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The easy way to figure out the problem is to try the treatment. If the treatment works, you probably had the problem the treatment was there to fix.

But that’s dangerous, expensive and time consuming.

It’s a lousy way to consult, to coach or to do medicine.

Smart diagnosis leads to more commitment when the treatment is offered.

It’s more difficult, but it might be worth the effort. We look for professionals who can use effort and experience to be able to diagnose something without poking around, treating things in the dark.


PS tomorrow is the US celebration of Thanksgiving. As always, we’re delighted to share The Thanksgiving Reader, a free family tradition that’s been used by more than 100,000 people to date. I hope you and your family will give it a try this year.

Have a happy and healthy one, no matter where you live.

Avoiding the curse of the low-hanging fruit

A new organization launches and finds excited and willing customers.

These are the early adopters. The nerds. The people who knew they had a problem. These are the easy sales, the folks who will wait in line.

And then the curse can set in.

You will certainly exhaust this group. Too many competitors are seeking them, and you’re running out of places to look.

At this point, you can make the choice to move to a new town or a new submarket and begin again, finding more geeks who can’t wait for what you’ve got.

And if you can keep it up, you can do great as the ‘new one’.

But for many, this is how you die in the chasm.

Sooner or later, you’re going to run out of the early adopters. Probably sooner. Suddenly, your cost per customer goes way up. Suddenly, you’ve shifted from keeping up with demand to running on fumes.

That’s because you ran around too much. You spread the core market too thin and never did the hard work of figuring out how to change the culture, which was your goal all along.

I’ve seen this firsthand with social entrepreneurs. They bring an innovation to a village, sell it (a clean bathroom or a solar lantern or a new, better sort of seed) and then, when the easy sales are done, move on to the next village, figuring that it’ll all work out.

There are two alternatives:

  1. acknowledge that you are in the business of serving the early adopters. Make something for them and then, when it fades, make something else for them.
  2. acknowledge that you are trying to reach for more, to transform the market.
    If that’s the case, don’t leave the first village.
     Stick around and stick around and stick around. Create enough energy and value that your core customers can’t help but spread the word. Not only spread the word, but insist that their peers come along.

The best way to move beyond the low-hanging fruit is to discipline yourself to not run to the next tree. Get a ladder instead.

Signal to noise ratio

It’s almost impossible to have a substantive conversation at a soccer match. It’s too loud. Too much noise.

It’s exhausting to listen to some politicians speak, because there’s nothing being said. Not enough signal.

Signal to noise ratio is the measure of how much cruft we have to work through to get to the heart of the message.

The discussion to have when your message isn’t getting out is: Is the world too noisy, or is our signal too weak?

The internet is the noisiest communication medium ever developed at scale. And often, it has vanishingly small signal as well.

When you give everyone a microphone, they might surprise you by using it, even if they don’t have much to add.

One solution is to find a quiet space when you have something to say. Now (in this loud place, filled with spam) might not be as good as later, in a setting you’ve earned, saying something you care about, to people who are listening.

Cut down your noise, improve your signal.


PS updates on This is Marketing, including news about our launch party, can be found here.

The digital divide is being flipped

A generation ago, there was a real worry: privileged parents, those with time, education and money, were giving their kids access to the tools of the net while other kids were missing out on the wealth of interactions and information available online. The fear was that this gap would further magnify differences in opportunity.

Today, as digital tools get cheaper and more widespread, a new gap is appearing:

If a parent uses a tablet or a smartphone as a babysitter, it’s a lot easier to get a kid to sit still. As a result, parents who are busy, distracted or can’t afford to spend as much 1:1 time as they’d like are unknowingly encouraging their kids to become digital zombies, with a constant need for stimulation, who are being manipulated by digital overlords to click and click some more.

If a kid can’t read, it’s not clear he should be surfing the web, watching TV or playing a videogame for hours a day.

Boredom, daydreaming, a good book, building in three dimensions, interactivity with other humans–these are precious skills, skills that are being denied kids that are simply given a plate of chicken fingers and a tablet instead.

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken”

I don’t agree with Oscar Wilde on this one.

In fact, almost no one else is taken. You definitely can’t (and shouldn’t) be someone who already exists, but the number of slots left is infinite.

Each of us can work to become the person we seek to be. A better version of the person we are right now.

Doing work we’re proud of for people we care about.

Two kinds of careening

A Toyota Prius passed me at 100 miles an hour. I didn’t know a Prius could even go that fast. The driver was passing on the right, using the breakdown lane, zigging and zagging across traffic. If a car could careen, he was.

The problem with this sort of fast passage is that there’s no room for error. One mistake, one failure, and you’re out.

The other sort of rambunctious, risky forward motion is very different.

This is the work we do when we’re out on a limb with a new idea. When we’re sharing ideas that feel personal or important. This is the work of practical empathy, and most of all, of acting ‘as if’ before we’re sure.

The thing is–even though this might feel as risky as driving down the Saw Mill River Parkway at 100 miles an hour, it’s actually the safest work you can do. If you fail while trying to help, you’ll get another chance. And then another.

Unlimited chances.


Thanks to everyone who already made it a bestseller. So many people went to the site Tuesday, we broke Amazon’s checkout algorithm for several hours–I’m apologizing on their behalf if it’s been a hassle. I appreciate your persistence.

You can find all the ways to buy it here. (Along with a free excerpt and some reviews).

This is Marketing is about modern marketing, the post-advertising, post-spam sort of marketing that we can be proud of.

