Thank you, Dan Kennedy

I’m saddened by the reports that the marketing world will very soon lose one of its godfathers, Mr. Dan Kennedy.

I was fortunate to discover Dan’s work while just a freshman in college…the very same year I launched my first website and made my first sale online.

At the time, I didn’t like Dan.

His ideas seemed old fashioned. His methods seemed aggressive…even crude. And he clearly didn’t “get” the internet. He even bragged that he didn’t have an email account. In fact, the only way to reach Dan was via fax! Even in 1999 that seemed archaic.

But I did we he taught, and it worked.

And I did it, again, and it worked again.

So I kept doing what Dan said, and it just kept working.

My business grew, and I earned enough money to buy a girl an engagement ring…all because of Dan.

I quit my job after only 6 months and went full-time as an entrepreneur…all because of Dan.

And I got my first opportunity to teach marketing, and was inspired to build DigitalMarketer…all because of Dan.

I’m not a cryer, but the tears well up as a type this right now…all because of Dan.


I finally got to meet Dan for the first time in 2009. I was invited to speak at his InfoSummit alongside many of my other marketing mentors and idols. I was in awe, but more than anything, I just wanted to shake Dan’s hand and tell him thank you.

But when my time came, I didn’t shake Dan’s hand.

I stood there like an idiot for moment, and then I walked right over to him and gave him a hug.

If you know Dan (or you know of his persona), you know that Dan isn’t much of a hugger. In fact, he’s the opposite of a hugger. But he didn’t freak out or push me away. He simply said, “you’re welcome.”

Every other time I saw Dan, I made him give me a hug. And he didn’t like to do it, but he did it, because despite his gruff exterior, Dan had a heart of gold. Dan truly cared about people. Although he would never admit it, Dan was a teacher, first, and a salesman second.


At that same event in 2009, the one where I gave Dan his first hug, I heard him say something that has stuck with me my entire career.

In fact, I would go so far as to say it defined my career.

If you have been around DigitalMarketer for any length of time, you’ve heard me parrot Dan, you just probably didn’t realize it.

It is the phrase that inspired the first 5-step sales funnel, the “Million Dollar Napkin,” the “Customer Value Optimization Methodology,” and most recently, “The Customer Value Journey.”

“He or she who is willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.”

More times than not, I give Dan credit for teaching me that, but all too often, I don’t.

I’m sorry, Dan. I’m sorry I don’t give you the full credit you deserved. I’m sorry that I sometimes forget who taught me this craft.

So thank you, Dan.

Thank you for teaching me everything I know. Thank you for always sharing your best stuff, and for never holding back (even when you pretended like you did).

Thank you for the lessons.

Thank you for the laughs. But most of all…

…thank you for the warm hugs. 🙂

P.S. If somewhere along the way I said something or did something that you found helpful, don’t thank me…thank Dan. Especially on this Day.

READ ME FIRST: An Open Letter From an Apathetic Customer

“Hi there, I’m your customer…”

So you have an idea? A new product you’re launching? Something you want to sell me?

That’s wonderful! Tell me all about it…

No, just kidding. I don’t actually care.

You see, I have this thing called a life. I woke up this morning with my own set of dreams and responsibilities.

I didn’t wake up and start looking for you.

You’re an interruption. A distraction, at best, from my momentary boredom.

In fact, at this point the only reason we’re still having this conversation is because I shifted it from you back to me.

I do that a lot.

I like me.

I’m literally my favorite person.

Which is kinda funny when you consider all the mean things I say about myself. I’m complicated, but that’s a longer discussion.

Would you like to have that discussion?

I guess not because you’re still talking.

Wait, what’s that you say?

Your idea could change my life? Your product is the best in its class and you started it in your garage?

Wow, you’re just like me!

I have ideas, too, you know?

And I’m going to get to them one of these days. I’m just soooooooo busy. And bored.

I like that we’re similar. I like that we want the same things. But you seem to have what I don’t, and that makes me sad.

Why would you do that?!

Why would you talk about what you have when you know I want it and don’t have it?

I now have to decide whether to hate you or follow you like some sheep. I’m sure you get some of those, but I’m no sheep.

With any luck I’ll ignore you and forget about…




…sorry about that.

I thought I saw a boob in my Facebook newsfeed. It turned out it was an elbow, but still.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, your idea.

I seem to recall it maybe having something to do with me and making my life better so I checked back in.

But you still don’t want to talk about that, do you?

You want to talk about your origin story and tell me about your big breakthrough and how it differentiates you in the marketplace.

“Differentiates” is a big word, by the way.

I know what it means, but did you know that Croatia has dozens of crystal clear lakes?

They’re so beautiful. You can see all the way to the bottom. I’d like to go there someday, but seriously, I’m sooooo busy and money is tight.

What’s that? You’re running a sale? And if I pre-order now I get a t-shirt with your logo on it?

That’s great because I love a deal.

And I love free t-shirts.

I once knocked over a little kid at a ball game to snag a free t-shirt that was shot out of one of those cannon thingies.

It was a 2XL and had a local Ford dealership logo on it. And a Pizza Hut logo.

Or was it Papa John’s?

Who cares? It’s a FREE T-SHIRT!!!

My plan was to wear it to the gym, but it’s too big and I don’t really have time to go to the gym (again…sooooooo busy) so now it’s at the bottom of my t-shirt drawer.

Crazy, right?! An entire drawer filled with t-shirts I literally never wear. I’m funny like that. I like stuff, and once I have it I don’t like to give it away. That seems wasteful.

So what was that you said about your sale?

I love to shop and find new things…but what are you selling again?

Truth be told, I forgot long ago…

…at this point I’m just listening out of sheer, morbid curiosity.

And I do mean morbid.

I don’t admit it publicly, but the only reason I watch the Winter Olympics is to laugh to myself when the pretty little skaters fall. And don’t even get me started on NASCAR…

But there I go talking about me again.

I do that a lot.

You should try it.

No, not talking about YOU…you should try talking about ME!!

What’s that?

You said you already bought the domain name and everything? And you filled up an entire notebook in Evernote with ideas and sketches?

Well isn’t that adorable.

You know what else is adorable?


I like squirrels. But we aren’t talking about what I like are we?

We’re still talking about your idea and how it’s going to change the world.

But I don’t care about the world.

I gave to a charity once. It was late and I was already kind of depressed, and that damn “save the animals” commercial with the sad Sarah McLachlan song and the crying kitten came on.

Seriously, the kitten was LITERALLY crying.

So I sent them $20.

It made me feel better and it reinforced my long-held identity that I’m a good person.

I do that sometimes…buy things just because they reinforce things about me that I believe to be true and want others to believe to be true about me, too.

But we still aren’t talking about that are we?

We’re still talking about you.

And that’s why I stopped listening to you a while ago.

As distractions go, you weren’t very entertaining.

In fact, I’ve literally watched 17 cat videos and argued with a total stranger about politics on Twitter. I think I called him a bigot. I’m not sure…I wasn’t really paying attention.

But it made me feel better.

It made me feel strong and proud. No one else really does that for me. I had a teacher in the 7th grade that did, but that was a long time ago.

What’s that?

You’re still here?

Wow, I forgot I even clicked on that.

Browser tabs are funny…I’ve built up quite a collection.

Anyway, see you later! 🙂

-Your Customer

P.S. Later = Never