Leading isn’t stepping out.

It’s not making yourself different.

It’s gathering.

It’s unifying.

It’s guiding others forward.

Taking them with you.

You don’t leave others behind.

Instead, you prop them up, push them forward and applaud.


Invention requires failure.

“To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.

Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there.”

-Jeff Bezos

Trending in Marketing #13

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The world is changing.

Traditional industries are becoming democratised, opening up access to all of us. The normal ones.

On Wednesday I saw that a company I have long admired, Gumroad, was opening a crowdsourced funding round.

For as little as $100 you could invest in a real tech company and own a part of something that usually only Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists have access to.

It took off, and I snuck in a small investment in time before they reached the $5m max raise.

It made me thing of disruption coming in other industries, which leads me to today’s Idea.



What does disruption and democratisation look like in your industry?

Take education. A prime example where the traditions of reputation and location-based learning have long been the status quo.

Platforms like Teachable, Udemy and Gumroad have exploded as individuals seek expert instruction remotely during the pandemic.

These platforms also make education more accessible to a more diverse range of people. You only need internet.

Forward-thinking institutions like the University of Illinois are disrupting the graduate degree market using technology that reduces faculty labor to scale programs to thousands of students at a discounted cost of $22,000 for an entire M.B.A. — leading to the retirement of its traditional residential degree offering. Source

Smart marketers see the future of their industry :

  • what happens if the status quo is disrupted?
  • what if everyone had access, not a select few?
  • what if we had 1,000 competitors flood the market? and,
  • what do we do to keep up?



“…people don’t buy products because of what those products do, they buy products because of what they can do — or what they imagine they can do — with them.”

-Zander Nethercutt (source)

“Instead of focusing on content for each phase of the traditional funnel, marketers need to create content at three depths: conceptual, strategic, and tactical. Keep in mind, however, that customers won’t necessarily go through these stages in order.”

-Ashley Faus (source)



Sitting still is going backwards. This is because the world keeps spinning.

Innovation is happening around us whether we can see it or not.

The question is: can you keep up?

The first thing I say to Marketing graduates is that they need to learn marketing again.

Unfortunately, Universities can’t keep up with the trends in the industry.

No marketing textbook will mention NFT’s, and very few will mention TikTok influencers simply because they were printed in January 2021. Too late.

And it’s no easier for those of us with a few years under our belt. We need to keep up.

Though, for me at least, that’s what makes this whole career choice rather interesting.

This is Marketing.



P.S. Prioritise

P.P.S. Wistia created this TV-quality series, One, Ten, One Hundred, to discover the relationship between money and creativity. Enjoyable watch for marketers (and awesome brand content).

Customer First

In 2003 Amazon noticed that some of their customers forgot what they had ordered.

Without realising, customers were accidentally ordering the same product a second time.

There weren’t many complaints, but for Amazon, this wasn’t good enough.

Amazon are obsessed with the customer experience and wanted to fix it.

In 2003, Amazon introduced ‘Instant Order Update’, a simple notification banner that would alert customers when they had already purchased something.

This feature cost Amazon money and sales dropped, because customers didn’t buy as much by mistake.

Amazon doesn’t win design awards for the prettiest website.

Instead, they focus on being genuinely helpful.

They prioritise long term customer relationships over short term revenue.

They prioritise what’s right for the customer rather than turning a blind eye.

They prioritise the experience over the latest design trends.

This feature is not the reason Amazon is a successful company.

However, the decision to prioritise features like this reflects the attitude that has made Amazon successful.

Customer first.

Do we have the guts to do the right thing, obsessing over customer problems – even if it costs us time and might even cost us money?

Trending in Marketing #12

You can subscribe to my email newsletter, Trending in Marketing, right here:

Before you read any further I wanted to say thank you for subscribing to Trending in Marketing in 2020.

This newsletter started as an experiment and a way to share some of the best content out there to make us all better marketers.

I really appreciate you opening this email and sharing it with your friends and colleagues.

I’m going to be simplifying the format of this email going forward to make it easier to read.


Time Anxiety

According to Anne-Laure Le Cunff, time anxiety is the fear of wasting your time.

Wasted time leads to a wasted potential. Wasted potential is a wasted opportunity to make an impact.

How can you combat time anxiety?

  • define your mission
  • focused prioritisation
  • defend your time ruthlessly
  • get 1% better every day

Read more about Time Anxiety.



