Book Summary

  • Marketing Made Simple Book Summary

    I was part of a marketing community where someone shared a confusing picture. Their diagram, representing their marketing funnel, was definitely not Marketing Made Simple. It sought to provide effective follow up to every action across every communication channel.

    I suspect that marketing campaign would probably be more effective than the one I will share from Donald Miller’s book, Marketing Made Simple. However, the marketing made simple book summary and marketing plan below is one that any business could implement AND it wouldn’t make a prospect feel herded down a path their don’t want to follow.

    Table of Contents

      Sketchnote summary of Marketing Made Simple

      A sketchnote summary of marketing made simple focusing on the five steps of a marketing plan.

      The No.1 problem with most marketing

      Most companies have messages like “Save time, save money”. The problem is, that could apply to ANYTHING.

      At my old job we literally used this as a test of a marketing message. Could we say it about some other computer software? If so, it was a bad message.

      The appeal of the “Save time, save money” message is from it appeal to our basic instincts – Time and money are limited and we need them to survive.

      While it is good to show how your product or service helps a person to survive, a message of “Save time, save money” blends in.
      When any company could say the same message, a customer can choose any company.

      You need to have a memorable message.

      Instead of a forgettable message, you need a clear message that sticks. It needs to be something that you everyone in your company can remember and say.
      Once you’ve got it, you use it everywhere and across your marketing to make sure it sticks.

      Three stages in a customer journey

      It’s obvious that not everyone is ready to buy from you when they first meet your company. Instead there are three stages in their journey (excluding when they don’t know you). (This is a simplified version of the classic “Stages of awareness“)


      When you first meet someone, there’s a lot you don’t know and a lot of questions that you’ll have. You want to learn the basics about them, get to know them a bit and find out more.

      Many prospects don’t go beyond this stage, they get confused or are distracted by the next curiosity. Have a clear, effective message helps.


      When a prospect has a moment of realization and discovery, they enter the enlightenment stage. This is where they know about you and have seen something valuable. They get how you are different and can help them with their issues.


      The final stage is when they agree to buy. To get to this point, they need to have passed through the previous two stages and be invited to go further.

      How the three stages related to marketing

      Curiosity – Explain who you are

      Once someone has encountered you, via ads or a social post, you need to explain who you are and what you do. You do this by inviting the prospect into a story where you position your company as the guide.

      This can happen in many places, but the main place is your website homepage.

      Enlightenment – give value / reveal insights

      The customer reaches enlightenment either by you explaining an insight or providing some value. This could be an understanding as to why they need your product or service, or how your product or service is unique and superior.

      This can happen through articles, podcast episodes and emails, but an easy way is with a lead generating PDF.

      Commitment – ask to buy

      To get a customer to agree to buy, we must ask them. This can happen on your website, in a social post and other places but the most effective is as part of an email marketing sequence.

      Execution – the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful marketing

      The problem with many marketing plans isn’t the plans, but a failure to execute the plans. It is better to have a plan which you can execute rather than a brilliant plan which can’t be realized.

      The plan outlined in Marketing Made Simple may not be the most conclusive but when correctly implemented, it will be more effective than 90% of other companies marketing strategies.

      The Five-step Marketing plan to make sales

      A 5 step marketing plan that works

      A simple five step marketing plan is all you need. It should include …

      1. a one liner
      2. wireframe a website
      3. a lead generating pdf
      4. a nurturing email email campaign
      5. A sales email campaign

      A one liner

      This is the short summary or elevator pitch for your business. It should be the answer to the question “what do you do?”
      The simple formula is

      1. State the problem
      2. Define the solution
      3. Share the results.
        This may be a paragraph long at first, but later you can condense it.

      A website that converts

      Most websites make the mistake of telling the company story or just DUMPING information on the customer.

      marketing made simple website mistakes

      Typical website mistakes

      • using insider language
      • Long headlines
      • It tells the company story not the customers
      • And they have a confusing and unappealing offer.

      A ingredients of a good website

      marketing made simple outline for a website that converts

      Instead, you want a website that will

      • pique your prospects curiosity,
      • give them a reason to go further in your marketing funnel (your lead generator)
      • and provide an easy way for them to buy your product or service.

