Effective Marketing pretty straightforward.

  1. Design and build something worth talking about- Of course it will seem risky. But almost anything that matters enough to change people for the better might not work. And it’s precisely the reason we need you to do it anyway.

  2. Start with a small audience- Staying small isn’t always sustainable. But it’s the most practical way to get going to learn if you’ve chosen the right people and to see if what’s on offer is worth sharing. Big hits are rare and vastly overrated.

  3. Create a bargain- Value is different for everyone. It’s highly subjective and has almost nothing to do with the cost of making something. The goal is to make someone feel like they should have paid more for it. That’s fuel for coming back for more and for sharing the story. Your price doesn’t represent cheap...or expensive. It’s simply the point where the audience you’re serving still feels like it’s a bargain. As you’ve probably guessed this becomes harder to achieve with commodities...which really aren’t worth talking about until they’re nearly free. And that’s very hard to sustain.

Effective marketing is a choice. And it’s hard. But it’s the only way to create loyal, raving fans for something that matters.

Choose wisely.

Ban the Word Best

…in marketing. 

The word best has no place in marketing or in any conversation when trying to describe an idea, product, service or thing. Yet, it happens very regularly because it’s such a powerful word. And it’s a short cut. It’s a way of getting to the punchline of a joke without going through the trouble of telling it. But have you ever noticed how a joke is super funny to one person and doesn’t at all strike a chord with another? The same goes for your idea, design, meal or service delivery. Best is shaped individually from individual world views and the individual stories people tell themselves. And the suggestion that your thing is the best implies that everything else in this category is flawed in some way and that somehow you have solved all of the problems associated with this thing. And even if you did…which problems need solving in the first place? The Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone are both the best for someone…but not for everyone. 

The more effective (yet far more challenging) approach when describing your thing is to define it’s unique position in the world with true stories that will emotionally connect with some people. Your job is to find an audience which values these individualities as much as you do. To them, your idea is the best. But you never claimed that spot…they did.


Marketing is about influencing. It's about convincing or satisfying someone that your values are aligned with theirs. You can do it through coercion, gaming and parlor tricks. Or by sharing authentic stories that resonate with the audience you are intending to affect. 

Marketing is like most things, easy is rarely the correct path if you want to be noticed for something meaningful. And overselling and under delivering is actually fairly easy to pull-off. While earning trust through genuine action requires a significant investment of emotion, time and transparency. So most choose the easier, faster and seemingly safer path. The beauty then is that the harder work is reserved for the few...those that actually care about the people and how their work will make them feel.
Three questions to ask yourself when you start writing your marketing plan...
  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. How will they feel?
If you don't know or like the answers...start over. 

Marketing Simplified

The work that gets noticed and gets talked about changes lives for the better. So do things that matter…ignore everything else.
The best way to spread the word about your work is through other people…people willing to go on a crusade with you about what you’re doing.
And the only way to build a tribe of loyal raving fans is to develop trust…by sharing the purpose of your work through personal connections and by keeping your promises.
Simple ideas…really hard work. 


What Does Success Look Like? numbers allowed

Often I get bogged down in the minutia when trying to solve problems. After a while I remember to ask myself this question. And it works every time. It really clears things up. It resets my mind and gets me focused on a clear goal. In terms of marketing and more specifically spreading the word I ask these additional sub-questions...

  • Who (what type of person) am I trying to reach? What inspires them?
  • Why do they want to hear from me?
  • Why would they support me (and my purpose)?
  • How do I earn their trust?
  • How can I connect with them?
This helps me get a real clear picture of who my prospective audience is, where they live, work, play and how they feel. Notice I don't ask how old they are, what zip code they're in, or how much they earn. Take triathlons as an example. If I were developing or promoting a race and limited the characterization of my audience to the old fashioned demographic profile I'd likely miss some prospects. If I focused on older, higher wage earners who lived nearby, I'd miss the younger, newbie crowd who'll take a road trip for just about anything. Albeit a smaller portion of the pie, this unrealized slice of the audience is important…in fact very important…to me and my race. So why leave them out?

Take special note that I didn't define success as a number. Because success isn't a number, it's a relationship. And you don't define or characterize a relationship with numbers…you do it with feelings. Numbers are indeed important. Numbers are required to make something sustainable. But numbers are a yield, based on the success or failure of the relationship. Unfortunately, too often we still confuse the "success" part of the question to mean "how many" big is the audience?…which really means how many can we sell? Because if we don't sell X we can't make money. On the heels of this strategy is the mass market promotion in HOPES of getting a small percentage to buy. Unfortunately, you annoy (and alienate) all of the people who don't want to hear from you and you leave out some of your best prospects...who didn't fit into the misguided demographic profile. This is no way to build trust. And certainly no way to build an audience of loyal raving fans. Now, if this isn't what you're after, go for it. Otherwise, spend more more time defining what success looks like, without numbers. 

Now Worries...we can market our way out of this

I continue to be astounded (just last week during a major ad campaign unveiling) with the misuse of the word Marketing. For some reason people, including the so called marketing professionals (they're the worst offenders), suggest Advertising is the same as Marketing. 

Folks, Advertising is a part of's not the whole thing. In fact I put it to you that advertising's share of the marketing pie continues to shrink as markets fragment and a customer's attention becomes increasingly harder to secure. What's replacing it is Content. Or as you sometimes hear, the Steak (where the advertising is the Sizzle). And since Sizzle is depreciating rather quickly as a means to convince people, the Steak is obviously the more important thing to focus on. But that's the confounding thing...people don't. They're still looking for the easy way out, the short-cut, the quick cure.

They're isn't one...sorry.

Hat Tip again to Hugh Macloud for the inspiring cartoon

Powerful Marketing Message

Picked up this nugget from Seth's latest post...

"marketing involves effectively communicating a story about benefits to (and among) the people who will appreciate them"

That's it in a nutshell...all the rest of the stuff you hear about marketing is fluff. Of course there's a lot that goes into it. But, that's called work. Best get busy.




Push vs. Pull

A friend recently ask my opinion on how he could spread the word about a new service. He was considering emailing people and posting notes on Facebook, among other things. After offering some suggestions for posting content to various online outlets (flickr, website, twitter, vimeo, linkedin, etc.), I thought about push vs. pull. Most people want to go out and tell (or yell) about what they have to offer...understandably, they're excited about sharing something new. And, while you can generate some results pushing your message with email, unsolicited ecards, etc., it's not the most effective way to get the word to spread. The best way is to allow yourself some time and create a bucket load of fabulous content that will garner some attention. Then, leak it out to some close friends, give some of your product away for free and give people access on as many relevant outlets as possible. Once you have a fan base, ask them if they would care for an occasional email update of your goings on. Repeat.

While it's far easier to hit send on an email blast, the harder stuff almost always works better and longer.