Do Things That Don’t Market

Last updated: October 2, 2020

You don't have to market everything that you create.

One of the most repeated pieces of advice for startups is to do things that don’t scale. The halls of the startup hall of fame are adorned with examples: 

  • Airbnb founders personally took photos of the initial listings. 
  • CD Baby had no music recommendation engine, it was just founder Derek Sivers listening to everything that came in.

Here’s a site with dozens of additional examples.  

What this means is that you should do things that surprise and delight your initial customers, regardless of the cost of doing so. 

By design it also means that you can’t continue doing it for very long. Which sucks, because the services were better when these programs were active. 

As part of Growth Library I’m going to do things that don’t market. Going forward, each piece of content posted here only has one job: to be useful. 

I’m going to continue operating without giving every piece of content the additional job of acquiring new readers. That’s a lot to ask, and it impacts the types of things that people make.  

I want the web to be weird, and oddly shaped. I want a diverse collection of interesting experiences. I want creators to stay true to their mission, not sacrifice it to fit neatly into a box of easily marketed things. 

This post, for example, really has no marketable value. There’s no SEO potential. It’s not very long or in-depth, or particularly attractive. By all measures, it’s made for an audience that already knows about Growth Library. 

But that’s the point and that’s probably why people support projects like this.

Be brave, do the thing that you came to do, and don’t sacrifice to appeal to more people. I’ll bet that this is what you become known for — and that’s better than most marketing plans could ever hope to be.

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