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Marketing, Strategy and Awesomeness

The Mclaren F1 LM doesn’t have a radio or audio system.  It sells for over $4 million.

Who would pay that much for a car that doesn’t have a radio?

A radio isn’t important for someone looking to buy a super car – lighter weight, acceleration, speed and looking awesome is what matters.

Know what’s most important to your customer.




The story below is from the book at the top of my recommendations list – This is Earl Nightingale. Pick it up if you can find it and afford it (unfortunately it’s out of print and currently over $400 on Amazon.)

“A young woman pianist once gave a performance to a large group of women. Afterward, a woman approached her and told her she’d ‘give anything to play like you do.’

The pianist looked up from the keys and said ‘Oh no you wouldn’t!’

As you can imagine a hush fell over the group and the woman squirmed with embarrassment. Again she repeated, ‘I would, too, give anything to play the piano as you do.’

The pianist shook her head, ‘No, you wouldn’t.. If you would, you could play as well as I do, possibly better, possibly a little worse. You’d give anything to play as I do except time… except the one thing it takes. You wouldn’t sit and practice, hour after hour, day after day, year after year.’ Then she smiled brightly, ‘I’m not criticizing. I’m just telling you that when you say you’d give anything to play as I do, you really don’t mean it. You really don’t mean it at all.’

People are forever saying ‘I’d give anything…’ but the fact remains that they don’t, they give very little, often nothing, to do the things they say they would give anything to do..”

First off, what a cold bi#ch.

But, it’s true.  The lesson here is that we could achieve what we say we wanted – if we wanted it badly enough to put in the effort.  But often, we don’t want things badly enough to make the necessary sacrifices.  What have you been claiming you want but have done nothing to accomplish it?

Secondly, there’s an important human behavior fact here for marketing and product folks to remember: People don’t always want what they say they want or buy what they say they’d buy.


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It took 2 years for the iPhone to get the ability to ‘cut and paste.’ The point is that you can always add features and functionality later – the most important thing is to get your work in front of your customers or audience asap.

My app has 45 reviews, all but 2 of them are 5 stars.

But the app is super ghetto. You can’t even view horizontal photos, it just crops in on them. Scrolling between photos isnt smooth. You can’t view videos at all. It doesn’t work on iPad.

I could have spent a few more months making it absolutely perfect, but chances are other changes and delays would have come up and it would be 6 months later and I still wouldn’t have shipped anything.



The following is a collection of notes I took while reading “Age of Propoganda.”  If you enjoyed  Influence you’ll love this book.


– Bundle pricing: 2 items for $1 instead of 50 cents each often increases perceived value

– Panhandling: found 69% more people willing to give money when asked for 17 or 37 cents vs a quarter or just some change

– Charity fundraising: saying even a penny will help increased donations and didn’t reduce the size of the donation

– wait that’s not all.  cupcake sale – tested 75 cent cupcake PLUS 2 cookie bonus vs. bundling cupcake and cookies together at the start. sales double with the bonus cookie method.  This is why you see infomercials keep adding on items and bonuses.


– No matter how irrationally we act we try to appear reasonable to ourselves and others

– We spend our whole lives trying to convince ourselves that our lives are not absurd.  Marketers create messages and products that help us achieve this aim. – Camus

– Rationalization trap: intentionally arouse feelings of dissonance by threatening self esteem, shame, inadequacy. Next the propagandist offers their solution, one way of reducing the dissonance

Continue Reading

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Save $30 on my full video training, How to Make Your First App.  Available through Udemy

Note: This is a walk-through of my experience creating my first iPhone app by hiring a developer.  My goal is to show you how to make an app as well.  It’s called Photo Date and allows you to see the date your iPhone photos were taken. Download it here, its free.

Look at this beautiful behemoth

It seems like everyone wants to learn how to make an app, but few will follow through and actually do it.  After reading this, I hope you are motivated to get off the sidelines and launch something.

I knew that mobile was going to be a huge deal 9 years ago when I bought my first brick of a smartphone. Pre-iPhone days it ran windows mobile, had a dreaded stylus and even gave me an impressive bulge in my pants.

Making an app on my own has been on my geek bucket list for a couple of years, but I never got around to it until last month when I went from idea to app store in less than 3 weeks.

How to Make an App

Step 1: Break through your mental barriers

One of the main things that held me back was thinking that I needed the perfect, epic idea for an app. I’d finally think that I had it, only to find something similar already existing.

I only realized the lunacy of this mindset when I started to recognize it in other people. I’ve had dozens of people tell me about their super complex, mind blowing app idea – and now I just smile and nod, listening to them knowing the whole time that it is never going to see the light of day.

So that’s why I decided to do something incredibly simple for my first app. Why risk thousands of dollars on a large scale app project when I could start small and easy and gather learnings before trying to take down Angry Birds.

