No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing – Book Review

No B.S. guide to direct response social media marketing - book review

One of the first few paragraphs of the “No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing” book says the following:

“I have no love affair with social media. In broadest context, I consider it a “cancer of narcissism” destructive to society, a way for people to feel important with zero reason or merit, thus removing essential motivation for a creative and constructive work.”

Ha! Don’t be fooled by Dan Kennedy’s words here. He’s the master of controversy, of making you pay attention and dropping everything else you’re doing, right now.

As its title suggests, this book is a super detailed guide on how to apply direct response principles to the social media world. The authors make it very clear how much they dislike the brand awareness campaigns, or how the talk of likes, retweets, virality and engagement is meaningless unless you obtain concrete results.

And the concrete results are, of course, leads, sales and money in the bank.

The co-author, Kim Walsh-Phillips, guides you expertly by the hand on precisely that – how to achieve concrete results with direct response social media.

Who are Dan Kennedy and Kim Walsh-Phillips?

Dan Kennedy is a well-known, multi-millionaire serial entrepreneur, the guru of direct response marketing who has been building his businesses since the 1970s. He is one of the highest paid copywriters in the world and is the author of a number of successful books in the “No B.S.” series. Highly sought-after speaker, marketing consultant to huge brands as well as entrepreneurs – a marketer and businessman extraordinaire.

Kim Walsh-Phillips is the owner and CEO of Elite Digital Group, a direct response digital marketing agency. A successful author, speaker, business woman and a top notch expert on direct response social media, she also runs the social media marketing account of GKIC (Glazer Kennedy Insider Circle), Dan Kennedy’s own company – an impressive accomplishment in its own right.

What is “No B.S.” all about?

The authors write interchangeably, giving their thoughts, explaining concepts and diving into serious detail on how one should approach social media from a business, direct response point of view.

They repeatedly express their amazement at how “big, dumb companies” think that having millions of likes, shares and “getting talked about” are the successful metrics that can be deposited in the bank.

As Dan Kennedy says: “You can’t go to the bank and deposit likes, views, retweets, viral explosions, social media conversations, or brand recognition. Bankers are extremely narrow-minded. They won’t even accept vegetables grown in your backyard garden or bitcoin. They want real money.”

Or this: “You are not in the business of being talked about. You are in the business of selling things. You are not in the buzz business. You are in The Money Business. Refuse to be dissuaded from that simple, straightforward fact.”

Indeed, the authors show through studies and data how so many social media marketers are indeed working on creating that Big Bad Buzz, while very few concentrate on getting real, measurable results in terms of sales.

Kim goes into incredible detail on how to apply the widely accepted rules of direct response marketing in your social media approach, and achieve massively successful results:

  1. There will always be an offer
  2. There will be a reason to respond right now
  3. There will be clear instructions
  4. There will be tracking and measurement
  5. There will be follow-up
  6. Results rule. Period.

She shows numerous examples of effective campaigns, step by step sequences, screenshots of Facebook ads and blog posts to which they direct users, with very concrete reasons behind each of these actions.

The book inspires you to think, starting from the very core of your business. What is your USP? Who is your audience? How can I segment them and attract them? (great examples with screenshots from Facebook Insights here).

It analyses and shows how to create effective Facebook ads which result in the desired user behavior. And finally, it makes it very clear that all this needs to be tracked and optimized, all the time. In Kim’s own words:

“My company isn’t doing daily optimization of this account. We’re performing hourly optimization and adjusting ads and campaigns accordingly. We monitor Facebook’s changing algorithms 24 hours a day, and test and measure everything. The more you spend on marketing, regardless of the channel, the more you need to monitor results. With social media, you must be nimble and always, always, always test.”


The authors interview quite a few experts in their own fields, such as content marketing expert Ahava Leibtag, or Shaun Buck, the print newsletter expert, or Ari Galper, the selling expert, to name just a few.

What I like about the “No B.S.”

It’s a sobering book. It wakes you up and tells you to get back to the roots of why you are working like mad on your business.

It not only applies direct response principles in social media and shows you many examples of how it’s done, but it also reminds you that social media is just another channel. The actual fundamental business principles still apply in full force.

One fact that completely blew me away is the following: “The average person gets 147 emails per day (according to a recent study by Forbes magazine). According to the USPS 2015 fact sheet, the average delivery point (household, business, P.O. box, etc.) only receives 3.92 pieces of mail in their mailbox each day.”

Average person today gets 37.5 times more emails than print letters – per day! It’s an incredible potential that shows that printed direct mail is far from dead. In fact, it can help you reach your customers far, far more effectively than email!

You should keep this book as a handy reference in your phone and read the wisdom from the authors again and again.

Would you prefer “buzz” or money in the bank? You know where this is going. 🙂

Is there something you might not like?

The authors come from a No B.S.  world of direct response marketing, and as such are quick to ridicule the “brand is king” and “likes and retweets rule” approach of social media marketers.

They are very candid, and you might not agree with their views sometimes, especially if you are in the “brand awareness only” camp.

But I think they say extremely valuable things with the best possible intentions, meant in a way to wake you up and get you back on track to succeed in your business. To not fall prey to the hype repeated by social media “experts” that everything should be free and that selling can destroy your relationship with your followers.

Instead, sit and think carefully about what they are saying – the book is packed with great advice, statistics and examples, and will surely help you crystallize your thoughts on how to jump start your business.


Yes indeed, this is a unique book written by two unlikely collaborators which finally spells out in intricate detail how you can use direct response principles in social media.

I would definitely recommend you get this book right now, and keep it as a key resource in your arsenal. It will help you get rid of all the confusion, shiny object syndrome or the pressure from the masses of marketers who value buzz and brand recognition.

If you apply the principles of this book, you will build a successful business, help your customers with the right solutions – and your brand will be built successfully along with it!

Did you read this book? Share your thoughts.

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