an interview with Scott Britton, as told to Sebastian Marshall
I got into marketing strategy by accident.
I’d been a business development and sales guy and I wanted to start teaching those skills because I loved it. Once I started putting the content online in the form of videos, blog posts, and courses, I wanted the people who’d benefit most to all see it.
In order to do that, I realized I needed to be a good marketer.
Very quickly, the content I was creating was providing a full-time income from people buying my books and courses and I was able to travel the world full-time while running my business.
This motivated me to really dive further into marketing, to try to figure out the fastest way I could become a truly great marketer.
I think marketing is a very high-leverage skill. Not just for supporting yourself, but for everything.
For people who are aspiring CEO’s or starting a company, I think getting good at sales and marketing is one of the best things you can do.
It’s not just for the obvious benefits, but because getting good at marketing also lets you attract a strong team and get in touch with the right people. I see getting good at sales and marketing as one of the most valuable things I can do to be in a position to start companies and change the world.
A MUCH SMARTER WAY THAN THE TRADITIONAL WAY TO MARKET
If you’re launching a new product or company and trying to get great people involved with you (journalists, excellent entrepreneurs, etc) — there’s a way to ensure a higher degree of success in that.
What a lot of people do is create a product or blog post, create whatever they want to put out into the world, and then ask, “How can I market this? How do I get it in front of people who need it?”
I think a better strategy is to focus on distribution and marketing channel first, sometimes even before you create the product.
Often, what’s most widely adopted is sadly not what’s the best product, but the one that’s adopted first. When I think of distribution first, here’s an example — there’s a neutraceutical company called OnIt, and the CEO got Joe Rogan involved in the initial phases of the product. They wanted to bring it out to the world, and before they even created the product, Joe Rogan had a stake in his success and wanted to help him promote it.
Getting these influencers involved in the creation process, so when you launch something, you have the distribution channel already taken care of. There’s thus way less risk.
Joe Rogan has like 10 million people listening to his podcast, and they launched on the show, and they sold out their entire first run of product — NutraBrain — the first day.
DE-RISKING YOUR DISTRIBUTION
It applies to blogging and content creation, too.
A lot of people write a blog post, and then try to figure out who they can send it to.
A better strategy is co-creation and distribution first. Ping people at big magazines like Forbes, The Art of Manliness, big sites, that syndicate content. Ping them, and see what they’re interested in republishing. The contributing editors.
You say, “I’m thinking of writing on these 5 topics — which one do you think would be most interesting and relevant? What would people in your audience be most interested in?” Have people get involved in the co-creation process before you even create anything.
Then there’s a much higher likelihood they’ll promote it. It’s this general idea of de-risking the distribution by focusing on how you’re going to get distribution first, and how you’re going to get that before creating.
I think it’s a really effective strategy that I don’t see most people doing.
AH, BUT THE BARRIER
I think the barrier to doing this is that a lot of people are really afraid to reach out to “big name people” in the nascent stages of creation. But that’s actually the best time, because I think we have a tendency due to fear of failure or rejection to not want to expose ourselves and our risks for fear of getting shut down and rejected.
If you can train yourself to take feedback constructively, you can take advantage of these opportunities to have people help shape what you’re going to create, and ultimately make it much better.
Example: I wrote a blog post for Noah Kagan on OKDork, a blog with over 50,000 email subscribers, about how I marketed my book on Amazon.
It would be very easy to just have me create what I think is good, not to have to add extra stuff, not to have to subject myself to criticism before publishing… but we had a group of 8 people reading it, helping me fill in all the white space and holes, and all of them promoted it since they felt a sense of ownership of helping create this, how to get a book to #1 on Amazon.
It was a good lesson for me — it’s always best to swallow your pride and open yourself up to criticism. It’s not the easy thing to open yourself up to take criticism, to take a hit to the ego, especially if it’s meaningful to you.
But now I always do this… I invite people to rip things apart before I release them, and people give me feedback. I just created a blog post on how to make a great podcast, and at first it’s hard to take that criticism, but then your work is much better — and the people who helped edit and tighten that up did all promote it, unsolicited, today. Which is very cool.
