The Key Question of Marketing

My role at work recently changed, so I’m playing catch-up in learning about marketing. For most of my career I’ve been responsible for making videos, not deciding the content or how they are distributed. Now, as Video Director, I’m actively developing content and involved in conversations about delivery, and more importantly strategy. 

To that end, I’ve been finding as many books on Marketing as I can find. First up was Growth Hacker Marketingby Ryan Holiday. The growth hacker mindset looks for ways beyond buying billboards to spread the word. (Case in point: when Hotmail launched they included a small tagline at the bottom of each email, “Sent by Hotmail”. This led to exponential growth. 

The book that has really stood out to me was This is Marketing, by Seth Godin. Seth approaches marketing was a serving instead of getting mindset. He asks three basic questions:

  1. What change are you trying to make? (Non-voters to voters, non-donors to donors)
  2. What promise are you making? (What will the result of the change give people?)
  3. Who are we trying to change?

It’s that last question that provides the glue of Seth’s approach to marketing. Often marketing attempts focus on reaching “everyone”. But that’s like adding food coloring to the ocean; there won’t be any noticeable effect. But if you add that food coloring to a small kiddy pool, then you’ll see change. 

So whatever you do (write books or music, create products, provide a service), ask questions until you can get very, very specific on the people you are trying to reach. Then ask yourself what change you want to bring them.


This is an excerpt from Word & Leaf,
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