“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” Quotes

I recently read “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s the law of leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better. It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.” (3)

“Regardless of reality, people perceive the first product in the mind as superior: Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.” (8)

“If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.” (10)

“If you didn’t get into the prospect’s mind first, don’t give up hope. Find a new category you can be first in.” (11)

“When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not “How is this new product better than the competition?” but “First what?” In other words, what category is this new product first in?” (13)

“Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.” (13)

“When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer; not a DEC minicomputer.” (13)

“It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.” (14)

“Once a mind is made up, it rarely, if ever, changes. The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.” (16)

“If you want to make a big impression on another person, you cannot worm your way into their mind and then slowly build up a favorable opinion over a period of time. The mind doesn’t work that way. You have to blast your way into the mind. The reason you blast instead of worm is that people don’t like to change their minds. Once they perceive you one way, that’s it. They kind of file you away in their minds as a certain kind of person. You cannot become a different person in their minds.” (17)

“There is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.” (19)

“When you say, “I’m right and the next person is wrong,” all you’re really saying is that you’re a better perceiver than someone else.” (19)

“A company can become incredibly successful if it can find a way to own a word in the mind of the prospect. Not a complicated word. Not an invent one. The simple words are best, words taken right out of the dictionary.” (27)

“The most effective words are simple and benefit oriented. No matter how complicated the product, no matter how complicated the needs of the market, it’s always better to focus on one word or benefit rather than two or three or four.” (28)

“The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.” (31)

“You often reinforce your competitor’s position by making its concept more important.” (35)

“You tend to have twice the market share of the brand below you and half the market share of the brand above you.” (41)

“It’s sometimes better to be No. 3 on a big ladder than No. 1 on a small ladder.” (43)

“Before starting any marketing program, ask yourself the following questions: Where are we on the ladder in the prospect’s mind? On the top rung? On the second rung? Or maybe we’re not on the ladder at all. Then make sure your program deals realistically with your position on the ladder.” (43)

“Marketing is often a battle for legitimacy. The first brand that captures the concept is often able to portray its competitors as illegitimate pretenders.” (54)

“Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.” (56)

“Any sort of couponing, discounts, or sales tends to educate consumers to buy only when they can get a deal.” (64)

“When you try to be all things to all people, you inevitably wind up in trouble. “I’d rather be strong somewhere,” said one manager, “than weak everywhere.”” (71)

“The full line is a luxury for a loser. If you want to be successful, you have to reduce your product line, not expand it.” (77)

“The target is not the market. That is, the apparent target of your marketing is not the same as the people who will actually buy your product. Even though Pepsi-Cola’s target was the teenager, the market was everybody. The 50-year-old guy who wants to think he’s 29 will drink the Pepsi.” (82)

“One of the most effective ways to get into a prospect’s mind is to first admit a negative and then twist it into a positive.” (89)

“Marketing is often a search for the obvious. Since you can’t change a mind once it’s made up, your marketing efforts have to be devoted to using ideas and concepts already installed in the brain.” (90)

“The law of candor must be used carefully and with great skill. First, your “negative” must be widely perceived as a negative. It has to trigger an instant agreement with your prospect’s mind. If the negative doesn’t register quickly, your prospect will be confused and will wonder, “What’s this all about?” Next, you have to shift quickly to the positive. The purpose of candor isn’t to apologize. The purpose of candor is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.” (91)

“History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke.” (93)

“Failure to forecast competitive reaction is a major reason for marketing failures.” (99)

“When people become successful, they tend to become less objective. They often substitute their own judgement for what the market wants.” (105)

“When IBM was successful, the company said very little. Now it throws a lot of press conferences. When things are going well, a company doesn’t need the hype. When you need the hype, it usually means you’re in trouble.” (115)

“But, for the most part, hype is hype. Real revolutions don’t arrive at high noon with marching bands and coverage on the 6:00 P.M> news. Real revolutions arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and kind of sneak up on you.” (119)

“Here’s the paradox. If you were faced with a rapidly rising business, with all the characteristics of a fad, the best thing you could do would be to dampen the fad. By dampening the fad, you stretch the fad out and it becomes more like a trend.” (122)

“The most successful entertainers are the ones who control their appearances. They don’t overextend themselves. They’re not all over the place. They don’t wear out their welcome.” (122)

“One way to maintain a long-term demand for your product is to never totally satisfy the demand.” (123)

“You’ll get no further with a mediocre idea and million dollars than with a great idea alone.” (125)

“An idea without money is worthless. Be prepared to give away a lot for the funding.” (126)

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“Pre-suasion” Quotes

I recently read “Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence and Persuade” by Robert Cialdini. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.

