Marketing Strategies of “The Secret” That You Can Use In Your Own Business With Dan Hollings


dan-hollings1Welcome to another podcast episode at Real Fast Results! We have a great show for you. I have back with us Mr. Dan Hollings. As you’ve already heard, Dan is the mastermind behind the movie and the book launch for The Secret. You remember that movie? It basically put the whole idea of law of attraction on the map. And it made virtual stars out of many of the experts and speakers that were in that movie and book.

When I was talking to Dan, when we were doing another podcast episode about this, I said, “Dan wouldn’t it be great if you could teach my folks how to use some of the strategies in putting The Secret movie on the map–but use them in our day to day business?” And I said could you do that, and Dan was gracious enough to say, “Yes I can do that.” So, welcome back Mr. Dan Hollings.


Background on “The Secret”

The Secret was an absolute marketing phenomena. When the client came to me, they had already tried to get it on thesecretTV. They had also tried to get it in movie houses and places of that nature. They were about to throw in the towel. They approached me and I thought, interesting, I didn’t know what the movie was about, that’s what’s crazy, because they didn’t reveal much to me. However, I knew some of the speakers that were in the movie. Honest to God, this was my logic, “If this doesn’t work, at least I’ll meet Jack Canfield!” I knew he was in the movie. He was the only person that I knew and I figured, well, he might end up being a good client. It was a crazy reason that I took it on.

At the time we thought it was going to be on television. They told me they were going be on television in 60 different countries. All on the same day or the same week, and I’m thinking, “Wow! All I have to do is build a way to convert the traffic from the television program into purchases of the movie and the book.”

Incidentally, the movie came out first, almost a year before the book came out. So I came on board, and then I found out they weren’t going to be on TV. They left everything in my lap. I really spent hours and hours putting this together. However, I used a strategy which we’ll talk about today; which you probably never heard of.

This was way back before people did all of the product launches that you hear about and the book launches that you hear about. Back when the Secret came out, this was 2007, that wasn’t something many people did. This was one of the very first of the mega-launches that required a lot of things.What we are going to talk about today is a very unique strategy that I used. You could take this and use it yourself in any product services or books that you want to market.

20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them

20 Master PlotsThere’s a book. I’m going to recommend you get this book. The book is called, 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald Tobias. I don’t know much about him. If you are and auth0r, 20 Master Plots would be a book you would buy in order to teach you how to develop plots that could improve the writing of your books.

I did something with this book that was rather unique. I read it through the eyes of a marketer. What hit me was that you could take the same elements of these plots and you could embed it into a marketing campaign and thereby get some viral going. Really get it so that people were compelled, to not only engage with what you were doing, but to share it. That’s what I did.

What the Book Is About

Here’s what this book is about, and why it is an incredible book for marketers. It was not written for marketers, by the way. Basically, what Tobias has done is he went all the way back to Shakespeare. All the way up to modern movies. He figured out that if you really boil down all of the things that make us as humans really interested in books and in movies or plays. It really centers around a plot.

There are only 20 core types of plots. Every movie, every book that you get interested in, it’s probably one of these 20 plots. What you can do, I recommend you read the whole book, but what I did is I ended up picking one of these plots.  The one that I picked was master plot number 7 which is called the Riddle. I read that chapter over and over and over again, and then I set up a marketing campaign based on that type of plot.Now, with a riddle, and this isn’t like these little simple riddles, this is a riddle as a plot.

There are 3 phases of a riddle plot:

  1. The first phase you set up the story. You set up the scenario of the story. The protagonist and the antagonist etc.
  2. The second phase is where you lay out the mystery.
  3. The third phase is where you solve the riddle.

How to Use the Plot Technique in Marketing

If you do this in a marketing campaign, you’re going to tell the first 2 phases of the plot to your visitors/audience. Before they can get the solution to the riddle, the last phase, they have to give you an email, or they have to purchase the product. If you were to go back and look at what I did with Secret: the landing page, all of the wording, the information that was put out into press releases and shared through emails through and a lot of databases.

