The Only Thing You Need to Know about Marketing Online


I am delighted to be able to welcome author Nick Thacker to add his thoughts on marketing. The more information and suggestions we glean from a wide variety of people, the more we are able to decide which approach to marketing works for us.

The Only Thing You Need to Know about Marketing Online

In the 1950s and before, “marketing” was a term that more accurately described bringing a product to a market, rather than bringing people to a product.

The distinction is subtle, but it’s everything.

As Seth Godin wrote in Permission Marketing and Purple Cow, it’s now “pull,” not “push.”


It used to be the de facto standard for businesses—create something, then the marketing department would “push” it out onto the unsuspecting masses. Products, services, and the latest and greatest would be pushed out onto television, radio, and print advertising channels, and we’d have no choice but to ride along with them.

Obviously, things have changed.

Great marketing starts at the product level, with the creation of something so fabulously great that people must have it. For books, this means that the marketing starts before you even pen a word.

The best modern brands have achieved this: Google (they used almost NO television advertisements until they were already established), Apple (fanboys usually do a great job marketing the product on their own… email me and I’ll try pushing one on you, too!), and a plethora of books and authors are doing this as well. Authors who write about controversial topics, blog about their subject matter, or who simply write in a way that cannot be ignored are the ones who earn our attention.

All of this is happening—yet when I open Twitter, I’m bombarded with literally thousands of people basically yelling at me to try their new system, check out their cool site, or sign up for their newsletter.

It’s clutter, and it usually gets ignored.

But then there are those people you “meet” who go about it in a different way—they’re constantly getting retweeted, linked, and shared through social channels, and they don’t seem to do as much self-promotion as others.

Some of it happens because of their status—they’re a celebrity, a “big-time” player in their industry, or otherwise just a popular trend. But there are those who are neither famous or considered a “big deal.” Yet they still somehow benefit from massive amounts of attention from the rest of us.

How can this be? It seems like you’ve spent many, many hours building your platform, trying not to spam your networks, and genuinely taking interest in what other people are up to, but you just can’t seem to “break through” to attention-worthy status.

Remember: It’s pull, not push.

To truly be magnificent in your industry—whether it’s writing books, speaking, or selling something—you need to start with your product, then pull people in.

If your stuff isn’t truly magnificent, it won’t pull anyone in. But if you try to push it out when your stuff isn’t yet magnificent, you’ll waste a lot of time and money on something no one cares about.

This post is about marketing for people who have already created an exceptional, magnificent something-or-other, so let’s assume you’re trying to get people to pay attention to you.

First, you “pull” people in by making your work available.  

Blog about your topic or subject, and guest post anywhere you’re able. Create mini-lessons on your subject if it’s non-fiction, or short stories based on characters if it’s fiction.

If it’s a book you’re trying to promote, let a small group of people read it, review it, and keep it. Don’t ask these wonderful people to blog about it on their massive site, or send a link to their huge mailing lists. Instead, ask them, genuinely, if they liked it. If they really did, chances are they’ll mention it to their network(s) when it seems appropriate. If they give you a great review, ask if you’d be able to use their “testimonial” in the future.

Second, focus on developing your platform.

Work on developing both your personal brand platform as well as your platform of products. If you’ve written a book, write another. And then one more. Let your products do the selling for you—if someone happens across your work on Amazon, allow them to find more of your stuff naturally.

If you do this second thing well, and be focused and diligent, people will begin to recognize you and your platform. They’ll see who you are, look for what you’ve done, and see your rave reviews.

Don’t push the people, push the snowball. 

I didn’t initially find Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, in a bookstore. I kept seeing him pop up in the channels I was watching (personal finance blogs, forums, and websites), and eventually he showed up on larger media outlets. Then, after he’d “pulled me in” through thousands of words of compelling content, did I go grab his book from the store. It was a growing snowball of attention, started by Ramit, which got me interested.

Ramit pulled me in, through a slow-yet-constant stream of great marketing. He never once pushed anything on me, and if he would have—I probably wouldn’t be subscribed to his RSS feed right now.

To sum it all up—make sure that you’re abundantly clear on the target market for your book or product, and then start the snowball. As the snowball picks up more and more speed, it will “pull” people into your growing sphere of influence, and they’ll be hard-pressed not to pay attention!

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced this first-hand (either being pushed or pulled into something)? Leave a comment, and let’s get a discussion started!

Nick Thacker is a blogger and writer, author of a fiction thriller novel (with a second on the way!). helps you build your writing platform through living and writing better. Check out the newsletter here.