Pre-suasion“The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion – the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.” (4)

“What we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.” (4)

“In deciding whether a possibility is correct, people typically look for hits rather than misses; for confirmations of the idea rather than for disconfirmations. It is easier to register the presence of something than its absence.” (22)

“Half were stopped and asked if they wanted to provide their addresses for this purpose. Most were reluctant – only 33 percent volunteered their contact information. THe other subjects were asked initially, “Do you consider yourself to be somebody who is adventurous and likes to try new things?” Almost all said yes, following which, 75.7 percent gave their email addresses.” (26)

“The guiding factor in a decision is often not the one that counsels most wisely; it’s one that has recently been brought to mind.” (28)

“While timing his reintroduction of the crucial insight to coincide with the worst of the noise, he would lower his voice. To hear what Erickson was saying, patients had to lean forward, into the information – an embodied signal of focused attention and intense interest.” (30)

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” (33)

“The central tenet of agenda-setting theory is that the media rarely produce change directly, by presenting compelling evidence that sweeps an audience to new positions; they are much more likely to persuade indirectly, by giving selected issues and facts better coverage than other issues and facts.” (34)

“As the political scientist Bernard Cohen wrote, “The press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling them what to think about.” (34)

“We can be brought to the mistaken belief that something is important merely because we have been led by
Some irrelevant factor to give it our narrowed attention.” (35)

“While reading an online article about education, repeated exposure to a banner ad for a new brand of camera made the readers significantly more favorable to the ad when they were show it again later… Further, the more often the ad had appeared while they were reading the article, the more they came to like it.” (39-40)

“Classrooms with heavily decorated walls displaying lots of posters, maps, and artwork reduce the test scores of young children learning science material there. It is clear that background information can both guide and distract focus of attention; anyone seeking to influence optimally must manage that information thoughtfully.” (41)

“When you have a good case to make, you can employ – as openers – simply self-relevant cues (such as the word you) to predispose your audience toward a full consideration of that strong case before they see or hear it.” (84)

“Whether you offer your statement just before or after his, according to the next-in-line effect, Alex will have a hard time processing your solution, no matter how good it is. If your statement comes immediately prior to Alex’s, he’ll likely miss the specifics because he’ll be mentally rehearsing what he plans to say. If it comes immediately following Alex’s, he’ll likely miss those specifics because he’ll be internally rehashing what he just said.” (85)

“Unfinished tasks are the more memorable, hoarding attention so they can be performed and dispatched successfully.” (86)

“The greatest recall occurred for details of ads that the researchers stopped five to six seconds before their natural endings.” (88)

“When an important outcome is unknown to people, “they can hardly think of anything else.” And because, as we know, regular attention to something makes it seem more worthy of attention, the women’s repeated refocusing on those guys made them appear the most attractive.” (88)

“She never lets herself finish a writing session at the end of a paragraph or even a thought. She assured me she knows precisely what she wants to say at the end of that last paragraph or thought; she just doesn’t allow herself to say it until the next time. Brilliant! By keeping the final feature of every writing session near-finished, she uses the motivating force of the drive for closure to get her back to her chair quickly, impatient to write again.” (89)

“When presented properly, mysteries are so compelling that the reader can’t remain an aloof outside observer of story structure and elements. In the throes of this particular literary device, one is not thinking of literary devices; one’s attention is magnetized to the mystery story because of its inherent, unresolved nature.” (91)

“One of the best ways to enhance audience acceptance of one’s message is to reduce the availability of strong counterarguments to it – because counterarguments are typically more powerful than arguments.” (95)

“We convince others by using language that manages their mental associations to our message. Their thoughts, perceptions, and emotional reactions merely proceed from those associations.” (100)

