Marketing Summarized

In short, marketing is the skill of conveying value to others.

  • This value can range from a personal brand all the way up to a large organization’s public image.
  • While most other domains of a business are cost centers (e.g., accounting, law, IT), marketing is exclusively a profit center.

In practice, there are only 3 ways to make marketing increase an organization’s revenue:

  1. Get the message to more people.
  2. Request more money per person.
  3. Sell more things to people who already purchased something.

Marketing is a broad concept about the process of selling goods or services, starting with before the customer knows about it and through the business relationship:

  1. Research to learn what the public wants and invent a solution for them (market research).
  2. Tailor the appearance of something to show people it has value (product design).
  3. Show it as a story to the public to make people aware of it (exposure).
  4. Make lists of people who might want it (lead generation).
  5. Inform or persuade leads that they should invest in the product (selling and closing the deal).
  6. Follow up with them later to make sure they’re satisfied, and possibly interested in future products (retention).

The four P’s of marketing

Product – what are you delivering? (not always tangible or sold for money)

  • Vague things (e.g., the feeling of goodwill) can be a product.
  • A job hunter is marketing skills, time, and energy.
  • A humanitarian request (call to action) advertises a transcendent purpose.
  • Anyone who wants to be a social media influencer is trying to use their personality-based performance to gain others’ attention.
  • Religious evangelism is advancing a theological/philosophical perspective, with religion itself being a passive marketing movement.

Price – what does it cost?

  • Even free things have an opportunity cost in time, focus, attention, etc.
  • In our Over-Information Age, paying attention is the most significant thing a person can do, so treat it with respect.

Place – where are you delivering the product?

  • Even on the internet, the product has a type of location.

Promotion – how are you communicating the product’s value?

  • Promotion includes what types of media you’re using and its public image.
  • Successful marketing evokes meaning within us through an emotional connection to a brand.


Marketing is a resonating message that the product is the precise connection the potential consumer needs to find meaning and purpose.

  • The message is designed to make the recipient feel important.
  • Without that interpreted meaning, the marketing is a complete waste of time and the money would be better-spent on simply improving quality or lowering price.

The product has to be remarkable, which doesn’t necessarily mean weird, cheap, expensive, big, or small.

  • That meaning comes from how the consumer interprets the provider performing for them, not from how the consumer sees the product compared to competitors’ alternatives.
  • Marketing words tend to use verbs more than nouns (e.g., “shopping” versus “shop”, “investing” more than “invest”).
  • Focus heavily on the “why” questions from consumers, not just “what”.

The best thing is to assume people are selfish, lazy, uninformed, and impatient.

  • Selfish – tell them why it matters to them and what the product is for.
  • Lazy – give the minimum required investment they must make.
  • Uninformed – you’re responsible to inform them.
  • Impatient – inform them with as few words and as little time as possible.

The only way to find that meaning is to create a distinctly human connection through the design of marketing materials.

  • Simply making promises and keeping them is enough to start building a brand.
  • To create connection and avoid being boring, marketing professionals must take risks to disrupt established patterns.
  • A marketer never gets to dominate the domain, and serves more to curate fashions that others will want to maintain.

A lasting, marketable product has an original and distinctive competitive advantage.

  • Being dependable and sincere never stops being fashionable.
  • The only true competitive advantage is when competitors can’t imitate it.
  • Competing on cost is only possible with access to the poorest parts of the world, but comes with other risks, and there’s technically no bottom to that competition.


Marketing “eras” arise through how society’s progress from rural to mass-industrialization increases everyone’s need to compete.

Simple Trade Era

  • People make most of what they consume.
  • In a Simple Trade Era, luxuries and raw materials sell the most.

Industrial Revolution

  • Technological growth creates a larger scale of products.
  • Mass-produced items improve the quality of products.


  • Multiple companies start competing with each other.
  • In an Entrepreneurship Era, competing is more important than competence.

Production Era

  • Companies start emphasizing lower costs and increased productivity.
  • Production Era companies stay competitive by looking inward to improve their products.

Marketing Era

  • Companies create distinct brands to form associations with customers.
  • Marketing Era companies must build brands that create and satisfy niche markets.

Relationship Era

  • Companies need to maintain customers through sustaining relationships.
  • Relationship Era companies must manage their image by making personnel customer-oriented, emphasizing training, managing social media narrative, and empowering employees.

Individualization Era

  • Companies use data to tailor each customer’s experience differently.
  • Individualization Era companies must use a lot of database management to find patterns across customers.

Customers’ Decisions

Every consumer’s decisions run through a product-seeking cycle:

  1. Recognize an unfulfilled need
  2. Search for information to fulfill the need
  3. Compare alternatives from gathered information
  4. Purchase or invest in a decision
  5. Respond after purchasing by comparing expectations with reality

People only purchase four kinds of products:

  1. Shopping products critical to a lifestyle
  2. Convenience products that make life easier
  3. Specialty products that appeal to a specific need or want
  4. Unsought products the customer doesn’t know exists

Multiple factors determine how much they’re is willing to invest:

  • Previous experiences
  • Interest in the product
  • Perceived risk of negative consequences
  • Beliefs about competing products
  • The current situation and what it calls for
  • How much others may see their investment

People get products for a variety of reasons:

  • Basic needs (e.g., food)
  • Replacements (e.g., household items)
  • Urgency or scarcity (e.g., medications)
  • A great value (e.g., a sale)
  • A cause (e.g., bake sale)
  • Name recognition

If a product is marketed well, people will believe taking action toward it will give more value, meaning or purpose than its opportunity cost or alternatives:

  • Adapting their lifestyle for the product
  • Identifying with the culture associated with the product
  • The effort and sacrifice needed to acquire the product
  • The product is worth maintaining

Psychological Connection

Their meaning comes from how they interact with the product.