      A converting website should include

      • A header section – with your one-liner
      • The stakes – what happens if you don’t buy
      • The value proposition – what they will get
      • the guide – the evidence that you can deliver
      • The plan – what the customer needs to do
      • An explanatory paragraph – great for SEO
      • (optional) a video – helps build connection
      • Price choices – An option for every budget
      • the junk draw – for all the important legal stuff

      A lead generating PDF

      Okay, you don’t need to have a lead generating PDF, but you do need to have a lead generator, and a PDF is a low-budget, easy to produce option.
      This PDF should be

      • worth about $10-20
      • relevant to your customers and your products – you want to “qualify” customers.
      • Short – so your customer can gain value FAST.
        You can, and should, experiment with different lead generating PDFs to see what resonates the most with your customers. You can also repackage PDFs in a different format (video guide/series etc) to attract different customer types.

      Alternative lead gens to a PDF

      People don’t sign up “to get the next newsletter”, that’s why we offered something of value in exchange their email address. But you don’t have to stick with a PDF, and one of these alternatives can stand out more.

      • A short video series
      • A drip email campaign
      • A physical product or free sample
      • an in-person event where you collect email address
      • a short challenge

      Whatever option you choose, make sure you give something valuable and the customer discovers your unique benefit by the end.

      A nurturing email campaign that build relationships

      Most customers aren’t ready to buy straight away. They…

      • May need to know you are the right company for them
      • Might not NEED your product or service right now
      • May need to wait till they have the cash
        A nurturing sequence helps customers build stronger connections with your brand so they like, know, trust you and reminds them about your offerings for when they are ready to buy.

      This sequence should include

      • valuable tips and insights
      • customer success stories
      • website Articles
      • videos
      • podcast episodes and interviews

      It’s a good idea to email at least once a week so you stay top of mind.
      If you publish a blog, podcast or videos, you can include those which will also increase the visibility of that material.

      Good emails…

      1. Are short
      2. Solve a problem
      3. Are helpful
      4. Provide value
      5. Include a CTA (even in nurture emails)
      6. Include a post script – repeat the main message & summarize your content

      What can you include in a nurturing email campaign?

      A sales email campaign that brings in cash

      In addition to your nurturing emails, you need sales emails.

      Which comes first the nurturing or the sales?

      Don advises starting with a sales campaign after someone downloads your lead gen. This makes sense for the customers who are ready now and looking to solve their problems soon. You don’t want to keep them waiting for your offer. (In truth, this is a small nurturing campaign).
      Once a prospect has completed the sales campaign, even if they have bought, you should add them to your nurture campaign.

      What goes in a Sales email campaign?

      Don lays out a simple six part sales email campaign

      1. Deliver your lead gen – GIVE the client what you said you would.
      2. State the problem and the solution – This email shows you understand their issues and how you are uniquely placed to solve it.
      3. Send a customer testimonial – This is your chance to share how a customer overcame the same problem. It helps the reader imagine themselves in the clients shoes as well as adds credibility.
      4. Overcome an objection – the best way to do this is with another case study or testimonial but one that addresses a fear. “We were worried that…(objection to buying) but in the end…”
      5. Paradigm shift. – This is another objection overcomer but in this case its about reframing the whole issue. A common one is price. “That’s a lot of money for X!” “It is a lot of money for X, but this is so much more than X, it’s…”
      6. Sales email – Just sell. Don’t make a pitch, just ask the customer to buy.

      The best marketing plan is the one you can implement

      There are definitely more complex and fine tuned marketing plans out there. You may even be able to successfully implement one and reap the benefits. BUT, many companies miss crucial steps and end up with an incompletely plan that is more flash than substance.

      The plan above is both achievable and agile so you can adjust when you notice aspects not working or need to bring a new product to market.

      Get a copy of Marketing Made Simple

      If you want to read the original book (instead of this marketing made simple book summary) a copy for yourself.

      You might also want to check out my book summary of Social Media Success for Every Brand which is a complement to this book.

    1. Social Media Success for Every Brand Book Summary

      Recently I read the book social media success for every brand, a social media marketing specific guide from Claire Diaz-Ortiz. This book is basically the social media part of building a storybrand. In fact, Claire wrote it in conjunction with Donald Miller and the whole Storybrand team.

