Frank Kern’s Character

Note: This post first appeared on Michel Fortin’s Copywriters Board on August 18, 2008.  The Copywriters Board no longer exists. This post was a reply to another person’s post which I will quote in part before I begin.  The person I’m replying to watched a Frank Kern video and didn’t understand why he acts like a “character” in the video.  He and others were also wondering what creating a character had to do with getting sales.


Me too. I watched a few of his videos and I still don’t get it. And getting back to Moffat’s point of his target audience being 40 somethings – I don’t get that either.

The guy looks like an extra from the movie “The Lords of Dogtown” playing Heath Ledgers character. How that attracts sensible business people is beyond me.

And by the way, if he’s about building trust – I don’t get that either. Just my opinion.


I’ll preface this with a few things:

  1. I have never met or had any dealings with Frank Kern.
  2. I am not and never have been an affiliate of Frank Kern.
  3. I do not own and have never seen any product of Frank Kern.
  4. I have seen two of his free videos in entirety (his car crash analogy video and his covert 3rd party opinion video) and partially two videos where in one he seems to be driving around in a refurbished VW and another he is showing his surfboard collection.
  5. I’ve never seen the movie “The Lords of Dogtown.”
  6. Everything I say here is my opinion (based on years of research) and the method I’m about to reveal might be completely different than the one Frank Kern used/uses to develop his ideas in this line of thinking.

You bring up “character” and maybe some of what I’m about to say will give you some perspective on what I think Frank Kern is doing brilliantly.

In 2001 I came up with a concept I call the Perceptual Character. I’m sure it’s not completely original and being that I have been to acting school and my son is a huge pro-wrestling fan it’s certain that the idea of creating a character for marketing purposes did not just come to me from the ether.

That said, I am pretty certain that I am the first person to theorize and offer practical ideas about how using a Perceptual Character would be extremely useful in marketing/sales and long term persuasion situations. In fact, I have made it clear over the years in hundreds of pages of correspondence that we create a Perceptual Character whether we want to or not and conscious and well-thought out creation of your Perceptual Character will put you light years ahead of your competitors.

Here’s a Basic Summary of The Concept As It Has Evolved Over The Last 7 Years:

I consider a Perceptual Character as the set of behaviors, characteristics, mannerisms, attitudes and revealed beliefs that someone packs into the concept of “you.”

Here’s a quote from Marcel Proust from Swann’s Way that summarizes the overall idea:

…even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is a creation of the thoughts of other people. Even the simplest act which we describe as “seeing someone we know” is to some extent an intellectual process. We pack the physical outline of the person we see with all the notions we have already formed about him, and in the total picture of him which we compose in our minds those notions have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice as if it were no more than a transparent envelope, that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is these notions which we recognise and to
which we listen…

We only know someone by what they DO and even then we get a skewed idea of who they are but we use our imperfect knowledge to form our opinions about people since that’s the best we can do as human beings.

Over time as people reveal themselves to us through their behaviors and words we tend to create a character (in our own mind) of who they are and filter all future information and behaviors they exhibit through OUR OWN CREATION – The Perceptual Character.

Over the years I have formulated multiple Perceptual Character traits that I feel are essential for other people to formulate about you in order to dominate a market. I will not go into all of those here since it would make this post too long.

Your perceptual character is extremely important for several reasons but one reason tops them all:


    – your range of “acceptable” behavior is regulated by someone’s expectations of your Perceptual Character.

To use an extreme but illustrative example – If you are known as the person who is completely “business like” at all times (I can’t think of a better descriptive way to phrase this right now)… then you will likely have a major disconnect with your audience when you start drinking beer on stage during a seminar. However, if that is “built” into your Perceptual Character then the disconnect disappears.

I call this the Rule of Perceptual Difference – The dissatisfaction of a customer, spouse, business partner, or anyone you relate to is directly proportional to the difference between their perceptions of what should occur and what actually does occur.

It does have exceptions but only rarely and often not  even if the discordant behavior is objectively considered “good.”


The most powerful way to create you Perceptual Character in the minds of others is through your behaviors and associations. The acceptance and wide use of video on the internet has now opened up unprecedented ways to make this possible.

One of the cool things about how we create our Perceptual Character of someone else is how we associate things and make generalizations from those associations. I call this ASSIMILATION OF ASSOCIATIONS.

For example if you were to see me drive to the beach in a VW to go surfing and you saw 6 surfboards in my garage the associations you assimilate into the creation of the Perceptual Character of me will be vastly different than if you see a video of me in a 3-piece suit going to a board meeting with 12 other people.

ALL items in popular culture/fringe culture have associations that can be capitalized on.

Another way to develop someone’s perception of you is through what I call 3rd Party Perceptual Installation. This is essentially what Frank Kern talks about in his opinion video (although his method of implementation is new).

3rd party perceptual installation is essentially a “pre” first impression. It filters our perception of a person’s actions, likability, competence BEFORE we get to formulate an opinion ourselves. It’s very powerful and can backfire in a big way if you can’t live up to the installed perception (back to expectations).

Here are some basic steps to taking control of how people formulate your Perceptual Character:

  1. Figure out what your base personality is. Your Perceptual Character cannot be too far outside your normal character or you will tire yourself out trying to maintain it.
  2. Decide what “traits” you would like to present. Ie – likability, laid back, credible, trustworthy
  3. Figure out how to best demonstrate those traits through your behaviors and by assimilating associations.
  4. Find ways to use 3rd party perceptual installations.

It’s slightly more complex but that should give you a general idea.

I hope I haven’t bored you, but I think if you go back you will see what traits Kern is attempting to have people assimilate.

If you’re not sure WHY then I’ll be happy to give my opinion on that too but this post is already getting too long.

Copyright 2008-2010 by Christopher Tomasulo.  All rights reserved.

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About Christopher Tomasulo

At home Christopher Tomasulo is your average dad with three kids. However, here at Covert Comm he is known as “Doc Sulo” and he mind-warps crowds with a tiny flutter of his left hand. He clothespins ideas to unsuspecting gray matter. He speaks lemon-yellow words that splash into ear canals and squeeze themselves into refreshing influence lemonade. It has also been said he's half-way decent at making complex persuasion and influence techniques simple.
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One Response to Frank Kern’s Character

  1. Hey Christopher,

    BAM, right on the money. Kern does present a particular character intentionally. And what’s more, in his “Mass Control” DVDs, he spends stage time making it obvious to his attendees that he is indeed doing these things, to associate (anchor) his name/image/personality to the desired lifestyle that he believes his students want.

    And yes, since your concepts of “perceptual character” and “3rd party perceptual installation” were fleshed out in far more detail in our 2001 “Persuasion Summit” course together, if any of your readers want to learn more from you about how to do this, they should get the multi-media set that we created from the live seminar…
    …where they can learn directly from the horse’s mouth how to do this.

    Just a thought. And if they don’t want it to remain… just a thought… perhaps it’s time to take action, to create real results.

    Your material _works_.

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