  • Control – how much they can manage their experience
  • Adaptability – how much they can augment their experience
  • Feedback – how and when the product receives updates
  • Communication – how much the customer feels heard

Triggers connect to subconscious meanings (risky to build a brand on).

  • Language – highly relative words and phrases that associate to thoughts
  • Symbols – designs through the senses that associate to a memory
  • Sensations – interpretations of senses (too challenging to market with)

Customer desires vary in intensity:

  1. Impulse – the least intense connection with the customer, usually only with low-cost or generic products
  2. Habitual – habits from a need for convenience or efficiency
    • Great products create a consumer habit, even when once a month, from high-quality content or product.
  3. Engagement – things that grab customer attention throughout the experience (the stickiness factor)
    • Customers must see the product as unconventional, unexpected, and contrary to prior wisdom for it to “stick”.

Base Motivations

A. Candy – fun, enjoyable, customers can live comfortably without it

  • Beauty through physical improvement
  • Creation in producing something new or original
  • Freedom from living with unwanted constraints
  • Harmony in a balanced relationship to the whole
  • Oneness with things around us
  • Wonder and awe in the presence of something beyond explanation

B. Vitamins – non-essential but helpful, important but not urgent

  • Accomplishment through attaining goals or status
  • Community from closeness with others
  • Enlightenment by appealing to logic or inspiration
  • Truthfulness through honesty and integrity

C. Painkillers – solves a painful problem, necessary when they need it

  • Answers to pressing issues
  • Duty from fulfilling a responsibility
  • Justice from fairness and equality
  • Redemption through atonement or forgiveness from past failure or decline
  • Security from risks of loss or worry
  • Validation of one’s value and worthiness of being respected


Customers observe many, many details about the product and its associated environment.

  • Successful marketing professionals consider all the factors that would affect a consumer’s bias.

The product itself:

  • Attributes/design of the product
  • Emotional reaction from the product and its implications
  • Price and quality of the product compared to others
  • Where the company made the product (can make it cheaper or inspire loyalty)
  • Use, application, and benefits the products may give the customer
  • The class of the product related to others
  • Past viewing of the product from branding
  • Experience with the product
  • How the company distributes the product

Color, in particular, can make consumers feel a company’s implied message:

  • 85% of buyers choose a product on color alone.
  • 93% of buyers care about a product’s visual appearance.
  • Typical spenders (~61% of the people) often prefer pink or sky blue (e.g., clothing stores).
  • Cheap spenders (~24% of the people) often prefer navy blue and teal (e.g., banks and department stores).
  • Irresponsible spenders (~15% of the people) often prefer orange, blue or black (e.g., malls, clearance sales, and fast food).

The market environment itself:

  • Other product users’ personality traits and lifestyles
  • Other customers’ motivations about the product
  • Why highly important customers like the product
  • Differences from competitors’ products or the global marketplace
  • Technological limitations of the product and its possibility of becoming obsolete
  • Legality of the product, the ability to protect intellectual property, and how much it will cost

Brand Management

Everything connected to the product/service can connect with a unified brand that demonstrates uniqueness:

  1. Product – the object itself
  2. Service – the experience of the product’s delivery
  3. Brand – the product’s declaration of uniqueness
  4. Channel – how the product gets to the customers
  5. Promotion – how potential customers learn about the product

Branding has degrees of intensity:

  1. Production Orientation – focused on the company’s internal capabilities instead of marketplace wants and needs
    • Organizations have marketing myopia through defining themselves by goods and services instead of the benefits customers want.
  2. Sales Orientation – employs aggressive sales techniques
    • Organizations have sales obsession by measuring their sales numbers instead of their retention numbers.
  3. Market Orientation – focused on satisfying customer wants and needs
    • Often, organizations stay selfish when they measure customer satisfaction instead of their impact on the world around them.
  4. Social Marketing – company goals built broadly toward improving society
    • Organizations become unprofitable when they don’t pay attention to customers’ needs and wants.

Consistent brands are efficient and easy to sell and distribute.

  • Packages maintain a uniform feeling across products.
  • You can standardize brand components across products.

Successfully building a brand involves investing a lot into the Unknown.

  • The general attitude is that there’s always someone who wants the product, but doesn’t have it yet.
  • At the farthest, every single person who is part of the organization is part of the “marketing department”.

Marketing Plans

Marketing plans are attempts to influence specific demographics to find meaning in a product.

  • It’s impossible to please everyone, so your best investment comes from focusing your efforts on the people you want.
  • The entire purpose of a marketing plan and marketing research is to match your perspective with the people you’re serving.

