The Top 4 Marketing Lessons This Year

The Growth Report #42

Happy Friday My Friend!

Phew. 😅

This is the 42nd newsletter landing in your inbox since the day this publication first saw the light of day on the 14th February 2020 (the day of love, how fitting). The world surely looked a little different back then. Oh how unsuspecting we were what this year is gonna have in store for us. But today I am here to thank you.

Thank you for being part of this journey and taking the time to read these words every week.

And thank you for sending me your honest feedback. Your emails, calls and text messages are what encourage me to keep writing. Especially on the days I don't feel like it. 🙏

Today's newsletter is going to be a bit different. I reflect on my top marketing and personal lessons learned in 2020. This will also be the last time you hear from me this year.

I'll be back on 22. January with the first edition of 2021.

Stay safe and enjoy your holidays. 🎄


Today's topics

📈 Marketing Strategy
The Top 4 Marketing Lessons This Year

🧰 Tools of the Trade
My favorite tools, books and articles this year

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches
My 5 biggest personal learnings of 2020


📈 Marketing Strategy

The Top 4 Marketing Lessons This Year

In today's Marketing Section we'll get into the top four marketing lessons we covered in the newsletter this year (determined by amount of shares and views):

1. Start with the Market (aka selling ice cream on a busy beach)

It seems so obvious, but selling to and plugging into an existing market with a natural momentum is one of the best things you can do for your company's growth trajectory. If you are trying to create a completely new category or market, the odds are stacked against you. Observe where people already are, make yourself useful and with a little bit of patience the rest will take care of itself.

Read the article

2. What is obvious to you, is not obvious to your customers or audience

We may think that our knowledge, personal learnings or aha-moments are not worth sharing, because it seems like that they are obvious to everyone else. But actually, that's highly unlikely. Everyone of us (company or individual) has a unique blend of personal and professional experiences that as a whole overlap only very little with those of whom you try to reach. So just the same as we learn from other people who have done what we want to achieve, we can allow ourselves to openly share and help those who want to get to where we currently are.

Watch Video explaining this "Law of Obviousness"

3. Content Strategy → Document, don't create

The content out there all starts to look the same. Everybody copies from everyone. So how do we make our content unique and still produce enough to make a dent? Instead of trying to come up with new ideas every week, we can start documenting what we are already doing. Our daily client work, product development, collaboration workflows, hiring challenges, or reading insights, provide us with an endless stream of material that creates almost no additional work while being completely unique to you or your company. And in the sea of sameness your customers crave that authenticity and personal touch.

Read full article

4. The 4 pillars of a modern brand are: Community, Content, Curation and Collaboration

As a modern brand you are a taste maker. You lead the conversation and push the ideas forward that you believe in. It's a complex world and if you are the one that curates the best products or articles, collaborates with the movers and shakers of your industry, build a community of like-minded individuals and produce content that reflect your values, you are winning. And if you don't step forward, someone else in your industry will.

Read full article


🧰 Tools of the Trade

My favorite tools, books and articles this year

Following I share the books, articles and tools that have shaped how I work and think the most this year.

Best Non-Fiction / Business Books

  • The Almanack of Naval Ravikant - Pretty much the philosophy book upon which principles we are building our company.

  • The Boron Letters - A book of letters a father wrote to his son while he was in prison. Many great lessons about copywriting and living life with integrity.

  • The Bhagavad Gita - Probably one of the most important books I read in my life. It looks all woo-woo, but it's not I promise. It's about actionable, timeless principles that you can apply to your life right now.

Most Insightful Articles

Best Fiction Books

  • Dark Age - The latest book from the science-fiction series Red Rising. If you are at all into that kind of literature, go pick it up.

  • The Foundation - Also science fiction, but pretty much THE classic book in this genre. I finally got around to reading it and it doesn't disappoint.

My Favorite Tools and Software

  • Notion - I use Notion as my Life OS, we also built a business operating system with it for GrowthBay. If I had to choose one software to run my life, it would be this one.

  • Descript - My podcast creation tool of choice. It transcribes all your conversations and makes it editable and collaborative like a Google Doc.

  • Whimsical - Whimsical is a lot of things. I use it for mind-mapping, creating workflow charts, and to visualize ideas to clients and collaborators.

  • Webflow - I've used Wordpress all my life, but Webflow is better on almost every level. It has a bit of a learning curve, but the ultimate flexibility (i.e. not needing a developer) that comes with it is unmatched.

  • Things - My go-to Todo application since 2008. Still the most simple and effective solution out there in my opinion.

  • OneTab - A life-saver. If you are like me and often have too many tabs open on your browser, hit one button and it closes and saves all tabs in the app. Just in case I want to get back to them again later (which I never do).

  • Substack - The platform I send this newsletter out every week. I love it. It has only the features I need, not more and not less.


⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

My 5 biggest personal learnings of 2020

This last section of the newsletter is where I reflect on life's challenges, opportunities and the way I deal with or think about them. So I thought, it'd be fitting to summarize my main learnings or personal epiphanies this year.

1. When we stop obsessing about the end results, we are free to do our best work.

Once we drop the need to control the outcome of our actions, anxiety starts to magically melt away. Because all we can ever do in the present moment is giving it our best.

This is probably one of the most profound lessons not only of this year, but of my entire life.

2. It's about Who not How.

For years I was brooding over all the Hows in my life, thinking I need to do it all myself. When we flip the words and instead ask "who could help me with this?", we not only open ourselves up to more possibilities and opportunities, but also get to spend more of our time on the things we enjoy and are good at.

3. Spend your time with people around whom you like yourself.

When we regularly have negative thoughts about ourselves before, during or after we interact with certain people, it's a surefire sign that we need to re-evaluate those relationships. If we don't like who we are in the presence of another person, there is probably a reason for that (built up resentment is a big one). Or in the words of James Clear: "I’d estimate at least half of my frustrations with others are actually frustrations with myself for failing to set clear boundaries and stand by them."

4. Play the long game, because consistency is the gatekeeper to any meaningful progress.

Historically I have not been a very patient man. But I am starting to learn that meaningful success (in any part of our lives) can only be attained through steady, consistent effort. Consistency is the hurdle to clear. It’s the required standard to progress. And following lesson number above has helped me tremendously to stay patient and keep at it.

5. Integrity means that our thoughts, our words and our actions are one and the same thing. And our self-esteem depends on it.

So much of the confusions and frustrations in our lives are caused by our inability to align what we think, what we say and what we do. This can erode the sense of trust we have in ourselves (and the trust of others in us!), which in turn, can chip away at our self-esteem. But in the end, self-esteem is just a snapshot of the current reputation we have with ourselves. Every day is a new round and a new opportunity to show up and try again.

I have learned so much through writing this section every week. "Writing is thinking" as they say. It helps me to get clear on my priorities and the way I want to live my life. It's almost like self-therapy. So thanks for listening my friend. 🙏

That's it for this year.

Enjoy your well-earned holidays 🎄,

Sandro