Product DNA

I was talking to Andrus Purde (@andruspurde) from Outfunnel about marketing recently, and he brought up a concept that I found

Spray Tan Fallacy

In May 2013 I coined the term “Spray Tan Fallacy” in a blogpost on the ReferralCandy blog. It’s a fairly sim


The following is a transcript from a lunchtime talk I gave at Saleswhale. View this post on Instagram Had fun chatting with th

longform writing

In your opinion, what is the difference between copywriting and longform writing? Simplistically, I think of copywriting as wr

Getting A Job

interesting i’m looking through my own stuff, i’ve talked a bunch here and there about what it’s like to do

What are the principles of customer loyalty?

We all know that loyal customers are better than non-returning customers. But how do you earn customer loyalty? What are the p


A thought that’s been on my mind is – what company would I most love to work for next? What company’s mission do


“Marketing = positioning + gruntwork”. I see a lot of discussions about gruntwork (tactics, “hacks”, e

marketing automation tools for SMBs

I’ve been looking into marketing automation tools for SMBs. An interesting one is Outfunnel, which is a tool that integr

The Instructions I Wish I Was Given (As A Newbie Startup Marketer)

I was reviewing some notes from 1-1 meetings that me and my manager Dave used to have, and I thought I’d summarize a bun

Examples Of Good Content  – Extensive – broken into 10 chapters, has a very “magazine”

How to teach growth hacking to a child

The first thing we need to do is establish a meaningful context. Let’s say we’re selling lemonade to raise money s

Best SaaS blogs

When you ask the question “what are the best SaaS blogs”, there are actually at least two parts to it. What are th

Page Speed

Joen: I’ve heard from a lot of SEO’s that the PageSpeed score doesn’t really matter. Regardless I have spen


I was talking to a potential hire today about what my team and I do. It occurred to me that the way I was explaining things to

Levels of Initiative

What are the things that you do for work? And for yourself? How proactive are you? A lot of people think a job is about doing

How Can I Help?

By Si Quan Ong (source) “I’m running behind on my tasks.” I confessed, feeling embarrassed. Not being able t


The 16 Rules of Brand Strategy

Blog Positioning

Here’s a collection of relevant links on blog positioning:  http://tbexcon.c


eg. if a blogpost involved 2 other writers + design, and had a hard deadline, how do you reconcile the timeline? first I try t

Asking For A Raise

A friend messaged me earlier to say that he was chatting with his HR about asking for a raise. “He said I should just as

Looking Pretty

> Marketing is all about looking pretty (as a company) This is a complete misunderstanding about the fundamental utility of

Beware Formal Tics In Writing

Was giving a friend some writing feedback, and realized there’s a simple name for what most new writers struggle with: a

Contradictions in marketing

Perfect vs MVP “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood

Ogilvy, on Billboards

“As a private person, I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard. Where every prospec

Tesla’s Marketing Genius – Why Elon Musk Uses The Term “Gasoline Cars”

This was an old post I wrote in 2013. Elon Musk is known and admired for a great many things, but in this post let’s focus o


Ads Moz / Rand – What Are the Most Powerful, Mind-Expanding Ads You’ve Seen? [2016] AMAs, Interviews GH – Jason Lemkin,

Content ideas

Origin Stories I’d like to do a post exploring the origin stories of all the popular marketers and marketing thought lea

Networking Advice For Self-Conscious Noobs

A younger friend – she’s a History major – posted on Facebook that she was frustrated with her experience at career


Be proactive. Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen to you, because then you’re going to be mired in crap


I like words. Here are the histories of some words. Dashboard — originally about keeping mud from horses from getting in

Online ads

I sometimes take screenshots of ads that I encounter online. Here are some that I was keeping around in a folder. “Take

Indian Copywriting

When I visited India last year with my parents and wife, one thing that stood out to me over and over again was the subtle way


How To Succeed On SlideShare: Top Tips From The Experts – @slidecomet from HighSpark | Visual Storytelling Agency Interv

The future of “social shopping”

Wat is the real meaning of social in this day and age? things are picking up new names, just as how a phone is no longer a pho

