How to Flip Marketing on its Head: Five “Marketing Heresies” to Build a Business

HADLEY, MA: When most businesses think about a marketing strategy, all they think about is buying their way out of the problem through ads, expensive PR campaigns, direct mail, etc.

“And that’s the least effective and most expensive approach–there are much better ways,” says Shel Horowitz, award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World. Horowitz, an ethical and frugal marketing expert, is a self-described “marketing heretic” who has helped hundreds of people build their business with his ethical, frugal, and admittedly “contrarian” methods. These are five of Horowitz’s favorite “marketing heresies”:

How to GET PAID DIRECTLY TO DO YOUR OWN MARKETING; it doesn’t have to be an expense

Many marketing methods actually create revenue directly. A few examples: speaking, writing books and articles, selling branded merchandise, licensing, setting up affiliate programs.

Why “nice guys” (of either gender) DON’T finish last!

Because they provide their customers with reasons to return! Most businesses spend about five times as much to bring in a first-time customer as to bring back a previous one. Businesses that pay attention to lifetime customer value understand that every returning customer represents a full 80 percent reduction in the marketing cost of that sale. And the secret of creating return business is to base your business practices in the “magic triangle” of honesty, integrity, and quality–while creating supremely positive experience for your customers. “Nice” is a key ingredient, but by no means the only factor.


By providing such a memorably positive experience that your customers can’t help but brag about you. and by working from the abundance mentality, approaching your competitors as potential partners, you will get referrals from them (and they will get referrals from you)–highly qualified, already sold referrals who are easy to convert to sales.

It’s EASY TO GET NATIONAL PUBLICITY, even for the very smallest businesses

“Working alone from a farmhouse in rural Massachusetts, I’m about as small as a business can be,” says Horowitz. “Yet I’ve been covered in the New York Times, Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, Inc, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other prominent media. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve had clients from several countries in Asia and Europe as well as throughout the US and Canada. The way to get publicity is to remember that the media doesn’t care who you are, doesn’t care that you wrote a book, doesn’t care that you opened a new location, doesn’t care abut your latest hire. The media cares about providing useful information or entertaining content to its audience. So if you find a way to present your story in a way that benefits that specific set of readers, listeners, or viewers, you will get covered.

Why market share simply DOESN’T MATTER for most businesses

How much of your capacity are you using? That’s a much more important metric, says Horowitz. “My share of the copywriting market is probably too small to even measure as a percentage of the total. But I’ve got a consistent full plate of client projects. In other words, I’ve usually got all the work I can comfortably handle–so what does it matter to me if others also have enough work? I look at business from the abundance mentality: there’s enough to go around. I regularly refer jobs that are not quite right for me to others, and even list 20 other copywriters in my book, with their full contact information. I’m delighted to have good sources that I can recommend and send people away happy. And you’d be amazed at how often industry experts refer jobs to me. These referrals are predisposed to work with me, and a very high percentage convert. It’s a whole different way of looking at competition.”

“You won’t find this approach in many MBA programs,” Horowitz says. “Too many use approaches that just won’t work for small businesses with limited budgets–and that don’t recognize how the business environment has shifted in the last twenty years or so.”

Does his approach work? Horowitz has been covered in numerous national media (see ), and a Google search for his name brings up 39,600 hits (as of November 13, 2005)

Journalists: Horowitz is available for interviews, and review copies are available.

Contact: Shel Horowitz, 413-586-2388,