“If it’s easy it isn’t worth doing. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

-Nick Huber

“Product Market Fit isn’t a thing. I’m not even sure it’s a useful concept for startups.”

-April Dunford (source)



What are the hard things you’ve been putting off?

There are pieces missing that would make you a better marketer.

How are you going to tackle those this year? How will you resist the distractions?

Your potential is too valuable to waste.

This is Marketing.



P.S. Optimise or Build

Small things

“People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing.”

-Naval Ravikant

Do you ever stop and think: is this the right thing to be working on?

Do you make time to prioritise?

Life is short – time spent on the wrong thing is waste.

Be ruthless. Cut the busy-work.

Pick one important thing and do it well.

Storytelling and Bunnings Warehouse

In Australia we all love Bunnings.

Bunnings Warehouse is where you buy anything you need for your home.

You can buy Christmas lights, herbs and a waterslide.

You can support your local football club by purchasing a sausage.

The staff smile at you and say hello each time you walk past, almost like they mean it.

For a wholesome business, they make a lot of money.

In FY20, Bunnings did $14.9 billion in revenue, up 14% YoY. They have 50% market share of all DIY-related spend in Australia.

They are owned by Australian conglomerate Westfarmers, who also own Kmart, Officeworks, Target, Catch, and, oh yeah, Coles.

What you may not realise is that the Bunnings brand and in-store experience is meticulously crafted.

It’s no accident that you feel the way you feel when you walk through the front doors.

Every time you step into any of the 300+ stores you will find that your experience is very similar.

Every time you hear the ‘Lowest prices are just the beginning’ jingle on TV you might think of hot summers, building things in the backyard or how you really need to buy a new BBQ.

The team behind Bunnings are master storytellers.

This brand didn’t evolve by accident. Every touch, smile and smell is produced on purpose, designed as part of a narrative to forget the reason you came and keep you coming back.

The story that Bunnings are trying to tell us is that they are the cheapest place to buy the things you need and the staff are local, friendly people just like you.


  1. The warehouse

Bunnings is not a warehouse. It is based on the American ‘mega-store’ strategy, where it feels like prices are cheaper simply because there is so much stock.

The sheer scale of choice and space makes you think that this is the place Bunnings have chosen to store all their spare products and as a result you’re in for a bargain.

Of course this is not true.

The space, smell and dirty floors are all psychological tactics to draw you in to get you to spend more than you intended.

Some mega-store executives have joked that it costs more to keep the floors dirty than clean.

Cleaners are probably instructed to keep the floors just the right amount of dusty.

It’s all part of the narrative.

2. Pricing

Bunnings often choose to price stock using irregular numbers. For example, they sell hammers for $8.45, $37.97, and $62. 

Apparently the theory is a that by using specific numbers it will make customers think the price has been lowered to warehouse level prices.

Every price in the store is intentional. And they are constantly experimenting with stock placement, pricing and merchandise to find what works.

Most things you need are intentionally located towards the back of the store, to get you to walk through as many aisles as possible. (also the same reason why milk is at the back in the supermarket)

3. Staff in ads

Bunnings staff are trained to smile and ask if you need anything. This is good old fashioned customer support.

They also use real staff members in their ads, instead of paid actors, to give off the vibe that they are an authentic, local shop run like small business.

Bunnings don’t want to give the impression that they are wasting money on flashy ads, because this could mean prices are inflated.

It’s all part of the story.

Cool story, what does this mean for me?

Everything we do tells our customer a story about who we are and who are products are for.

Every bug

Every support request

Every podcast

Every blog post

Every release

Every email

Every interaction is a signal to our users about who the product is for, or should be for.

If we don’t control the story, we leave it open to interpretation. (think Westworld)

Two questions to reflect on:

  1. What story do we want to tell?
  2. Are we telling a consistent story?

In other words; if our floors are dusty, let’s make sure they are dusty every day.

Flat is down

If you’re not learning your potential deteriorates. Stagnation is deadly.

If we’re stagnate, there’s someone else out there growing.

The world is moving too quickly to think that treading water will keep us afloat. Disruption is coming for every industry. S

ome companies were completely unprepared for an economic slowdown. Now they’re gone.

No plan B. No way to pivot.

So how do we prepare ourselves for what comes next?

Learning. How can we learn?

  • Read books
  • Take courses
  • Build things
  • Find a mentor
  • Ask for a new challenge
  • Set yourself a big hairy goal
  • Do something new

Step out from the plateau. Because the plateau isn’t flat, it heads down.