A. Identify the demographics of the audience you want leads for.

  • If you can, aim for demographics that nobody in your domain is serving.
    • Look for what people use and purchase right now and their major complaints about it.
  • There are many classifications, but you can segment it as far as you need:

B. Within that demographic, make as many XY grids as necessary to compare 2 variables at a time.

  • Speed
  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Purity
  • Sustainability
  • Obviousness
  • Maintenance Costs
  • Safety
  • Edginess
  • Distribution
  • Network Effect
  • Imminence
  • Visibility
  • Trendiness
  • Privacy
  • Popularity
  • Professionalism
  • Difficulty
  • Elitism
  • Danger
  • Experimental
  • Healthfulness

C. Craft the design as a story with a designed user experience.

  • The story should make consuming the brand a memorable experience.
    1. Initiation – the customer’s first impression upon hearing about the product
    2. Immersion – the customer’s first direct interaction with the product
    3. Conclusion and continuation – the customer’s views as they compare other products
  • Build a message with the Golden Circle:
    1. First, why something is valuable
    2. Next, how the value conveys itself through the product (the majority of the message)
    3. Finally, what the product is
  • The story will reflect closely with the person by resonating with at least some of the universals we all share.
    1. Story of self – a personal transition from what you used to be to what you became, implying that others are just like you.
    2. Story of us – describing how we share common bonds and how joining together is a good thing.
    3. Story of now – a call to action that indicates that they are doing the right thing by joining you.
  • The story must have a deep connecting association with something else.
    • It can often connect with a theme (e.g., redemption, love, human connection)
    • The connection is often purely animal (e.g., sex), which is the method used by longtime PR master Edward Bernays.
    • Successfully making a story that resonates requires integrating your shadow.
  • Keep an eye out for indirect associated words.
    • Sometimes, associations can make zero logical sense, but can float along the intuition of a culture.
    • e.g., “break time” may associate with “broken time”, “breaking out”, “broken dreams”, “breakfast”, and may extend to coffee, candy, or drugs.

D. Make something eye-catching and familiar to the target demographic.

  • Carefully consider your design medium to match what people of that culture will feel.
    • Show the product in action.
    • Use current social trends.
    • Create interviews or testimonials from reputable or influential people.
    • Advertise the helpfulness of the company.
    • Show how life is worse without the product.
    • Donate your product or merchandise credit as a prize in a competition.
    • Publicly speak at events about the product.
  • To stay flexible, use an abstract idea or combination of words (e.g., Nike, Apple, JetBlue, 37Signals) instead of a concrete one (e.g., International Accounting Partners).
    • The cool name means nothing, and the brand can revolve around it (and rebrand later) without the name risking further associations.
  • Pick a logo, don’t bother spending tons of money on it, and keep it forever.
    • You can tailor the logo later while maintaining its original form (e.g., get rid of shading, shift elements a little).
  • Product packaging has the most explicit branding.
    • The package holds and protects the product, but labeling can also promote it.
    • Tracking packages with barcodes allows the product to remain visually unaffected.
    • Packaging can help with product storage, use or convenience.
    • Eco-friendly branding is always possible if the package can be recycled.

E. Tailor the product to the medium and send it through every appropriate social channel.

  • Social media networks
    • Not everyone wants the product, so don’t follow everyone.
    • Increase the volume of posts, add visual media, and create videos to fight the deluge of competitors.
    • Make sure your content is legitimately interesting or people won’t care.
  • Email
    • Don’t over-send emails, or people will unsubscribe.
    • If you have plenty of content (i.e., more than once a month) publish news directly to your brand website.
  • News aggregators
    • To stand out, you’ll need something far more interesting than what everyone else is talking about, which requires immense creativity.
  • Do not ask people privately to share content on social media because they’re forced into an awkward conflict:
    • They can share if they want.
    • They can not share and appear disorganized.
    • They can say no and seem rude.
    • Instead, tell them about it and how it may interest them, then let them look at it at their leisure.

F. Follow up and keep the interaction going.

  • Keep them interested in further developments.
    • Use “Volume I”, “Part 1”, or some other implication that there’s more to come.
    • Include an order form or link to a website with every product sold to create more incentive.
  • Showcase creative or inspiring reviews about your product on social media.
    • The viewpoint should be as if it were an exciting news flash from a fanatical reporter.
    • If someone gives a positive review via email, publicly reply to the emails on social media.
  • Promotions should often include discounts and vouchers.
    • Don’t advertise the discounts beforehand or add extra incentive for someone to buy anything.
    • A surprise gift certificate (either after a certain amount of repeat spending or sporadically) is one of the most effective ways to keep customers coming back.
  • Employ scarcity whenever possible.
    • Give social media discounts, sales, and coupons that inspire people to revisit your content.
    • Include a purchase limit, even if people are never likely to surpass that limit.
    • Give a price, then a discount to it, instead of a lower price (e.g., %50 off a $20 item instead of $10).
    • If you’re sending out large-scale media, have a compute randomly generate from that list, then indicate those people have been “selected”.
    • Deny something to someone, create a mailing list of rejected customers, then offer them something in the future.
  • Give them something legitimate, not just a discount.
    • Provide something for free they don’t need to pay anything for.
    • Give a physical or emailed voucher, not just a promo code.
    • Even if you’re in a straightforward skilled trade, you can direct them to website content that answers common questions about your trade, with promotional discounts included if they respond or join your email list.
  • Use unconventional channels for unconventional leads.
    • Use a less popular channel for your type of product.
    • Send out fliers directing people to social media or a website.

