GHDR Review 3: New MMAs and the Need for Marketing

GHDR Review 3: New MMAs and the Need for Marketing

It is time for the third Groundhog Day Resolutions Review of the year. Last month, I actually set a measurable goal: add more “money making activities” (MMAs) to my project list. By that, I meant putting my focus on developing products I could sell. Why? I’d like to achieve financial independence through the dint of my own effort. It doesn’t have to be a LOT of money, either…just enough to be sufficient in food, shelter, and creating a buffer of savings. What this will buy me, I think, is the time to pursue the next phase of larger personal projects.

So how did I do?

New MMAs

There are three new additions to the list, which current stands as follows:

  • MM-001 Google AdSense
  • MM-002 ETP Pads
  • MM-003 Amazon Affiliates
  • MM-004 PDF Calendars
  • NEW MM-005 A5 ETP 7Task
  • NEW MM-006 A5 ETP 5Track
  • NEW MM-007 Donation

The A5 ETPs are the half-size variation of the full size 8×11 (or A4, if you’re outside the US) Emergent Task Planner, and they are also my first experiment in trying to sell a digital product with a pre-existing physical product counterpart. Sales have been slow, and this is probably due to the key lesson I’m learning this month: I suck at marketing. It’s probably more accurate to say that I suck at following-through with marketing after product development is done, like the many engineers and creative types who have walked this path before me.

From what I understand, the way to optimize your income through business is to first study the markets, then develop a product or service that fulfills a need. That makes perfect sense. However, as a creative type, my first impulse is to serve my individual need, not that of the market. So I am already doing things backwards, compared to the usual wisdom one hears about starting a product-based business.

I also am starting to get a real feel for how not marketing what you’re doing affects your prospects. I sunk quite a few hours into making these new things, which was hard enough. The marketing component is going to be just as time-consuming, which is a factor I didn’t really consider because it seemed tangential at the time. As they say, the devil is in the details.

On a related note, making products to sell has also made me aware of a pattern: I don’t directly describe what I do. I have a tendency to talk around what I do like a cheerily absent-minded professor. There are people who happen to stumble upon what I’ve made or said, decide they like it, and bookmark the website. However, this is more the exception than the rule. The reason for this is partly because I don’t have a ready-made label for what it is that I do, and secondly I don’t really like to talk myself up. So, even when I am ready to sit down and write some marketing copy, I’m already facing strong internal resistance to it.

In the coming month, the goal is to add another MMA (fast and easy websites, version 2.0, for local clients) and also kick it up several notches in the marketing department. Currently, products sell almost by accident, is my feeling.

Marketing Steps

One breakthrough realization I made was related to a 1990s comedy called Crazy People. It’s a movie about an advertising executive who goes crazy and starts an “extreme truth” campaign. I’ve never actually seen the movie, but I remember a line from the trailer: “Volvo — they’re boxy but they’re good.” It struck me that the problem I have with writing marketing copy about myself was the belief that I needed to use sparkling superlatives to make unsupportable claims. What if I just wrote as plainly and truthfully as the fake Volvo ads? An exercise I did earlier in April seemed to go well, so I am relieved. The next thing is to get it done.

The challenge of marketing, for me, is that I am not particularly excited about doing it. I’d like to be spending the time solving the interesting problems that flit across my mind like bugs asking to be squashed. Now that I’m aware that my resistance to marketing itself is a problem, I’ve been taking care to note all resistances. I’ve identified two primary ones:

  1. In the absence of anticipation of engaging work (marketing), small resistances because large. For example, switching from one project to another requires opening a number of different documents, folders, and web pages on my computer. This is just annoying enough that I don’t necessarily want to do it. I complain about this on last week’s podcast. Pushing through this resistance requires disengaging my mind and letting the body just do it. It takes some training to identify the resistance and dash by it.
  2. It’s onerous to click on all those icons and browse all those folders when it comes to starting up a marketing project, and yet I find that clicking on Google to research whimsical questions takes no effort at all. Perhaps this is a dopamine anticipation response: I am anticipating a reward of knowledge, which gives me a little zing. Not so with writing marketing copy, which is a chore.