“Multiple studies have shown that subtly exposing individuals to words that connote achievement (win, attain, succeed, master) increases their performance on an assigned task and more than doubles their willingness to keep working at it.” (103)

“The concept pre-loaded with associations most damaging to immediate assessments and future dealings is untrustworthiness, along with its concomitants, such as lying and cheating.” (110)

“Anything that is self-connected gets an immediate lift in our eyes. Sometimes the connections can be trivial but can still serve as springboards to persuasive success.” (110)

“When we grasp something fluently – that is, we can picture or process it quickly and effortlessly – we not only like that thing more but also think it is more valid and worthwhile.” (112)

“Within the domain of general attraction, observers have a greater liking for those who facial features are easy to recognize and whose names are easy to pronounce. Tellingly, when people can process something with cognitive ease, they experience increased neuronal activity in the muscles of their face that produce a smile. On the flip side, if it’s difficult to process something, observers tend to dislike that experience and, accordingly, that thing.” (113)

“An analysis of the names of five hundred attorneys at ten US law firms found that the harder an attorney’s name was to pronounce, the lower he or she stayed in the firm’s hierarchy.” (113)

“Background cues in one’s physical environment can guide how one thinks there.” (119)

“Steps people can take to make their lives better, emotionally – according to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky:
Count your blessings and gratitudes at the start of every day, and then give yourself concentrated time with them by writing them down.
Cultivate optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of situations, events, and future possibilities.
Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others.” (125)

“The basic idea of pre-suasion is that by guiding preliminary attention strategically, it’s possible for a communicator to move recipients into agreement with a message before they experience it.” (132)

“If/when-then plans are superior to simple intention statements or action plans such as “I intend to lose five pounds this month…” The “if/when-then” wording is designed to put us on high alert for a particular time or circumstance when a productive action could be performed. We become prepared, first, to notice the favorable time or circumstance and, second, to associate it automatically and directly with the desired result… Chronically unsuccessful dieters eat fewer high-calorie foods and lose more weight after forming if/when-then plans such as “If/when I see chocolate displayed in the supermarket, then I will think of my diet.”” (139-141)

“If we want them to buy a box of expensive chocolates, we can first arrange for them to write down a number that’s much larger than the price of the chocolates.
If we want them to choose a bottle of French wine, we can expose them to French background music before they decide.
If we want them to agree to try an untested product, we can first inquire whether they consider themselves adventurous.
If we want to convince them to select a highly popular item, we can begin by showing them a scary movie.
If we want them to feel warmly toward us, we can hand them a hot drink.
If we want them to be more helpful to us, we can have them look at photos of individuals standing close together.
If we want them to be more achievement oriented, we can provide them with an image of a runner winning a race.
If we want them to make careful assessments, we can show them a picture of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.” (151)

“What we give first should be experienced as meaningful, unexpected, and customized.” (155)

“I heard an assertion made repeatedly with great confidence: “The number one rule for salespeople is to get your customer to like you.” That was the case, we trainees were assured, because people say yes to those they like – something that was so undeniable that it never seemed interesting to me. What did interest me, though, was what we were told to do to arrange for customers to like us. Being friendly, attractive, and humorous were mentioned frequently in this regard. Accordingly, we were often given smiling lessons, grooming tips, and jokes to tell. But by far, two specific ways to create positive feelings got the most attention. We were instructed to highlight similarities and provide compliments.” (158)

“Compliments nourish and sustain us emotionally. They also cause us to like and benefit those who provide them; and this is true whether the praise is for our appearance, taste, personality, work habits, or intelligence.” (159)

“Similarities and compliments cause people to feel that you like them, and once they come to recognize that you like them, they’ll want to do business with you. That’s because people trust that those who like them will try to steer them correctly. So by my lights, the number one rule for salespeople is to show customers that you genuinely like them.” (160)

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (160)

“When we see evidence of the increased frequency of an action, it elevates our judgements of the act’s moral correctness.” (161)

“A great strength of social-proof information is that it destroys the problem of uncertain achievability. If people learn that many others like them are conserving energy, there is little doubt as to its feasibility. It comes to seem realistic and, therefore, implementable.” (163-164)

“A communicator who references a weakness early on is immediately seen as more honest.” (165)