Where marketing is headed

What people will want to read is things like tools and kits. Zoom out and talk about how even jobs are things that are markete

Singapore Startup Marketing Consulting

Last week, my NS buddy John told me that he was launching his first proper startup – and he asked me if he could buy me din


This post is a collection point for discussing the marketing of Singapore as a brand, as well as marketing that happens speci

Facebook ad examples

I thought it would be good to keep a ‘swipe file’ of ads that I encounter that I found compelling. 1 – Compa


What is strategy? The etymology of the word has two parts with PIE roots – strategos was Greek for ‘general’, or

Angry Customers

are a great marketing opportunity.

Growth Hacking  I don’t feel like it’s even necessary to make a distinction between

A list of my Quora answers

Your answer to What is the greatest word of mouth story of all time? Added in Marketing • Nov 20 Your answer to What is a go

Job Descriptions

Let’s look at some job descriptions. I’m going to use these to influence some of the blogposts I write next. Uber

Content Marketing in Singapore

One of the best blogposts I’ve written in my life is An Epic List Of 47 Referral Programs, where I simply curated severa

Experiment #1 – 10x Blog Traffic

This blog currently gets between 4 and 25 sessions a week. The most popular post are “Uber’s Six Personas“, fol

Marketing case studies

Real time marketing Oreo Superbowl 2013 Samsung Oscars 2014 Culture Manipulation / Need Creation Diamonds Are Forever Consider

Everything big started out small

We often look at oak trees and struggle to realize that they started out as acorns. Uber started as Ubercab, a luxury cab serv

Outrage Marketing – Pick an enemy and offend them

My wife showed me an article recently that amused me. It was written on LinkedIn, by Jacob Bass, a guy who makes and sells cus

Best Referral Campaigns

Originally posted on reddit. Hey, this is my jam! me and my team have been writing about this for over 2 years now: The most f

My favorite marketing campaigns

I like… How Warby Parker hijacked New York Fashion Week by being a little naughty and a little ingenious. How Red Bull c

Best Ecommerce Products

I’ve spent the past 4 years working in ecommerce, and as a by-product of that I’ve had the opportunity to look at

Crossing the chasm – how brands get big after first conquering the beachhead

Examples of how big brands started out by focusing on a specific niche explain –


Clay Christensen- what are we hiring this product to do? Milkshakes. We hire products to do jobs for us. Motivating customers


This is a cornerstone post for everything Ecommere that I want to write about. My partner Desmond and I run an ecommerce store


This page is a work-in-progress, a list of people that I find helpful in thinking about marketing.  Seth Godin He understood


I’ve always thought that self-promotion can actually be a really great thing as long as there’s an expectation tha

The final form of any brand logo is hypersimplicity

The final form of any brand logo is hypersimplicity “Can an illiterate child draw it from memory?” http://www.make


Have been a big fan of Tesla since I first learned about them. They were also the first stock that I ever purchased (just a fe

How to think about leads

WIP In the SaaS marketing world that I’m from, a lead is a person who gives you their email for some reason or other. Id

How to think about traffic

WIP How do you get more blog traffic? First you need to publish content. When you’re at 0, you can pretty much publish w

Sernovitz WOM

What’s in it for me: get your customers to do your marketing for you. The internet means consumers have a powerful say in th

Businesses when small

Whole Foods  Samuel Adams  Ben & Jerry’s  Recruiting, 2  Sales Product Focus  Online Ad Spend Capital

Marketer’s Curse

I was having a passionate argument with my colleagues about the intricacies of our landing page. What inspires a click more, a

Social Media

I’m a pretty heavy social media user, and I’m very curious about what’s up. Nathan Jurgenson has done some v

Best marketing campaigns

WIP How Warby Parker hijacked New York Fashion Week How Red Bull completely sponsors entire sporting events and does crazy stu

Different scales of marketing

There are several scales of marketing, so it’s actually pretty disingenuous and unfair to talk about marketing as if it&

It all begins with product-market fit

WIP If you ask successful people why they’re successful, they might not actually know the truth. (Spray Tan Fallacy.) Th