G. Keep running market analysis to find and appeal to more demographics who may want the product.

  • Markets can only expand a few ways:
    • Market penetration – move into a brand new market
    • Market development – improve reputation with a current market
    • Product development – make a legitimately better product
    • Diversification – make completely new products
  • Targeted advertising can appeal to specific or seasonal desires.
    • Cold-weather items or hot comfort foods on weather websites which show cold weather.
    • Often, data mining can find odd demographics through connected patterns between specific product combinations.

Market research

Successful marketing research gathers meaningful-enough data that borrows from the scientific method to give enough information about what a market looks like to make a clear decision.

A. Create a market segment.

  1. Select a market or product category to study.
  2. Choose a basis or bases for segmenting the market.
  3. Select groups to test.
  4. Profile and analyze the groups.
  5. Choose target markets inside the groups.
  6. Keep the demographic mixes for those target markets accurate to reality.

B. Collect secondary data about the target market from the internet and marketing research aggregators.

  • Be mindful about where that data came from, since it may be unethical or illegal.
  • Database patterns, such as an analyst or AI, can make secondary data, which is often perfectly legal.

C. Create a questionnaire around information you want to learn.

  • Ask what people observe.
  • Listen to what the demographics think.
  • Watch how the demographics behave in response to product-related stimuli.
  • Perform observational research with virtual shopping.

D. Design your research and gather primary data.

  • This can include in-person/mail surveys, in-home interviews, mail/email/telephone reviews, executive interviews, and focus groups.

E. Run experiments scientifically.

  • Specify the sampling procedures and how close the sampling will reflect reality.
  • Account for errors caused through bad sampling or towards guiding the result.
  • Collect and analyze the data.
  • Prepare and present a report.

F. Follow up the data with a decision support system.

  • A decision support system should keep every interested party informed as it’s updated.
  • Let people interact with it to involve their feedback.
  • The decision support system should be flexible enough to allow data manipulation and changes to the system.
  • Instead of proving existing procedures, constantly seek out new solutions.


Brands often repackage as other items, lines, and mixes for a variety of reasons:

  • Reach more demographics with a generic or manufacturer’s brand
  • Appeal to a new group with individual or family-oriented brands
  • Co-brand with a separate industry that shares a demographic
  • Create sub-brands or adaptations to a universal brand
  • Develop completely independent region-specific brands

Brands repackage in many ways:

  • Focused advertising on specific demographics
  • Modifying the product quality, function or style
  • Repositioning the same product as a completely different brand
  • Creating product line extensions
  • Joining product lines into one product

If you’re trying to make a brand that approaches an entirely different demographic, move far away from existing brands (including possibly your own).

  • Change the names of everything involved.
  • Remove absolutely any imagery or association that others in that industry may use.
  • The whole purpose is to remove every anchor that may make people expect the same experience from the new brand.

Brand Failure

Many factors destroy brands.

A. A terrible-looking brand:

  • There’ too much visual clutter.
  • The consumer finds the brand boring or the exact same as every other fashionable brand of that domain.

B. Insufficient planning or preparation:

  • The brand promises what it can’t deliver.
  • The marketing professionals are underestimating or incorrectly using online marketing opportunities.
  • The website is poorly designed, obsolete or difficult to navigate.

C. Inconsistent brand image through conflicting views from differing associations:

  • The brand doesn’t match the product’s conveyed feeling.
  • Different products have completely inconsistent branding.
  • Multiple groups are conveying an inconsistent image.

D. The brand associates with low-quality product or content:

  • The product is seen as very cheap or tacky.

E. The public feels the organization ignores their input:

  • Beyond not providing feedback, this can also come from making a political statement that some consumers don’t agree with.

F. The brand somehow crosses past feeling uniquely different into feeling offensive:

  • Oddness has to be balanced with familiarity.
  • Multi-Level Marketing employs quite a few offensive marketing tactics, especially once someone is educated on how they work.

Even with the best brand ever, consumers will still leave:

  • 1% will die.
  • 3% physically move out of the product’s range of influence.
  • 5% create new friendships that change their demographic.
  • 9% will leave for a competitor who satisfies their needs better.
  • 14% will become overly dissatisfied with the product.
  • 68% leave from feeling a representative’s indifferent or inappropriate attitude.


There are many conventional distribution channels to market a product:

  • Printing and sending fliers and pamphlets.
  • Paying to have advertised content posted on a billboard or literature.
  • Share via word-of-mouth.
  • Networks of friends or professionals.

The product itself can convey through multiple avenues as well:

  • Sending straight to the customer:
    • Direct through mail-order, website, or a catalog
    • Company sales staff
    • Digital download or over the internet via cloud service
  • Sending through a third-party:
    • Through a retail store
    • Through a wholesaler
    • With a third-party agent
    • Through independent representatives
  • Making and fulfilling bids on contracts on a market.