In either case, once I’m past the resistance and the mind is on the problem, everything’s fine. One thing that has been helping is listening to Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin on their Back to Work podcast, which Colleen Wainwright turned me on to a couple months ago. It’s good to be reminded by people who you respect that the work is damn hard, and it also reminds me that I need to be searching for people who are driving themselves to do the work. I have no interest of being in the company of people who are not subscribed to the same program. This makes me sort of un-fun right now, unfortunately, but the alternative seems worse: to be an observer, not a player, in a space where I can make a difference.

And with that reminder, let me start this month’s goal: add one more MMA, and have marketing materials for all product-based MMAs for June 6.

This year’s Groundhog Day Resolutions Posts:


  1. Frenchris 13 years ago

    Hey Dave,

    Your post surprised me a lot, then it made me want to write and i hope it will help you. Because IMHO i think you are an artist, and a very talented and creative one. Marketing should never be seen as a burden, but rather try to see it as the extra boost engine that will make you go above the clouds and drag the attention towards you/your products/your company. Marketing should always adapt to you, your goals and what you want to achieve in the end, not the contrary. If not, it will not work. In other words, your talent, your creativity and passion are the marketing.All the rest are tools and methods easy to set up and to run.

    Here’s some pieces of advices from an old fan :

    • 1st, Marketing is mostly the product. If your product is good then YOU ARE GOOD with marketing.Yes, don t look so surprised at me like that! All i m saying is very logical, isn’t it ? ;-)

    • 2nd Take your time to discover what the “customer” really wants. Then you will sell like crazy. Apple did this with the Iphone, they understand what people REALLY wants, and it’s ALL ABOUT HAVING FUN and enjoying their phone!

    -3rd If you do just one thing; try to learn and master adwords. How ? Simple as that : ask the right questions. Ex. what a customer would type to buy on Google to buy my stuff? On my campaigns, with just 1 word, when i m paying Google 1$, it brings me 50$. Of course, it took me some time to figure this out, but at the end you could make huge amount of money and fun. Also be extra careful, some keywords doesn’t bring money at ALL.

    The most difficult task in this world could be easily done if you figure how to prepare to do it… in advance. (This is the best part)

    One last question for yourself, do you really see the gold in your hands??? I see it, and it s endless…

    Take care and keep up the excitement pretty please.

    Frenchris, The Groundhog french who finds creating MMA is FUN :-)))

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Hey Frenchris,

    Thanks for the very positive and practical comment! I think what holds me back is that I lack the perspective to see what my product really is, and I really am not sure how people are using it or benefiting from it. I hear anecdotal evidence of the various forms being used, and people have told me how they have affected their lives, but I haven’t put together a real sense of what people want. But maybe I should be thinking about what people who already have downloaded the products REALLY want, beyond a PDF or pad of paper.

    Another person commented in email to me about me being an artist, and since you had too I thought this over and I guess it’s true. I tend to think myself as a non-artist because my skillset stems from a lot of technical computer stuff, but the reason I make stuff comes from a sense of personal aesthetics and the meaning things.

    Thanks for helping me see a little more clearly!

  3. frenchris 13 years ago

    [NOTE: I edited the formatting on your comment so I could read it more easily — Dave]

    The “bold guy” you were talking about in the podcast is M Seth Godin. IMO Seth is very brillant, i bought all his books. But i think, he’s not helping the people enough because he’s too general, and people have to realize how far marketing can be practical and useful especialy those days.

    So here’s some quick free MMA i see for you (+M is a PLUS MARKETING):

    • Creating / selling custom made logos for companies. +M Why not offering them custom made motivational forms for their team ? -> This is elarging your offer adding recurrent revenue from % of (c) prints

    • Associates with methodogists like D. Allen GTD and sell through his company your printed PDF versions for companies.
      +M Win/win deal, easy to try, long term revenue, and will have an impact with a positive brand association.

    • Invent new pratical form.

    What do i mean by that ? …. Make the form on target and ADAPT THEM TOWARDS reaching specific targets…. Examples :

    • “How to motivate one person to quit smoking ” ?
      • to loose weight (this one is a killer ;-) ).
      • man to be better husband (why not?)
      • (feel the blanks > now you ARE the marketer!)

    And be prepared !

