Marketers As Epistemologists, or scholars — with a direct connection to the market, rather than a bunch of ‘suits’ with sticks up their butt.

What’s my marketing hack? I started reading about metaphysics and the nature of the mind from 15–17? Just kidding? Not really.

Okay, now let’s get to the serious shit.

Also, please take note, I’m making scholarship look bad, for the intention of drama! and getting attention, and so that this concept is easier to understand.

Without our dearest scholars — us marketers would be basing our arguments on nothing or, in other words, as the wolf of wall street likes to call it ‘fugazi’.

The use of hyperbole in this post should not be taken seriously– but rather as a way to have a new way of ‘seeing’ things.

With this post, my main message is to take epistemology seriously, because of the potential profits that it could bring — and how being ‘right’ is very profitable in the DR industry. One right choice, one well built case — one big idea — is a 6-figure++ paycheck. And when you’re wrong, it’s a 5-figure mistake that just makes you look terrible, and burns a hole in everyone’s wallets (something I try my best to avoid).

The stakes are high my friend.

Basically in this post, I’m documenting a system that I’m using to be more ‘right’ in my marketing copy and angles.

And my claim is that the answer lies in taking some lessons from scholarship and academia.

After pouring through a ton of research before even writing sales letters, I’ve realized the deep similarity between scholarship and sales letters.

Few points I want to cover:

Warning again, this is going to be a dense post, for the scientifically minded — and not the ‘average’ cursory reader.

I’m sorry, but I don’t serve you well. And my mind doesn’t work simply too. So I physically cannot cater to you at this time. I’m not catering to the masses. My apologies in advance.

If you have a better way of simplifying these concepts, while retaining the depth — please tell me. I’m dying to know the solution too.

Also, I want to thank @Marcus for talking to me about epistemology, and the various scientific methods as well, and some of the references that he’s sent me with Karl Popper.

If you’re looking for someone who’s a marketer, that can scale more generic, ecommerce brands, he talks about scaling his clients products to 6 figures++ in sales through facebook ads.

Not my thing, but if that’s your cup of tea — take a look at his stuff.

Now, on to the thesis of Marketers as Epistemologists.

Positioning — or deciding where to place your product — looks a lot like a literature review in the usual scholarship setting.

In positioning– you’re thinking about what makes you special — you’re thinking about what more you can offer to your customer, you’re thinking about how you can ‘advance’ the line — or the insights that you have as a marketer– you’re thinking about how you can add to the existing materials of marketing.

And in a literature review — you’re actually doing the same thing — ish, because you’re looking at all the papers in academia — and deciding what direction or questions that are left ‘unassessed’ in this space.

You look at points of contention, you look at places, where the research is ‘fuzzy’ and inconclusive…

And you dedicate your mental powers — to decipher, and uncover the truth in these ‘fuzzy’ areas — and decide that this is something that the academics should pay attention to…

Or in direct response speak — something that your market should be interested in and should BUY NOW.

And I think that there’s something important to learn here.

To develop the skill of understanding the landscape… not just for research…

But really seeing and identifying the ‘gaps’ in the market, or in academic literature…

Business scholarship — says that this is the blue ocean strategy… where you min-max, your new ‘paper’, your new ‘sales letter’ — to address the current gaps in the market.

And why this is important…

Is because most people go by ‘feel’… they go by ‘intuition’… but they don’t understand the process that feeds into their intuition– they don’t look at the data steam that feeds into their decision making…

They just go by ‘experience’ or years in the market — and while yes, that can be valid — it’s good to take a look at ‘tweak’ the system that feeds into your experience and expertise.

This is what the principle of a comprehensive ‘literature review’ does for you, and for positioning your products as well.

You zoom into the research — specifically LOOKING for gaps… LOOKING for unaddressed points… LOOKING for biases and issues in the current academic/ marketing landscape…

And that way– you can build in benefits, into your sales letter/ thesis THAT ADDRESS these points.

With the mindset of the literature review — I’ve been able to be more intentional and deliberate in my research, not going down ‘rabbit holes’ that lead me nowhere — and instead I have clarity on the problems that I want to solve.

As a marketer, your time is limited, you only have so long to write a promotion… you only have so much time to create a sales letter, to optimize a campaign… and where speed is an issue, a constraint that will inherently be part of every single project.

