Why did we decide to write an article about marketing principles?
Because we took a look at the top results for “marketing principles” on Google and thought someone needed to do better justice to the topic.
If you’ve studied marketing before, you’ve heard of concepts like:
- The 4 P’s
- Unique selling proposition
- S.W.O.T. analysis
The list of dry marketing terms and concepts is endless.
And when it comes to marketing principles, you really want to know what marketing rules you should follow in order to move the needle for your business.
You don’t need a fancy business plan. You need revenue. Powerpoint presentations and boring marketing conferences aren’t going to help you build a brand, develop an audience, and find more customers who want to buy what you have to offer.
The #1 Marketing Principle You Must Follow to Successfully Grow Your Business
Take a look at this google search for “marketing advice”:
There are nearly a billion results.
There’s no shortage of marketing advice out there. And a lot of it works.
You know what definitely won’t work?
Sitting on your hands…
Reading blog post after blog post about marketing tips and implementing none of them…
Telling yourself next week, next month or next year will finally be the time when you invest in marketing…
Execution trumps creativity every time. You can have the most creative marketing ideas in the world, but if you don’t see them through, who cares?
I don’t know you personally, but I’m guessing you’re either a business owner, marketing employee, as aspiring to do one of the above. You think about improving your marketing or hiring a smart agency to do it, but you sit on the fence and procrastinate.
Why? Because you’re afraid.
Afraid of taking risks.
Afraid of wasting time and money.
Or afraid of all the above combined.
If you want to succeed in marketing, or business in general, you have to understand that fortune favors the bold. You have to invest time, money, or both to take your marketing to the next level.
There’s more competition out there than ever before.
Fortunately, that’s a good thing.
Principle #1 – Saturated Markets Are Good (But Only if You Do This)
There are about a bajillion marketing agencies out there.
But that doesn’t bother us at all.
In fact, we love it.
Why? Because, to be honest, most of them just aren’t willing to put the same amount of work in as we are and it shows. We’ve checked our competition’s content marketing game and we are up to the challenge.
Even in hyper-competitive industries like marketing, you can pretty much cancel out 90 percent of the field right way. Why? Because pulling off a legitimate content marketing campaign is difficult. Not difficult in that you need to be a genius to do it, but difficult in the fact that it’s time-consuming.
We write a 3 to 5,000-word blog post covering topics in-depth, like advanced PPC tracking, at least once a week. That’s on top of the landing pages we create, ads we run, videos we shoot, and designs we change.
We do this because we know our competitors won’t.
The great news for you? You’re probably not in a niche as competitive as marketing. And you’re competition likely won’t do the work.
If you did just these three things well over time, you’d destroy your competition:
- Write in-depth content regularly
- Promote your content across multiple channels
- Revised and updated your content over time
The catch? You’ll have to do it for a while before it pays off in a major way.
But, if you’re in business, you should be thinking long-term.
Principle #2 – “Me Too” Marketing Doesn’t Work
Every business has competitors.
But most businesses make the same mistake when it comes to competing. They try to copy their competitors’ tactics.
Why doesn’t this work?
It doesn’t work because taking the same actions someone else will, at best, get you the same results.
But often, it won’t because you don’t know why your competitors are taking that action in the first place.
It’s important to have your own marketing strategy based on your unique insights like:
- Audience – Have you taken the time to understand your ideal audience? Do you know their hopes, dreams, fears, and desires? Until you do, you won’t know how to create the right marketing messages.
- Brand – Dollar Shave Club launched their company with a viral video campaign. Their videos used crass language, over the top humor, and theatrics. Another shaving company with a different brand couldn’t pull the same type of campaign off. You need to build your brand with intention and articulate what type of company you want to be then market the business itself.
- Goals – Your goals — aside from the obvious like sales — aren’t always going to be the same s your competitors. That’s why you need to clarify what those goals are before you start a content marketing campaign
Your competitors built their own marketing campaigns using these insights; insights that you don’t fully know. Copying their tactics is both inauthentic and ineffective.
