I’ve had a lot of amazing marketing experiences in my career — being #30 at Facebook, helping Facebook scale to over 50 million users, helping grow Mint.com from 0 to over a million users as a Director of Marketing — and I’ve also created an eight-figure business with millions of customers at AppSumo. In this post, I’m going to give you my version of Marketing 101. I’ve condensed everything I’ve ever learned about marketing so that you can start applying it in your business today.
Let’s dive in!
Introduction to Marketing: Marketing 101
And if you enjoy listening to the podcast, I would really appreciate it if you left a review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to help more people find out about it. I might shout you out in the next episode!
Btw — Sign up for my newsletter. It’s FREE, and you’ll get my best business tips.
Marketing 101 Tip #1: What problem are you solving?
First off, What problem are you solving? this is the #1 thing when it comes to marketing.
I know there’s marketing books that talk about a lot of different things:
- What’s your market?
- Who’s your market?
- Let’s do an analysis
I don’t do any of that stuff.
I like to think of it this way: At the end of the day, am I selling something important enough that people want to give me money or their attention?
No amount of marketing will solve a product problem
We built a site called MeetFam and guess what?
No one wanted MeetFam.
It was automatic emails for Shopify. We tried to do marketing — but people didn’t want to switch from their current solution.
We also built a site called HaulDrop. It was a marketplace that showed cool physical ecommerce products.
Again, no one wanted it.
No amount of marketing will solve a product problem.
How to know if you’re selling something that solves a problem
So for you — how do you actually know if you solve a problem that people are excited about?
First off, do they want to give you money?
Not — do you have to convince them.
Are they excited.
If they’re not asking you to take their money, it’s not important.
On the other side of that, let’s say you’re doing content creation — maybe a podcast, maybe YouTube, maybe TikTok. Are you creating content that people are asking for more videos?
As an example, I’ve done videos on hiring and no offense — no one watches those! But when I do videos on how to make a lot of money or how to actually grow your business, people are like Yo, give me more!!!
So that’s how you know you’re solving a problem — if people want more of it.
Marketing 101 Tip #2: Who is that person?
Now that you’ve solved a problem — the next thing to ask yourself is Who is that person?
At Mint when I was the Director of Marketing, the problem we solved was helping people with their personal finances. You, me, everyone out there, wants more money. It’s a great problem to solve! Same with AppSumo — everyone wants more customers!
These are great problems to solve… now, figuring out the “who” is actually more challenging than you think.
Let me give you a really strong tip…
The more specific you can be about choosing who your customer is, the more successful you’ll be.
I’m just gonna pen drop that, okay?
The more specific your customer is — the more successful you’re gonna be.
So at Mint, we focused on who is really excited to solve their finances already? It’s much easier to convince people who are already at the gym to work out than to get people to come to the gym in the first place.
So for us, it was
- People who were already reading personal finance blogs, and…
- People who are already into new technologies, that just got a job, that like new tech and have some money and want to see what they can do with it
I call them YoPos. Young professionals.
So that’s who we marketed to — and we are pretty much exclusively targeting those people through all of our online marketing.
Marketing 101 Tip #3: Where are they online?
This is actually the easy thing if you’ve solved the problem and you know who the person is.
How do you actually find where they are online?
You can just ask them!
I generally would try to encourage you to start businesses that you have some understanding of or you’re the ideal customer — so for Mint.com, I was a young professional that liked tech software.
So there are two things I would ask myself:
- Which person do I normally learn this thing from? That’ll tell you who the influencers are
- Is there a site or resource that you trust where you find out about these things?
If you ask yourself those 2 questions enough times, you’ll get a list of sites, places, and people that are now your marketing opportunities!
Case Study #1: How to get customers for a non-alcoholic wine brand
We’ve talked about some things that are theoretical — but let’s actually break them down with a specific product and I’ll walk you through the Marketing 101 process of how I would think about it.
So right now, I drink a lot of non-alcoholic wines and beers. And a product that I would be excited to do marketing for — and if you’re ever interested in trying to be a good marketer, just go work at a product you already like — is a brand called Surely.
It’s non-alcoholic wines — and they’re not paying for this, I just brought them up because I like marketing things I already like to be the customer of.
So what would you do if you were now the Director of Marketing for Surely wine?
How I would start thinking about marketing this product — before I even pick the who, the what, and the where — is I pick a goal.
You can’t just get going — you need to know where you’re actually trying to end up.
So if I was doing Surely wine, my goal would be based around either:
- How many customers do I want to sell by the end of 12 months or by the end of this year?
- Or a certain amount of revenue that I want to be targeting — maybe a million dollars of wine this year
You have to have a clear goal that has a deadline.
Step 1: Identify the problem we’re solving
This is pretty straightforward.
