Random Whimsy: Uncensored Interview with Dan Lok

by : Dan Lok



Norman Williams, publisher of "Big Money Publishing Newsletter," recently did a Q&A about me.

1 - Can you tell me about your business background?

Sure, Norman. My name is Dan Lok. I've written hundreds and hundreds of unstoppable ads and magnetic sales letters for clients in more than 39 different industries. Your readers may not know my name, but I wouldn't be surprised if they've been "sold" with some of the irresistible copy I've written.

My writing has sold over $17.3 million dollars of merchandise and services by mail, e-mail, retail and websites. I've earned my reputation as "The Copywriting Whiz Kid" from years in the trenches of advertising - writing ads and sales letters that create fortunes for businesses and entrepreneurs.

In fact, when I first got started as a rookie copywriter, I really was a kid…just 16! My Unique Selling Proposition was...

“I Don't Get Paid Until YOU Make Tons Of Cold, Hard Cash!"

I put it all on the line with a message that was unmistakable: what I write has to make big bucks for my clients... or... I don't eat. Under that kind of "make or break" pressure, I've been forced to figure out one thing - how to create CONSISTENTLY the most powerful, irresistible, Hoover Vacuum that money right out of their wallets advertising possible.

I've learned to create advertising that makes a ton of cash... and then a ton more. It was that, or go learn to live on a diet of "almost made it" and that was something I wasn't willing to swallow.

2 - As a person on the Internet, how did you get started?

I'd love to tell you it was all part of my grand plan, but the truth is -- I got started by pure accident.

A webmaster approached me and pulled me into the 21st Century. He said, “Dan, don't be a dinosaur! You need a presence on the 'net. Let me build a website for you!"

I decided to go ahead, “Heck, why not?" I thought. Thirty days later, my website launched into cyberspace.

3 - How long have you been in business online?

I think the answer is going to surprise you. I've been writing for other online marketers for a couple of years now. (One year on Internet equals to 3 years in the real world. So I guess, I'm pretty old in cyber terms!) But it was only about 6 months ago that I created my very first Dan Lok website and started actively promoting my products and services online!

Norman, you have to understand this…

Until recently, I purposely avoided the spotlight and the chance for self-promotion, despite being one of the world's highest-paid freelance copywriters. Fame isn't a big "carrot" to me. I'm far too busy and much more interested in helping my small business clients get big…and rich.

I'm not a "household name" because instead of spending all my time preening in the spotlight and working on my celebrity status, I'm out in the trenches day in, day out, working for the little guys, helping them turn into the BIG guys (and gals).

4 - What online businesses you are involved with?

First of all, Norman, want to clear up what I think of as a misconception that most people have when it comes to Internet marketing.

In my opinion, there's no such thing as an "online business."

Business is just business. When people say, "I have an Internet business!" It's like saying "I have a classified ad business" or "I have a direct mail business"

A real estate developer doesn't sell or buy the Internet. A developer buys and sells properties and uses the Internet to MARKET his/her business. You MARKET your business via direct mail. You MARKET your business via classified ads. You MARKET your business via the Internet.

Direct mail is a medium for marketing, TV is a medium for marketing, and the Internet I is a medium for marketing, too.

So just because you market your products and services online, it doesn't mean you have an “online" business. And simply because you have several websites, it doesn't mean you run several “Internet" businesses and are a Super-Cyber Entrepreneur. At best…you're a webmaster.

Now let me get down off my "soap box" and go back to your original question:

I have one main company: Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd. But despite the fact that I have just one company, I have 5 or 6 websites, including:

Each website is distinct with its own purpose and specific objective. All are inter-linked and create my Internet "presence."

5 - How did you learn what it takes to succeed?

In order to learn, you need a teacher, so I'm a big believer in mentoring.

Why re-invent the wheel? Finding a mentor is really the shortcut to success because you're learning from someone who's already been there and done that. It's important to learn from people who have already achieved success and know the "tricks of the trade" that can get you there, too.

I'm a sponge and absorb information and ideas whenever and wherever I can. I've found that highly successful people are always soaking up information as fast as they can get it, and are always in a learning mode. I've applied that concept to my life, too.

You should see my car; it looks like a tape factory that exploded! I love reading but I can't resist the it-goes-where-you-do advantages of audio learning. There's always a cassette or CD in the dash with a couple in the backseat and a few more in the trunk.

I've got a "revolving door" policy when it comes to informational tapes: I just rotate till I'm full, and then I dump the box and go get some more.

I think people who quit learning have started the dying process.

6 - What office equipment do you use?

I have a computer, a printer, a fax machine, and a telephone in my office. That's it. (Oh yes, I do occasionally resort to paper and pencil)

7 - Do you do all of your business online?

