Don’t try to “Build Your Brand”, just help people


  • I think content marketing with the intention of “building brand recognition” is a little too nebulous, too vague. I think before you even start doing some content marketing, you have to figure our precisely what the brand wants to achieve.
  • For example, say you’re selling washing detergent. Writing a really good post on the history of washing detergent might be applauded for the execution. But what do your customers actually want? They want to know how they can wash their clothes better, faster, with less hassle.
  • “When asked why, respondents’ most popular answers were that it was good for brand building and long-term customer engagement – the jury was out on whether it helped acquire customers directly.”
  • You acquire customers directly by helping customers directly, in a way that’s aligned with the way your product is going to help them.

Referral Marketing FAQs


  • How to ensure referral program branding fits your band
  • How to write great emails asking for referrals
  • How to set up referral incentives
  • how to do top-of-mindedness (examples)
  • how to do referral reminders effectively
  • how to ask for referrals on social media
  • how to get your referral messaging right
    • value proposition
    • incentives
    • status not bribes
  • Examples of referral CTAs in navigation
  • the examples of good referral landing pages
  • the best examples of good referral emails
  • How to think about the whole referral sales funnel – ?
  • List of referral program assets and how to optimize them
    • product
    • incentives
    • CTAs
    • referral emails
  • how to help your customers identify referral opportunities
    • what is a referral opportunity
    • why aren’t you getting more referrals
    • advisor impact
    • post-purchase
    • after receiving the product
    • when friends mention having the problem
  • How to maximize customer referrals without a referral program
  • list of post-purchase popups
  • referral program in record time
  • top-of-mind
  • basic fraud protection

Make sharing effortless


1: Conspicuous consumption: Make using your product highly visible

  • Some products are more discoverable than others. They’re more visible. You notice them, and they stay on your mind. This can be a decisive factor in influencing how people think about these things.
  • “The smoothest viruses, like Hotmail, spread themselves. Just the act of using the product spreads the virus.” – Godin, Ideavirus
    • “Made to show, made to grow”- powered by buttons.
    • Powered by GrooveHQ.
    • “Sent from my iPhone.”
    • “Bumper Sticker Marketing” – ‘I’d rather be driving a macintosh’- taking someone’s private consumption decisions and giving them the opportunity to broadcast it as a part of their identity. I supported X on Kickstarter.
    • Red bottom shoes,
    • livestrong bracelets.
    • iPod made their earphones white, when most were black. Turned something into a status symbol. Louboutins red.
    • IFTTT
    • Hotmail tagline

2: Keep it accessible: Help sharers remember that they can share

  • Capitalizing on triggers. Jonah Berger wrote about this in his book Contagious, talking about Hump Day and Rebecca Black’s Friday. There are certain recurring triggers that people encounter, and if you peg something to one of those triggers, you make it likelier that people will remember your idea- and share it.
  • Keep being seen (retargeting?)

3: Recommend who to share with: Make it easy to spot a good referral opportunity

  • A study on referrals by Advisor Impact.The asked clients how their service providers could help them make more referrals. Overwhelmingly, the answer was to help clients understand how they could help their friends and spot a good referral opportunity. <Lincoln murphy article> <YesGraph mention>

4: Timing is everything- understand the behavior of your audience/customer and ask for the share at the optimum moment.

  • Rebecca Black’s Friday.

5: Facilitate Sharing: If people want to share, make it easy for them to

  • Good default sharing messages. See: Battle For The Net. (link) Help people put into words what they’re thinking/feeling. Upworthy is excellent at doing this with their headlines. (link) We’ll talk more about this in a later chapter. Pushbullet’s notification for Whatsapp.
  • Offer incentives. These don’t necessarily need to be monetary. Make it a game, or give people some sort of social reward. World of Warcraft gives people in-game mounts as rewards for recruiting their friends. We’ll talk about this more in later chapters.
  • Appropriate sharing buttons/cues. The important thing is to make these appropriate and relevant, rather than simply spamming them in every piece of digital real estate you have.
  • Don’t waste too much time optimizing this endlessly, just do the 20% of the things that reduce 80% of the friction. This is more of an overall approach than an afterthought. Good default sharing message, appropriately sharing buttons. Choose the right channels/mediums. You’re better off focusing the bulk of your efforts on 1 and 2.
  • “How easy is it for an end user to spread this particular ideavirus? Can I click one button or mention some magic phrase, or do I have to go through hoops and risk embarrassment to tell someone about it? For example, it’s pretty easy to talk about your hairdresser. Someone tells you you’ve got a great haircut, and you say, “Yeah, I went to Bob at Bumble & Bumble.” On the other hand, spreading the word about your reflexology therapist is pretty tricky. You’re not sure when to bring it up, and you really don’t have words to describe it.” – Godin