WORKING BACKWARDS AND REVERSE-ENGINEERING SUCCESS
Whenever I’m thinking of marketing something, I always like to work backwards. Here’s a couple examples, and I think you can apply this to anything.
If I was going to go on a podcast on someone’s show and I wanted to really kill it for their audience, instead of thinking “What can I talk about that’ll excite people the most?” and use myself as the litmus, I instead look at every interview they’ve done, see which were most successful, and codify exactly what made them successful, so I can tailor the approach I take.
The general idea is reverse-engineering success.
Another example: on iTunes, for my podcast, I don’t just thrust forwards with what I think people are going to like. I analyze why the ones that did the best are that way. The ones with the highest reviews, which content has been the most popular, and then tailoring my content to that.
I think the questions in general, that you want to ask yourself, when you approach others, is: “What has done well in the past?” Then codify what has done well and tailor exactly what you’re going to do.
I constantly ask, “Why did it do well?” The marketing strategy? The content itself?”
ENGAGING WITH THE POTENTIAL AUDIENCE BEFOREHAND
One thing you can do is, if you’re not sure what a particular audience will be receptive of, content you’re creating or product, go out and engage people in forums like Reddit or any discussion forum on a niche you’re trying to get mindshare in. Engage them, let those people inform the creation, exactly what they want… when you actually create this thing, feedback and ideas, from this subset of people, you naturally have the marketing channel built in.
You can follow up and say, “Hey, I did this. I did a bunch of work and deep diving on this topic. Just thought I’d send it to you.”
Specific example: I did an interview on GrowthHackerTV on cold emailing people, and how you can generate leads using cold emails. The feedback was tremendous, but I realized I’d only scratched the surface. So I went and engaged people in that community, asked what they wanted to know, and then I created a whole new piece of content on that and followed up with everyone there that gave us feedback.
I let them know I created the new thing, and all those people ended up promoting it, getting back to me… it’s like, figuring out where you’re going to get distribution first, where the people interested in your thinking are hanging out, getting feedback from them, and de-risking your marketing channel. These people were involved in the thing you were trying to get distribution on.
THE PERSONAL CALCULUS
I figured this out by realizing I was writing what I thought was really good content, but I was just not getting the adoption that I wanted to. I looked at all these other people that I thought were creating things that were far worse, and people were all over it. I learned this from a guy named Derek Halpern, in marketing, 20% product/creation and 80% marketing/promotion determines how well something will do and how many people it’ll reach.
I started moving my time towards studying the marketing and distribution, and I knew the #1 way I could get people excited are connect with them where they’re hanging out, getting warmed up and working together, and then it’s totally relevant later to come back and share it. At that point, it’s not asking for a favor, it’s just a logical progression.
It’s a “personal calculus” I’ve done in my head… just being a social person doing business development and sales… calibrate your ask. Understand when people are more likely to do things for you, and the answer is that people are always more willing to do things for you, promote, help when you have a relationship with them.
The first time you engage in a relationship with someone, you shouldn’t be asking for something. It should be after a good rapport and many touchpoints. Don’t just bomb Facebook or LinkedIn groups or communities to promote, and expect the people to adopt the content. Sometimes that can work, but it’s better if you start with a little bit of heat in interacting there first.
IF YOUR GOAL IS TO CREATE THINGS THAT SPREAD…
Some people just want to create what they want to create, do their own thing, and not take this approach. That’s one way to do things, and that’s fine — but if your goal is to create something the best it can be and help the most amount of people, usually that requires other people involved.
All that’s different about this is getting others involved earlier in the process. This results not just in more promotion, but you actually get a much better product and better content too. It’s a way to build relationships, show you value the opinion of someone you’ll ask to promote later, interact, and help it reach as many people as possible all at the same time.
I personally think that’s better than just doing what I want to do, which is what I used to think was right.
Scott has graciously agreed to do a GiveGetWin deal where he’ll run a live interactive helping 10 current business owners de-risk their marketing and build strategies to immediately connect with influencers and audience.
The interactive will be on August 4th in the evening, and there are 10 spots available. You can find out more HERE —