The Dark Art of Marketing
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I did the impossible. I found a marketing book that doesn't suck.
Every marketing book I've read was some version of Simon Sinek "Start With Why" or Gary Vee "Post 4x/day" bullshit. Finally, I found one that doesn't put me to sleep or give me crippling anxiety.
The book is Alchemy by Rory Sutherland.
It was recommended to me by @BoredElonMusk. With nearly 2 million Twitter followers, I figured he might know a thing or two about marketing. On our podcast last week, I told him I'd never read a good marketing book and he recommended this one.
The book's author Rory Sutherland is an exec at Oglivy Advertising and preaches that humans aren't as logical as we like to think we are. Much of our biggest decisions come from our feelings. To influence people to buy, like, or subscribe, you need to make them feel a certain way.
Here's three of my favorite quotes and a few quick thoughts.
If BoredElonMusk was cheap, his profile picture would be a picture of Elon sitting looking bored. Instead, he has a trippy graphic which he also uses as a facial overlay on podcasts.
My newsletter was ok, but then I dropped some cash for the header image, Photoshop, and DALL-E 2 credits. I get a lot of compliments on the aesthetic of Cyber Patterns, but it's deeper than a "this looks good so I'll click subscribe" thing.
Investing time and money in aesthetics shows readers you care about your work and are willing to put your money where your mouth is. It's why, as Sutherland points out, using advertising flyers on higher-quality paper lead to higher sales.
If someone isn't willing to dedicate time and money to their newsletter, why should I read it? Do they even believe in themselves or what they're writing? You've got to spend money to make money.
I felt like the dumbest person in the world while working as a reporter at The Defiant.
I was an English major dropout interviewing Harvard comp-sci PhD founders about their companies. Fortunately, I learned a trick from Joe Rogan. Lean into your dumbness.
If someone was explaining something to me and it was beyond my comprehension, I'd say "Can you explain this to me like I'm 5 years old?" They'd laugh for a second. Then for 15 minutes, I'd get a free 1-on-1 lecture from a brilliant founder.
The trick here comes down to an Einstein quote. "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself." By asking a founder to explain their technology to me like I'm a 5-year-old, I challenge them to explain their tech as simply as possible.
I still use this ELI5 method in my ghostwriting work with VCs and founders. When I start investing in startups, this will be the first question I ask founders. If they stumble or start using fancy words, my money is off the table.
Most of us don't want faster planes. We want more comfortable, enjoyable plane rides.
To make Twitter 20% more profitable for its power users, this might take years of product development and trial and error. To make it 20% more enjoyable though, all they need to do is get rid of the bots and maybe improve the DM searchability.
Regarding Meta's big metaverse push, we don't need the fanciest VR goggles that track our eyes so we can make eye contact in the metaverse. We don't need any more technological moonshots. We need psychological moonshots. We need an addicting breakthrough social app to make it worthwhile to buy and use VR.
The same principle applies for creators. Here's a few scenarios:
When you're creating, don't worry about the fancy tech. Focus on making people feel things. Even if it's anger or disgust like Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain", it's better than apathy and indifference. Feelings sell, apathy is forever forgotten.