3: “The Medium Is The Message”- understand how channels work + consider the Lang Leav effect. #comment About what the best medium is to target the most influential people

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  • Word-of-mouth spreads across communication channels.  If you choose the right people, you can figure out what the best channels are. Your choice of channel should follow from your choice of influencers to target. If they’re on Reddit, you go on Reddit. Etc. Be Wow-centric and Person-centric rather that channel-centric.
  • MEDIUM- “In order to move, an idea has to be encapsulated in a medium. It could be a picture, a phrase, a written article, a movie, even a mathematical formula (e=mc2). The Medium used for transmitting the ideavirus determines how smooth it is as well as the velocity of its growth.” – Godin
  • Lang Leav is an incredibly popular poet. Why? She posts really simple, straightforward poems online, and those poems get shared a lot. She’s essentially a poet who writes “straight-to-Tumblr” or “straight-to-Instagram”. And her audience loves it, sharing it, reposting it, @-mentioning their friends. The simplicity of her work is probably quite critical to its popularity.
  • The takeaway here is- when you find out where your target audience hangs out, adapt your content to take full advantage of the medium that they use. Design with the medium in mind, so that it gets shared better.
  • <add a note about Instagram cross posting- leverage other people’s followers?>

Work with influencers


1: Influencer Marketing: Identify the most influential/significant people in your niche. Beats at Olympics

  • When we think about identifying influential people, we tend to think about celebrities. The Oscar Selfie by Ellen Degeneres might be the most famous instance in recent times.
  • Red Bull reaches out to musicians, to artists. It hosts events free-of-charge, without expecting anything in return. As a result, it earns brand authority. This takes conviction and confidence to pull off.
  • Who are the most influential people in your niche? Only you can answer that question. If you don’t know the answer to that, it might not be the right niche for you.  But as a general rule, the Internet is your friend. Dive into the blogs, forums, writing. Google the niche. Search for people on Twitter, Reddit, etc. Be systematic, record your findings.
  • What do you do once you know who those people are?

Work with the press


PR/Press: Work backwards from the share- identify the relevant motivation, and emphasize out. Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge. #comment About why the most influential people would be motivated to share (PR people looking for a scoop, etc)

  • The Ice Bucket Challenge swept across the world in mid-2014, raising millions of dollars and even more attention and understanding for ALS.
  • (Why are they sharing? Who are they sharing it with? What’s the benefit they experience from sharing, and how do you emphasize that, add more to that?)
  • This is especially great when you’re working with journalists, people who run newsletters, etc. Figure out their job and do it for them.
  • At a superficial level, understanding journalists and the press is somewhat straightforward. They have criteria and deadlines to meet, and they’ll be very thankful if you can help them to do their job. In Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of A Media Manipulator, Ryan Holiday describes how he posed as an expert on several topics and had false facts published.
  • But if you want to really build and establish a powerful brand, you’re probably going to have to base it on facts. This can take a long time- you need to become a thought leader who truly understands the problem, the community, etc. >

Tell Stories


Story: 3. Wow Them With Great Story: Contour lost to GoPro because of GoPro’s superior storytelling

  • Made to stick: challenge / connection / creativity.
  • “We lost to a company that built a much stronger brand, allowing its customers to emotionally connect with it. For years, our competitor GoPro’s insanely focused approach on inspiring consumers went well beyond the technical performance and functional specs of its cameras, enabling them to create a movement rivaled by few companies in the world.”
  • In <year>, Marc Barros founded Contour- a hardware startup that was dedicated to helping people film their experiences from their helmets. Contour had good reviews, but it ultimately lost out to GoPro, which has the much stronger brand. 
  • Examples of brand stories
  • Coke has a better story than Pepsi. Coke colonized Christmas, sharing, America. Harley Davidson is all about story. Pebble is about story.
  • Storytelling isn’t just about fluff or some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Your positioning/messaging should help these people quickly, clearly understand how they ought to use your product, and why they ought to use your product. A strong story helps the customer clarify what they want.
  • Guide to storytelling
  • 24 examples of storytelling in marketing