The internet has opened up a wide variety of new advertising and distribution approaches:

  • Paying for advertised content on a website.
  • Paying search engines for sponsored sites.
  • Hosting a website yourself.

Other advertising approaches are much more subtle than a blatant advertisement:

  • Hire a popular media personality to endorse a product.
  • Maintain social media accounts.
  • Host or attend trade shows.
  • Distribute product catalogs.
  • Provide dealer and distributor incentives.

To that end, most marketing requires maintaining a variety of designs:

  • Logos, including favicons and avatars for websites
  • Cards and letterheads
  • Brochures
  • Signage
  • Interior design

Marketing with Websites

Online marketing fulfills two purposes:

  1. It maintains a long-term brand.
  2. It motivates people to talk about the product with others.
    • If something becomes wildly popular, it goes viral and can create near-instant fame if you focus super heavily on the niche that drove your first popular content.

Modern marketing needs a decent web presence.

  • Not every industry needs a well-made site, but a poorly designed website is often worse than none.
  • Social media profiles can often be sufficient, but self-maintained websites allow a centralized brand and more flexibility for marketing professionals by not having the social network as an intermediary.

The most common measurement of a website’s success is from visits by users (hit count).

  • Hit count matters somewhat, but the more important detail is that people will want to type in your brand name over a generic alternative.

Improving hit count

Improving your web presence via keyword management and design is the art of search engine optimization (SEO).

  • This effort goes all the way from the search engine results page (SERP) all the way to the design of the website itself, from landing page all the way to after the customer has made a purchase.

There are several billing options for internet marketing:

  • Depending on the billing, there’s plenty of incentive to get many people to get to your site who won’t be that interested in your product.
  • Cost per thousand/mil (CPM) is the charge for every thousand impressions/views of an ad.
    • It should be no more than 4.2 cents per user, or $42.
  • Cost per click (CPC) charges every time a user clicks on an advertisement.
  • Cost per lead (CPL) charges every time someone expresses an interest in the product (e.g., a mailing list).
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA) charges every time there’s a new customer or sale.

Not all hits are good.

  • A savvy stranger could make a viral complaint, so proactively and professionally manage any social media presence.
    • The quickest complaint management solution is with an on-site instant messenger service, but only if people are quickly responding to it.
  • The click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks, divided by the number of impressions.
    • It should be more than 2%, or people are clearly not interacting with the advertisement at all.
  • Have a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures how well a campaign has been.
    • The conversion numbers (from view to click to lead to acquisition to retention) will show how well each step of the marketing process has been doing.
    • Generally, CPA or lifetime value (LTV) are the best indicators, though you may want to measure the return on investment (ROI).

Make sure to communicate very clearly within the site where the user is, what they can do, and what will happen if they do it.

  • If you’re not communicating things plainly, people will tune out the information.
    • The content/copy, photos, and overall message should all match up.
  • Frequently, your writing will be too broad (and therefore too many people won’t be interested) or too specific (and will drive people who might be interested away).
  • Have a decisive, clear call to action (CTA) to work through it.

When creating the site:

  • There are many content management systems (CMS), and almost all of them will work fine for the average user (assuming they aren’t a tech company with specific needs).
    • However, if you need one that’s both versatile and affordable, the best solution is WordPress hosting on a distributed hosting platform, with the upsell of dedicated hosting when you need it.
  • Advertise the content on official channels to bring your keywords more frequently into search results.
  • Naturally and seamlessly connect everything in the site with links.
  • Add social media sharing buttons to every page.
  • The web domain ( should associate to what you sell.
  • Keep the homepage clutter-free with a separate blog page.
  • Avoid using modal windows, since they’re absurdly difficult to link to, create accessibility problems, and are often a world of additional web design headaches with form fills and caching.
  • The checkout experience should be seamless, with multiple payment options, but not so many that it overloads the user.
  • While it may be tempting to expand your leads with a mailing list, only ask about the mailing list after the product was sold.

To make search engines favor your site and users enjoy the experience, optimize it for speed:

  • You should have the clicks-to-loading speed ratio over 90%.
  • Embed videos to a video streaming service instead of hosting them yourself.
  • Lazy-load images, with placeholder images to keep the format while it’s loading.
  • Self-host your fonts instead of pulling from somewhere else.
  • Trim out extra computer code you don’t need whenever possible.
    • A lot of WordPress plugins that can do this for you.
  • Test the site repeatedly as you go to make sure it’s optimized.

To maintain a consistent design, maintain fewer website pages.

  • A few well-designed pages are much easier to update and rebuild than a few hundred.