Basically, we were revealing the first 2 phases of a plot. It made it so darn compelling that you just had to put in your email in order to find out what the answer was. Then you ended up talking to people because you were perplexed, it was like, “Wait a minute, let’s see, this happened, could it be this, was it that?” It’s just like watching a mystery on television. People started talking about this.

I found it fascinating because of a strange reason: I too didn’t know the answer to the riddle, because I hadn’t seen the movie. I was hanging out online, and it was amazing that people were making blog posts and sharing all over the place. Talking about, “Oh I think its aliens from another planet, and oh no if he goes back and its the secret societies from years ago.” All these conspiracy theories were flying around on the web back and forth. “What is the Secret?” “What is the Secret?” The reason that conversation started was because of the way the campaign had been laid out literally as a story.

Example – Modern Legend

I’d like to illustrate this for you. In the book they call this invisible fiction. There’s a type of fiction known as a chocking dobermanmodern legend. It is a story that gets started and shared from person to person to person over years. It’s not like anybody really ever sat down and mapped out the story. It’s just passed along and pretty soon people start to believe the story is true. Even though it really isn’t. There’s a great example that I want to share that will help you get the thrust of why this works so well in marketing.

This is an example of a modern legend. This is a story which is called the Choking Doberman, and this is a true story. It’s been around for years. You may have even heard it. It’s a very simple story told simply. I’m going to stop at the point where I turned into a marketer and said, “Okay, give me your email address and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.” You’ll see that you will want to give me your email address. I’m not really going to ask.

A woman returned to her house after a morning of shopping and she found her pet doberman pinscher choking and unable to breathe. She rushed her dog to the vet, where she left it for emergency treatment. When the woman got home, her phone was ringing and it was the vet.

“Get out of your house now!” He shouted.

“What’s the matter?” She asked.

“Just do it. Go to a neighbor’s house, anything. I’ll be right there,” Frightened by the tone of his voice, the woman did as she was told and she went to her neighbor’s house. In a few minutes, 4 police cars screeched to a halt in front of the house. The police ran inside her house with their guns drawn. Horrified, the woman went outside to see what was happening. The vet arrived and then he explained…… If you’ll enter in your email address right now, I’ll tell you rest of the story.

Can you see whats happened? I played out a mystery here. By the way this is a real one. This is a story that has been shared around the world. The book is called The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends. You can see that you want to hear the end of the story right? Let me do that.

Again, I’ll remind you, this is the kind of thing that we did with the Secret. You just had to know what happened. You put in your email address or you bought the movie

The rest of the story: A few minutes later, the 4 police cars screeched to a halt in front of the house. The police ran inside her house with their guns drawn. Horrified, the woman went outside to see what was happening. The vet arrived and explained. When he looked inside the dog’s throat, he found 2 human fingers. He figured the dog had surprised a burglar. Sure enough, the police found a man in a deep state of shock hiding in the closet and clutching a bloody hand.

Okay, it’s a simple story, but that’s what I did. Orchestrating the campaign with the Secret, we took the idea that there was this secret that had been passed down for centuries and great people knew about it. A little bit of it was fiction, believe me. Yet, it had been passed down and passed down.Lo and behold, here we are in the modern day world and this secret has been dug up and we’re about to reveal it again to the world. This secret can make you happy, it can make you wealthy, it can make you healthy, it can do all of these things. Give me your email. I mean come on!

That’s it. It was that simple; combined with some marketing skills and some databases and some things of that nature. This was a zero-cost campaign. They did not spend any money on this campaign of any significance. They didn’t have any. Yet, we were able to catapult that into one of the most successful launches of all time.

Steve Jobs…The iPhone…The Secret

Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROPMy clients were not particularly interested in selling their product on Amazon. I was trying to figure every channel that I could to get this movie out into the marketplace. Again, it was a movie in the beginning. I had struck a tentative deal with Amazon. I presented it back to my client and they just flat-out said no. I’m thinking, “Wow! This is not good!” The year before, the number 1 selling movie on Amazon was a similar kind of movie.