Principle #3 – The 10x Rule
Our formula for creating content is simple:
- Study what’s out there
- Note what the competition does well
- Find the gaps they didn’t cover
- Create something 10x better
This speaks to the point above about saturation.
You can beat out your competition. But to do that, you have to blow them out of the water. If you’re writing an article about a topic, it should be the best article about that topic on the internet. You should promote it unabashedly — literally send more outreach emails than your competitors.
If you believe in your product, trying to get 1,000% better results through marketing shouldn’t scare you, it should excite you!
Which brings me to our next point…
Principle # 4- No Amount of Marketing Can Solve This Problem
There are two types of products, bricks and feathers:
- Feathers – Great products that just need a ‘lift’ from marketing
- Bricks – Duds that no amount of marketing can “lift”
You see a lot of startup owners making this mistake.
They figure their product just needs a good marketing campaign and it’ll start flying off the shelves.
No amount of marketing will work unless you can answer these questions:
- What does your product do and who is it for? – You’d be surprised at how many business owners can’t articulate this
- Does anybody want your product? – Often, “revolutionary ideas” that haven’t been thought of before…haven’t been thought of before for a reason. Your product needs a market fit. Content marketing can’t create demand; it only amplifies it
- “What’s in it for me?” – This is the question people ask anytime they read your content, learn about your product, or interact with your brand. That’s why knowing your audience on a deep level is important. If you know their problems and the solution your product offers, you can communicate that through marketing.
The number one benefit of having a great product?
You’re excited to promote it. If you know you have something amazing to offer, investing in marketing becomes a triviality.
Principle #5 – Always Lead With This
“People don’t buy drills. They buy holes.”
If you visit a random company website, you can see this mistake being made about 75% of the time.
You see it when the company rambles on about “being in business for 30 years,” or has a long list of features their products or services have.
People don’t care about features. They care about the benefits.
People don’t care about “MPG.” They care about saving money and time.
People don’t buy workout routines. They buy bodies that look good naked.
You don’t care about content marketing and SEO.
You care about getting more people who are genuinely interested in your product or service to engage with your brand, turn into leads, and become sales. As a forward-thinking business owner, you want to be seen as the go-to experts in your field with word of mouth of your brand spreading like wildfire.
Go look at your website right now.
Is it feature focused? Or benefits focused?
If it’s the former, it’s time to start creating new content or hiring someone else to do it.
Principle #5 – Never Do This
Michael Jordan used to visit the opposing team’s locker room before games.
He’d walk around, shake hands, smile politely, and make small talk.
Under the surface of his smile was a bit of an evil smirk.
He knew, and his competitors knew, that in his mind he was thinking, “I’m going to destroy all of you.”
See, when you know you’re the best, you don’t focus on your competition, you make them focus on you.
Every minute spent worrying about what your competition doing is a minute you could’ve used to build your own business. This attitude works especially well in content marketing and SEO. You might not have an authoritative site..yet. But you will.
And while you’re building up your authority, you’re focusing on making your product better, your content better, your marketing better.
Then, one day, out of nowhere, you’ll start rising up the rankings and get noticed in your niche. You want others in your industry to think. “Who the hell is this and where the hell did they come from?
Principle # 6 – Adopt This Attitude
Promotion and outreach are huge pieces to the SEO puzzle.
There are an endless amount of guides showing you how to pitch and promote your content, but many miss the fundamental point.
You have to have something worth sharing to promote it well. Jon Morrow, the owner of Smart Blogger, expresses this idea well in his viral blog post – On Mothers, Dying, and Fighting For Your Ideas:
“Writing isn’t about putting words on the page […] It’s about breathing life into something and then working to make sure that life becomes something beautiful.
That means spending ten hours on a post, instead of 30 minutes.
That means writing a guest post every week, instead of one every few months.
That means asking for links without any shame or reservation, not because you lack humility, but because you know down to the depths of your soul that what you’ve done is good.”