A blog is only successful if it has at least 4 of the following 6 components:

  1. Sincere
  2. Urgent
  3. Appropriately timed
  4. Brief
  5. Controversial
  6. Useful

When posting:

  • Solve a problem for the reader instead of selling a product.
  • Grab the reader’s attention with compelling images.
  • Capture the target demographic with a strong and keyword-laden title/header and matching description.
  • Use very particular keywords to create statistically unpopular (long-tail) search words.
  • Verbose and descriptive descriptions show up more often in search results.
  • Adding a video’s text transcript increases search engine results.
  • Do things unconventionally to make people select your content more often.
  • Create many relevant links to other content you want to advertise.
  • The longer your essay, the more keywords, and the more traffic you’ll get.
  • Showcase informal reviews from loyal users, since everyone will think the well-written reviews are paid actors!


  • Find a publishing cadence and stick with it (e.g., once a week).
  • Repost all applicable content on relevant social media profiles.
  • Consistently repost great-quality content with a creative remix (e.g., infographics, cartoons, quizzes).
  • Verify everything is visually presentable, links work correctly, and everything conforms to the brand’s image.
  • Schedule content posts that show the brand in a new light.
  • Reorder links and emphasize the cornerstone content to place the best content first.
  • Network with others to link across websites.
  • Blog relatively frequently to show search engines the site is still live.
  • Create a community by opening up the end for questions and then answering them.
  • Invite industry experts to contribute to your blog.
  • Always look for new content channels and layers.

Don’t waste time on social channels that don’t speak to your audience:

  • Discussion forums like Quora gives profound long-term results, but takes lots of content and time.
  • In-person events, such as Meetup, actually have dis-economies of scale.
  • Streaming networks like Twitter are only good when you’ve reached a critical mass (often ~40,000 followers).

It’s hard to retain visitors, so try surveys, forums, building a community, or an email list.

  • Give them something for their information (e.g., 10% discount, $20 gift certificate), and do not simply ask for their information without a reason for them to give it.
  • Promise something in your content that people will actually want to read, then give it to them.

If you start using ads, you’ll probably lose about 10% of your users compared to not having them.

  • Be careful with paywalls as well, since customers will need to receive at least some free content of value to not feel left out.

Build hyperlinks directing toward your site (i.e., “backlinks”) whenever possible:

  • Comment on social media elsewhere about the site.
  • Create a network of sites with complementary elements.
  • Work with affiliates to link to each other.

Search engines usually blacklist unethical SEO.

  • Search engines discourage sites where people visit and then leave (high bounce rate).
  • If you manipulate search engine systems, you’ll get temporary spikes in views and dramatic dropoffs later.
  • You’ll find more search engine attention by creating high-quality content people want to consume and share (organic exposure).
  • Keep on top of all the back-end technical elements of web/app design.
    • Try technical tricks like semantic markups and editing meta tags.
    • Make sure the website actually functions well: a bad web interface is worse than an awful font/image pairing.
    • Only add features that reflect the image you want to convey.

Watch for the Content Scarcity Paradox:

  • Synchronous, time-sensitive content can boost engagement (e.g., instant messaging).
  • However, the longer the content is, the the harder it is to consume (e.g., a 2-hour video).
  • If the content is both short and asynchronous, it’s will be too abundant.
  • If the content is both long and synchronous, it’s will be very scarce.
  • The best hybrid is to have “stories” that give short-term windows of content (e.g., 1 day).

Use guerrilla marketing to get site views:

  • Leave sticky notes in random places or create temporary images on buildings or cars.
  • Write with chalk on sidewalks.
  • Leave branded pens at banks and other public places.
  • Donate branded bookmarks or books to a library.
  • Give out business cards with the site on it:
    • Leave them with a tip.
    • Attach them to public bulletin boards.
    • Place them in library books associated with your business.
    • Put one in a contest fishbowl.
  • Find a common frustration (e.g., vandalism, bureaucracy), then place branded fliers nearby it asking to email feedback.
  • Connect with influential people by connecting with less-influential people they know first.
  • Give a commission of your commission to other people who refer business to you.
  • Provide a free community service, with casual advertisements for more service if they’re interested.

If you can build attention, expect your message to permute into a simpler one:

  • If you build content on a small podcast, others may write an article summarizing it.
  • The article they write will draw attention from a niche, who develop their own ideas.
  • Within a few weeks or months, your idea will have taken on a completely different form than when you first expressed it.


One-on-one sales is by far the most intense, relational niche of marketing.

  • Effective salespeople have very extraverted personalities.
  • Sales staff stay motivated from the psychological numbers game:
    • If 100 calls create a lead, every call is another step to that lead.
  • The amount of rejection necessary to thrive in sales requires an extremely high sense of confidence.

Sales is also known as pipeline marketing:

  1. Generate leads through connections, advertising, and a variety of other sources.
  2. Sift through leads to create prospects who might get the product.
  3. Routinely engage with the prospects until they become your client or customer.
  4. Treat your clients exceptionally well to maintain your reputation.
  5. Create more leads and prospects through referral marketing.

Aggressive Tactics

Sales staff have awful reputations from overly aggressive tactics. For example:

Normally an elite real estate training program like this from tried-and-true experts is worth over ten thousand dollars, but today only you can get the entire training for not $10,000, not $1,000, not even $300! Today only you can get it all for only $183! And, to sweeten the offer, if you call within the next 15 minutes you will also get a free set of Ginsu Knives! A $500 value for free! How will you spend your millions? You’re minutes away from breaking free of the grind and on your way to living the dream—all you need to do is call us at 555-555-555. Call now. There are only five spots left! Our expert advisers are taking calls right now!

