Marketing Lessons with Jack Butcher and David Perell - YouTube
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Marketing Lessons with Jack Butcher and David Perell - YouTube

by @alicellemee on Twitter

by @alicellemee on Twitter

Brain Drops 💧

Hello!

Welcome to Brain Drops.

These are notes meant to be quick shooters for the brain. This particular article is from a conversation featuring David Perell and Jack Butcher, 'Marketing Lessons', back in January 2021. They discuss the power of coining language, packaging your product, and trusting your intuition.

Vamanos 🏃

Marketing Lessons with Jack Butcher and David Perell

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Jack Butcher is the founder and CEO of Visualize Value. He previously used to do design work for companies such as Ferrari and Michelin.

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David Perell is a prolific online writer, teacher, and podcaster. Known for pioneering the art of online writing through his course Write of Passage.

If you're a twitter fiend, there's no doubt you've heard these two phrases before:

  • Personal Monopoly
  • Build Once, Sell Twice

And there's a good chance you know who coined them, too.

This is the power of coining language.

The Power of Coining Language

Both David and Jack have created terms unique to their brand.

People recognize Jack for Build Once, Sell Twice.

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David's known for coining the term Personal Monopoly.

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Both of these terms are unique to Jack and David. It's inseparable from their persona. No one else could adopt these terms without accidentally promoting Jack and David in the process.

Why Coining Language is Valuable

It doesn't matter how brilliant your ground-breaking idea might be.

If you can't communicate it properly, you won't get anywhere. The world rewards not those with the best ideas, but those who can communicate them the best.

Imagine the complexity of life as a gushing, flowing river. The river's intimidating, and you have no idea how to cross.

The water swirls with nuances, philosophies, concepts, and nonsensical jargon.

When you coin a term, you're coining an idea. This idea acts as a rock placed in the water. It provides a stepping stone for one to start to wade through the madness.

The more you develop the idea and make it easy to recognize, it then becomes part of the path people can walk through and collectively share.

Each stone allows people to make sense of the madness.

They support people's intellectual weight as they cross the river of the world.

Coining language is the spread and validity of an idea. As it gets recognized, more people use it to make sense of the world around them.

As a creator, coining terms is how you connect to others. If done right, it can catapult your brand or personal image into a new stratosphere of recognition.

Let's dive into two examples:

Just Do It by Nike

Just Do It

Fun fact: the idea for this campaign was spontaneous and morbid. The day Dan Wieden was going to pitch Nike a new advertising campaign, he was sitting in a diner reading the paper.

An inmate had recently been executed on death row. His name was Gary Gilmore.

Gary's last words were "Just do it."

Inspiration struck. Dan pitched the idea and Nike loved it.

What does this tell us? Firstly, it reveals to us that inspiration is everywhere. Even in peculiar situations.

Second, 'Just Do It' shows us once you coin a term, it becomes inseparable from its creator. No one could ever steal Nike's slogan. If they tried to imitate it, they'd simply end up giving Nike free promotion. No one hears "Just do it" and thinks, "Addidas."

The "Just do it" campaign was tremendous. Dan would receive letters from individuals who told them his slogan changed their lives. Some left abusive relationships. Others transformed from being morbidly obese to bodybuilders.

It resonates beyond finding a pair of shoes.

Visualize Value by Jack Butcher

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Visualize Value

The name 'Visualize Value' was originally coined as a way to explain the service to would-be clients.

It's what Jack was talented at - taking complicated concepts and illustrating them in a simple manner. VV was a description of their services, and it implies that your value as a brand then becomes visible.

It gave him an edge in the market because it zeroed in on his specific approach. Previously to VV, Jack set up an LLC for a company called Opponent.

But it's just not the same, right?

Doesn't have the same catchy-ness. Doesn't imply any benefits.

And as of now, VV has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, not to mention pioneered the creator movement.

But hey, if you're part of the Twitter universe, you already knew that.

Qualities of Coining Language

Alright, we've made a pretty compelling case thus far on the importance of coining language. The thing is, how one earth does one start?

How to Begin

You coin terms every single day. The thing is, you don't notice it.

You coin terms while talking aloud, whether it be through the dreaded Zoom happy hours or with family dinners. The key here is to pay attention to which ideas resonate in these types of casual conversation.

If you notice their heads tilt, eyes widen, or voice increase an octave, you're onto something. You'll know you've struck gold if that person laughs.

Laughter isn't synonymous with humor. It doesn't mean they find what you're saying silly.