It’s much, much, much easier to promote your content when you actually believe in it. This goes back to point #2 about “me too” marketing. You’re not going to want to promote an unexceptional piece of regurgitated content because, deep down, you’re ashamed of it.
You didn’t do your best and the people you want to share it with will smell the low-quality from a mile away. The low-quality mindset you had when creating the post will leak right into the pitches you make when you’re trying to promote it.
The opposite is also true. When you “become so good you can’t be ignored,” people will have no choice but to pay attention.
Principle #7 – Find Balance When Doing This
SEO and marketing are weird in the sense that the people in your network can bounce back and forth between being competitors and colleagues at the same time.
Since getting links from other websites in your niche builds authority, you have to build relationships with people in your niche. At the same time, you also may have some overlap in the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
How do you solve this problem?
Here’s how we look at it:
- There’s more than enough room – There are enough search terms available for you to get enough traffic to move the needle for your business.
- Be authentic – We only reach out to or link to other sites and site owners we admire and respect. Your “competitors” also add value with the content they create. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little love.
- Connection is needed – You need both inbound and outbound links to rank well. That means being cooperative and nice is a prerequisite for being successful at content marketing.
Principle # 8 – Kill Your Darlings
Want to know how to kill your business?
Stay stagnant, don’t innovate, and maintain the status quo.
Whenever you’re thinking about being complacent, think of all the companies who failed to switch things up when their business model or marketing effort became obsolete.
- Kodak didn’t switch to digital cameras in time
- Toys R us didn’t move to e-commerce fast enough
- Myspace…well, at least Tom got out in time
Is your business model going to work 5 years from now? How about 10?
Are you thinking far into the future about how to market your business?
Or are you still relying on your “bread and butter,” — tossing money down the drain in billboard ads and radio spots when you could get 10x better results investing in digital?
Warren Buffet has a saying:
“When the tide goes out you will see who’s swimming naked.”
Business owners who miss the boat on marketing techniques for 2019 and beyond will feel the pain eventually.
Don’t be one of these business owners.
Principle #9 – Don’t Be “Smarter Than a 5th Grader”
When you write your content, aim to write at about a 5th-grade level.
Use short sentences and simple words.
Don’t use business jargon if you don’t need to.
This goes for the copy you use on your landing pages to writing blog posts.
Simple is better:
- If your content is hard to read, people will leave your site
- Using jargon makes you look arrogant, not smart
- True intelligence makes complex topics easier to understand, not the other way around
Ernest Hemingway is known for his blunt and simple style. There’s even an app named after him that helps you write your content in a simple way.
Principle #10 – Use the “D-Day Approach”
D-Day is one of the most famous moments of world war II.
The good guys sent a bunch of troops to the beaches of Normandy to attack the bad guys.
They sent a large group of soldiers into a small and concentrated area.
They won the battle and secured an important strategic advantage. Taking Normandy allowed them to expand in the right territories and win even more victories. Many say this battle was the beginning of the end of the war.
In your case, you want to concentrate your forces.
If you want to fail, try every marketing tactic in the book all at once.
Now, you do have to experiment with different marketing channels to find one that works. But when you do find one that works, double-down on it. When you’ve mastered it, move onto another tactic.
Principle #11 – Avoid the #1 Marketing Mistake 99% of Business Owners Make
We work with clients. Part of working with clients is steering their minds in the right direction.
A critical piece to this – getting them to stop thinking only about themselves.
Yes, when you build a website, it’s your website. But the website isn’t for you. It’s for your customers.
When you write an about page, the page is about you or your company. But a great about page talks about the benefits you’ll provide your customers.
It’s your business, but you won’t have a business unless you market it for, you know, other people.
Nobody cares about your vision.
They want to know your product can solve their problems.
You have to make sure your marketing speaks to that and that alone.
Go look at your company or personal website right now. Who do you talk about more — yourself or your potential customers?
If it’s the former…we should talk.
Principle #11 – Do The Little Things
Everybody wants to swing for the fences with their marketing.
It’s appealing to write ultimate guides, go viral, and get a ton of followers on social media.
