Posts in Marketing
Stop A/B testing everything: Only run experiments that inform your future actions

There's a lot of hype about data-driven marketing. But almost everyone forgets to mention an important downside: overhead.

I've run hundreds of growth and marketing experiments over the years, both formally and informally. In hindsight, some experiments were literally not worth my time.

Why? Setting up an experiment requires you to define what you want to test, clean the data, track results, troubleshoot... Each of these steps take effort to set up. If you leap in head first, you might spend hours setting up an experiment with little payoff. By prioritizing what to experiment, you can skip useless experiments altogether, conserve your energy, and focus on experiments that will lead to meaningful leaps forward.

Before you A/B test, ask yourself:

“What will I do with this information?”

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How to upgrade your career with marketing strategies [YouTube]

I want to share a Facebook Live recording I did recently that might be relevant if you want to increase your personal credibility.

What we’ll cover:

  • Why it's a mistake to save your questions until the end of an interview

  • How to use marketing concepts (FOMO, turning bugs into features, social proof) to get people excited about your ideas

  • How to even out the power dynamic during an interview

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MarketingWes KaoMarketing
To drive growth, focus on increasing desire—not just decreasing friction

As a marketer, salesperson, UX designer, or product leader, part of your job is to reduce the friction involved if someone wants to buy something from you.

For example:

  • Make the button bigger

  • Use brighter colors

  • Write shorter copy

  • Put everything on the homepage above the fold

  • Add the call-to-action button everywhere on the website

  • Send reminder emails about the sale

  • Use monetary incentives, e.g. discounts, bundles, promotions, and reverse promotions ("The price goes up next month!”)

The underlying assumption is, “If I make this easier (or cheaper) for you, you’ll eventually want it.”

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MarketingWes KaoMarketing, Product
Activation energy and why it matters for product launches

If you mix diluted hydrochloric acid with carefully measured strips of magnesium, you’ll get hydrogen...

You need a certain amount of each chemical though. If you don’t, the reaction won’t happen. You’ll get silence.

Activation energy is a term I learned from my friend Yuki, a biochemist who grows meat from cell cultures in Petri dishes. It’s “the minimum quantity of energy needed in order to undergo a specified reaction.”

Many projects take a level of activation energy before you start to see feedback—negative or positive. Maybe you’re an inch away from seeing a result, maybe you are a mile away...

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MarketingWes KaoMarketing
People don't trust their own judgment

Why do people buy bestselling books?

Why are there laugh tracks in sitcoms?

Why are we suspicious of restaurants that are empty?

All of the above are examples of when we look around to see what people around us are doing…. To help us decide what we should do.

We feel pressure to fit in with our peers, to do the right thing that is expected of people like us. This means taking social cues from others, and using those social cues to give context to what we think is cool (or not).

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Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget.

"Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value." - Vice President Joe Biden's dad

Most people like us agree on a lot of things. For example:

“Climate change is bad. We need to do something.”

“We care about company culture. It's important to help our employees level up so we can stay competitive.”

“Innovation is crucial. We want to be a market leader, and that means taking risks.”

But, interestingly, the minute you present a solution that will save the environment, improve culture, or prompt innovation... Everyone is suddenly nowhere to be found. It’s crickets and tumbleweed.

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MarketingWes KaoMarketing
Why the best technology doesn't always win [Future Tech podcast]

I meet so many smart, talented non-marketers who still believe their idea should sell itself. I'll break it to you now: no idea ever sells itself. You just don't see the leader behind-the-scenes working hard to make their idea seem to spread "organically."

The host of the Future Tech podcast, Richard Jacobs, interviewed me about why the best innovation doesn't always win. We discussed why technical leaders–scientists, engineers, researchers, innovators–need to embrace storytelling.

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When talking to customers is a waste of time

If you’re leading a product launch, at some point, you’ll want to talk to real customers. This is an important step and you should keep a pulse on what people want.

Here is where the problem comes in.

When you’re researching, it’s easy to schedule and execute a bunch of customer development interviews.

You pat yourself on the back and say, “I’m being iterative, putting myself out there, and testing my idea with customers!”

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