Amazon got real interested because this was a similar kind of movie. Amazon had the database of people who had bought that big hit movie. They were willing to mail that list and do a whole bunch of things. My client thought that it would cannibalize sales, because they were selling only directly off the website, the website I had built. They were about 40 million dollars at that point, and I was saying hey, “Amazon has all the customers. They’re willing to do this.”  When the client said no, I didn’t like that. I was in to get a percentage of proceeds, so I was really eager to get this thing out.

Then, very fortuitously, a good friend of mine, who was also a client of mine, called me up one day and said, “Dan, I heard you were the guy marketing the Secret.” I said, “Yep, it’s me.” He said, “I have a distributorship and I can buy these movies wholesale from the movie maker. They’re kind of expensive, but I can buy them in lots of 10 thousand.”

I’m thinking, “Maybe I should do it.” Lights went off in my head and I said, “You know what? You and I are going to put this on Amazon.” My client didn’t want to put it on Amazon, but this was a distributor who had the right to do so. He and I worked together. We put the product on Amazon, and herein lies what Daniel was talking about. This thing took off like crazy on Amazon.

When Steve Jobs got up to demonstrate the iPhone, for the very first time. It was history in the making. We think about shopping on our phone right now like it’s an everyday thing. More people shop on their phone then on their computer.

Back then, no one ever shopped at Amazon on their phone. This was a brand new idea. Steve Jobs gets up on the stage and says, “Hey, lets go to Amazon.” He’s going to demonstrate how finally for the first time, you can use your smartphone to buy things online. He heads over to Amazon, he holds up the phone, he didn’t say anything but The Secret was number three on his phone on Amazon at that point in time.

I’m sitting there, my jaw is dropping, I grab a screenshot of it and everything. It was me and a distributor that did that. It wasn’t my client that did it. We were just kind of selling it out of our basement, literally. It was crazy.

Recap – Plots

I think with almost any product you can embed it within a plot of some type. I didn’t do this earlier, so let me do it now. Let me tickle your fancy a little bit.

Types of plots:

  • the Quest
  • the Adventure
  • the Pursuit
  • the Rescue
  • the Escape
  • the Revenge
  • the Riddle (which is the one I used)
  • the Rivalry
  • the Underdog
  • Temptation
  • Metamorphosis
  • Transformation
  • Maturation
  • Love
  • Forbidden Love
  • Sacrifice
  • Discovery
  • Wretched Excess

I’d love to do one under Wretched Excess. That’s most of the 20 plots. I’ve actually used other type plots with other campaigns that I’ve done. But, it’s the Secret that actually did the best.

20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them is a good read. If you’re an author, you’re going to get double benefit. If you’re a marketer it can help you with that. Give it a read and read it through the eyes of a marketer. If there are ways you can embed plots into your marketing campaign, that will affect the way you stage things. What you say in your emails, what you say in your webpage, etc.

It’s always the idea of revealing a certain amount and then requiring that the visitor take action. Either to purchase or to opt in, come to an event or something in order to find out the last phase of the plot. Remember, there’s always 3 phases of the plot; it’s just which kind of plot you are going to use.

Tips and tricks icon

Daniel’s Real Fast Result Tips: Plot Marketing

  • Cherry-pick the plot that best fits what your market is and what your product and service is.
  • Pluck out the specific elements and use it in your auto-responders, on your web-pages, etc.
  • This and leaves out the tension by having your prospects take the actions you want them to take.


BookThe Secret

DVDThe Secret

By Ronald Tobias – 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them

The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends

Filed in: Cool Toolslist buildingMarketing StrategiesPodcastTime ManagementViral Marketing
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About the Author ()

Daniel Hall is a bestselling author, speaker, publisher, nurse, attorney and host the Real Fast Results podcast. He is also the creator of other highly popular “Real Fast” brand of training products. He left law practice 10 years ago to build his publishing business and has never looked back. Daniel is a true serial entrepreneur and his list of URLs is longer than a piece of paper, so you can check out Daniel’s hub at or the podcast right here on this site!

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