A. Exclusivity – “elite real estate training program”

  • An appearance of a unique and prestigious product make customers more likely to participate and spend more on a brand

B. Authority/Power – “tried-and-true experts”

  • Sellers use various techniques to make you believe they have cornered the market on information

C. Comparison – “not $10,000, not $1,000, not even $300”

  • Salespeople embellish differences by placing them side-by-side with something else that implies a drastic change or providing numbers

D. Urgency – “Today only you can get”

  • The more time a customer has to deliberate, the less likely they’ll make a purchase

E. Specificity – “get it all for only $183”

  • Specific numbers imply extensive thought behind the number and no room for negotiation

F. Free – “A $500 value for free”

  • Adding a free bonus gives an illusion of a product’s extra value (over-delivering)
  • Implies people should give back something in return

G. Pleasure Sensation – “How will you spend your millions?”

  • Invokes the customer’s pleasure sensation to feel it before buying it

H. Pain Relief – “breaking free of the grind and you’re on your way”

  • Creates or embellishes pain to make the product feel like a relief from pain

I. Scarcity – “…only five spots left”

  • Combination of Urgency and Exclusivity
  • Artificially increases demand by limiting time or quantity

J. Social Proof – “expert advisers are taking calls right now”

  • Gives psychological confirmation that customers will experience excellent service

K. Confidence – (the general tone)

  • Gives a general image that this person has a reason for their confidence, meaning they may have a legitimate product

Besides straddling ethical boundaries, high-pressure sales also exploit the fact that people only reject a product after saying “no” three times.

One quick way to generate attention is through wash subscribing:

  1. Use many fake names with fake contact information inside a subscription system.
  2. Send out the marketing material to all the fake information, which makes it look wildly popular.
  3. Advertise to people that your subscription is wildly popular.
  4. If you can acquire enough actual subscribers, you’ve created a legitimately popular product.

Ethical Sales

The correct way to sell involves most rules of influence, but with less pressure that respects boundaries.

  • The key to effective sales is to explain how the product is useful with 4-5 different variations, then paradoxically express that it’s utterly simple to use.
    • Illustrating a point should never use a tone that implies condescension.
    • Tell a story where you’re ignorant, or possibly where someone else is ignorant, but never where the lead is ignorant.
  • When the customer says “no”, only give one more attempt before backing away from the matter.
    • People saying “not today” or “not yet” are simply saying “no”, and it’s not wrong to force certainty (e.g., have them sign a paper declining the offer).
  • When the customer says “yes”, don’t push the matter.
    • Most upsells can turn away a client who wanted a simple experience.

Often, lying builds leads.

  • Making false or unenforceable promises often provokes someone to sign the contract that makes the sale.
  • Fabricating a crowd who rave about a product often creates enough artificial social pressure to generate a legitimate crowd.

The personalities of sales staff (i.e., high Extroversion) mean they typically need to learn the art of listening.

  • Good salespeople can (and do) repeat back precise words someone said, within the context they said it.
    • Repeat back their questions, then praise them for making good questions.
  • Most sales staff are so busy talking that they don’t even read the signals that someone wants to buy!

Retention & More Sales

There are 4 major ways to improve sales:

  1. Upsell – generate more income from an existing product through more features.
  2. Cross-sell – add more products to the first product, often with discounts across all the products.
  3. Follow-up – sell more products at a later time.
  4. Continuity – sell a long-term contract instead of a one-time sale.

More connections between a product and other offerings creates more natural product placement.

  • Selling a seemingly unrelated product can often inspire people to look to you for that product domain as well.

A successful salesperson is able to draw more attention through referral marketing.

  • Their expertise will mean people trust them over a stranger or faceless entity.
  • One of the most significant ways to generate nonstop referral attention is to build connections with others in related domains you’re not specialized in, then direct people you serve to them as the situation presents itself.

Focus all your effort on specific types of consumers you don’t directly advertise to who may still yield a mutual profit.

Maintaining Relationships

Keep relationships with current customers is much cheaper than getting new ones, and the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) philosophy has mostly replaced the aggressive sales model.

  • CRM believes in a give-and-take relationship between the customer and the service provider.
  • CRM focuses on win-win through prolonged relationship-building beyond a simple one-time benefit.

CRM’s strength comes from how it builds its network:

  1. Instead of selling, let others sell for you through their passion for your product.
  2. Create referrals through connections of connections.
  3. Generate affiliate marketing through associated industry providers who work well naturally alongside your product.

The simplest CRM is to keep a calendar.

  • Have a clear policy that indicates exact rules for when to follow up with prior customers (e.g., 3 months after the most recent purchase to ask if they want a resupply).
  • If you’re using an automated message, do not try to make it sound like you’re an actual person sending them a private message.

Generally, most people don’t reply to email from how much volume they receive.

  • Have a system that allows for limited or completely removing their email subscription.
  • Because of the over-information of modern marketing, you will gain more retention long-term by not provoking them to sign up for an email list.
    • Instead, find unconventional and non-industry-standard ways to communicate with your clients.
  • If your service helps them with a specific project, ask them in an email “have you given up on this project?”

