Marketing Lessons from Outliers & Non-lifers You Never Considered

Lifer: a person who has made a lifelong commitment, usually in a certain career.

We all know them, our parents have likely built a lifelong career in one specific industry, profession, or company.

In some regards we revere them because we can’t imagine doing the same thing for 40 years, let alone 4!

That said, some of the most successful and influential humans in recent history have made powerful statements by doing the complete opposite and bestowed powerful marketing lessons along the way.

Like who, you say?

#1: Donald Trump

Business man becomes 45th President of The US.

Most love to hate him but you have to give the man some credit for his incredible acuteness to:

  1. Know exactly who his audience is (and campaign exclusively to them) and
  2. Leverage Twitter as a testing ground for ideas and opinions

Why not take a page from his book and use Twitter to feel the reception for new products, marketing copy and angles, or potential product names?

#2: Brandon Stanton

Bond trader becomes world-renowned photographer.

Brandon knew that life was too short to not do what excited him so he set out to photograph thousands of people New York City’s 5 boroughs and create a scatterplot mosaic of them.

Posting the photos on Facebook along the way was just an added bonus. Yet, little did he know he was actioning a content strategy and building brand awareness along the way.

It was through these regular postings that he started to pay attention to the feedback: the kinds of posts that received the most engagement happened to be the portrait style photos with captions below that revealed something fascinating about the person, or human.

Embracing this, these posts soon became his staple format, ultimately leading to the “Humans of New York” movement that has made him legendary.

Data really is king. Not only in business, but in marketing as well.

#3: Ina Garten

The barefoot contessa.

Government budget analyst turned cookbook author; some people have a beautiful and consistent thread that runs through the narrative of their life.

Ina, is not one of them.

Originally beginning in Washington DC under the Ford & Carter administrations, she felt the industry was stimulating but definitely “not me.”

Reading a “for sale” ad in The New York Times, she jumped ship and became the owner of an indie food store, ultimately selling the store and writing a cookbook that made her a bestselling author at 51.

If there’s one marketing lesson she screams, it’s “don’t hesitate and try new things.”

Constantly experiment.

Whether that’s testing new channels, customer audiences, or product features, don’t let your assumptions or Harvard Business Review case studies get the best of you.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in marketing it’s that you are constantly hit over the head with surprises. In dramaturgy, they call it a gap moment: a difference in your expectation of what’s about to happen in a scene and what actually happens.

Nothing operates in a vacuum; not even humans and the unintentional marketing wisdom they shed.


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