      My motivation was simple: my company is struggling with Social media, storybrand has some good ideas, perhaps this book will help? As it turns out, it has. Here are my key takeaways.

      Table of Contents

        Social Media Success for Every Brand Sketchnote Summary

        Sketchnote summary of social media success for every brand

        The biggest social media mistake most companies make

        The most common marketing mistake (including social media) is making your marketing about the company and not the customer or client.

        This is one of the key ideas in Storybrand as well. The customer is the hero. You are the guide.

        Changing your social media to focus on your customer, not the company is half the battle. This should be reflected in:

        • Your Bio: how do you help the customer?
        • Your posts: why does this matter to them?

        Create a storybrand script for your company

        One of the core steps Claire advises is to create a storybrand brand script. This is a story arc for your customer and how your company helps them achieve through their journey.

        It gives you a map for a customer journey and the right language to communicate with them. The process of creating one is detailed in Donald Miller’s book Building A Story Brand.

        Sharing different aspects of the storybrand script is a great way to connect with your customer base.

        Build empathy

        • Post about your customer
        • Don’t post and ghost
        • Ask questions (and respond)

        Focus on Engagement not expanding reach

        Claire highlights a principle similar to a common business truism. Focus on engaging your current followers rather than getting new followers.

        This runs counter to many marketing team directives but it is based on common sense. If your current followers are engaged, then that helps attract more followers. And if you focus on engagement, then you are more likely to get repeat sales.

        It’s like the old idea that it costs five times as much to win a new customer, as to keep an existing one.

        How to expand your social media reach

        1. create great content – It will get shared
        2. influencer marketing – team up with people who have an existing audience
        3. paid advertising – advertise to spread your content.

        The Deposit and Withdrawal principles

        When posting, you should consider if you are depositing, or withdrawing. A deposit gives value to your follower, a withdrawal asks for something from your follower.

        Some companies focus only on withdraws with repeated calls to buy. By focusing on giving value, you capitalize on the principle of reciprocity as made famous by Robert Cialdiani in Influence.

        When you give something, people want to give back to you.

        These deposits don’t have to be huge. Value can be as simple as some entertainment, or relevant information.

        You can also make use of content created by other people and not just your company.

        Examples of deposit content

        • Valuable and informative articles, podcasts, videos
        • Quotations
        • Statistics
        • Impactful images
        • Selfies that don’t suck

        Example of withdraw content

        • Articles, podcasts and blog posts with calls to action
        • Impactful images
        • Selfies
        • videos
        • Statistics
        • testimonials

        Planning a social media calendar

        Planning a social media calendar requires an understanding of your company, your customer, where they are, and what is a realistic output.

        A B2B business who sells high tech equipment will have a very different social media calendar to that of a boutique consumer lifestyle brand.

        With a Storybrand brand script, you can identify where your customers can be found and prioritize which social networks you should focus on. It’s good to still experiment with other social networks as there can be exceptions.

        Next, consider your company’s capacity and how much content you can realistically publish. This may also depend on your content marketing output.

        This should give you a good idea about what amount of content you can start publishing. Next, you need to select a mix of deposits and withdraw type content that you can schedule into your plans.

        The SHARE model

        • Story
        • How
        • Audience
        • Reach
        • Excellence


        Most social media marketing is brand a not direct marketing, so your goal is to take a prospective customer deeper into your story.

        Use the Storybrand brand script and make sure your content is related to different aspects of the customer journey.

        You don’t have to tell the whole story in one post.


        How is all about the practical side of marketing.

        • Picking the right social media platforms to focus on
        • finding the right times to post
        • using a content scheduling tool


        Social media (and all) marketing is all about your audience and not about you. You need to put them at the center of your messages.

        Make sure your posts focus on your followers, not you. Cultivate empathy with your followers with effective communication and revealing the people behind the company.


        Reach is all about expanding your network and connections.

        The best way to achieve this is by focusing on the followers you already have instead of neglecting them.

        Create great content, connect with influencers and use paid media to expand your reach further. Don’t rush things but look for a snow ball effect.


