In 2013, I was Chief Marketing Officer at A Place for Mom (an Expedia-type company for senior care), when I decided to write a book about marketing. I wanted to share my general philosophy that marketing should be easy, but that marketers were being constantly drawn to trendy strategies that distracted them from what really mattered. With a full-time job, I thought I could write a chapter or so a week and get the book done in a year. So I purchased the domain MarketingIsEasy.com, structured the content, and wrote a few chapters.
But life got in the way.
I got married. I built and taught an MBA course for the University of Washington on digital marketing. I had my first child. And the book never seemed to jump to the top of my priority list.
As the “number two” guy at A Place for Mom, I helped steer the company from the brink of collapse to generating significant growth over multiple years. In 2016, I left APFM and started networking with venture capital and private equity firms to find a new challenge.
While I was waiting I went back to the book.
When you look at business books, they tend to fall into a few general buckets:
how to do sales
how to improve your career
There are not many “how to” books that focus on marketing. Those that exist tend to be of the Seth Godin-or-Gary Vaynerchuk-variety — full of feel-good opinions and hand waving slogans. Still, I wasn’t sure if there was a market for a serious book about effective marketing strategies. Plus, I didn’t think (at that time) that a marketing book could be a useful platform to develop other opportunities, like speaking at conferences.
So, I decided to file the marketing book away in my brain, and switch my focus to writing a more general book about the nature of excellence. I titled the draft: “Good Enough: Why Good is Better than Excellent.”
I picked up a new domain name: BeGoodEnough.com and started writing with complete dedication; I bought Scrivener, I created a Trello board, and I interviewed a ton of people. While business stories were part of the book, I also covered topics like NFL kickers, adoption, police interrogations, and teachers in Peru. I was on a roll.
And then my networking with VC and PE firms began to pay off, attracting fun short-term consulting projects. Whether it was facilities management software or a marketplace for lawyers, they all seemed to be having similar issues (usually because they were chasing fancy things and missing the basics). I enjoyed identifying and implementing the simple things that grew companies beyond their expectations.
But…it slowed down my writing.
In August 2016, I spent a week helping education startup General Assembly with their growth challenges. I liked them. They liked me. And the opportunity seemed promising. I joined them full-time that fall. Just as my second child was born.
If you want to put the brakes on writing a book, I recommend starting a demanding new job, commuting back and forth across the country, AND having another kid! Zero writing was done — I was lucky if I got a little sleep every night.
In May 2018, we sold General Assembly to Adecco for over $400MM. I’m very proud to be a part of the team responsible for that success, and I happily stayed through August to help with the transition.
Perhaps this would be the time to finally get a book off the ground. Third time lucky, right?
While I’m excited to share my “Good Enough” project sometime in the future, my consulting experiences demonstrated what companies needed NOW: marketing strategies that worked in the digital age. The business world is increasingly relying on “big data marketing,” but few people are providing healthy skepticism and evidence-based arguments.
To keep “Marketing Is Easy” on track, I hired a team to help me make the book awesome: editors, cover designers, book marketers, and more. Merging my previous writing with more recent thoughts, I developed some nice material on “how to do marketing right.” But something was missing.
I was focused on explaining why simple tasks were more effective than what I call “shiny objects” — the digital trends and buzz words in the marketing industry. Finally (with lots of pushing from my editor) I had the insight to flip the book on its head: I needed to prove WHY the shiny objects were a waste of time and money. In other words, beyond showing how “marketing is easy,” I needed to argue what was WRONG with marketing.
The first half of the book presents the thesis and then digs into all the BS from the marketing world. The chapters were fun to write; all the cows were slaughtered, sacred and purple. The second half of the book answers the question: “If all this marketing stuff is BS, what the heck should I be doing instead?”
Everything was coming together. But the old titles no longer made sense. The book wasn’t “Marketing is Easy” or even “Good Enough” — it was about marketing BS and how to clean it up.
So…I found the owner of MarketingBS.com and made him an offer he could refuse.
Every Tuesday morning, I plan to share something with you on this page.
Sometimes I’ll offer responses to topical issues in the news.
Sometimes I’ll post excerpts directly from the upcoming book, as well as ideas that came to me after the publishing deadline.
Sometimes I’ll highlight favorite bits from my previous two websites (they’re inactive but still attract traffic and subscribers).
If you sign up for my email list, the post will be sent directly to your inbox every Tuesday. Plus, subscribers will receive some additional content (perhaps free e-versions and audio books).
Thanks for reading to the end of this post! If you like the stuff I’m writing, I invite you to sign up for my email list. Or just use an RSS feed. Whatever is most convenient for you. I’m all about convenience (see Chapter 15 of Marketing BS).
Keep it simple,