“The weakness-before-strength tactic works best when the strength doesn’t just add something positive to the list of pros and cons but, instead, challenges the relevance of the weakness.” (167)

“Any constraint on access increased the worth of what was being offered.” (168)

“If one romantic partner agrees to pray for the other’s well-being every day for an extended period of time, he or she becomes less likely to be unfaithful while doing so.” (169)

“Organizations can raise the probability that an individual will appear at a meeting or event by switching from saying at the end of a reminder phone call, “We’ll mark you on the list as coming then. Thank you!” to “We’ll mark you on the list as coming then, okay? [Pause for confirmation.] Thank you.”” (169)

“The stage of one’s relationship with them affects which influence principles to best employ.
At the first stage, the main goal involves cultivating a positive association, as people are more favorable to a communication if they are favorable to the communicator. Two principles of influence, reciprocity and liking, seem particularly appropriate to the task. Giving first (in a meaningful, unexpected, and customized fashion), highlighting genuine commonalities, and offering true compliments establish mutual rapport that facilitates all future dealings.
At the second stage, reducing uncertainty becomes a priority. A positive relationship with a communicator doesn’t ensure persuasive success. Before people are likely to change, they want to see any decision as wise. Under these circumstances, the principles of social proof and authority offer the best match. Pointing to evidence that a choice is well regarded by peers or experts significantly increases confidence in its wisdom. But even with a positive association cultivated and uncertainty reduced, a remaining step needs to be taken.
A this third stage, motivating action is the main objective. That is, a well-liked friend might show me sufficient proof that experts recommend (and almost all my peers believe) that daily exercise is a good thing, but that might not be enough to get me to do it. The friend would do well to include in his appeal the principles of consistency and scarcity by reminding me of what I’ve said publicly in the past about the importance of my health and the unique enjoyments I would miss if I lost it. That’s the message that would most likely get me up in the morning and off to the gym.” (171)

“The relationships that lead people to favor another most effectively are not those that allow them to say, “Oh, that person is like us.” They are the ones that allow people to say, “Oh, that person is of us.”” (175)

“Acting together – in motoric, vocal, or sensory ways – can serve as a surrogate for being together in a kinship unit.” (194)

“The help wasn’t rooted in rationality at all. It was spontaneous, intuitive, and based on an emotional sense of connection that naturally accompanies shared musical engagement.” (198)

“Recipients with nonrational, hedonistic goals should be matched with messages containing nonrational elements such as musical accompaniment, whereas those with rational, pragmatic goals should be matched with messages containing rational elements such as facts.” (200)

“Managers led to believe that they’d had a large role in developing the end product rated the ad 50 percent more favorably than did managers led to believe they’d had little developmental involvement – even though the final ad they saw was identical in all cases.” (204)

“The more the managers attributed the success of the project to themselves, the more they also attributed it to the ability of their employee.” (204)

“Providing advice puts a person in a merging state of mind, which stimulates a linking of one’s own identity with another party’s. Providing an opinion or expectation, on the other hand, puts a person in an introspective state of mind, which involves focusing on oneself.” (206)

“Background exposure to the American flag put participants in mind of Republican Party thinking; indeed, a pilot study done by the researchers showed that, in 2008 anyway, Americans reliably made that link between the flag and Republicanism.” (226)

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“Growth Hacker Marketing” Quotes

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 3.16.30 PMI recently read “Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer On The Future of PR, Marketing, And Advertising” by Ryan Holiday. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like these quotes, buy the book here.

“I think anyone marketing or launching fantasizes that they are premiering a blockbuster movie. And this illusion shapes and warps every marketing decision we make.” (xix)

“Our delusion is that we should be Transformers and not The Blair Witch Project.” (xix)

“The best marketing decision you can make is to have a product or business that fulfills a real and compelling need for a real and defined group of people.” (2)

“The books that tend to flop upon release are those where the author goes into a cave for a year to write it, then hands it off to the publisher for release. They hope for a hit that rarely comes.” (7)

“They test the ideas they’re writing about in the book on their blog and when they speak in front of groups. They ask readers what they’d like to see in the book. They judge topic ideas by how many comments a given post generates, by how many Facebook “shares” an article gets. They put potential title and cover ideas up online to test and receive feedback.” (8)