Absolutely NOT! I still make the bulk of my money off-line. In fact, I think only 15% of my revenue comes from the Internet. I think it's dangerous to only market via only ONE medium

One of the concepts I teach is called “Multiple Streams of Revenue." It simply means that you should develop a variety of streams of revenue that feed into a big river that will flood you with income.

Different revenue streams mean different things to different people:

  • Different businesses

  • Different products at various price points.

  • Different revenue source

  • Different mediums to generate business

For guys who currently do their business primarily on the Web, this is a "push" to get your direct mail chops honed. Get your list together, with names and physical address.

Why is this diversification so important when the Web is seen as the oasis for income and wealth? Just ask the guys who relied exclusively on outbound calling, or blast faxing, or email spamming for their wealth… and were shocked when these methods were outlawed. The methods were outlawed and they were out of business.

With a variety of revenue steams feeding your business, if you wake up one day to a blank monitor screen, you won't have to panic.

8 - What are your biggest gripes about the Internet?

There are amazing goods and services to be found on the 'net, but too many people are selling nothing but crap. You won't find more “junk" offers and business schemes in any other marketing mediums than in cyberspace. The scams that once choked our mailboxes now choke the Internet with thousands and thousands of bogus, fly-by-night websites.

It's a tough medium to "police" and control, so buyers really have to beware or risk losing their shirt on everything from bad investment advice to supplements for erectile dysfunction!

9 - Do you mostly do publishing or other enterprises?

Besides Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd, I also have equity in five privately held companies. I serve on the board of directors for most of those companies as a marketing advisor. Two of the companies are multi-million dollar businesses. Another two are start-ups. One is a small high-tech company that is doing less than $300,000 a year.

I am also a major shareholder of another company investing in US tax liens and deeds.

10 - Are there any tips or advice you would like to offer?

You mean marketing-wise? There's so much I can talk about -- it's my business after all -- I don't know where to start…or where to start charging (just kidding!)

There's a lot stuff you can do to boost your business, but here is "Dan's Top 10 Plus One" list:

1) BE DIRECT (MAIL-WISE). Only 4% of retailers in the USA use direct mail. In Canada, this figure is even lower. And yet...dollar for dollar, nothing sells products as effectively as direct mail. If you've got a limited budget, this is where your marketing dollars should go. Start collecting your customers' names, addresses and telephone numbers today. Frankly, I've talked about using direct mail until I'm blue in the face. But it's not "sexy" and people tend to overlook it. So please don't be one of those people.

2) GREASE THE WHEELS. Bribery may be a bad thing when you're dealing with someone in law enforcement, but it works like a charm with potential customers. Example, a hardware store puts on free coffee and hot dogs for lunch every day. Customers who come in to have a “free lunch" might order lots of other things. Bribe your customers to do business with you. If you're an information marketer, offer FREE reports, tapes and videos to urge prospects to order now. If you're a Widget sales representative, offer 3 months of service on every Widget unit installed.

3) HEADLINERS. Stick a powerful headline on all your ads, letter and promotion. A headline is an "ad" for your ad. 80% of your promotion's success or failure lies in whether your headline can express your unique positioning statement -- that golden phrase that captures in just a few words the "essence" of what you have to offer and how it will benefit a customer. A good headline has "legs." It can go the extra distance as an opening line for your sales and telephone people and goes a long way towards establishing your "brand."

4) YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE. Don't get talked into wasting your money on anything you can't measure and, most importantly, anything that doesn't bring you extra sales. You can't pay your bills with “image" and “exposure". All it does is feed your ego and thins out your wallet. Measure everything meticulously. "Measurability" is one of the great plusses of direct mail. If you send out 10,000 letters and get just 21 responses and 11 clients, you can see immediately that it's time to pull the plug before another penny is lost.

5) PLAYERS. Where possible, sell only to “players." No, I don't mean poker players, ball players, or "players" in the game of love. Players are consumers who want what you sell, can afford to pay for it, and may even be willing to pay a PREMIUM for your goods/services. The rationale behind this concept is that it's a whole lot easier to make money by selling half as much but at double the price.

6) GIVEAWAYS. Instead of blowing your money on "fancy pants" advertising that makes you LOOK GOOD, take the money you and give it to your best prospective customers (players) so that they'll FEEL GOOD. Good feelings and good emotions are what drive sales, and a giveaway is the perfect technique to get the good vibrations going. You can work wonders with a simple sample or a "trial use" period for your product or service. A clothing shop could offer a free T-shirt. A restaurant could offer a free main course. A new car retailer could offer a free dinner with any test drive.