However, a defective or dysfunctional CRM system can be worse than none.

  • If there’s customer data tracked with software (e.g., Salesforce) and the customer has to keep providing it over and over, it’s worse for the customer than simply asking as-needed.
  • Large organizations can often create headaches for customers who simply want a plain datasheet or a quick summary.
  • People can often feel privacy violations if they didn’t consent to information the CRM uses.

Customer Service

The art of working with the public involves many small details of tact, but adds behaviors that make the consumer feel important.

  • Every well-placed and well-framed advertisement can’t offset 1 rude clerk.
  • Over-invest in how everyone interacts with the public.

Most good customer service involves small details:

  • After ringing a doorbell, take a few steps backward to give distance.
  • At the end of a phone call, ask “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

On a large-scale, customer service becomes “public relations”.

If there are multiple stages in the marketing process, and employees are paid based on moving customers to the next stage, it creates a perverse incentive (i.e., Goodhart’s Law).

However, too much customer service can be devastating to an organization.

  • Social media does not reflect real life.
    • The intuition is that an angry message reflects 1,000 hidden angry messages.
    • However, most of the time, 1 angry message means 4 people are angry enough to be outraged and the algorithm favors “engagement” irrespective of how people responded or interacted.
    • With proper documentation, most companies can publicly communicate the exchange back on social media and let the public see the situation for themselves.
  • Healthy referral marketing can become sabotaged from all the extra work (and bias) from maintaining business relationships with the most unlikable and unpleasant consumers.
  • Successful customer service scales in effort to the importance of the consumer to the organization.

Don’t Overdo It

Marketing does work.

  • An object that sells for $10 can easily sell for $15 or $20 with the correct amount of publicity, attention, press events, and website design.
  • With the right story that conveys the correct meaning to the right audience, an object that’s free or nearly worthless can sell as a luxury product.
  • However, there are limits to its effectiveness: barring economic changes a $10 commodity will never sell for $100.

“User engagement” is the marketing industry’s buzzword for addiction.

  • There are severe ethical issues with trying to steer people toward your product beyond simply informing them consciously.
  • We often find meaning in sacrifice itself, which makes us susceptible to becoming fanatics over expensive and unnecessary purchases.
  • Cults, of all types, are established and maintained with effective high-pressure marketing tactics and playing with expectations to motivate people to keep consuming.

A lot of the marketing industry is built on bad data.

  • The occupation of marketing requires constant concern with image and appearance, so it creates catastrophic results when appearance isn’t reality.
  • Selection-augmenting aspects like ad-blockers and the actual usage of certain media make marketing data deceptively inaccurate about many demographics.
  • There’s plenty of money in selling bad marketing data, so double-check how people and computers gathered it.

Marketing is the art of image, and some things don’t have any form of value to almost anyone.

  • The marketing is a waste of time if it isn’t spreading the message farther, making more money per person, or selling more products to existing customers.
  • Waste products might have value under an eco-friendly brand, but only if it still fulfills the purposes people were pursuing.
  • Above a certain price, it’s impossible to influence to purchase something.
  • If you’re not staying honest, you’ll have a harder time gaining trust throughout the business relationship.

Marketing abuse is a vastly expensive and culturally-damaging experience.

  • Each social platform has its own rules and requirements, which change somewhat frequently, and can be addicting to over-invest into.
  • Fashionable things often cost 20-50% more for the same functionality, so effective branding is not particularly budget-conscious.
  • A marketed product can be so creative that it’s art on its own, but also doesn’t sell the product.
  • If a brand is too influential, it may evoke thoughts of cult-like fanaticism.

The simplest ways to detect marketing abuse are by observing “glittering generalities” and “title inflation”.

  • Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing phrases stated with conviction that create very close associations to highly valued concepts and beliefs, but give no descriptive information that conveys value to the listener:
    • Most people on dating profiles are fun-loving, relaxed, exciting people looking for a good time.
    • Most resumés are submitted by action-focused, hard-working, team-oriented people.
    • Universities are always offering programs committed to fulfilling personal, academic, and professional goals.
    • Every new framework for web development is fast, scalable, modular, and responsive.
  • Generally, a title has a certain meaning with a bestowed importance, but advancing the more positive image of a nicer title can make the title meaningless over time:
    • Cell phone plans have Unlimited, Unlimited Plus, Unlimited Forever, and Unlimited Prestige
    • A member can be Platinum, Platinum Plus, or Platinum Blue.
    • The job called Secretary is advanced to Administrative Assistant and then Office Coordinator.
    • A person advancing a controversial, fashionable idea is called a hero, then a martyr if other people disagree.
    • An antagonist is first backwards, then a bigot, then a racist.

Within a few years, people will detect any mass-marketing or image manipulation tactic and will learn to disregard it.

If you’re not sure, well-designed traditional publications that effectively communicate what the product is and what it does are all you need.

  • If the thing is legitimately good, it’s better to sell the thing as it really is and fire consultants who keep charging fees for things you don’t understand.
  • If you aren’t getting any traction, you may have a bad idea or a product almost nobody wants.