People that still like wine, who want to enjoy the taste of wine but don’t want the side effects of alcohol.
That’s a pretty strong problem — there’s a growing market for this. You can look on Google Trends to verify. “Non-alcoholic” is a huge growing segment.
And another key thing about the problem you’re solving is, is this a problem important and unique? I think a lot of people open a restaurant that’s the same as everybody else’s and they’re like, Why does no one come to mine? Because you’re the same as everyone else!! So I love that they’re saying wine is a huge category, we’re going to be the non-alcoholic version!
Step 2: Who’s buying this product?
All right, so now we know what problem they’re solving: People who want to drink and want it to be non-alcoholic. Awesome. Now we’re going to ask ourselves, who is the person that’s drinking that?
And for this part, let’s really narrow it down.
So who would you choose? Leave a comment below — who do you think would be the purchaser of Surely wines?
For me, I would start by choosing between a man or a woman. So in this case, I would actually choose women because I think women drink wine more than men do.
Rember, this is stuff that you can start Googling online — who drinks more wine, men or women?
But I would actually go even further than that. Do I want to target America, do I want to target international? I’m an American, so I would probably start targeting the US.
And I can be even more specific than that! Married vs. non-married. Single with kids vs. single with no kids. Do they live in certain states or not?
How do you actually find out this info?
I would start talking to women! Do it via email or text or whatever is real-time to get that feedback and start creating a profile — the more narrow the better.
It could look something like this…
- 25 – 30 years old
- Lives in either New York, LA, or San Francisco
- They probably have a Peloton (it’s always great to find a comparable product)
- Put a name on it — let’s just call her Stephanie
So now we have our goal: a million dollars a year. And now we know it’s Stephanie who lives in these coastal cities. She likes her Peloton, she likes her Sunday Fun-days… but she wants to get healthy and wants to drink less.
And now we ask ourselves: Where is Stephanie online?
That’s a great question.
So how do I figure that out, especially if I’m not that exact customer?
This is what I would do:
- Figure out who’s she’s following on Twitter
- Figure out who’s she’s following on Instagram
- Figure out what she’s watching on YouTube
And this would start creating a profile of where this person is online.
So with Stephanie:
- She’s probably reading The Skimm
- She might own a Peloton
- She probably follows a few specific influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube
And I would figure out marketing distribution channels from there that would help us reach the million dollar revenue goal we decided on.
Marketing 101 Tip #4: How do you engage this person?
The next step is to think of the marketing activities that will catch your ideal customer’s attention.
So to reach Stephanie for Surely wines, we could try:
- Facebook ads
- Influencer marketing
- YouTube ads
- Offline events (create events like wine parties in major hubs with smaller influencers and give everyone each a bottle)
I actually really like offline stuff, especially because everyone’s so focused online.
Now, I don’t know what marketing is gonna work for your business, and what I mean by that is marketing that works at AppSumo like blogging — it didn’t work for 7 years at AppSumo, now it’s finally working. But for OkDork.com, a lot of my audience comes through blogging. And Mint.com? Blogging.
So the same tactics that work for my business may not work for yours.
But what I like to do is think of all the marketing activities I can use to reach Stephanie, and consider how much revenue I think each of the channels will bring in to help us get to the million dollar goal.
Marketing 101 Tip #5: Double down on what works & kill what doesn’t
Now the key thing here is once you start doing the marketing activities for your brand, really look at what’s working so you can double down or do 10x more of it.
Maybe the offline events are working — so how do I do 10 of them a day? Yeah. That’s how you grow a really large company.
The next thing you have to be very considerate of, which A LOT of people miss out on (and if you get anything out of this Marketing 101 post, pay attention to this) is…
Stop and kill things.
But please stop doing stuff that’s not working.
Stop doing things that aren’t promoting your product. I see people say things like Well I have to have a Facebook page because everyone else does!
What it does is it takes away time and attention (and potentially even money) from the things that matter.
And especially early on, you really have to think about it like this: I’m going to the buffet of marketing, trying things out, and once I have an understanding of what’s working, I’m going to really 10x down to take it to the next level.
So for the wine brand, my guess is that Facebook ads would probably be a huge driver and influencer partnerships, plus tastings at places like Erewhon and other bougie stores in my key markets, and probably offline events would be the main driver — that’s my guess.
I would try these out and probably a few more marketing ideas to see which ones are driving the revenue, double down on them, kill the things that aren’t working, and hit my goal at the end of the year.
There are my 5 Marketing 101 tips I think every marketer needs to know — whether you’re brand new or you’ve been in the game for a while. Let me know if you try them out, or what your top marketing tips are that you’d teach in a Marketing 101 class. Class dismissed!
Join 157,000+ subscribers getting my FREE weekly business tips