It’s not appealing to do the little things that, combined, can move the needle for content marketing and SEO.
- Updating your old content
- Focusing on user experience (UX)
- Re-doing internal links
- Re-writing title tags
- Re-writing meta descriptions
- Adding media
But the little things make a world of difference.
Bill Belichick — 7-time super bowl winning coach — spent a long time as an assistant. He’d do all the grunt work the head coach and others didn’t want to do. And he did it gladly. He’s won many championships from taking advantage of little key moments where he used the experience of hours and hours of watching film.
That’s what the top SEO’s and agencies do, too. Behind the scenes, they’re working on the little things.
You’ll never see them up-front, but the effects are real.
Principle #12 – Never Stay Satisfied
We’ve talked about mastering one marketing channel before you move on to others, but once you’ve mastered that channel, move to the next, and keep doing it until you become a marketing swiss-army knife.
You have to take this omnichannel approach because online marketing continues to evolve.
Once the traffic from SEO starts to roll in, you’ll feel good about your business, but don’t stop there.
Pour gasoline on your marketing fire.
Principle #13 – Stop Believing in This
Do you ever look at your competitors and think they’re just lucky?
They had the right connections.
They built a career off of a few lucky viral hits.
The industry wasn’t saturated when they started.
Blah, blah, blah.
Yes, luck is involved in marketing success (and every other type of success for that matter).
But you can learn how to engineer luck.
The more seeds you plant, the more likely your marketing campaigns will grow. Yes, that means writing (or investing in a writer) in-depth content over and over and over again even if it doesn’t pay off right away. It means scheduling out social media posts as if you had a big following when you actually don’t.
The top players in the field are almost always there because they’ve been at it for a long time. Success, especially content marketing success, takes time, not luck.
Principle #14 – The Only Guaranteed Way to Beat Your Competition
There are no guarantees when it comes to marketing (see the point above).
But, if you want to make a splash and stand out among your competitors, there is one way to do it.
Create something no one would even think of trying to replicate. Make your competitors feel exhausted by even looking at your content and imagining having to create it.
When it comes to regional competitors in our area, other marketing agencies, we just try to take it to a level they don’t want to match. We’re playing the long game. You can, too.
String together a long enough streak of insane pieces of content, and you’ll be too far ahead to lose
Principle #15 – Stop Consuming, Start Creating
About 99% of people read marketing blogs and do nothing with the information.
Many business owners sit on the fence about hiring a marketing firm for years.
There’s a consistent theme running through all the marketing principles we’ve listed — action.
You can’t know all the answers up front.
You discover the secrets of marketing by experimenting. This goes for in-house marketers and agencies.
Too many would be marketing owners are sitting on their hands, slowly letting their businesses get phased out of the future.
Your time is now.
Principle #16 – The Rich Get Richer
The 80/20 rule states that there will be an asymmetrical relationship with the total amount of resources.
That’s a fancy way of saying a few people reap most of the rewards.
The top 20 percent of blogs get 80 percent of the traffic.
On your own website, the top 20 percent of the pages will get 80 percent of the traffic.
It’s important to stay active and experiment because once you succeed, your success will beget more success.
If you get backlinks to a blog post and it starts to rank on page 1, it will receive backlinks naturally.
If you grow your social media following, your followers will promote your page for you.
Now, at this point, you use the marketing principle above and put your foot on the gas pedal. Once the growth curve goes up, you push even harder. This is how you become a household name and have permanent success.
Principle #17 – Don’t Lie to Yourself
You know what mediocre business owners do? They hire companies that provide “affordable SEO services” and get upset when they don’t get any traffic.
You know what mediocre marketers do? They write a few blog posts with thin content, send a few tweets, do no real blog outreach, and throw their hands in the air when they’re not on the first page of Google.
It’s rare to give an honest effort at marketing and fail completely.
It’s extremely common to give half-assed attempts and fail.
Which type of marketer or business owner are you going to be?
Principle #18 – Forget Everything You Learned in Business School
There is no way to “learn business” other than actually running or working for one.
