Articles on Marketing, Technology, and Ideation

Cheap Tricks

Don’t let jargon poison your copy; it doesn’t make you look smart, it makes you look wonky

Interaction Paradigms

Plotting change/optimization v revenue/costs – where does your services firm fit?

Change Business

If you are a change business, you have to define what that means

Made of Words

Everything we make, do, and sell is made of words – so what’s your writing practice.

Found in Translation

The eternal challenge is to translate your expertise into copywriting

Secrets

Ben Settle’s secrets aren’t new – but the way he tells them are.

That Seems Wrong

A explanation of why Karl Marx would have discouraged you from hourly billing

Evading Repulsiveness

A knowledge worker is an independent manufacturer of intellectual assets

A Surprising Detail

We must learn to cultivate surprise if we are to become skilled marketers. Start with the details.

How to Write a How-to

You have at least 50 How-To posts in – here’s a simple roadmap to extracting them from your mind and turning into short blog posts.

Monster Emoji

Sometimes you just publish huge emojis on accident – hopefully along with some insight

Infoslogan

This post is about creating a product line out of your flagship product and when to use an infoslogan

Warm Advertising

Warm advertising, also known as remarketing, remains a unique opportunity.

Ways to Win

There are so many ways to win, every time we play the game of business

A Belief System

How to cultivate business beliefs that fuel your content marketing

Half-time show

What do you do when he half-time show if life is so sad and scary?

Noticing

Make happy fans, not angry rioters – by noticing what they think and feel

Getting Started

Getting started with your own content marketing

How to Choose

Can Edith Eger’s words of mental emancipation message and love apply to your business?

Idea Waves

B2B tech entrepeuners and experts belong to many waves – which one(s) do you belong to?

Neophiliacs and Neophobiacs

I know, I know – you never thought you’d be doing business with a neophobiac. But is their leader your most important client?

Steve Jobs vs United Nations

Zoom lets us spread ideas with aid of one-to-one facial expressions. Will that help them travel faster?

Heart in or heart out?

The more empathetic you are with your customers, the better the results. Two examples.

Breakable Ideas

You just had an idea. Should you search the Internet to validate that it’s unique – or to validate that it’s not unique? 

Reader mailbag: Insiders vs Outsiders

In Alan Weiss’s world, a consultant earns trust through degrees, credentials, and a whiteshoe resume. Here’s some advice for the rest of us.

The Personality of Bill Gates

Can you categorize all 8 billion human beings into one of 16 personality types? Follow up question: how do those types of people like to interact?

Saturn vs Mars

Some people want to see prices before they talk to you. Some don’t want to talk to you at all.

Fake Door

You have an idea for a new product or service. But how do you know if people will want to buy it – before you build it?

Emotional effort

People avoid marketing because it’s hard. They pay someone else to do it, or buy ads – with mixed results

Your favorite workaround?

MS Excel is one of the most effective business software products in history. But if your clients use it excessively, it becomes logistically defective. Then what – workarounds?

This Is Marketing

What is marketing? Or what should it be. And is it ethical? Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing addresses those questions, as you can see from browsing its table of contents

Playing With Fire 🔥

A good metaphor for creative enthusiasm is fire. Applying that fire to your product marketing is essential – but do you have any left over if you talk about it?

How to name

Every day for the last, oh, 2 million years or so, we name things – places, animals, plants, Gods, each other. But how?

Look at these faces

In the short time frame, the most effective marketing ideation approach is holistic prospecting

Positioning

We might think of positioning as (a) a newer concept, (b) a linear process, with start and a finish, and (c) a matter of formulaic business logic. Here are some alternative perspectives to help you position your business and its solutions

Comfortable vs Safe

Amazon is putting the squeeze on digital content publishers, reminding us that it’s risky to let Big Tech be your middleman

Your Digital Self

We’re moving towards leaner, rougher, more authentic marketing materials, combined with more polished (and also more authentic) remote versions of ourselves

Renaissance

Andrew Keen and others have decried the massive power and privacy-grab of Big Tech, including in digital advertising. But maybe the pandemic will teach us we don’t need them as much as we think.

Prospecting

We accept the premise of learning through doing. But when it comes to marketing – learning what? There’s too much to learn. Here I explain why you should put prospecting on your learning shortlist.

Clarity

Make marketing less confusing to you by telling a story. Your story is the main character. Read on to see the role you and your products play.

Fatalism vs Pronoia

Schumpeter’s gale is blowing pretty hard and knocking many business models flat. Tech innovators can handle that but what about our customers?

Silly

How do you react when our culture starts to all of a sudden use Internet technology in a brand, new way?

Jedi Ideation Trick

If you put effort into your work, there’s something in it to salvage. But how to do so?

18 Months

How many times – and over what time period – does someone have to meet you before they’re comfortable with you?

Digital Ad Funnels Went on Sale

People are fond of saying that financial crises present opportunities. Here’s a small one I’m seeing.