    Because PEOPLE WOULD RUSH TO GET THOSE KIND OF FORMS and /+ would be very willing to pay if they can MESURE and have a CLEAR VISION of their progress…(you see what i mean?)

    • M : Mix with one of the above techniques (partnership, cross referals, …). This could be the cherry on the cake of a bigger project, why not build up your own methodoly, including videos, book and of course your “consommable tool”. This is easier to do than you think, and hire people to help if you need to include videos pictures etc..your friend from the podcast is brillant @ creating magical pictures of people…talk with him about it…brainstorm…and have a try on my ideas.

    At the end, see the things wider and bigger, because people are lazy, they want the “whole package” ready to use…you can charge more for a bigger package too.

    And don’t forget the secret is to have FUN and keep the creativity flowing.


  4. Author
    Dave Seah 13 years ago

    These are all cool ideas, and I have no shortage of them as well. I think the un-fun part for me comes down to that last mile of implementation. Two areas, specifically, that I am falling short in:

    • Gotta write-up the offer in the first place, frame the deal, package it so people will sign the dotted line, lay it out nice on a crisp bed of pixels or paper. In other words: collateral.

    • Gotta make the connections, negotiate how the work and profits will be split, and nail down the details to make partnerships happen. In other words: negotiating.

    Neither of these tasks fall into the “fun” part of making things, but they are necessary parts of doing business. Naturally, I want my collateral to be accurate and clear, and I’m learning how to do in a way that makes sense to me. I don’t find it particularly fun, but I am also very exacting about them. It’s really another learning process, I think. What I’m learning is how to relax and have fun with it (as you have pointed out is necessary, and that was very important to hear).

    But I think you’re right in that I can take existing products that are already there, and quickly frame them as offerings that bring in money. The ideal MMA is one that takes care of itself (hence my emphasis on digital downloads and using Amazon Fulfillment). But there are some other low-hanging fruit too, and goodness knows that I need to make these offerings available SOMEWHERE on my website. I’m probably making too big a fuss over it. There seem like a lot of dependencies I need to get out of the way…and then I’m back to projects.

    I think there’s no escaping the drudging aspect of it, unless I learn to like promoting myself. Perhaps if I thought of it in sillier, rather than more serious, terms, it would be more fun.

    • Frenchris 13 years ago

      That’s really cool and the good news is none of those challenges are marketing related. ;-) Meeting people is always rewarding, and going half way is half the way job done. Here s my personal ideas (maybe it will look weird to you but i know this works!):

      1°/ Be a giver….. Samples…. Free ideas….Free Time (training, demos etc)…. The generous ones will ALWAYS be rewarded in the end. At the worst, you will get noticed, but dragging enough attention so your business will be growing. (that’s the main idea behind Seth Godin).

      2°/ Create the whole big thing. this one is to sell. (on your website or elsewhere, now it s easy to set up).

      3°/ Give away love… Think about the community, make THE difference, and bring that shaking awesome cool thing called love, that shows that you really do care about others in your products…. That is the big one secret. Nothing can compete with you if you care for others, others will care for you in return. (am I right ?).

      I know, i m going all the opposite way and against many marketers, moreover, i gave you all this to you for free, because you gave me at the first place great tools, and that ‘s my way to say thank you. (how about being logical with myself ;-) ).

      Don’t give up, be always proud of what you do, because you did it great.

      Best, Frenchris (sorry if my english is not perfect).

  5. Yvonne Root 13 years ago


    Gosh, I started a reply to you and in my own personal kindergarten way pushed some button which took me to who knows where. What I don’t know is if you got the part I had started or not. Further, I don’t know just what I wrote.

    Oh well, I just wanted to let you know. I REALLY LIKE what you do and the fun way you write about what you do.

    Marketing is one of those areas in which I’ve stumbled for a number of years. Like you, I’ve said, “I don’t like it and I don’t wanna do it.” What happened recently that has begun to change that for me is the ole’ attitude adjustment.

    It wasn’t just a matter of saying to myself, “get over it and get on with it.” That would simply not work for me. The truth is, I’ve discovered how very much fun I can have with the whole idea of letting folks know how great my products and services are.

    It is a game. It is fun. So far. Hopefully, it stays that way.

    Anyway, your designs, your way of writing and your whole site are just fun for me. Good Stuff!