Lessons from 8 of the Greatest Marketers of All Time

The greatest marketers of all time bring us different lessons, approaches and philosophies but they all achieve the same results — conversions and loyalty. Create your own marketing with one, or a combination of the most famous marketing techniques of all time:

Walt Disney: (Have the people making it, use it) To create a truly remarkable Disney World that could literally market itself, Walt had both corporate and park employees ride the rides before they opened to the public. In 1967 one employee rode The Pirates of The Caribbean, and told Walt that something just wasn’t right. Walt had him ride the ride again and again and again until he could pinpoint the problem. The employee, who was from the south, pointed out that nights on a bayou were usually filled with fireflies. Walt added simulated fireflies to the attraction days before it opened. The ride continues to be one of the most popular rides in the park to this day.

Mary Kay Ash: (Multi-level Marketing) Mary Kay Ash quit her job as a sales person in Dallas when the man she trained was promoted above her for twice the pay. She became a pioneer of multi-level marketing so that women could have just as much success as men. Her marketing innovations included — giving expensive gifts (remember the pink Cadillacs?), offering incentives for recruiting others, and an emphasis on direct sales through friends and family.

Steve Jobs: (Design matters) While Steve Jobs may not have been the first to merge design and technology, he brought it to levels of success never seen before. Customers don’t just want their technology to function. They want it to be cool too. Steve jobs taught us while design isn’t everything, it’s still pretty darn important.

Tim Ferriss: (The huge promise) Modern marketing genius Tim Ferriss has taught us that we love to consume huge, unrealistic promises, even when we know they’re insanely unrealistic. Admit it. The big promise of having anything in 4 hours is darn appealing. Join the “new rich” by only working 4 hours a week. Have the perfect body in 4 hours. Anything is yours in 4 hours. We know that’s impossible, yet we keep eating it up. We’re still working 60 hours a week, but we’re getting twice as much work done thanks to Tim. Tim taught us that you can promise the stars and still hit the moon.

David Ogilvy: (Never stop testing) Ogilvy is considered “The Father of Advertising.” A hotel with a $500 budget to pack the house on its grand opening was his first challenge. Ogilvy pulled it off with a direct postcard campaign and fell in love with the process. He was the master of the “split test” where two versions of an ad were published at the same time, but “keyed” with a unique way for consumers to respond so the winning ad could be identified. Then the winning ad would be rolled out nationally. One of his most famous quotes: “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Michael Phelps: (Be the best at one thing) Michael Phelps a marketer? Maybe not in the classic sense, but he has taught us if we’re the worlds best at one thing the world will open its doors to you. His incredible swimming skills made him the most medaled Olympian of all time as well as one of the richest. Phelps has spoken to a US President, gotten sponsors from Rosetta Stone to Subway to Visa, and received over $100M in endorsements in 2012 alone. Lesson: Don’t try to be good at everything, commit to being the world’s best at one thing.

Conrad Gessner: (Word of mouth matters) Gessner was the “inventor” of word-of-mouth marketing. Well you don’t really invent word of mouth, but you can manipulate it, and that is exactly what Gessner did. By creating an easy to repeat poem about tulips, he was able to familiarize Europeans with a flower they had not heard of before. In the mid 1600’s his poem had help spawn “Tulipmania” where people were paying up to $1M (in today’s standards) for a single tulip bulb.

Seth Godin: (Be remarkable) Seth taught us that people are attracted to the remarkable. In order to appeal to the market you’ve got to stand out to the market. You do that by being the best, being different, being unique, being cutting edge, being retro, being anything that’s not what the crowd is — in other words, being the purple cow in field of black and white Jersey cattle. It’s not just enough to get someone’s attention. You can run naked down Main Street to get attention. Seth is about being remarkable enough to get and keep people’s attention.


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