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Ramit SethiA few weeks ago, I went to a brunch with one of my favorite bloggers and authors – Ramit Sethi.

It had been one of my goals for a few months to meet him so when the opportunity came up I jumped at it.

His posts and videos have directly contributed to my earning thousands of dollars so I knew meeting him in person would be insanely valuable.

It’s all your fault

While we were eating, he told a story about buying clothes online from a store that he spends a lot of money with. They ended up not fitting correctly, so he went to one of their locations to take them back.

It being past the return date, the person working wouldn’t give his money back. He asked for the shirts to be tailored so that they would fit, but the lady said it would cost $65 per jacket. This made him really pissed, since he thought they should know that they should tailor the jackets for free, since he has been a very good customer for them.

[click to continue…]


I was watching The Dark Knight Rises the other day.  And while I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t live up to The Dark Knight, there was one scene that really grabbed me.

A scene that perfectly illustrates perseverance and risk taking.

Bane has thrown Batman in the pit prison in the middle of the desert. Batman over and over ties the rope around his waist, scales the wall of the pit, only to fall at the same, impossible leap.

It’s only when he unties the rope, when he is faced to either make the jump or die, that he completes the huge leap and escapes.

When’s the last time you took a risk?

A risk that changed the course of your life?

Most people spend their lives avoiding risk, playing it safe.  The #1 goal of any living thing is to maintain it’s existence.  It’s deeply hard wired in us to not take chances.

How long have you been thinking of moving to that city?  How long have you been thinking of quitting your job?  How long have you wanted to open that restaurant?

Probably a long time.

So why haven’t you?

[click to continue…]


*disclaimer – no does in fact mean no in intimate situations

In Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill tells the story of a successful insurance salesmen and how he accounted his success to the fact that the better portion of all sales he made, were made after people had told him “NO.

When was the last time you’ve pushed back after hearing a no?

Most people have the attitude that if you hear no then you shouldn’t keep trying and should move on.

But rarely do we test that assumption to see what would happen if we stopped taking no for an answer so easily.

Seriously, think to the last time (in a professional setting) that you were told no.

Maybe you were in a salary negotiation and your boss said you weren’t getting a raise this year.

I bet you just accepted it.

Maybe you were pursuing a big partnership but were told no.

You probably said ok and moved on to the next deal.

This is not how to get anything you want.

Does this sound familiar?

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My Freshmen year of college, my little-boy fantasy and slacker dream all came true at once when I took an English class that studied comic books and graphic novels.

Taken mainly as a way to lighten my workload, I was surprised to learn a ton about writing and storytelling.

One of the lessons that stuck with me was how important the space between frames are to the story.

And how the best stories and storytellers used the necessary gap between frames as a way to further the story and allow the viewers imagination to fill in the scene.

In comics, this is called closure and can be described as the “phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole.”  Just like marketing campaigns, comics require the viewer to experience one thing and then fill in the gaps between the next.

This doesn’t just go for comics but all forms of storytelling.  Like Colson Whitehead says in the NYT, “What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences.”

And since marketing is about telling stories the same principles apply.

Which is why I loved this post by Seth Godin – The Theater of the mind where he says, “The most effective marketing story isn’t the one you tell to someone in your audience, it’s the one the person tells himself.”

Too often advertisers and marketers are focused on crafting the story and spreading it out into the world without thinking about how the individual will absorb it and internalize it and think about it once the link is clicked or the page turned or the channel flipped.

Most marketers are afraid to let their audience fill in the gaps because they are short on time and feel that they must have the messaged flashed in front of them 7 times before they’ll act.

Competing for shorter and shorter attention spans, marketers turn away from this and produce more and more direct messages that lack internal resonance.

But what we forget is that the messages that pique our curiosity and stay with us for longer than 3 seconds are the ones that leave room for interpretation.

What if instead of seeking to simply minimize the gap between message A and message B, you took a note from your favorite comics and instead allowed your viewer to fill in the gap themselves?



small business marketing fishbowlSo the other day I was in line at my favorite sandwich shop trying to decide if I wanted the meatball or the turkey.

Finally I got up to the register and saw a little bowl with a ghetto sign that said ‘Drop in your business card to win a free lunch’

Having just payed $10.50 for a sandwich I was pumped at the possibility of getting one for free so I pulled a fresh card out of my wallet and tossed it in.

And then I. never. heard. anything.

They never emailed me and said “Hey – you didn’t win but here’s a special coupon for 10% off.”

They never even followed up about new hours, or new additions to the menu.

I don’t know what they do with all of the business cards, but I’m imagining a dumpster out back full of them.

Why are these businesses THROWING AWAY the contact information of PAYING customers.  Customers that they could easily be bringing back more often and making more money? [click to continue…]

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