        Excellence is about achieving social media greatness.

        Rather than sticking to ‘best practices” you should experiment and discover what works best for you.

        • Look for opportunities to connect with trending events (in principled ways),
        • be honest when you make a mistake,
        • look to delight your followers, especially grumpy customers.

        Social network specific advice


        Facebook is the largest social network. In recent years, it has become more focused on the people you know, rather than the companies you follow. The limits of the newsfeed mean that you can’t just make a page anymore, instead you need a group.

        Facebook (currently) likes groups and so shows more content that is posted in groups. This means you can share as a profile, then share it to your brand’s group. You can also use a group for discussion and connecting with your audience.

        Paid ads also perform extremely well on Facebook. This is partially due to how limited organic reach is for profiles, but also their ability to appear native to the platform.

        A final idea to explore is live video streams. Facebook likes to highlight these, and they have higher retention rates than pre-recorded content.


        Instagram is one of the most engaged social networks and users spend a lot of time in the app. Due to the limited ability to links off Instagram, it has a greater focus on storytelling and pictures.

        Instagram has strong connections with B2C companies as it’s a great way to connect with your customers and show your products. But it also works for B2B as a way to help build connections and share your story.

        Good use of hashtags and mentions helps grow your visibility. You can also use influencers to expand your reach.

        High-quality and professional images do well, but so do lower-quality more authentic images from a smart phone. Don’t be afraid to break things up and try variations.


        Twitter is all about the latest and breaking news. You need to share the latest insights and new ideas.

        One simple idea Claire shares is to find reports and new stories that are connected to your brand script. This could be the customer, their struggles, the cost of failure, the joys of success. Then share them with a short reference to your mission.


        LinkedIn is a highly engaged professional network that focuses on both personal networking and text rather than images.

        So instead of focusing on sending messages from your company profile, it’s better to get your employees blogging and writing long-form articles on LinkedIn. Other types of content can work well too.


        The CEO of Pinterest described it as a place for your dreams and ambitions rather than where you are now. Creating boards that are about how a person or company could be in the future encourages them to dream and rePin.


        YouTube works really well alongside other networks. You can use it to share the story behind a campaign. You can then post it on other relevant networks.

        The main point of social media success for every brand?

        There’s a lot of advice in social media success for every brand; some practical, some strategical. Some of the most common mistakes are making your social media all about yourself and how great you are, and not the customer. This simple shift will probably bring the greatest benefit to your company.

      • The Accidental Creative is a book by Todd Henry who runs a website of the same name. It covers the challenges of creative work, what causes those challenges, and five practices to help avoid those issues. I have written this The Accidental Creative Book summary to help distil my understanding and key lessons from the book. It is not a comprehensive guide to every aspect of the book.

        The Accidental Creative book summary Sketchnote

        A sketchnote of The accidental creative book summary.

        The Problem: being brilliant every day

        As professional creatives, we have to be brilliant every day. We are only as good as our last idea and our next one had better exceed our last.

        If we were amateurs then we could relax, take the pressure off and just enjoy the process. But that’s not easy when your income is on the line and your manager or client even more spectacular work than yesterday’s product.

        To cope, we usually try to brute force our way through creative blocks. We spend more and more time on projects, but that ultimate just leads to burn out.

        The Goal: Sustainable Brillance

        The three characteristics of great creative work.

        There are three characteristics of great creative work, but we can usually only get two at a time.

        1. Prolific – generating large amounts of work
        2. Brilliant – generating high-quality work
        3. Healthy – Not feeling emotionally, physically and spiritually drained.

        Achieving two at a time is easy but when one aspect is missing, we either are unreliable, mediocre or burnout. The goal, is to manage to achieve all three. To produce high-quality work on a regular basis and not breakdown or split from our families.

        The Obstacles: The Assassins of Creativity

        The three assassins of creativity: Dissonance, Fear and Expectation Escalation.

        There are 3 pressures that prevent us from doing our best creative work.

        • Disonance – confusion caused by unclear systems, tasks and objectives. This causes creatives to spend effort working out the task or dealing with the system than doing the task.
        • Fear – both of success and failure. We become worried about the repercussions of our actions and so trend towards safety and stability instead of taking needed risks.
        • Expectation Escalation – We can reject good ideas because they aren’t great. This pressure can come from inside the project, from our past success and from looking at our competitors. Many great ideas have humble beginnings.

