Marketing Like Drug Dealers: Marketing Ideas From Rework

Rework is a great book from the founders of the successful web company 37 signals. I really like the contrarian ideas from the book like “how drug dealers get it right” because it is great to get a fresh perspective on business. I also like how Jason and David get straight to the point and don’t waste a lot of pages with fluff like most business books. There are a ton of great ideas in this book and some ideas that you will probably disagree with, but it will definitely get you thinking and possibly lead you to question some of the widely accepted ideas in business and marketing.

Take the Anti-Position

Several companies have been successful by taking an adversarial approach to their competition or the entire industry. Apple vs PC and 7-Up, the Uncola are a few examples of companies who have taken an opposing position. The authors also point out that people tend to like conflict and this can get people to pay attention.

This idea goes way back to Al Ries and Jack Trout’s classic book Positioning. When you separate yourself from the competition is helps consumers form a better idea of how you are different from others in your industry.

Marketing Is Not A Department

Jason and David say that marketing should not be a function of the marketing team but a part of everything the company does from answering the telephone to the quality of the product.

This is not a new idea but an important idea that is not talked about enough. Most companies tend to hand off responsibility of marketing to the marketing team after the product has been developed. This is wrong because if you are not thinking about marketing from the start, building a strong customer base can become infinitely more difficult.

Market Like Drug Dealers

“Make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customer a small free taste makes them come back with cash in hand…You should know that people will come back for more. If you’re not confident about that, you haven’t created a strong enough product. ”

I agree. Of course this helps if you have a really addictive product like Twitter, but if you don’t, sampling can be a great way to get people to step into the door and break down the barriers preventing people from trying something new. A mistake that a lot of companies make is that they make sampling too difficult with credit card requirements or forms with too many required fields.

Target Smaller Niche Publications

The authors advise that you shouldn’t try to spam the Wall Street Journal with press releases but rather focus on smaller niche publications.

I agree with this because niche publications typically have followers who are passionately interested in a specific topic or are the right audience for your product or service. Focusing on developing relationships with the top blogs in your industry seems like the best way to get in front of people who will likely use and recommend your product.

Marketing by Teaching

This is a great concept that suggests that by teaching your target customer about your craft or your industry you can build an audience that keeps coming back and are likely to seek you out when they have a need for your product or service. Here is a video of Jason’s presentation on this topic. “Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or out-sponsor competitors, try to out teach them. Teaching probably isn’t something your competition are even thinking about…As a business owner you should share everything you know too.”

Don’t Listen to Your Customers

The authors argue that you shouldn’t listen to suggestions that just come from a few vocal customers. If you change because of a handful of unhappy customers, you could lose many more customers who were happy with the way things were before. “Your goal is that your product stays right for you. You’re the one who has to believe in it most”. They advise that you shouldn’t record what customers say about your product. If you hear something over and over again, then that’s when you know that is something you should pay attention to.