The type of marketing knowledge provided in business school is mostly worthless. These institutions are decades behind the current landscape of content marketing, digital marketing, and SEO.
Get your hands dirty and forget about the dry jargon they taught you at university.
Principle #19 – Do What Works for You
If you’re better on video than with the written word, shoot videos.
If you don’t like being on camera so much, do audio.
Outsource the work you don’t want to do yourself.
There are many different ways to market your business successfully. But it makes no sense to go against your strengths.
Principle #20 – Use Tools and Data
You can’t build a house without a blueprint and tools.
You can’t run a successful marketing campaign without data and tools to grow your business.
We’re talking more than just Google Analytics here (even though you can gain a massive amount of insights just from this tool).
Don’t be afraid to invest in software to track your marketing results.
And check the data often, but not too often to gain insights from, e.g., six times a day like most marketers do.
Principle #21 – Watch What People Do, Not What They Say
If you polled readers, they’d tell you they don’t like “listicles” or click-bait headlines. Content marketing data says otherwise.
The National Enquirer is still in business for a reason.
People have an outward image they portray and then behave differently in private.
Know the difference, and you can market to them correctly.
Principle #22 – Become a Marketer for Life
You want your career or business to last your whole life, don’t you? Well, at least you want to stay in business or work you love until you retire.
Settle in. This is a long game you’re playing. The marketing wisdom you gain over time will compound like interest in a savings account.
After you get your foot in the door and find some success, commit to developing the skills of influence for the rest of your life.
Principle #23 – Test Emerging Platforms
Around 2012, you could get a ton of organic reach from Facebook. Now, not so much.
In the early days of AdWords, clicks were so cheap the platform was like a money printing machine. Now, not so much.
Some have said LinkedIn is the platform de jour. It’s worth trying to see if you can get in at the right time.
Platforms, strategies, and techniques always come and go. It’s best to test new ones before they get too saturated.
Principle #24 – Focus on Metrics That Matter
Traffic doesn’t matter if it doesn’t convert into leads and sales.
If you’re running an SEO campaign, total organic search traffic matters more than ranking for your favorite keywords.
Having e-mail subscribers means nothing if they are just there to consume free content.
Being data-driven is great, but being insight driven is better. What you do with the data matters more than the data itself.
Principle #25 – Read Marketing Books
All marketing books aren’t created equal, but some stand head and shoulders above the rest. Here are some of our favorites:
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
- The Boron Letters
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On
- On Advertising
Principle #26 – Prepare for Failure in Advance
You will write content that doesn’t rank.
You will send pitches that get rejected.
Money? You’ll definitely invest at times without getting perfect ROI.
But that’s the game of marketing.
Principle #27 – Master the Basics
You can jump on the hottest trends like voice search and A.I., but it would be foolish to do so until you have a basic understanding of things like:
- Keyword research
- Content creation
- Backlink outreach
- Simple technical SEO
If you mastered those 4 things alone, you’d be in the top-tier of most marketers because…most aspiring marketers don’t even scratch the surface of those.
These marketing principles aren’t hard, per se, they are just time-consuming.
Consume the time. Do the work.
Principle #28 – Get on Google’s Good Side
Until further notice, Google is the king of online marketing.
It would be wise to use their guidelines and tools to benchmark your success.
When they make a definitive announcement, take it to heart.
When one of their employees gives you advice, take it:
Use their tools like page speed insights and get top grades:
Obvious, yes, but also extremely useful.
Principle #29 – Don’t (Always) Listen to Marketing Gurus
Some marketing techniques and strategies become conventional wisdom, even if they no longer work.
Some people still think you need to add keywords in your meta description (which was never true). Same thing with ‘keyword density.’
Don’t get caught up in tropes. Take advice, yes, but implement it to see what works and try some novel strategies of your own.
Principle #30 – Use the Right Technique at the Right Time
This adds on to the point above.
Marketing rules change depending on the situation.
You’ve heard that content length is a ranking factor. It is.
