Articles on Marketing, Technology, and Ideation

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 See

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

Now you no longer have to read Peter Drucker, Simon Sinek, David C Baker, Seth Godin, William Strunk Jr, Donald Miller, and Derek Sivers in order to write a compelling About page. Just read this post 🙂

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?

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

How to design a creative brief

The creative brief was invented by ad agencies but it can be used for any kind of project work. The key rule: it’s not a specs doc, it’s an ideation tool

Impostering

When you put your name and your marketing behind your new type of solution.. product, content, service… do you feel like an imposter? Maybe you should

How do you give something away

In theory this newsletter’s per diem is one little-but-worthy idea. Hard to pick just one idea when you’re on a “Godin-bender”, because he says things like: “if you think people are paying you for your secrets, you’re crazy”.

The big problem

The US and the global economy are dominated by a handful of companies with ever increasing advantages. If you are somewhere between 1 and 100 FTE’s, this is a problem

Lead pool ideation

In which “lead pool” does your ideal customer exist? The one you imagine by mashing together known lead pools until inspiration hits

Name the problem

A trigger bundles together your problem and a solution to it, and it does so *just* for you. Learn the difference between a compact trigger and a deep trigger – and why it matters for your business

Idea board

A marketing campaign runs on good ideas. An idea board is a pretty useful place to incubate emotions, research, and other marketing idea building blocks

One Little Idea – Mirroring

When you get stuck replying to an email, use the mirroring technique. And when you get stuck writing anything, just reply

How to Do a Brainstorming Meeting

Meetings have been known to temporarily destroy your soul, even brainstorming meetings. Here’s a solution

You’re the CMO Now

Marketing has become too cross-disciplinary for one role. If you are a leader in your business, you’re the CMO

A Little Idea

One Little Idea: periods are harsh. And other reasons we don’t use them in copywriting

1000 Little Ideas

The most compelling arguement for developing the skill that is ideation lies in the 1000 Little vs 1 Big paradigm

Pricing Value with Ideation

Pricing is more complex than we think. So what happens when you apply ideation to it

Making the Complex Simple

^ is the worst slogan possible. The worst headline possible. The worst thing to say and the worst thing to think. But why?

Practical Slogan Ideation Advice

A miniature guide to writing a slogan – along with an illustration of why it matters for small creative tech firms

Ideating the Perfect Slogan

It’s one thing to “think up something’ and another ideate it, whereby some degree of mind control is exerted

Group vs Individual Ideation

In marketing technology solutions, at least, valuable ideas come from individual labor, more so than a group

What is ideation?

Ideation isn’t coming up with ideas. Because sention beings do that by default. It’s a method for generating economically valuable ideas at scale.

Choosing What To Think About

This is relevant to Ideation. Critical thinking is not how to think but what to think, or more to the point – how to choose what to think about.

Get More Visitors – But Why?

Why do you want more visitors/likes/shares/transactions. Do you need 8,000 before you die or you go to hell?

Designing a Mastermind Group

Benjamin Franklin invented the concept of the mastermind group with such artistry and panache that we must look back to see what we can learn

Training and Software

Whether your software requires training or not, design training into your solution. Make it part of the product.

Think Different, a Case Study

Areal-life example of thinking different: using Google Slides as a website CMS… h/t Dan Oshinksy

Sample size of 30 in Market Research

If you ever took statistics, there’s one number you should remember. 30. Why is that? (I actually don’t know… do you?)

A Brand Messaging Formula/Non-Formula

There is no formula to writing brand YOUR messaging. There are only other people’s formulas – here’s what you can learn from them

Can you “write” SEO?

SEO is a market intelligence process that helps you get into the minds of the people who can help. Here’s how to turn that in to words

Introducing yourself

A structured approach to introducing yourself like a marketer would introduce a product

Art Marketing

Most “artists statements” are absolute garbage. They are no more artful than a dumpster fire. If you’re an artist, please read this article before you cause more cringe

Business at first sight

When is first sight? It’s your HOMEPAGE, of course. Here’s how to use to make a good first impression

Business Philosophy

“everything around you, that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you”

Email marketing at work in 6 steps

In email marketing getting the recipient to take action is the whole point. So here’s your opportunity to practice email marketing at work. Use these 6 steps to practice asking for something