Shared kitchens

When a recession is coupled with widespread changes in norms and behavior, marketing strategies will change too.

Cringing from home

Business pundits say a crisis a great business opportunity. Maybe. But careful using it as marketing opportunity.

True Laughs

How do we do a better job (than our septuagenarian politicians) at audio-visual marketing?

Digital Business

In retrospect, this week was all about Coronavirus and its impact on our businesses. Digital sales and marketing just got way more important.

How to Listen

COVID-19 or not, we’re all going remote and Internet-based. This post is about the invaluable art of listening to and seeing others on video conference calls.

Effort

Producing valuable marketing materials costs us money, effort, or both. But what does that effort look like?

Where to Map Your Business

Make your footer a large, thorough map of your entire business and marketing operations

Coronavirus

In the wake of coronavirus, I want to talk about two types of viruses that I think are at odds with one another. One attacks the immune system, the other attaches itself to human enthusiasm.

Groups vs Experts

Beware of marketing by committee. Instead, use an expert to edit marketing decisions, ideas, writing, and other creative work.

What’s in it for you?

I’m issuing a correction on how to create copy and UX for your homepage

Daily publications I subscribe to

Garbage in, garbage out, they say. And so on. I want to share with you the daily publishing influences that shaped and inspired this list.

Originality

How do you create an original, valuable product? By asking the right questions about who it’s for and the problem it solves.

How to write About page copy

This article synthensizes “About us” advice from Peter Drucker, Simon Sinek, David C Baker, Seth Godin, William Strunk Jr, Donald Miller, and Derek Sivers

Psychographic Positioning

As our world gets more complex more rapidly, is it time to deepen our “demographic” positioning with psychographics?

Psychographics and Addressable Market

It’s worth it to try to understand the size of your market. One approach is the addressable market theory, aka TOM, SAM, SOM. A nice compliment is psychographics

How to think about an editorial calendar

Your content marketing strategy should strike a balance between letting new people discover you and letting those already familiar with you deepen their relationship

Why us?

If someone asks you for a free trial, sample, pitch, or consulting, you can ask them another question, “Why us?”

What’s your dictionary?

We’re all lexicographers now. Everyone needs to write their own dictionary of the ideas that are most important to their business – and their marketing

Hot day at the beach in Scandinavia

In the future, most of us will perform at least some of our sales and marketing online and less and less in person. Can we exploit that fact?

What if you live to 150?

A content marketing strategy and a business strategy might look different. But in one respect they should be identical: lifespan.

Empathy, Curiosity & McKinsey

Without curiosity, your marketing lacks fresh ideas. So it’s a shame that McKinsey put the kibosh on the world’s most impactful curiosity test.

Challenging the Challenger Sale

Can you challenge your customer’s thinking on what they need to buy – while still building warm, empathetic rapport?

More Dolphin-Inspired Thinking

You hold tremendous quantities of familiar, business-related information in your mind. Is there value to looking at it in a new way?

Baby Dolphin

Most B2B marketing advice fails to recognize the economic value of (a) positioning, (b) the cultivation of expertise, and (c) content marketing. All three are continuous processes fueled by new information and ideas.

Make decks part of your digital presence

A deck confers several advantages that a document/report or website do not. It’s become the ideal format for your sales and marketing collateral – and the perfect compliment to your website.

Expertise-based Marketing

If marketing is about creating trust AND changing your tiny corner of the Universe, then we should cultivate expertise. I wouldn’t want a non expert trying to change my corner of the Universe.

Read the Manual

What does your business do? You get that question, right? What if you could answer it in an easy-to-consume (but detailed!) way by responding with just a link. 

Long term Happy New Years

I hope your marketing makes a difference for you this year – but also over the next 5 years.

Reader mailbag: Ideation Loop

A reader asks about ideation and I end up talking about doing research – and Graham Wallas

How express positioning as copy

It’s one thing to craft a positioning statement. But they usually read like cardboard tastes. So how do you express positioning in a way that’s effective and readable?

How to hack a positioning statement

Positioning doesn’t mean you have to be a purple cow, or go viral. Or occupy a market niche over the long-term. It means you let someone else define you

The fallacy of analytics

Why did I shut off analytics on my website and email newsletter? To focus on marketing metrics that matter

More on content marketing bridges

Building the “content marketing bridge” for your customers to find you: not comfortable, not easy, but safe (in the long term… if you do it right)

Frumpy Lumpy with a Broken Kazoo

A reader writes that his purpose is not to sell a skillset, but to create a bridge between where his clients are and where his clients’ customers are

How to design a content strategy

There’s so much bad advice on how to design a content marketing strategy. Here’s some fact-based advice: a case study of the popular chatbot product Drift

Write a letter

It’s easier to sell something specific than to sell the value of your business in general. Here’s a hack: write someone a letter about it

Messaging advice from George Orwell

Being as clear as possible in your marketing gives you the chance to think clearly about the value your business creates