and business success. In this interview, he answers a few of my questions about how he creates and markets information products. He also gives his take on some of the recent controversies surrounding the Internet Marketing industry…
RYAN: Who were some of your top influences and mentors in the direct marketing / mail order business?
JIM: Believe it don’t, when I started I didn’t have any influencers or mentors. In my earliest days I spent a lot of time reading the ads in the back of comic books; answering them and making money selling the stuff they offered.
When I wrote my first info-product, I put out a sad sales letter for it. That’s when Alan Shawn Feinstien called me. He said, “Jim, there are only two people in the world who know what you are selling … you and me.” He then proceeded to tell me that “Your advertising isn’t any good unless it can be understood by a 12 years old; even when selling to college professors and corporate CEOs.” — I still do it that way.
Later, I became friends with and studied the works of Joe Cossman, Joe Karbo, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, Bob Bly, and a ho’bunch of lesser knowns.
RYAN: What would you suggest to someone who is brand new to Internet or direct marketing?
JIM: As I have often said, “You can make a fortune in mail order without ever knowing anything about Internet marketing – but – you can’t make any money in Internet marketing without knowing at least the fundamentals of mail order.”
I suggest those who want to become direct marketers study everything they can find about mail order marketing. Mail order teaches the methods. Internet marketing is an application. Methods never really change – but – applications seem to change almost daily.
RYAN: Is a formula or process you follow in developing your information product (such as your course on mail order)?
JIM: Sorry, I don’t use any formulas. Since I have only written about things I have done, I simply write what I have done and how I did it so the next generation won’t have to learn it by trial and error; as I did.
Tune into part 2 of this interview tomorrow…