But that doesn’t mean you should write a 5,000-word essay about “pizza shops in Wichita, KS.” You probably don’t need that much content to rank. A national content marketing and SEO campaign are completely different than a Local SEO campaign.
When in doubt, just study what ranks for the keyword you’re trying to target.
Studying the SERP for search intent is, again, time-consuming but worth it.
Principle #31 – Avoid Shortcuts
It’s all fun and games until your website gets hit with a penalty.
It’s easier to try and siphon money from customers quickly instead of building relationships that increase customer lifetime value.
Marketing advice and live advice have a lot in common.
Don’t try a marketing “crash diet.” Marketing is an attitude and a lifestyle. If you’re sincere about trying to do well, you will. If you’re not, you won’t.
Principle #32 – Learn How to Write Copy (or Hire a Copywriter)
The internet is flooded with bad copy.
Great copy uses simple language based on things your target audience is thinking.
They’re not thinking about how long you’ve been in business. They’re thinking about how your business can help them solve a problem. That’s it. Speaking to anything but that is waste of time, which is why it’s important to learn how to write copy.
These guides can help:
Principle #33 – Value Your Business
Too many businesses lean on discounts right away.
Unless you’re in a commodity business, your first instinct shouldn’t be to join the race to the bottom.
When you have a great product and customers believe it will solve their problem, price becomes a triviality.
Don’t lower your prices. Up your marketing.
Principle #34 – Share Your Marketing Vision With Your Team
If you can share the long-term vision and goals with your company or team members, you can get them to invest in it and communication between different departments will be much easier.
Sales and marketing should be on the same page.
SEO and content marketing often requires the help of developers. Keep them in the loop, too.
It’s worth taking time to meet with your team and review your marketing goals.
Not only does this improve tactics, but it also improves morale.
Principle #35 – Don’t be Afraid to be Crazy
Look at this ad:
And this one:
And this one:
Sometimes it pays to try something a little ‘outside the box’
Principle #36 – Talk to Your Customers
How often do you take time to talk to the people who’ve already bought your product or service?
You can get huge insights from talking to your customers.
If you’re in a recurring service based business like we are, talking with your customers more often and asking them about their needs helps them feel “top of mind” and important.
Plus, if you see improvements you can help them make that aren’t covered with your current services, you can sell them to your current customers.
The best customers are often the ones you already have.
Principle #37 – Get In Your Marketing Zone
Here’s what’s going to happen. Once you get traction, you’ll enter a state of ‘marketing flow.’ When all the cylinders are firing — great content, outreach, traffic, social shares, etc — you can stay in that groove for a long time if you actively seek to maintain the momentum.
If you’re the content creator or marketer who’s doing the work yourself, take this a step further in your day to day activities.
If you have the ‘hot hand’ while you’re writing a draft of a blog post, keep going. When doing a tedious task like conversion rate optimization, get into the flow of the monotony until you can find a way to get through that mental wall — kind of like a ‘runners high.’
Consistency and momentum matter most when it comes to marketing. Get in your zone and stay there.
Principle #39 – Have Fun
Business and marketing have a serious purpose. Mainly, to make money.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring, ‘corporate’, and dry all the time.
If you actually like marketing, you’ll be a better marketer. If you treat marketing like a chore or an expense instead of an investment, then that’s what it will be.
Connect with your audience more, use humor, have a loose environment with your team (but still get things done).
Yes, writing 5-000 word guides like this isn’t the most fun thing I could possibly be doing, but I love marketing and so does my company.
We can help you feel the same way.
Principle #40 – Pick One Thing Right Now
Reading this entire article would be a waste if you didn’t implement at least one tactic.
Choose the one that seems easiest to implement and go after it.
Time is ticking and the competition is only going to increase.
You’re already, you know, a little bit behind.
Start now. Heck, call 507-281-3490 and start with us!
We could write marketing principles for days, but these are enough to get you started.
What are some of your favorite marketing tips, lessons, and insights?
Share them in the comments below.