        The Soltuion: Creating a routine that aids creativity

        We can’t guarantee that our next project will be our best, but we can guarantee that we will fully apply ourselves. If we implement a series of routines and habits, we can ensure that we aren’t overwhelmed with stress. Instead, we will have an abundance of inspiration to draw upon when we create.

        5 practices that help create on demand.

        These habits fall into five areas

        1. Focus – directing your efforts where they are best placed.
        2. Energy – whole life planning to avoid burnout and prepare for challenging times.
        3. Relationships – cultivating purposeful relationships to help each other grow.
        4. Stimuli – avoiding distractions and reducing low-quality input while feasting on rich creative input.
        5. Hours – Managing your time to ensure that important tasks get done.

        Adding more can actually help you get more done.

        It seems counterintuitive that adding extra activities can help you get more done, but it can be true in creative work. Most creative work tasks require a breakthrough, insight or motivation. When you are burned out, it will take you far longer to complete even easy tasks.

        By adding extra process and activities, you can be more well rested and inspired which allows you to more effectively address tasks. This means you can do more, and work more effectively.

        But this doesn’t mean you should work extra long hours. It may be better to take a good break and regain your energy than try to push through the creative barrier.

        Implementing practices that drive creativity

        There is a challenge between reflecting too often, leading to overthinking, and too infrequently, not benefiting from reflection. By adopting weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints you can strike a balance. These items can be used alongside other systems.

        The difference between weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints

        Each checkpoint looks at the forthcoming time period mentioned in the name. So a weekly checkpoint looks at the week ahead, while monthly ones look at the following month and Quarterly the subsequent quarter.

        Consequently, a weekly checkpoint is much more detailed orientated while the quarterly checkpoint is more focused on the big details.

        While the weekly lays out an agenda for the following week according to set in place principles, the quarterly examines the big picture. Quarterly checkpoints reflect on your principles and makes adjustments to apply in your weekly and monthly actions.

        Reflective prompts for the 5 Creative Practice

        The following section includes reflective prompts to bring these creative practices in your life.

        1. Focus

        Focus is about identifying the most important activities that will bring about the greatest results and match your values. It’s not just about work, but your personal life as well.

        Focus is also about being clear over what you are actually doing. A clear project helps avoid wasting time. This can come from working out what you are doing, or finishing a project and then realizing it’s wrong.

        1. At quarterly checkpoints, establish areas of focus. Make sure you list personal and professional.
        2. Set (quarterly) or review (monthly, weekly) your “big three” (These are big challenges you need to address. Make sure you write them as challenges answering “What am I really trying to do?”)
        3. At weekly checkpoints, Identify any tasks you can cluster together.


        Being intention with your relationships allows you to find stimulating, inspiring and challenging creators to help and be helped by. These can (and should) be people in similar areas or in wildly different fields.

        At your weekly checkpoint, check if you need to meet with anyone, what you should prepare and schedule your meet ups. At your quarterly checkpoints, consider your relationships and note times to meet.

        1. Head to heads – meetings with individual people where you prepare something to share that is interesting you at the moment and may interest them. A relationship to ignite the creative spark in each other. This relationship may last for a season. Meet every month or so.
        2. Circles – A group meeting where you share work, ideas and challenges to draw collective wisdom and accountability. These groups may come, go and change. Meet every month.
        3. Core team – Individuals whose opinions and whose perspectives you want on major decisions. These relationships should last a long-time, but they too may change over time due to commitments. The most infrequent meeting you will have.


        Energy is about managing your ability to perform. Some times you will be more drained than others. Some tasks and personal commitments can be more draining. Noticing these trends and commitments that will drain you allow you to plan to avoid burnout.

        Weekly planning focuses more on moving projects on a day-to-day basis. Quarterly planning should look more at regular activities and week-long projects or commitments.

        For example, if you have a major work project one week, it’s probably best to scale back personal commitments that week.

        • Identify any large projects and commitments. Pay close attention to possible conflicts.
        • Identify activities that should be pruned. Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it isn’t.