Laughter is related to epiphanies. We laugh because it's a compressed way of looking at the world. Something we've always known but never had the words to describe.

In the advertising world, they would call these epiphany bridges.

When presenting a pitch deck to a customer, you're trying to get them to believe a perception about the world.

The epiphanies could be:

  • They've been thinking about the market incorrectly
  • They don't truly understand their desired customer
  • People have shown interest towards a new trend

You're trying to get the person to see the world in your eyes. Communicating ideas to them is how it happens.

When you're chatting with friends and family and they resonate with what you're saying, lean into it. Take that idea and run with it. You might be onto something.

Create Your Coined Terms Alongside the Internet

Begin testing your coined term on social media platforms. You'll refine the idea based on how people respond and continue iterating until you find something that works. David calls this the Content Triangle.

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Remember you can't coin ideas in isolation; you'll be doing this alongside the internet. It's crucial, for people give you signals for when something is working. You must be open to feedback and critique.

Here's an example of when I tried to coin a term that would encapsulate the idea of finding freedom online. I came up with "internet freedom," but it wasn't landing.

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Eventually, I settled on Internet Self-Actualization. I put the article out there and then began creating more content. Because what's crucial above all is output.

David and Jack put out 6-10 tweets a day. They have newsletters. Write articles. Essentially, they have a constant media engine.

Epiphany, publish, rinse and repeat. Many of their ideas fall flat, and they are okay with it.

You have to think of coining terms similar to owning an investment portfolio. You only need a couple of winners to be successful.

No one has made a 100% investment return. Make multiple bets, and put it out there.

What Your Coined Term Should Contain

You've been listening to your conversations, receptive on social media, ears and eyes peeled for a stroke of creative genius.

Suddenly - eureka! You might've stumbled on a gold mine. There's an idea that seems to resonate.

But the question is, how do you name it just right?

You need a phrase you can utter hundreds of times, that you won't get tired of. You're about to go through a mental puzzle.

It has to be evergreen. Ubiquitous and fluid. You're going to want to tinker on describing this idea.

Here's the qualities a good coined term emulates:

  1. Implied Benefit → "Learn how to write online" isn't as appealing as "personal monopoly."
  2. Parallelism → "Build Once, Sell Twice" or ""Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." Notice how the phrases mirror one another.
  3. Descriptive → "Paypal" means you're going to pay your pal (literally). Venmo was able to transform their coined term into a verb - "I'll venmo you."

It will take many rewritten iterations to find something that sticks.

What it boils down to putting words on paper and moving them around. And sometimes, it only takes moving around 1-2 words until you get it right.

For instance, before "Build Once, Sell Twice" Jack tried to use "Build it Once, Sell it Twice."

It doesn't ring the same, does it?

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When coining terms, read with the ear, not the eye. When you read, your internal monologue is reading aloud. You are listening to the words as much as you are seeing them. When something sounds good, it will spread farther.

On Packing Your Product

Coining terms falls under the umbrella of packaging your product. What you name something will tie into its final presentation.

Viktor Santos Unsplash
Viktor Santos Unsplash

Packaging your product has one goal in mind: enticing the consumer to unwrap the package.

Your product can be the most critical invention of the 21st century. But if you don't package it correctly, it won't matter. And for the record, packaging isn't exclusively design. It's the way you network, write, and promote.

In order to understand how packaging works, it helps to first understand the constraints of packaging. Because otherwise, packaging something is a gargantuan task.

For instance, look around. Pick an item - your cup of coffee ☕️, perhaps.

Now, imagine having to package it in a way where it's enticing enough to buy. You have to have a logo, name it something enticing, promote it, etc.

In order to avoid this overwhelming responsibility, fall on the Tim Ferris quote; "Make one decision to eliminate a thousand decisions."

You'll want to first identify your brand guidelines. These are the trivial things, stylistic things. Choose one thing, then move ahead. You can spend hours on irrelevant details like font size and shade of pink. Because let's be clear: these things do not increase the fidelity of your idea.

Constraints take away your responsibility for minute choices, and let your creativity actually get to work.

Constraint and creativity go hand in hand. Two best friends, if you will. 👯‍♀️

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There is another benefit of owning the same aesthetic. After a while, people come to associate it only with you. Who else sees military-grade font and immediately thinks of Jack Butcher?

If you found this useful, you can follow me on Twitter at @alicellemee where I post about freelancing, writing, content creation, marketing, and the future of work. Cheers.