Articles on Digital Entrepreneurship, Product Design, and Sales and Marketing Strategy

How Scarcity Works

What if you could paralyze the minds of the people visiting your website – so they do your bidding?

Gut-Punch Messaging

Your messaging has to punch in the gut, not the hip bone, to have power

How to Use Business Books

Business books contain wisdom and perspective, but sometimes it’s hidden. To solve this problem, start thinking about business spectrums

The Creative Business Model

The expertise business model delivers three kinds of work: strategic advice, implementation work, and creative work

How to Use Buzzwords

Buzzword-speak is mockable – yet necessary. Learn to master it in your thinking, writing and speaking

Lipsticking the Pig

Marketing is a way to work on both your product and your business model

Find Pygmalions

How do you make your customers more successful?

Why a Second Opinion?

The most important business decisions deserve a second opinion

Why I Love Trivial Questions

Expertise yardstick: can you elaborate entertainingly in response to trivial questions about your area of expertise?

How to Prove a Solution

To prove you have a solution, you must be able to explain it simply

How to Listen to Amateurs

Beware of overlooking advice from amateurs, also-rans, so-called failures, or those who score less than others

Flow State vs Passion

Instead of finding your passion – learn how to consistently cultivate a flow state

Just-right Pricing

How to use the ProfitWell pricing interview matrix to set a good price for productized services

True Partnerships

Niche B2B expertise businesses have the opportunity to truly partner with clients, by taking on financial risks

Your Past, Present, and Future

Niche consulting firms have to work on tomorrow’s business as well as today’s. In doing so, you can also help prior versions of yourself

How to Create Messaging

Use a wireframing tool to create messaging; messaging is partly UX design.

Customer Success

Like software products, consulting products need “customer success” treatment

Watch Your Tone

Is your instinctive tone of voice the one that will make your life easiest?

Conversion vs Churn

Be careful of over-emphasizing conversion. There’s a balancing act with Churn

The Best CRM for You

For a lean, expertise-drive B2B business, consider using a lightweight cloud spreadsheets as your CRM

How to Infotain

Content marketing needs to speak truth – tell your audience to stop doing things the wrong way. How? By infotaining

Templatizing Expertise

Tech startups competing with GSuite have billions in valuations because they package their expertise into template libraries

Cheetos or Cheetahs?

Use the success of your business to create something apart from it that represents your business well

Redesign State of Mind

Websites are the most valuable business asset for 80% of businesses. You should always be redesigning your website.

Returns & Raving Fans

What can independent B2B businesses learn from Amazon about keeping customers coming back?

Cheap Tricks in Copywriting

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

Found in Translation

The eternal challenge is to translate your expertise into copywriting

How to Tell Secrets

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

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?

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 Testing

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 a Brand

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

Prospecting 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

Independent 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.

How to Get 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?

Is Silly Marketing Bad?

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?

The Business of 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.

How to Apply 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.

You-Focused Copywriting?

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

Expertise-based Content Marketing

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

A compelling argument for developing the skill of ideation lies in the 1000 Little Ideas vs 1 Big Idea 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

Upside Down Homepage UX

Turn the page upside down. Header on the bottom. Learn how this approach can improve conversions with hurting your brand integrity

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

Mechanics of consultative selling

In the 2020’s, all successful expertise consultants will ply their trade from an interactive broadcast studio; this is the essential communications conditions for a consultive selling mindset to flourish. Is your studio ready?

Hybrid Expertise: Design, Technology, Marketing

What’s the difference, between the difference, between a UX consultancy, a digital ad agency, and a tech consulting firm?  In my opinion, less than we think. All digital services firms should offer a hybrid mix of creative, technological, and marketing expertise.

The Ethics of Psychodynamic Marketing

Harry Browne’s definition of profit is selling happiness. in his book Secret of Selling Anything, he explores how the art of persuasion need not be a “dark art”

The Cannabis SEO Principle

Cannabis SEO consultants are in high demand all of a sudden. Why? Because you can’t advertise the stuff, so organic is the path

Greatest Advertisement of All Time?

Impossible but interesting question and mental exercise. This article reviews three advertisements singled out by David Ogilvy, including a “B2B ad” written by Raymond Rubicam

What is Brand Messaging, Anyway?

A brand used to be hot piece of metal you jab into a living cow’s hide. But what about the words that surrounded it?

David Ogilvy’s Secret Weapon

David Ogilvy’s secret was a book about direct response marketing called “Tested Advertising Methods”, by John Caples. Make Ogilvy’s secrets your own

Digital marketing is a sales job

Marketing is selling. We divide the work of the so-called marketer and the salesperson into two for logistical reasons, not functional reasons.

Writing about your work

I interned at a publishing company in New Orleans and that made me ask myself: what’s the value of writing about your work– does it make you think differently about it?

How to budget planning into digital projects

A collection of thoughts on project planning and especially the importance of budgeting the right amount of planning time into projects. #CatastropheAversion

How to get marketing ideas

In the book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, author James Webb Young lays out an ideation method that is “as definite a process as the production of Fords.”

Definición de la estrategia digital

La definición autorizada de la estrategia digital. Si su estrategia de crecimiento no tiene cada una de estas seis cualidades clave, es probable que falle