There’s something brand-new marketers need to know.
There’s a foundation for marketing—that when followed, itwill lead to success. It’s a foundation that has transcended from traditional marketing to digital marketing and whatever comes after.
We call these the Modern Marketing Commandments. They’re the 24 pillars of marketing that you can base any successful strategy off of, like the necessity of inspiring action and the importance of talking to customers.
These commandments couldn’t come from just anyone. They’d have to come from someone with experience who has lived in the marketing world for a long time—and even helped shape it. Someone who’s spoken on hundreds of stages to the best marketers in the world, built his own company to teach marketers, and spent the majority of his career marketing to… marketers.
You guessed it—the only person we could think of that could lay out the Modern Marketing Commandments is our CEO, Ryan Deiss.
#1: Thou shalt build revenue FIRST and brand SECOND. Brand matters, but the primary goal must be sales. It’s possible to sacrifice brand at the altar of sales and still recover, but you cannot sacrifice sales at the altar of brand and hope to survive.
#2: Thou shalt write offers… not slogans. Slogans might win awards, but they don’t make sales. Great marketing inspires ACTION! It does not merely inform or entertain. Also, there’s a special place in marketing hell for advertisers and marketers who stack up awards for their “creativity” but who have never owned or influenced a sales number. They would do us all a favor if they stuck to finger painting.
#3: Thou shalt balance data with gut. Data should rule the day 9 times out of 10, but sometimes you need to trust your instincts and do the things that can’t be tracked.
#4: Thou shalt be willing to pay for attention and awareness. Paid vs. organic… inbound vs. outbound. This is not a debate. This is choosing dessert at a buffet. The answer is, “YES!”
#5: Thou shalt endeavor to piss at least a few people off. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s apathy. If your brand doesn’t have any haters, it almost certainly doesn’t have any raving fanatics, either. Great marketing DIVIDES!
#6: Thou shalt be specific. Make specific in claims and deliver specific in content. If you want your brand to be respected, start taking stands and speaking in absolutes!!! (Like, for example, posting a self-aggrandizing list of “marketing commandments” on Twitter.)
#7: Thou shalt not stop marketing just because a lead is generated or a sale is made. Marketing shouldn’t stop at the order just like date nights shouldn’t stop after you get married. Never let the romance die.
#8: Thou shalt deliver BIG ideas using as few words as possible (F = ma)—“When you have nothing to say, for the love of God don’t let someone convince you that you need to say it.”—Roy H. Williams
#9: Thou shalt use as many words as needed… there’s no such thing as too long… just too boring.
#10: Thou shalt deliver at least 2X what thou hast promised. Under-promise and over-deliver… don’t let your marketing write a check that your product can’t cash. (NOTE: It’s in the spirit of over-delivering that I give you more than 10 commandments…)
#11: Thou shalt not chase shiny objects. Stop talking to marketers about what’s new and what’s hot, and start talking to and watching what your customers are doing.
#12: Thou shalt choose clarity over cleverness – see Commandment #2.
#13: Thou shalt talk to your customers. How can you know what your customers want if you don’t talk to them? Marketing isn’t “guess and test.” Marketing is research, research, test, research, research, test, research, test, then scale. You can’t call yourself a marketer if you haven’t talked to at least 25 customers.
#14: Thou shalt not confuse the reason people buy with the reason people stay. Customers quickly forget the real reason they purchased the moment you scratch that first itch. That’s why it’s essential that you speak with BOTH prospects and customers when writing copy.
#15: Thou shalt not propose marriage on a first date. Focus 70% of your time on the message, 25% of your time on determining the sequence of messages, and 5% of your time on targeting. Targeting is overrated. With the right message, the best targeting is always the untargeted target that is filtered by truly compelling, well-timed messaging.
#16: Thou shalt not pour water into a leaky bucket—OR—Thou shalt not amplify a turd. Optimize the offer FIRST… then amplify it.
#17: Thou shalt tell stories. Tell stories of transformation… stories of identity… stories of triumph over a common enemy. Humans do not take action until they have first imagined themselves taking that action, so paint a story of a more glorious future and then paint them into it. Do this, and they will ask you to take them there.
#18: Thou shalt remember that humans only ever buy one of two things: 1) transformation or 2) identity reinforcement. Know which thou art selling.
#19: Thou shalt be authentic. Speak like a human, don’t pretend to be something you aren’t, and above all else… tell the truth! (NOTE: Write in the King James version only when being ironical.)
#20: Thou shalt create movements. Don’t you know that movements are made when marketers stop talking about “drill bits” and “holes” entirely, and, instead, start talking about the evil bastard that created the need for the 1-inch hole in the first place?
#21: Thou shalt entertain. While information may capture someone’s attention for a moment, the only mechanism available to HOLD that attention is entertainment. As my friend Roy (see Commandment #8) likes to say, “Entertainment is the only currency available today that can purchase the attention of a too-distracted public.”
#22: Thou shalt make people laugh from time to time. The best marketers are able to pull off a joke at a funeral.
#23: Thou shalt make people cry, and yearn for things they do not yet have. It’s ok… it’s our yearnings that let us know we’re still alive. And most importantly…
#24: Thou shalt love thy customer and sincerely yearn for their happiness and success. Empathy is the most valuable skill in marketing, and the only one that can’t be taught).
These commandments are the foundation of marketing—they’re what you build the rest of the house on with the confidence that no matter how big you make it, your foundation will never break.
Come back to them whenever you feel yourself getting distracted by the latest and greatest marketing tech stack or the new social media app everyone is claiming will knock Facebook off its pedestal.
Because it doesn’t matter what the tech or platforms are. All that matters is delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
And that’s all that will ever matter, today and beyond.