Faster Horses

WIP “if I asked ppl what they want, they say they want faster horses”- well- what they want is to go across the st


WIP This is going to be fun. I’m Visa, I’m ReferralCandy’s blog design. And you might know Desmond as the de

A marketer’s frustrations

WIP I never thought I’d actually become a marketer. At one point, my goal in life was to become a flight steward to pay

Marketers can be weird (and sad)

WIP I’m a marketer myself, and I like the idea of marketing. But I think a ton of us have got it wrong. And the end resu

“Social” Commerce

WIP It’s very, very interesting to me to see how “social shopping” and “social commerce” have em

Weird Al

I once wanted to write a blogpost about marketing lessons from Weird Al. Here are some quick notes. Be different – When eve

“Anybody can be a social media manager”

“How, then, does one differentiate between an expert and the more than 800 million amateurs who log into Facebook each d

A list of SaaS marketing tools I’ve used

Work-in-progress. Here’s an incomplete list of tools I’ve used as a SaaS marketer: Content WordPress. I have a lov

History of Growth Hacking

Quick timeline of Growth Hacking phenomena 2010 2010 Dropbox growth lead Sean Ellis coined the term- find a growth hacker for


Fred Wilson vs Marketing, 2011 Marketing is for companies who have sucky products. If you b

Brands I Like

Tesla I love Tesla. It’s a brand that gets me really excited about the future. I’ve written about it several times

content marketing thoughts

WIP Have a purpose and an opinion less stupid less bullshit less noise more useful more personality Commit to daily creation (

Brand Archetypes

WIP There are 12 brand archetypes. Innocent (Safety)– McDonald’s… Barbie? Wii To be happy, simply. Dalai Lama. W

Unique Selling Propositions

WIP, to be updated later “I teach people how to hit a golf ball as straight as they can point, or the lesson’s fre

Brand Stories

Rain Shadow Meats, a butcher in Seattle, makes it clear they understand the history of being a butcher. Their fresh meats, ope

The Lang Leav Effect

Lang Leav is underappreciated as a marketer. She’s a digital-first poet. She makes her poetry very easy to share via Tum

Don’t try to “Build Your Brand”, just help people

WIP I think content marketing with the intention of “building brand recognition” is a little too nebulous, too vague. I th

Referral Marketing FAQs

WIP How to ensure referral program branding fits your band How to write great emails asking for referrals How to set up referr

Make sharing effortless

WIP 1: Conspicuous consumption: Make using your product highly visible Some products are more discoverable than others. They&#

Work with influencers

WIP 1: Influencer Marketing: Identify the most influential/significant people in your niche. Beats at Olympics When we think a

Work with the press

WIP PR/Press: Work backwards from the share- identify the relevant motivation, and emphasize out. Consider the Ice Bucket Chal

Tell Stories

WIP Story: 3. Wow Them With Great Story: Contour lost to GoPro because of GoPro’s superior storytelling Made to stick: c

Unexpected Utility

WIP Your product should functionally solve some problem for some subset of people to an unexpected degree.  Practical value.

Start by dominating a niche

WIP 1: First identify who exactly you want the Wow to happen for- Facebook was for Harvard students “People are not one

The most important thing about marketing

WIP The most important thing about marketing #vvmarketing The most important thing about marketing Conclusion: the most import

Marketing Learnings

WIP Immediately smack them in the face with the meatiest bit. Tell it straight. People don’t have time for smartassery. Smar

How To Social Media

WIP Everyone should have a Twitter profile. It’s even more ubiquitous than email. It’s an environment that allows

The beginning of the end of growth hacking  This is bad for investors, includin

100 Greatest Products Of All Time

Work in progress. Light Bulb Internal Combustion Engine Nut and Screw Printing Press Shipping Container Safety Pin Velcro Lock


There are a few words that are supposed to be really powerful in marketing. One is FREE. Another is NOW, The last is YOU. Prob

Fictional Content Marketing Case Study: Selling Candy Online

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. Let’s explore a fictional case study: Suppose you’re selling candy. I

Recommended Reading

  If you want to learn about SEO, go to Moz. Watch Rand Fishkin’s youtube videos and scan through his slideshares. I’

Learn marketing by analyzing what’s worked on you

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. 1: Improve your personal understanding of marketing by analyzing the marketing t

How to deal with creative anxiety

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. Creative anxiety sucks. Horribly. Before anything else, here are the 6 steps you

Content marketing mistakes: Misallocating limited resources

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. 4: Misallocating limited resources. (BE VERY PROTECTIVE OF YOUR TIME. Seriously.)