“Phil Libin said, “People thinking about things other than making the best product, never make the best product.”” (10)

“Once we stop thinking of the products we market as static – that our job as marketers is to simply work with what we’ve got instead of working on and improving what we’ve got – the whole game changes.” (11)

“Brian Halligan says, “you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products.”” (15)

“All of these types of outreach are done with a very specific mindset, with a very specific goal. We are not “spreading the word”; we’re not throwing up a billboard in Times Square and hoping in six months someone will spot our product in a grocery store and decide to pick it up. Instead, we are intensely focused on driving an initial set of new user sign-ups and customers, right now.” (26)

“It doesn’t matter how many people know about you or how they find out about you. It matters how many sign up.” (26)

“Patrick Vlaskovits puts it: “Focusing on customer acquisition over ‘awareness’ takes discipline… At a certain scale, awareness/brand building makes sense. But for the first year or two it’s a total waste of money.” (28)

“Users have to be pulled in. A good idea is not enough. Your customers, in fact, have to be “acquired.” But the way to do that isn’t with a bombardment. It’s with a targeted offensive in the right places aimed at the right people.” (28)

“The good news is that we have to do that only once. Because the next step isn’t about getting more attention or publicity. The endless promotional cycle of traditional marketing is not our destiny. Because once we bring our first customers in, our next move is to set about turning them into an army.” (29)

“Only a specific type of product or business or piece of content will go viral – it not only has to be worth spreading, it has to provoke a desire in people to spread it. Until you have accomplished that, or until your client is doing something truly remarkable, it just isn’t going to happen.” (32)

“Virality at its core is asking someone to spend their social capital recommending or linking or posting about you for free. You’re saying: Post about me on Facebook. Tell your friends to watch my video. Invite your business contacts to use this service. The best way to get people to do this enormous favor for you? Make it seem like it isn’t a favor. Make it the kind of thing that is worth spreading and, of course, conducive to spreading.” (33)

“You should not just encourage sharing but create powerful incentives to do so.” (34)

“You can’t just make a YouTube video about whatever you want and expect it to get ten million views. There has to be a compelling reason for a community to take hold of it and pass it around. You can’t just epxect your users to become evangelists of your product – you’ve got to provide the incentives and the platform for them to do so. Virality is not an accident. It is engineered.” (40)

“In an effort to improve the site’s aesthetic appeal and attract higher-end customers, Airbnb began offering free professional photography for its listings. If you listed your house on the service, they’d send a pro over to take amazing photos that made your house look irresistible.” (47)

“What growth hackers have mastered is the ability to grow and expand their businesses without having to chase down new customers.” (49)

“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent, while a new prospect it’s just 5 to 20 percent.” (55)

“Tim took Product Market Fit to the next level – designed each chapter to stand alone on its own merits and made specifically for a defined community and group of readers.” (59)

“When your product is actually relevant and designed for a specific audience, bloggers love to write about you. Writing articles about you means more pageviews (and advertising revenue) for them!” (60)

“If you’re planning to launch a business in a few months or a few years, start building your platform – and your network – today.” (61)

“Marketing, too many people forget, is not an end unto itself. It is simply getting customers. And by the transitive property, anything that gets customers is marketing.” (66)

“You’ve got to build a list, because a list is the easiest and most effective marketing tool, period.” (76)

“If people are coming to your site and only a small percentage “stay,” the answer is never, I repeat, never, to try to get high volumes of traffic.” (81)

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“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” Quotes

I recently read “The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How To Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases & Viral Marketing To Reach Buyers Directly (3rd Edition)” by David Meerman Scott. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, please buy the book here.

