Marketing 101

Key concepts for marketing success

Copyright © 2017 by Liberty Marketing LLC

The difference between good and bad marketing concepts and strategies if often the difference between life and death for your business — whether you are building sales, raising money for a cause, or launching a new enterprise

I have one client who — like a lot of people — thought he could save money by writing his own ads. The only problem was, his ads were pulling so poorly he was about to go out of business. His best newspaper ad for his nutritional supplement sold seven bottles at $39 each, a total of $273 — about one-fourth of what the ad cost him to run.

I wrote a new ad which ran in the same newspaper. It brought in 281 responses at $39 or $10,959 — 11 times the cost of running the ad and over 50-times what his own ad had brought in.

Bad marketing can ruin your business

  This Billboard was up for months on one of the most expensive corners in San Francisco.
  This Billboard was up for about 6 months along
Rt. 880, just North of San Jose

Some of the worst ads I’ve ever seen have come out of Silicon Valley dot. coms.  With ads like these, it’s no wonder that most new Silicon Valley businesses fail in 6-18 months, and even well-established companies like Yahoo! disappear:

These ads convey no benefit and call for no action.  Some are beautiful to look at and even clever.  But they’re still financial black holes that suck up your money and give you nothing back in return.

By the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll understand exactly what’s wrong with them.

12 key principles for your
marketing success

It’s impossible to cover a subject as complex as marketing in a short article. However, I can briefly go over some of the most important principles. 

Keep in mind that these principles apply to ads, articles, books, speeches, email marketing, web sites, and in fact any persuasive communication.

#1. Appeal first to self-interest, not to the good of society or abstract principles.

Every ad must convey a clear benefit or threat to the person reading it.  Even ads for charitable donation appeal to such “self-interests” as helping others, proving that a donation will make a difference, and documenting that need is great and money will be well spent.

The five most powerful human motivations are survival, family, money, sex and power.

Notice how these headlines use these motivations.

Candidate John Allen’s education plan will increase your child’s lifetime earnings $2.3 million


From Cop to Call Girl – Norma Jean’s incredible odyssey of police sex and corruption


Sex & Lies At Mill Jr. High

How Zero Tolerance destroyed my 12-year olds’ life
(Don’t let it destroy your child)


The Coming Electric Car Crash. . .

How you can make $1,053,500 with an investment of just $2,017 from Silicon Valley’s latest bubble

Even charitable solicitations should make clear how contributing will make the world a better place for the contributor, as well as doing a world of good for our society and world.

#2  Talk in terms of your audience’s values and self-interest.

For example, if you’re talking to conservatives about the War on Drugs, don’t focus on rights or civil liberties, but on traditional values: how the Drug War is tearing families apart, destroying the future of good kids, wasting money, and corrupting police.

For liberals, appeal to the injustice and racism of locking up millions of African Americans and Hispanics for casual drug use or self-medication.

If you want to appeal to women, focus on family, community, security, compassion, children and love (not sex). 

For men, sex sells, and isn’t used enough.  Norma Jean Almodovar’s book, From Cop to Call Girl, was a national best seller. 

The reality is that the most effective “spokes persons” are attractive women, wealthy men, children, and cute dogs and cats.

#3  Every ad must have unity of vision, from headline, to text, to the order form. 

An ad to Libertarian Party members ad focusing on taxes might begin:

Cut your taxes 50%!  

New “Super Tax” software enables you to safely pay the lowest possible taxes, and it’s approved
by top tax experts

The text of your ad could provide details of the new software . . . explain how it’s better than other software . . . how it’s approved by top tax attorneys . . . and makes filing virtually completely automatic.

The headline of your order form should be “Order Form” but should reiterate your theme: 

YES!  I want to cut my taxes by 52% or more RUSH Super Tax to me now


#4   Be bold, but be credible.

The average person is bombarded by up to 1,500 ads per day.  To get people’s attention you need to make the boldest statement you can credibly make, then convincingly document what you say.  For instance:

documentationNew national study by Prof. Klerk finds . . .


bold claim        712 more  women a day will be raped if guns for women are banned


#5  Use the tremendous “power of the specific.”

Vague, general statements just aren’t persuasive. Notice I said candidate John Allen’s tax proposals would increase your children’s income by $2.3 million, NOT by “a lot.”

Specific figures, scientific studies, specific facts about your product or services and how it will benefit you by using all increase the credibility of your marketing.

#6 Give people enough information to buy. Often that’s a lot of information.

For email and direct mail ads, don’t cite two benefits of your product or program, when you can cite 10. 

For instance, a skating rink near me announced an evening of ballroom dancing.  They mentioned that they would be having a live band.  But they didn’t mention that they had a 7,000 square foot hard- wood floor. 

They didn’t mention that they had lots of free, well-lighted parking.  And they didn’t mention that they had an inexpensive food and drink services. All of these unmentioned benefits would have helped attract more people.


#7 Eliminate dead spots in ads and be prepared to rewrite again and again. 

If there are boring sections in your marketing, most people will just stop reading, and you can kiss your profits goodbye.

Break up long-blocks of text with interesting subheads, charts, clipping, call-out quotes and other devices which reinforce your message and entice the reader to continue on. 

Rewrite until the copy is irresistible.  Sometimes new copy just flows and the first or second draft is wonderful, and only needs minor editing.  But ten to twenty drafts are much more common.   

#8  Use clear, simple language.

You should rarely use language above an 8th grade level, or long, multi-syllable words. 

#9  Create a sense of urgency.

Explain to your reader why it’s vital that they come to your next meeting . . . why you need their donation before the 15th to make sure you can run your radio ad . . . etc.  

There is only one thing you want to hear after someone has read your copy and it’s not “good copy” or even “great copy”.  

The magic words are:  “Who do I make out my check to?” or “How do I get to your next meeting.”

#10 Make it easy for people to respond and give you money.

Provide an 800 number AND a local number AND a fax number AND an e-mail address.  Make sure people can pay by check AND credit card AND Bitcoin monthly payments AND Paypal.

Never use a PO Box (or Mail Box #) as your company address.  That screams “fly by night,” and can lower your response by 50%-80%.  It’s often OK  to use the street address of a mail drop (such as Mail Boxes, Etc.) and a suite number. 

#11 Always ask for a specific action.

Use lines like, “Please take out your check book and send us your most generous donation now.”   “Please call Donna today and tell her you will be at this vital meeting.”  “Order our new book on declaring bankruptcy before the new law goes into effect on May 1st.”

#12  Test and track.

How do you know which of two headlines to use? 

How do you know whether to charge $49 or $99 for a club membership? 

The answer is you don’t know until you test. 

Testing consists of mailing out or running two or more versions of the same ad simultaneously – with just one crucial difference, such as a different price or a different headline. 

You test to a small selections from a larger lists typically at least 2,500 names from a list of 20,000+, or to large Facebook groups, only authorizing the number of ‘pay per clicks’ within your budget.

Simply changing a headline can increase your response by 100%, 200%, or more. 

You should test as many different lists, headlines and offers as possible, before you “roll out” to larger lists.

Multiply your marketing effectiveness by learning more – three great marketing books:

  1.  Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.  A great book by marketing legend Jay Abraham. 
  2.  Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, written in 1923, and still one of the best books on marketing ever published. 
  3. Social Media for Dummies by Jan Zimmerman and Deborah Ng.