I’m damn fucking sure that I’ll be focused on the right things that will bring me results.

So, basically with the concept of ‘literature reviews’, you’re able to be more ‘right’ in terms of the direction that you do your research, allowing you to have the fuel to create promotions that have a higher chance of winning.

Now with an awareness of what the gaps are in the market — which will naturally always evolve… as more minds ‘pour’ into the game…

How do you determine what is true and factual?

How do you determine the research that is real and solid — being able to see through arguments that are ‘fallacious’ by nature — and basically built on ‘bullshit’, so to speak?

You do this with a very simple, yet often forgotten criteria.

You look at predictions.

And this brings me to my next point on sifting through the noise– through the late philosopher Karl Popper.

Karl Popper’s method is simple

It takes 2 steps.

a.Is the hypothesis refutable?

b.Is it backtracking to support its claims? If yes, then there’s a chance that it’s BS.

That’s it.

Okay, now let’s get to examples, I’m summarizing a couple from Hank Greene’s video on Karl Popper… so if you want something more in-depth, you know where to look.

But basically, Popper says that Freud is bullshit, and that Einstein’s research method is good.

Freud’s approach was to look at ‘case history’ to support his claims.

Basically, he had a bunch of patients and with a bunch of issues.

Then he created a theory.

Then he used all the data sets from his clinical practice to fit his theory.

And Popper argues… ish… that if his theory ‘broke’… he simply found another ‘case’ to fit his theory, and it was naturally excluding the outlier ‘data sets’ that didn’t fit into his mental model, or he adjusted his theory.

So it’s irrefutable… another ‘red flag’ in Popper’s eyes.

Now, we look at Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Basically (I don’t understand the science behind it btw, not yet at least)… if some solar eclipse event happened… his entire theory of relativity would break down.

This means that his theory COULD be and WOULD be broken down.

Eventually that event did happen, his theory was proven to be correct, so good on him.

But the main point is that you have to be able to be ‘proven wrong’.

An example of this popping up in the DR industry is to ‘study the masters’ — to look at historical promotions that have done really well through direct mail etc.

The alternative is to look at writers who make bold claims, and see if their claims hold up. ( Something that I’m doing right now ). Or to just go through every single theory and test them in your campaigns.

This last point is more of conjecture — but I thought it would be fun to include.

My point here is that scholars are trying to write blockbusters too.

The biggest ‘dick swinging flex’ in academia is when you’re able to create a research paper that gets thousands of citations…

For direct response copywriters, that’s ‘home runs’.

Adam Grant’s work is a good example of this, he’s Cited by 34295 people. You can google it haha.

But I think in one of his talks — or if you look at his track record, the only way that he was able to do this — was through a ridiculous amount of publishing and scholarship.

He’s produced 150+ papers, all of which are chock full of references and new insights.

What I took away here — is that to be a writer, to be good at what you do — you really just need to produce. To optimize your workday for output — to create systems that improve your output — to constantly be refining and improving your systems to write more in shorter periods of time.

It’s as simple as that. Heard this from Luke Mills once too — and it’s still serving me well to this day.

This post helps me at least — to do just that. Take whatever advice you want. Discard this if you think it’s bullshit. But test it out and see if it works lol.

+You need a little intuition to start, there’s no way you can even create a hypothesis, without any speculation — so it is necessary — but eventually, they must be tested. I think Freud’s ‘starting’ strategy of speculation needs work — but the models need to be more ‘malleable’ and open to scrutiny. Some scientists start with a ‘fever dream’ which eventually became an accurate representation of reality. So these 2 things do need to come together.

+Direct response is more than just research, it’s intentional deliberate research. And you will eventually have to face the problem of sifting through the noise. Learning to navigate this trove of information has been one of the more useful things that I’ve done. I attempt to share my findings, and address this problem in this post.

Cheers,

Zander.

References:

1)Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Godel, Escher, Bach.” An Eternal Golden Braid, 1999. Bowker,

2)Hank Green, Crash Course, The Philosophy of Karl Popper

3) Profliko, How to be a prolific academic: The writing strategy of superstar scholar, Adam Grant

4) The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t, Nate Silver

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