The book’s ideas are relevant to organizations big and small, non-profits, politicians, and freelancers too.

Here are some of the ideas in the book:

  • People like us do things like this
  • Work that matters for people who care
  • Make things better, make better things
  • Serve the smallest viable audience
  • Who eats lunch first?
  • This might not work
  • When in doubt, look for the fear
  • Positioning is done as a service for our customers
  • Marketers create change. No change, no marketing.
  • If you’re going to do all this work, might as well do something you’re proud of
  • Some people measure affiliation, others seek to engage with the story of dominance
  • How leaky is your funnel?
  • Why will someone enroll to go on this journey?
  • Anticipated, personal and relevant messages always do better than the other kind
  • The network effect is the ratchet that builds projects that grow
  • It’s not your tribe, but you can lead them for a while
  • Are you a direct marketer? What do you measure?
  • What’s it for? Who’s it for?
  • Create and relieve tension
  • Everything we do is a flag, and every flag tells a story
  • Will they miss you when you’re gone?

We’re doing a Facebook Live today from 11:45 to 12:15 Eastern time. I’ll be answering your questions about the ideas in the book.

I’ve also done a ton of podcasts in preparation for the launch. You can find the complete list here.

Here are some of the most recent: Tim FerrissRyan Hawk, Behind the BrandKirby HassemanMarketing Today, In the Arena, Marketing Week, Marketing Speak, The Marketing Book Podcast,Marketing Over Coffee, Larry Weeks, David Meerman Scott, User Defenders, Eat Sleep WorkAdrian SwinscoeBoston ContentBill Carmody, The Copywriter ClubEscape the Rat Race1% Better, MarieTV , Chase Jarvis (both below), Duct Tape Marketing,  The Remarkable Leadership PodcastThe Future of Work. (more to come, updated here).




PS if you get a copy in the next week or so, you can join our digital launch party, with videos, Q&As, and best of all, peer to peer interaction. The code to join in is on page 260 (or at the end of the Kindle ebook). If you have the audiobook, look for a special link on the sign up page. Sign up here.


And last, here’s a link to my latest episode of Akimbo, which has a cogent summary of what this is all about.

One by one, the urgent goes away

Those emergencies from a year ago (and a month ago), they’re gone.

Either they were solved, or they became things to live with. But emergencies don’t last. They fade.

Knowing that, knowing that you will outlast them, every single one of them, does it make it easier to see the problem, not the panic?

The magic of a book launch

Today is launch day for my new book. Thanks to fast-clicking readers and alumni, it’s already a bestseller. You can check out some of the advance reviews. And the Financial Times picked it one of November’s books of the month. And 800CEOREAD just long listed it as one of the best marketing books of the year…

Lots of cool surprises in this post, just for you and my other favorite blog readers…

For the first time, we’re hosting an online launch party. If you grab a copy in the next two weeks, we’d love to have you join us.

The launch party will feature exclusive videos from me expanding on ideas in the book, an ongoing Q&A session and most of all, a chance to connect with thousands of other alumni of our online seminar and the purchasers of the book as well. You’ll find a cohort of fascinating and generous people there, and my hope is that if you’re an eager contributor to the party, you’ll find that it’s even worth more than the cost of the book itself.

If you’re an early adopter, the kind of person who goes first, you’re our kind of person. Join the launch party to meet more people like us. If you get a copy in the next week or so, you can join in. Sign up here.

The launch party is free to join for readers. Once you buy a copy of the book, you’ll find a code on the bottom of page 260 (or in the Kindle edition, at the end of the acknowledgments) that will get you into the Party. If you’re listening on audio, use the link at the bottom of the page.

One more thing…

Along the way, we’ve created:

An action figure, a milk carton, a cereal box, not one but two books that each weighed 17 pounds, a wooden boxed set, a letterpress poster and many more–and each sold out. All created at breakeven, all for fun, all for the true fans. Your chance to have something that almost no one else does.

And the new one is fun indeed:

Find out more about the collectible here. [ALL GONE, SORRY]

There are only 2,000 of them in the warehouse, and we’re not going to make any more. I hope you’ll check it out before they’re all gone. There are 19 different covers packed in four different sets of 8… see if you can collect them all.

And what will you do with those 7 extra books, the ones that come with a limited-edition custom cover?

I’m hoping you’ll share them.

You might share them with co-workers because you know that if you can all get on the same page, your marketing will work better and you’ll be more likely to be able to do work you’re proud of.

You could share them with non-profit leaders or political leaders, because you want their work to spread.

And perhaps you’ll share them with your students, your friends or those you admire, because now’s the best time to make a ruckus.

Person to person, horizontally.

Making the covers and the custom box and the rest of it was thrilling, and I can’t thank you enough for letting us do this work. Highlights from the book in tomorrow’s post…

The magnetic generosity of the network effect

If you share a pizza with a large crowd, no one will be very satisfied.

But if you share an idea with a group, it creates cultural impact and becomes more valuable as it spreads, not less.

Most of the time, we adopt the scarcity model of pizza. “I don’t have that much, and if I share it with you, I won’t have any left…”

But in fact, the useful parts of our life are better characterized as, “If I share it with you, we’ll both have it.”

An idea shared is more powerful than one that’s hidden. A technology standard outperforms a proprietary one. A community is stronger than divided individuals ever could be.

When you give away your work by building the network, you’re not giving it away at all.

You’re building trust, authority and a positive cycle of better.

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