        Many of us consume mostly low-quality input that is pushed to us such as pop TV, the news, and social media. While there is nothing wrong with this content, it shouldn’t be the only content we consume.

        It’s much better to get some high-quality content in the form of serious study material and time-tested classics.

        In your quarterly checklist you should focus on identify the types of materials and projects you will do. In your weekly checklist you should look at your study, project and experience lists and select the best items for that week.

        1. Make a study plan with areas where you are lacking knowledge (25%) things you are interested in (50%) and What would be good for you (25%).
        2. Review your notes on material you have studied recently.
        3. Plan stimulating experiences (nature, museums, out of comfort zone locations, service opportunities).


        Hours is about allocating your precious time to all the activities you have listed. Although it is tempting to focus just on work, make sure you allocate time for every part of your life. This should include stimulation and unnecessary creating.

        In your quarterly planning sessions, look at the major time commitments on the horizon. Also look at your general routine and patters. When would be a good time to spend studying? What activities are at an ill-suited time? When could you move them to?

        I remember having a Polish class very early in the morning. I always arrived feeling tired and found it hard. We moved it thirty minutes later, and I was a far more effective student.

        Get your copy of The Accidental Creative

        If you have found my Accidental creative book Summary interesting, you might want to purchase a copy of the book. It goes into more specifics on how to reflect on each point.

        You can find more book summaries here.

      • Ego is the Enemy Book Summary [Sketchnote]

        Sometime last year I was caught in a conflict at work. I thought I was right and my manager was wrong. My justification was rooted in the training I had completed and the other project successes that had come as a result.

        I believed I knew what I was doing, while my manager had to be in the wrong. Worse still, she was wasn’t even letting me finish what I had started by was taking over and making extreme changes. Changes which completely ignored all the work and research I had done before that.

        The conflict intensified for several days until I decided that I had best just go along with what she wanted and move on to something new.

        As soon as that happened, I realised I had been a fool.

        Suddenly, I saw things from her perspective. I realised what she was trying to do. We started co-operating. Within a couple of days, it was done and the project was a massive success.

        Perhaps my original idea was better than hers (probably not) but even if it was, my ego had prevented us from working together or doing anything good.

        On the train home after the project launch, I ordered up a copy of Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the Enemy.

        I had reflected and realised that not only had ego stopped me from doing my best work on this project, it was also the cause of most of the issues I had noticed at work.

        If you are looking at this review, I hope you have had a similar epiphany of the dangers of your ego: it will make it a far easier process to change and absorb the points that follow.

        But if you haven’t, I hope this summary will still benefit you.

        Table of Contents

          About Ego is the Enemy

          Ego is the enemy came out in 2016 and is the second of Ryan Holiday’s books inspired by stoicism. The first being the Obstacle is the Way and the third is Stillness is the Key. Like the other two books, it is divided into three sections.

          • Aspire
          • Success
          • Failure
            Which follows the likely path a person faces in life. They aspire to something, they have some success, they suffer some failure, and the cycle possibly repeats.

          Ego is the Enemy Book Summary Sketchnote

          Ego is different, yet the same.

          Although ego is an challenge in every part, the way it appears and affects those around us is different. Along the whole path we need to remain level-headed, objective, studious, and living by our own standards. These are characters that help avoid falling into ego’s negative paths.


          When we start out, in a new endeavor or as those entering into the adult world, we are ill prepared for some aspect of our life. We need to keep our ego in check to develop the skills, and put in the right work in the right areas to advance.


          Even if we take the right first steps, success can feed our ego and send us down dark paths. We need to stay true to the path that brought us success in the first place, while being ready to abandon what worked yesterday to take advantage of what will work tomorrow.


          At some point we will fail. It may be in small ways, or significant ways. Our ego can lead us to blame those around us, preventing us from doing anything positive and instead growing in bitterness and passivity.
          We can do everything right and still be rejected and fail. The only response is to stay true to our virtues and ignore the lure of our egos.

          Ego is the Enemy Conclusion

          We need to keep our ego in check and focus on our core values. It isn’t easy and there is no guaranteed reward, but we can be certain that letting our ego rule will ruin our lives.