Content marketing mistakes: Repeating what others have written

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. Mistake #3: Repeating what others have written. (“Why should I read your stuff

Content marketing mistakes: Not specifying the problem

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. Mistake #2: Not specifying the problem. (If it ain’t sound broke, they ain’t

Content marketing mistakes: Not specifying the audience

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. Mistake #1: Not specifying the reader. (When you write ‘for everybody’, you

The constraints content marketers have to operate in

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog. First of all, you have limited resources. Let’s not sugarcoat that, because the


I have accumulated quite a bit of content marketing experience and know-how in the past 3 years. I’ve decided to write d

marketing links

Link Building: Skyscraper: 



Reads I Recommend: Nelio’s Content Marketing Plan Moz’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO Rand Fishkin’s Why Co

Lessons from my first year as a content marketer (2014)

What I’ve learnt 1: Quantity breeds quality.  When I first started out, I spent a lot of time agonizing over what to wr


VV marketing blog The most important thing about marketing The most important thing about marketing intro- how I think everyon

Notes from talk by Baidu pioneer Eric Xu

Baidu – Eric Xu Introduction / Story I was trained as a scientist before I decided to do business in 1996 First part of my l


Nate Bagley, A single guy who quit his job and spent the last year crossing the country, interviewing over 100 of America̵


I didn’t worry much about SEO when I was starting out as a blogger, but over the years I’ve noticed that some thi


How is P&G’s marketing different from a startup’s? Why is content curation so crappy? What are the different w

Missing the point

I never thought I’d actually become a marketer. At one point, my goal in life was to become a flight steward to pay the

Perverse incentives in marketing

Marketers Can Be Weird (And Kinda Sad) #VVmarketing I’m a marketer myself, and I like the idea of marketing. But I think


Sharing Why do people share? How do people share? What should retailers understand about sharing, and how can they use it to i


Jobs iPhone #VVmarketing http://

Evolution of ‘social commerce’

It’s very, very interesting to me to see how “social shopping” and “social commerce” have emerge

evolution of social relations on Facebook

An interesting thing to think about. Most of us started using Facebook with no idea how it was actually going to turn out almo

prescriptive thoughts about social media

visa’s prescriptive thoughts about social media #VVmarketing Everyone should have a Twitter profile. It’s even mor

The marketer’s curse

The idea here is that marketers get into marketing because we have taste. We care about messaging, about how things are crafte

The customer is an abstraction

The phrase “The Customer Is Always Right” is such an overused phrase that we don’t think very much about it.

Can content marketing be artful?

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann   I was a write

Consider the Reader

“#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They

Emma Coats’ 22 Rules Of Storytelling

Emma Coats is a storyteller who used to work at Pixar. In 2012, she wrote a series of tweets with the hashtag #storybasics. I

Content should be modular

One of my most painful experiences as a content marketer was trying to write a really, really comprehensive piece about how to

You don’t have to be everything to everyone

If you’re just starting out as a content marketer, or as a writer, it’s easy to feel like you have to do everythin

The 4 critical mistakes content marketers make

They are… Not writing for a specific person Not writing about a specific problem Writing something that’s been written

What it’s actually like to do content marketing

First of all, you have limited resources. Let’s not sugarcoat that, because the more starkly you face this truth, the better

How to get people to buy t-shirts

> As of today I’m working for a screen printing business that is based out of my school. There is an $1,000 “s

How to develop an online writing career

> Anyone who writes often for marketing/advertising/a business/your personal blog, please share what you do and what your

How to reach an inaccessible target market

> How do you reach a target market that is by definition unreachable? Are there tools to help with this? > Basically, I

