Swipe File: Reverse Engineering, Personal Branding, and Psych Savvy
By Daniel Murray
Throughout my marketing career, I’ve kept a SWIPE FILE (inspiration file) of my favorite MARKETING IDEAS: tweets, thoughts, articles, podcasts, ads, TikToks and our favorite, MEMES.
Every week I’ll be sharing 3 of my favorites from my archives + what I’m adding to my swipe this week.
1) Reverse engineering
Before wasting time and energy on recreating a marketing tactic from SCRATCH, it can be helpful to look to the best brands and reverse engineer what’s already working.
What you need to focus on: figuring out the reason WHY that brand is doing what they are – in marketing, we usually have our reasons. Figure out WHY a brand did that thing in that way, and understand WHY IT’S WORKING. From there, steal the tactic – but make it your own.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Just innovate on the one that already exists.
T.S. Eliot’s once said:
“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.”
But, don’t fall prey to these mistakes (I see this often, when you reverse engineer – you must do so with a careful hand!):
- Don’t copy exactly what you already see out there on the internet – you must make the tactic (and subsequent campaign) your own.
- Don’t only take inspiration from your direct competitors. You can never stand out if that’s your only focus (you’ll just forever be one step behind). Take learnings and inspiration from all types of sources – B2B, DTC, OOH, TV, Authors, etc). Inspiration is there for the taking, if we choose to look for it!
- Don’t forget to figure out (and 100% understand) “the why” that makes the campaign CLICK. In order to imitate, we have to comprehend first.
- Don’t forget to make sure that your marketing ladders up to your marketing goals. We don’t need to steal a technique that isn’t going to bring our company in the right direction. Don’t get distracted here.
No idea is original.
If we didn’t make better wheels, we wouldn’t have cars.
The point is:
Everyone (everywhere) constantly is stealing (“borrowing”) ideas and thoughts.
But, the best way forward is to not just steal, but to STEAL AND IMPROVE UPON.The BEST MARKETERS understand the reasoning behind why something is created.
From there, the best marketers align that stolen tactic to make sure it fits in well across existing customer goals, business goals, and in the general flight of your team’s campaigns.
2) You are a brand
All of us have the ability to build a brand that centers around something that we are truly passionate about.
Marketing, horseback riding, anime, traveling, and even Diet Coke would all work! (I want to start a Diet Coke Community – Would you join?)
Let’s pretend you’re starting your brand right now. Here’s what I would recommend:
- Figure out what you want to be known for
- Know what you are talking about – Expertise is key
- Document – not every piece of content needs to be perfect. It’s about the long term story, and about having tons of content at the ready (document everything along the way).
- Pick a medium you are comfortable with – If you great at video… start there, if you are great at writing… start there, etc.
- Consistency wins – CREATE CONSISTENTLY. You have to show up at least 4 times a week. No excuses.
- Make sure your content is ABOVE AVERAGE – you have to give VALUE to your audience. We’re not shooting for that A+ everytime (that’s not possible!). But, let’s try to stay above the B- range across the board.
- Reverse engineer what works on the platform you pick – you have to speak the language of that platform. Let that platform be your guide – and adapt your content to fit natively in your medium of choice.
- Understand that this is most definitely a marathon. Not a sprint – be patient. You have to do things in 6 month sprints. Don’t lose faith in yourself! I believe in you.
3) Marketing = connecting with people
At its core, marketing is ALL ABOUT understanding people.
It’s funny how many marketers don’t take the time to learn more about PEOPLE.
If you know how and why people think and act the way they do, you can improve your marketing.
The thing about people, is that they follow patterns. Study this.
If you understand why people make decisions and how they will act, you can be more empathetic.
You can then go build marketing campaigns that actually relate to your audience, and you’ll be able to position your campaign in a way that will SPEAK TO YOUR AUDIENCE. Audiences are made of people, and people only take action if they are moved to do so.
Below are 10 sources to help you learn more about marketing psychology (these that have each helped me).
Screenshot them for later, and I hope they help you!:
- Junae Brown’s content- GAMECHANGING. Follow her if you don’t already.
- Influence by Robert Cialdini – Influence is about the 6 principles of persuasion
- Alchemy by Rory Sutherland – Dive into how irrational thinking can be the key to problem solving
- Why we buy newsletter by Katelyn Bourgoin – learn about all things buyer psychology
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Airely – Learn how there are many factors that influence our reasoning
- Brainy Business Podcast by Melina Palmer – Learn what behavioral economics is. Why does it matter to you?
- You Have More Influence Than You Think by Vanessa Bohns – learn why we fail to recognize the influence we have
- Nudge Podcast by Phill Agnew – Learn the science behind great marketing
- The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton – 25 behavioral biases that influence what we buy
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – Read this to understand the 2 systems that drive the way we think and make decisions.
- The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar – Learn WHY people make certain decisions.
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