7) INFO PRODUCTS. My favorite way to attract and "attach" new customers is with a free report or audio tape. (There's that FREE word again) Create something that positions you as the expert and educates the customers on why they should buy from you. Give it as a gift to some and then "leverage" your product and sell it to others to create an additional revenue stream.

8) GLASSES AND A FAKE MOUSTACHE. No, don't disguise YOU…disguise your advertising message. Research clearly shows that Advertorials -- ads that look like editorial articles -- get 500% more readership than ads that are obviously ads. Do people buy magazines or newspapers to read the ads? Of course not! You read the stories, I read the stories, and everybody else on planet Earth buys the daily paper, picks up a magazine, or watches TV for the stories.

9) HE SAID/SHE SAID. Actively collect and use testimonials. Like a referral, a testimonial is a third party endorsement and therefore is much more believable than what you say about yourself. Hardly anyone (except mail order companies) uses testimonials. If nobody else in your industry uses testimonials, you get an instant edge and immediately "corner the market" on rave reviews just by doing this ONE simple thing.

10) A 24/7 SALES "REP". A proven sales letter is a truly efficient and loyal salesperson. An effective sales letter never sleeps in, take sick days, or forgets to turn up for work. Plus, if you get a “real" winner, you can use it again and again for a long, long time.

11) CALL GIRL/CALL BOY. Don't be a stranger to the people who buy from you. Use the telephone to follow up with your best customers. Don't call to sell. Call to educate and cement a relationship.

And a word to all you budding imaginative, innovative, and "daring" types: When it comes to marketing, don't try to be creative or cute. Pretty ads don't sell squat. The advertising campaigns that win media awards from "peers" seldom win sales awards for clients.

11 - Do you use any clip art in your publications?

No. What I offer is distinctive. I don't want to dilute that message by using a dime-a-dozen graphic that does nothing to differentiate me from the competition.

12 - Are people more interesting than product stories?

Sure. People are always more interesting than product stories. Consumers see themselves in people stories.

13 - What are your goals and aspirations for the future?

Sitting on the foundation of my success, I now have the luxury of doing what I like best: sharing my knowledge and wisdom with other entrepreneurs to help them make their own businesses more profitable.

Also on the radar: Become a #1 best-selling author. Travel around the world. Set up a Dan Lok foundation and raise $100,000 for the BC's Children Hospital. Learn scoop diving. And then there's ski-diving…I really want to, but I'm scared. I'll have to work a little longer on conquering the fear.

I can go on and go on. I have a list of 50 to 60 short-term goals. But I'll let you in on a secret: I don't call them “goals." Goals are something we strive for. My plans for the future are on my "To Do" list because I KNOW I'll get them done.

When Ted Turner's father passed away, he left Mr. Turner two things. The first was a billboard business. The second was this quote: “Set goals you CANNOT accomplish in your lifetime. After you accomplish them, there's nothing left"

I've adopted that philosophy in both my business and personal pursuits. I think BIG. I set goals I CANNOT accomplish in my lifetime. My long-term goal is building a $100 million-dollar marketing empire. I've got a lifetime to try! And if I reach that goal, I'll set a new one!

So my advice to everyone is this: to be BIG, you first need to think BIG.

14 - What software do you use to make your websites?

I have no idea!!! I'm a marketer not a technology expert. I hired a web-master and a web-designer to build all my websites. I don't even know how to use Front Page! As a matter of fact, I barely know how to use my auto-responder. My job as the CEO of the company is to bring in the revenue. Period!!! Full stop!

Everything else… I surround myself with experts to assist me. And I think that's the key to growing any business. Surround yourself with people who are “smarter" than you. An important lesson I've learned the hard way - “If you're the smartest guy in your business, you're in big trouble."

One of the big paradigms in business now is outsourcing what you don't do well and concentrating on what you can do well. For example, a mousetrap factory might outsource its order and fulfillment needs to an outside shipping company so that it could concentrate its money and resources on creating a bigger, better mousetrap.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Seek professional advice and pay for it if you need to (barter it if you can). Pay your people well. Acknowledge them constantly and consistently. Sell them on your vision. Share the wealth and you'll have a team that'll go to WAR and fight for you.

15 - What are your favorite books or computer programs?

  • Your First 100 Million by Dan Peña

  • Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

  • The Trick to Money is Having Some! by Stuart Wilde

  • Magic Words That Bring Your Riches by Ted Nicholas

  • Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

  • The Magic of Thinking BIG by David Schwartz

  • Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer

16 - What is your best time for working on your computer?

I'm a computer night-owl. When the sun goes down, I log on. During the day, I am either writing ad copy or on the phone with clients and clients-in-the-making.

Copyright 2004 Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd.