Summary: Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller
Summary: Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Summary: Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

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We all want people to understand how our products can solve their problems and hugely improve their lives. But turns out asking for a sale is a relational proposition. And as with everything in life, relationships have rules. Whether we’re talking about a romantic relationship, a friendship or even a relationship with a brand, all relationships move through 3 stages.

  1. Curiosity
  2. Enlightenment
  3. Commitment

At the curiosity stage, we’re only making either-or choices – to keep or to discard. This is how our brains are wired as we scan 3000 marketing collateral, we counter every day. The overwhelming majority get discarded while a few gets sorted to the keep pile. To pique curiosity, associate your product with pain points and pain reliefs – something that will help your customers survive.

Enlightenment is the stage your customers begin to trust you. Enlighten them about how your products work to solve their problems. First pique curiosity then show how.

Commitment is the final stage your customers make a risky decision. Invite them on a journey at the pace of a natural and healthy relationship. Don’t rush it.


On average, customers experience 8 touch points before they make a purchase decision.

That is for the most products. A touch in this context could be an email, a visit to your website, a radio, a keynote, or any marketing collateral you send their way. The sad news is not all your attempts will make their way to the keep pile, so be willing to send dozens of pieces.


Don’t confuse branding with marketing.

Branding affects how a customer feels about your brand while marketing communicates your solution. If you get too concerned with how your brand looks and feels, you might end up ignoring your core message. Take NFL football coach for example. If he spends 90% of his time choosing the new team logo, jersey and branding instead of drilling on the game fundamentals, it doesn’t matter how pretty his jerseys are, his team is going to lose.


The key to going viral is to give people something very simple to think about… and spread the word.

Before you create your sales funnel, come up with 3 or 4 things you want your customers to associate with your brand. Ask yourself:

  1. What problem do you solve for customers?
  2. What will your customer’s life look like if they buy your solution?
  3. What consequences does your solution help customers avoid?
  4. What does your customer need to do to buy your product?

The answers to these questions should be short, simple and easy to understand. A dentist might say:

“Could your smile be better? You could be happy with your smile. Schedule an appointment today!”


5 Pieces of Sales Funnel

  1. One-liner
  2. Website
  3. Lead Generator
  4. Nurture Campaign
  5. Sales Campaign

Start by building curiosity with one-liner and website wireframe. Then take your customer to enlightenment phase using lead generators and nurture emails. Finally ask them to commit with a sales email sequence. Each attempt will further engage your customer and lead toward a sale.


Sales Funnel #1 One-liner

One-liner should make people lean in rather than tune out at a cocktail party. The concept of one-liner originally comes from the Hollywood. It’s widely accepted in film industry that a bad one-liner can sink a film, no matter how good that film may be.

Crafting your one-liner
  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Result

Start with the problem. The problem is the hook. Imagine being at a cocktail party and meeting two different people who had similar private chef business. First person tells you they’re a private chef. It never occurs to you might need their services. But the second person says: “You know how most families hardly eat together anymore and when they do, they don’t each as healthy as they should? I’m a private chef…”. Think about it for a moment. Who would you rather have as your private chef?

The solution could be as simple as “Our trucks run on natural gas”, “The shingles we install on your roof has a lifetime guarantee that they never leak”, “Our fun and welcoming dental office put kids at each”, “Nashville Bike store will fit you with a circuit E-bike”. Simple over clever. Commas are not your friend. Focus on one or two success points and leave it at that. Don’t let yourself overthink. Solution is the easiest part after all. It’s your product.

Result is the climactic scene, all-important scene that happens at the end of the movie. It resolves all the conflict. Consider this:

“Many families struggle to spend time together, but at Acorn Family Camp, we solve the problem of boring summers, so families create moments that last”.

That sounds good, but the 3 components (problem, solution, result) don’t connect well. This is better:

“Many families struggle to spend time together, but at Acorn Family Camp time stands still and families create connections that last a lifetime.”

Using your one-liner

Use your one-liner on your website, emails, keynotes, elevator pitches. It should be the central component to your entire messaging campaign.



Sales Funnel #2 Website

Remember your website isn’t a place for you to celebrate yourself. It’s a place you to stand in your customers’ shoes and focus on their stories. It’s great if the site is beautiful, but without the right words, it won’t sell much. Plan the right words before you design your site.

A wireframe will accomplish just that. It’s a long piece of paper (or digital page) that includes the text in a rough-draft drawing of what the website might look like.

Developing your website
  1. Header
  2. Stakes
  3. Value Proposition
  4. Guide
  5. Plan
  6. Explanatory Paragraph
  7. Video
  8. Price Choices
  9. Junk Drawer

Headline – People read websites in either a Z pattern or an F pattern. Different studies have revealed different patterns, but regardless visitors’ eyes do not move randomly across the page. And few images work better than smiling, happy people enjoying your products.

Stakes – Stakes is the failure section. A story without stakes is no story at all. We definitely want to include negative stakes on our website, but we don’t want to overdo it. When we become too negative, our customers start to tune us out.

Value Proposition – Value proposition invites customers into the value you provide. The inclusion of a value section helps contrast the pain points form the stake section.

Guide – All good guides in a story exhibit two crucial characteristics. They show empathy an authenticity. Imagine two responses from two personal trainers. First trainer tells you “I feel your pain. I hate doing cardo too and could probably stand to lose ten pounds as well. Come to think of it, I also love ice cream. Maybe we should go get some together. I know this great place right down the street.”. Second trainer takes his shirt off and shows you his six packs. He tells you he doesn’t eat crap like ice cream and launches into spiel about the latest research so you’re just going to suck it up and get that temptation out of your house. Who would you rather spend your money on? Empathy without authority fails flat, so does authority without empathy. Complete this sentence “We know what it feels like to…”. And remember to include 3 or 4 testimonies on your website to enhance your authority.

Plan – By visually demonstrating the plan your customers need to take, they see how easy it is to work with you and identify the next steps.

Explanatory Paragraph – A long-form paragraph allows customers to feel like they’ve done due diligence in researching and their purchase decision.

Video – Many visitors scroll down to video section without reading much of anything. For this reason, your video simply needs to repeat what’s already been said. Keep it short and hook the viewer.

Price Choices – People usually choose to buy the item in the middle, rather than the cheapest or the most expensive. Regardless of the product, people want something value for money.

Junk Drawer – Simply move the contact, FAQ, about, employment opportunities and so forth to the bottom of the page so that if people wan tot find them, they can.


Sales Funnel #3 Lead Generator

Give your customers a reason to give their email address or they won’t. Most people don’t want to give out emails at all, and fewer and fewer people are willing to do it. Still that’s good news for you. There’s one reason anybody who is willing to give you an email is very interested in your solution.

Ten lead-generating ideas to grow your email list
  1. Capture an interview with industry expert
  2. Create a checklist (50 items every well-stocked pantry needs)
  3. Make a worksheet your audience will use over and over
  4. Host an educational event
  5. The sampler
  6. Webinars
  7. Develop a keynote presentation (“how your shoes could be making you feel lazy!”)
  8. Scratch the curiosity itch
  9. Create a pitfall list (3 fatal mistakes managers make when coaching their teams)
  10. Open house (it doesn’t have to just be for real estate agents. Offer a free demo, cooking class, craft night…)
Crafting a lead-generating PDF

Section 1:
Paragraph 1: What’s a problem your customers are experiencing?

Paragraph 2: What is an empathetic statement you can make about their pain? And what have you accomplished that would elicit trust that you can solve their problems?

 Section 2:

Paragraph 1: Agitate the problem a little further. Speak, perhaps, to the emotional frustration a person may experience, when dealing with the challenging you help solve.

Paragraph 2: Offer a solution to the problem.

 Section 3:

Spell out the solution in a step-by-step plan or in a list of tips. Offer the five tips, expert advice, worksheet that can help your customers overcome their problem. This is the main content of the PDF.

Step/Tip 1 _______________

Step/Tip 2 _______________

Step/Tip 3 _______________

 Section 4: Define the stakes

What’s at stake if they do or don’t’ heed your advice?

Paragraph 1: List the negative consequences that might happen if they don’t follow through.

Paragraph 2: Call them to action. What should they do next?

It’s a basic template for creating a lead-generating PDF, but it works quite well.

Placing a lead-generator

Create a section on your website to advertise. It’s also recommended to use a pop-up but give the visitor time to browse and know the pop-up rules. Let the visitors close the pop with a labelled button instead of an X.


Sales Funnel #4 Nurture Campaign

The whole point of a lead generator is to earn space in your customers’ inbox. Understand there are two types of email campaigns you should do:

  1. Nurture campaigns – keep in touch with a potential customer and build trust over time
  2. Sales campaigns – close the sale

It’s recommended to send at least one email a week, though it doesn’t hurt sending as frequent as once a day (in some cases). Again, use short words, short sentences, short paragraphs and active language. It bears repeating that being simple over clever goes a long way in email communication.


Sales Funnel #5 Sales Campaign

If the customers feel they’ve already used something similar to your product or service and it didn’t work, you’re done. But if you can explain to them how you’re different and that they actually haven’t tried something like this before, they’ll be more likely to look at you through fresh eyes.

Easy sales email sequence

Email 1 – Deliver the asset your lead signed up for (don’t dive into a pitch yet)

Email 2 – Problem + Solution

Email 3 – Customer testimonial

Email 4 – Overcome an objection

Email 5 – Paradigm shift

Email 6 – Sales (call to action with limited offer, urgency)

What gets measured gets managed

How would you know the collateral you created is working? It’s easy to launch a campaign and just let it ride without checking in if it works. Don’t make this mistake. Even the greatest results can and should be improved upon. Questions to ask:

  1. Does one email seem to be working more than others?
  2. Can we duplicate what’s working in other emails by adding PS or similar language?
  3. What are customers responding to in terms of our message?
  4. What are customers not responding to in terms of our message?
  5. Are our calls to action strong enough?
  6. What’s the most confusing aspect of our campaign and how can we fix it?
  7. What emails are being opened?
  8. What percentage of people who come to landing page are making a purchase?
  9. What’s the open rate for each email?


The same way a fisherman knows where his fish are, a good marketer is constantly on his toes to look out for potential prospects.

Years ago, Donald took up the hobby of fly fishing. He mostly fish to hang out with his friends but the truth is he’s not very good at it. Still he loves getting out on the rivers. In this own words, “Every time I fish, I can’t help thinking about marketing. As a fisherman, you’re always asking yourself where the fish are eating and what they are eating.”