New Rules Cover“I’m absolutely convinced you will learn more by emulating successful ideas from outside your industry than by copying what your nearest competitor is doing.” (xxxii)

“When people come to you online, they are not looking for TV commercials. They are looking for information to help them make a decision.” (4)

“Companies must tell their stories and spread their ideas online, at the precise moment that potential buyers are searching for answers.” (27)

“It is amazing that so many marketers don’t have established goals for their marketing programs and for websites and blogs in particular. And they often cannot articulate who their buyers are and what problems they solve for them.” (33)

“An effective web marketing and PR strategy delivers compelling content to buyers and gets them to take action.” (33)

“The Rules: Nobody cares about your product (except you)… No coercion required… Lose control… Put down roots… Create triggers that encourage people to share… Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep…” (100)

“Devoting attention to buyers and away from products is difficult for many people, but it always pays off in the form of bringing you closer to achieving your goals.” (137)

“For each buyer persona, we want to know as much as we can about this group of people. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their problems? What media do they rely on for answers to problems? How can we reach them? We want to know, in detail, the things that are important for each buyer persona. What words and phrases do the buyers use? What sorts of images and multimedia appeal to each? Are short and snappy sentences better than long, verbose ones?” (141)

“The typical website is one size fits all, with the content organized by the company’s products or services, not by categories corresponding to buyer personas and their associated problems.” (145)

“Figuring out the phrases for your market requires that you buckle down and do some research. Although interviewing buyers about their market problems and listening to the words and phrases they use is best, you can also learn a great deal by reading the publications they read.” (148)

“Don’t forget that different buyer personas buy different things from your organization.” (149)

“You’re writing for your buyers, not your own ego.” (151)

“When you stop talking about you and your products and services and instead use the web to educate and inform important types of buyers, you will be more successful.” (153)

“Remember that people don’t care about products and services; instead, they care about themselves and about solving their problems.” (166)

“The winner for the most overused word or phrase in 2008 was innovate which was used in 51,390 press releases, followed closely by unique, leading providers, new and improved, world class, and cost effective.” (181)

“Here’s a test: Take the language that the marketers at your company dreamed up and substitute the name of a competitor and the competitor’s product for your own. Does it still make sense to you? Marketing language that can be substituted for another company’s isn’t effective in explaining to a buyer why your company is the right choice.” (182)

“Talk to your audience as your might talk to a relative you don’t see too often – be friendly and familiar but also respectful.” (183)

“A digital community is awesome if you use it correctly. You don’t own it; you participate in it. You can’t buy it; you have to work at it. Be a good person, treat the world like you’d treat your family, and they’ll do the same.” (200)

“The easier you make a journalist’s job, the more likely she is to write about your organization, particularly when she is on a tight deadline.” (278)

“How to Pitch the Media: Target one reporter at a time… Help the journalist to understand the big picture… Explain how customers use your product or work with your organization… Don’t send email attachments unless asked… Follow up promptly with potential contacts… Don’t forget, it’s a two-way street – journalists need you to pitch them!” (293)

“Howe prefers to be pitched by email, with a subject line that helps him know it’s not spam. “ ‘PR pitch for Boston Globe Reporter Peter Howe’ is actually a very effective way to get my attention…If you simply put ‘Boston Globe Peter Howe’ into a google.com/news search and read the first 10 things that pop up, you would have done more work than 98 percent of the PR people who pitch me,” he says. “It’s maddening how many people in PR have absolutely no sense of the difference between what the Boston Globe covers and what, say, Network World or RCR Wireless News or the Nitwitville Weekly news covers. And I don’t mean to sound like a whining diva; the bigger issue is if you’re not figuring out what I cover and how before you pitch me, you are really wasting your own time.” (294-5)

“Search engine marketing is remarkable because, unlike almost every other form of marketing, it does not rely on the interruption technique.” (297)

“Search engine marketing programs often fail because the marketers optimize on general keywords and phrases that do not produce sufficiently targeted results.” (301)

“The best approach is to create separate search engine marketing programs for dozens, hundreds, or even tens of thousands of specific search terms that people might actually search on.” (302)

“Because the home page needs to serve many audiences, there can never be enough information there for each search term.” (304)

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Producing Your Own Show: The Audience

I’m not an expert at producing shows, but I’ve put together four of my own and have helped out with a bunch of other shows. Producing a show is one of the best ways to get stage time before you’re “passed” at a club or booking consistent road work. When you produce your own show you need to be able to manage four equally important parts: the venue, the comics, the attendance and the actual show. This post focuses on the audience and getting them to come to the show.

