The path to marketing nirvana: The peeve, and the rush

Ian Lurie

What makes Steve Jobs so damned compelling? What about Seth Godin? Howard Stern? Richard Feynman? (choke) Rush Limbaugh?

buddha small

They’ve found Marketing Nirvana: The place where their beliefs and their product match up.

I’m not saying this as a pile of wishy-washy marketing-psychobabble crap. Marketing nirvana is on your to-do list. It’s on mine too. If you want to get there, you need to find your pet peeve, and the rush:

The marketing nirvana questionnaire

Here’s how I pursue it:

I ask myself:

  1. What pisses me off. Not in the people-who-drive-slow-in-the-left-hand-lane sense. I’m talking about the here’s-what’s-wrong-with-the-world sense.
  2. How I would fix it.
  3. Why I would fix it.
  4. What non-chemically-induced experiences give me a rush.
  5. How I can make those things happen more often.

Then, I ‘sell’ that which fixes my biggest pet peeve. And I do it in a way that gives me the biggest rush.

It changes, sometimes. When it does, it’s time to do something new.

Why I do what I do

Over the last 20 years, I’ve discovered that:

  1. Bad communications pisses me off. It’s just so avoidable. Most bad things that happen start with bad communications: World War I. Pearl Harbor. The NY Mets. The Motrin Moms.
  2. I get a rush when I help someone put the pieces in place, communicate more effectively, and thereby improve their lives.

In my job, I get to fix bad communications and help people grow their businesses. That matches up well. But only for paying clients. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not enough. That’s why I blog my brains out, and speak whenever I can, wherever I can.

I am not an idealist. No one with children and bills to pay is. But this blog is a nice way to satisfy the part of me that still thinks we can fix the world.

Marketing nirvana in action

I don’t agree with, or even like, Rush Limbaugh. But it’s clear he’s found a calling that connects to his deepest beliefs. It makes him very, very convincing to his potential fan base. To which I do not belong.

If you ask, the owner of the Subway near my office recommends the best sandwich. She’s always right! I could never stare at lunch meat 8 hours a day and do what she does. Clearly she’s found a slice of marketing nirvana (horrible pun, sorry).

Donald Trump, on the other hand, seems a bit… tired. Insincere. Is it possible his calling no longer matches his beliefs? I’d bet on it.

It works every time

The marketing nirvana principle works every time: Sell that which fixes your biggest pet peeve. Do so in a way that gives you the biggest rush.

When you do, your potential audience naturally finds you: You’re sincere, enthusiastic and totally believable.

The same, by the way, goes for your team—it’s a lot easier to get them excited about what they’re doing if you’re excited about it.

So, this weekend, put in a little time to find the peeve and the rush. Connect ’em to your work. Marketing nirvana.

We’re all selling. I don’t mean that in a cynical way. If you’re a developer who believes in using Ruby on Rails, you’re selling that. If you’re an auto mechanic who wants people to drive more American cars, then that’s your pitch. If you’re a brilliant scientist who thinks we should all understand the world around us, yep, you’re selling something. We all have ‘sales goals’ of some kind. Admit it, match them up with your life’s work, and you’ll find a lot more fans.

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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