All my best ideas are stolen…
And this one is no exception!
Have you ever heard of the “with” strategy?
That’s the name I know for it, because that’s what Dan Kennedy called it. He’s the guy I stole it from. Of course, I know enough about Dan that it’s a good bet he stole it from someone else, who stole it from someone else. Dan may have given it that name, but he learned it and teaches it because he heard it from someone, tried it, and it worked.
So… What’s Dan Kennedy’s “with” strategy?
Well, it’s based on a little quirk of human psychology. A heuristic — a mental shortcut.
The shortcut I’m talking about is “who you’re with is who you are.”
What does this mean? Well, when we see a stranger with another person we know, like, trust, and respect, we assign the characteristics of the person we know to the stranger.
So, Person A has credibility in our eyes. Person B is with Person A. Therefore Person B must be credible.
I’ll tell you how I’ve used this to get ahead in my career and build my business in a moment, but first…
The “with” strategy is HUGE in politics…
Take the recent Sarah Palin endorsement of Donald Trump. Now, I don’t care what you think of either for the purpose of this illustration. The point will apply.
Sarah Palin has a following. A lot of it came from the last election, where she was partnered up with Republican mainstay John McCain. A lot of it also came from Fox News, where she was a contributor after the election. And from TLC, where she had a reality show. (Notice she used the “with” strategy to go from a nobody to the main stage.)
Now Trump is using the “with” strategy to bring some of Palin’s following into his fray. I think they probably appeal to a very similar crowd (that tends to happen with political endorsements) but any endorsement like this — putting two influencers “with” each other — creates an additive effect.
Likewise, politicians use the “with” strategy when they get the endorsements of media, cultural and religious leaders, artists, celebrities, and others throughout their campaign. A single campaign appearance by the right movie star or famous musician can give serious juice to a politician’s hopes for election.
It also works in business…
In fact, this article is a nice subtle use of the “with” strategy. Without me coming out to say it directly, the implication of this article is that I have some (at least passing) connection to Dan Kennedy. Which is only partly true. I’ve frequently found myself a visitor to Planet Dan, never really a resident. I have spoken with him a few times, attended the Titans VIP dinner with him, and seen him speak multiple times. I’ve also read many of his books, and gone through some of his programs. He’s also reviewed some of my copy, but it was by fax and I never got a direct line to him. The connection is slightly better than tenuous, but it is there.
The point is, I know for a fact that if I were to write about this strategy without mentioning Dan Kennedy, my email open rate and search engine traffic for this article would be lower. By putting him in the title, it makes you more interested in reading me. It’s very subtle, but it definitely works to gain more attention for me and my business.
And yet, that’s just the beginning. One of my favorite uses of the “with” strategy is to interview people. I temporarily had a podcast, where I interviewed best-selling business and marketing authors, as well as other top experts in the field. While I had connected with Brian Kurtz previously, I was able to use the cachet of that podcast and my other guests to get him on, and that was a big step toward me eventually writing the promotion for his Titans of Direct Response event.
Speaking of Titans, having written the copy for that and attended as a special VIP only upped my “with” status even further. I am now able to legitimately position myself as having a special relationship with all the Titans who graced that stage: Gary Bencivenga, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Greg Renker, Ken McCarthy, Perry Marshall, Joe Sugarman, Fred Catona, David Deutsch, Parris Lampropoulos, Eric Betuel, Arthur Johnson, Michael Fishman, Jim Kwik, and Ryan Lee, plus Brian Kurtz himself. (I also did quite a few things to make myself a visible part of the marketing campaign, which only ups that “with” status.)
In addition, very early on I was using the “with” strategy to build my copywriting business. One of my earliest gigs was with AWAI, the company known for training copywriters. By writing for them on a regular basis, I got a few “with” benefits. For one, I was seen on stage or as a well-known presence at every Bootcamp I attended, starting with my first in 2009. I also used that connection to connect with their speakers and others in the industry. In fact, at the last Bootcamp I convinced David Deutsch to introduce me to John Carlton — using the “with” strategy to get a warm introduction, so I didn’t look like too much of a fanboy! (Thanks David!)
Also, simply by making my client list relatively public, I’ve used the “with” strategy to make more of my ideal clients feel comfortable hiring me. After all, if I’ve worked with companies X, Y, and Z who are all well-known and well-respected in their industry, it only makes sense that I’ll be a fit for working with them, too. (Testimonials are another great way of using the “with” strategy — it allows you to put their picture next to yours, which is a nice little credibility-booster!)
Speaking and being featured on the same stage as top names in your industry is a very quick way to add to your credibility as well. Or, if you’re not getting invited to these big stages — whether physical or digital (online, webinars, teleseminars, podcasts, etc.) — create the stage yourself and invite others.
If you’re reading this as braggadocio, you’re not getting my point…
This is, by far, one of my biggest “name-dropping” issues of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets. But that’s not what it’s really meant to be. Rather, my goal here is to show this in action.
This starts by introducing yourself to someone of importance in your eyes. Make it friendly, and without expectation. Deliver value, or at least don’t come across as a mooch.
If you can find a way to feature them, by writing about them, or by interviewing them for a podcast, or something like that, it can be very helpful.
The idea is that you want to make a connection.
And from there, you have someone you’re “with” that can help in making another connection, and another, and another.
The more your network grows, the more power the “with” strategy will have. It compounds as you start to have so many people that you’re known to be associated with, that you have to start dropping names off the list.
One more quick shortcut to using the “with” strategy…
This one has a long history in marketing and advertising, and shouldn’t be forgotten.
It’s probably the fastest, easiest way to put the “with” strategy into action.
Find a celebrity. It doesn’t even have to be a national celebrity, like a movie star. It can be an industry celebrity, such as Dan Kennedy with copywriters and marketers. Or it can be a local celebrity, such as a former college football player, a prominent entrepreneur in your community, or someone else that your target market will notice.
Then, buy their endorsement. It sounds crass, but it’s an accurate description of what happens. Find out what level of endorsement you can afford, or what you have to do to get it. Then, do it.
This can be one of the fastest, easiest ways to get attention when you wouldn’t get it otherwise. And it can be a highly-effective way to up the interest in and ultimate sales of your offer.
So, here’s my question…
What are you going to do in the next 7 days to apply the “with” strategy?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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