How to prioritize what to write for a company blog

> How do you prioritize (or come up with) what topics to write about for ReferralCandy? Good question. As always, it helps

How to distribute content as a marketer

> Every time you publish a blog post, or a new piece of content, what are the steps you take to promote that content? >

How to cope with full-stack demands as a startup marketer

> Being at a startup requires you to possibly learn (almost) everything. How did you balance these out?  My boss sometimes

How to be a ‘world-class’ marketer

Answering a question posed to me in person. The question about world-class is an interesting one to ponder. To use a sports an

How to be a world-class marketer

Answering a question posed to me in person. The question about world-class is an interesting one to ponder. To use a sports an

How to get better at marketing

This was my answer to a question asked in person. The FULL answer would be much more vast in scope. To get better at marketing

Why marketing?

In response to a question, “Why marketing, over everything else?” Well first of all, we live in civilization, wher


Hi hi! I’m Visa, and I’m the blog editor at ReferralCandy. (I’m actually looking to hire some freelance writ

Organized Violence

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the outfits were reversed– if it were dark-skinned men with batons and weapons standing


It’s really strange how we sexualize women’s bodies. Is there anything horribly wrong with the above picture? Why

Virgin Airlines Dancing Safety Video

A strange bias that people tend to have when working on “important” things is to think that things need to be somb

Unconventional Heroes

  A quick and simple way to make art is to use a lens that’s normally applied to one subject matter, and then apply


Some links I have lying around http:

coke why does coke still advertise http://blog.r

Marketing is a nebulous concept

Marketing is a nebula. (Originally, nebula was a name for any diffuse astronomical object.) Marketing is massive and it’

changed my view of marketing

Marketing Is The Most Work You Can Do Entirely Inside Your Brain I’ve always been a marketer, even when I didn’t q

Sheryl Sandberg speech at Harvard Business School 2012

Full transcript World is becoming more connected and less hierarchical. Everybody has a voice, etc. Traditional career paths a


Liking Principle: Attractive things work better… When you wash and wax a car, it drives better, doesn’t it? Or at least fe

Tobi Keynote at AccelerateOTT

  Air Jordan sneakers When I was 13 in some middle school in the middle of Germany- became aware of what was going on aro

Ev Williams – XOXO

A journey on the information superhighway – evan williams Hello friends. I want to talk to you today about the Internet, jus

Brands Sell Building Blocks of Identity

Successful brands sell you building blocks of identity. Here’s how this works. 1. Most people have some vague idea of wh

Power of Habit

The Power Of Habit is a book by Charles Duhigg about how habits work. There are 3 parts to a habit – the cue, the response a

How will McDonald’s survive the sugar revelations?

Interesting to read about McDonald’s rebranding. I’m not too sure how I feel about it. I think these are steps in


  1. Carrying the aesthetic all the way through “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re no

Banksy, on Advertising

The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving u

1000 blogpost ideas

1000 blogpost ideas. There may be a few repeats. 0 1 2 10 13 24 30 69 365 911 1000 1337 10000 00s 1d 1st 2010s 2020s 2nd 3d 3r

Stop spamming your blog at people Self-promotion isn’t inheren

People I reference when thinking about marketing

Boz *Changing The World [2009] *

Uber’s Six Personas

If you spend some time on Uber’s landing page, you get a pretty good sense of their various target personas. [2018 updat

In Praise of Airbnb’s Marketing

I think Airbnb is doing great things with it’s marketing. It’s selling a new idea: Hospitality. It sells travel, i

Everything Is A Remix

This is one of the strongest ideas I’ve encountered in my life. Copy, Transform, Combine.   http://everythingisarem

Faces on Cars, by negative_commentary [reddit] [–]negative_commentary 109 points 11 ho

My best work with ReferralCandy

I’m the blog editor over at ReferralCandy. Here’s my favorite writing that I’ve done over there. Some of it

Why I Am A Marketer

This is a quick and dirty draft I wrote while at work. There’s this Italian guy on TED- Ernesto Sirolli who said there are t