Congratulations! You’ve booked a venue and you have great comedians booked to your show. Now you have to worry about getting an audience. Comedy isn’t any fun without people in the seats. While part of how you promote your show depends on the venue it’s at, most of it depends on you and your willingness to sell the show (even if it’s a free show).

Here are some common methods to let people know your show exists and that they should come to it:


This is current the most popular way to promote an event. Because it’s so popular, I find it to be the least effective. I get 10 event invitations a day on Facebook and I’m not that popular. I’ve found that for every 100 people I invite on facebook that are in the area (don’t invite people living in NYC to a show in LA, that just shows your laziness and pisses people off), it’s a good day when two show up. While it’s not that effective, I still think you should create a facebook event because it will help build awareness over time for a recurring show. Just don’t let facebook invites be the only way you promote your show.

Timing: If you invite everyone a month before hand, they’ll click “yes” then forget about it before the day of your show. If you invite everyone the day of the event, they already have plans. I think 2 to 5 days before the event is a good time to put it up a facebook event.


A.k.a. Facebook for people with A.D.D.  While you need to be friends with someone on facebook for them to get invited to your show, anyone can read your posts on twitter. If someone happens to come across your post and is in the area, you might get random drop ins. Providing a discount code or mentioning it’s free will help here.

Timing: Post on twitter the day of the show. So much information flows through twitter that anything posted in advance is quickly forgotten.


Design a flyer that states the date, time, location and description of the show. Photos of the comics also help. When designing a flier you need to pick a size. Will it be an 8.5” x 11” or bigger so you can tape it on walls in highly trafficked areas or will it be postcard sized so that you can hand it out to individual people wherever you go. Ideally, you should have both.

An example of a flyer I made for a college show
An example of a flyer I made for a college show

Timing: Design the fliers as soon as your comics are booked. Post large fliers at the venue as soon as they are designed. Post fliers around town 3-5 days before the show. Consider having someone pass out fliers for an hour before the show to get last minute “impulse” customers.


If someone has attended a previous show of yours, collect their email address and add them to your mailing list. Then send an email to your list promoting your show. Make sure you don’t do this too often, lest your emails get marked as spam. (I’d recommend sending an email no more than once a month, even if you have a weekly show.)

Timing: Once a month, preferably a few days before a show

Phone Calls

The good old human touch is most effective and most time consuming. Call your friends and anyone else who was dumb enough to give you their phone number (within reason) and let them know about the show. Better yet combine this with other methods for maximized effectiveness. For example, call everyone who has said they are attending via facebook and say you’re looking forward to seeing them at the show tomorrow. That will drastically increase the chances that they show up.

Timing: Call people a week or two before the show and just mention the show in conversation. Then call the day before the show to remind them. This is a huge time investment, but if you have the patience, this can be very worthwhile (or at the very least, provide for new material when people start giving you crazy excuses for why they can’t make it).

Have Comics Bring Audience

Tell some or all of the comics in the show that they need to bring _ # of people in order to be part of the show. This can motivate comedians to get their friends to show up. However, not all comics do “bringers” so this will be more effective with newer comics which might bring down the quality of the show. (But having no audience also brings down the quality of the show.) While instituting a bringer requirement will push awaymore established comics, it doesn’t hurt to remind the non-bringer comics that while it’s not required, if they did bring people, it would be much appreciated.

Timing: Tell the comics when you book them about their bringer requirement so that they have time to invite people and to decide if they still want to do your show. Then the night of the show, keep track of how many people each comic has brought.

Constant Pimping

Whenever you talk to someone, mention your show at some point during the conversation. Hopefully you have some social tact and this isn’t the first or last thing that you discuss with them.

Timing: Always, that’s why I called this “constant pimping”

Note on College Promoting:

College shows are the easiest to promote: If you can do the following three things, I’d be shocked if the event isn’t a success:

  1. Put up fliers around campus 5 to 7 days before the show
  2. Convince someone in administration to send an email announcement about the show to the student body on your behalf (write the email for them so all they have to do is copy and paste and hit send)
  3. Create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know at the school (or if you don’t go to the school, get a popular student to do it for you).

Next up: Running The Show

Wanna try stand-up comedy yourself? I teach a Comedy Class in New York City. I also do private one-on-one comedy coaching (in-person or via Zoom).

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