3 Pretty Good Marketing Ideas

I can’t exactly remember the conversation, but several months ago, my brother-in-law Neale followed up by sending me a complete set of P90X, home workout DVDs.

I like to think it wasn’t some kind of “flab intervention” on his part, but I’m really not sure.

In any case, a couple of days later, I pushed the first disc into the DVD player and gave it a whirl. I have to confess, I didn’t anticipate sticking with it; I’m not much of a home study kind of guy.

But I liked it.

Mostly, I soon realized, because I like the instructor: A wacky, 50-something guy named Tony Horton who has an uncanny ability to talk and joke constantly while doing moves and lifting things that most humans (of any age) can’t come close to matching.

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In fact, and not that you asked my opinion, it’s my belief that this guy – his personality, his point of view, his odd sense of humor – is why the program is so successful.

How successful? Well, according to extensive research that I have been conducting since typing that question into Google five minutes ago, the P90X series of home video workouts generates more than $700 million annually.

To put that into perspective, if I generated that much revenue annually, you’d be reading somebody else’s newsletter right now.

But it all got me thinking about you. In particular, how the success of P90X directly relates to the way we communicate and market ourselves as professional service providers.


  • There’s a lot of repetition. There’s only a dozen DVDs in the set and so it doesn’t take long for everything to start repeating. A few months into it and you’ve memorized everything from the timing of the jokes to the intricacies of the moves.
    But the repetition helps. Even though I’ve heard it all before at this point, it reinforces the concepts.

    Your marketing needs to repeat as well: Same phrases, same focus, same point of view. That’s how people come to associate you with a particular expertise, style and approach.

    As I like to say, if you don’t feel like you’re a broken record, you’re not doing it right (I’ve probably said that before).

  • Not everybody likes him. Tony is on my short list of people I’d like to meet. My wife Linda, on the other hand, has no patience for him.
    But that’s the tradeoff; if you want to stand out, you have to be willing to rub some people the wrong way.

    Now look at your marketing. Is it memorable or, to quote my friend Betsy, is it “a white stripe on a white wall?”

    If your web site, newsletter, presentations, LinkedIn profile, social media activity, etc., look and sound like everyone else’s, you’re P90X without Tony Horton.

    Why does that matter? Because the information and expertise you possess is just the price of admission.

    P90X isn’t the best seller it is because they’ve invented some breakthrough workout technology that nobody else knows about. It’s a best seller because they’ve taken solid information and found a way to present it in a unique and compelling way.

    (If that last sentence didn’t give you pause regarding your own marketing, you might want to read it again.)

  • It’s OK to improve as you go. I actually have two sets of P90X DVDs. The original from 2002 and the sequel, P90X2, from 2011.
    In ten years, they made a bunch of changes, particularly regarding the warm up and cool down techniques. I assume that means they learned some new things and adjusted accordingly.

    But you know what they didn’t do in 2002? Wait to publish until they had time to conduct 10 more years of research to make sure everything was perfect.

    How about you? Are you waiting to publish content … until you’ve given it more thought; gotten more established; done more research; stockpiled more articles; hired the new marketing person; launched the new web site; gotten the big client; or whatever?

    Am I suggesting you publish junk? Kind of. Because even if it’s bad (and it won’t be that bad), the only way to write something great is to first write many things that aren’t.

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re not good at what you do, all the marketing in the world won’t help you. That said, if you think getting hired is about nothing more than doing quality work, you’re missing the bigger picture.

The frequency, consistency and zest with which you put yourself and your company out in the world, matters. A lot.

Take a page from Tony and pull yourself up above the crowd.

What do you do to stand out from the crowd?
Post your comments below!

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24 thoughts on “3 Pretty Good Marketing Ideas

  1. Charles

    Great article as always!

    I create whiteboard videos, newsletters, and website content for busy professionals.

    The whiteboard videos are a new addition and really help me and my clients both, stand out in a crowd.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I’ve seen those and agree, they are very compelling. Care to post a couple of samples here of what you’ve done?

          1. Charles

            Thanks Michael!

            I did a couple on “The End of the Ham Story” and “Boiling Frog Syndrome”, but the same concept.

            I’m partial to the fables, since I have three kids, ages 6 and under.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I wonder how many more years until the expression “broken record” becomes like “BCC,” where kids have no idea what its origin is or what it actually stands for or means!

  2. Cousin Brucie

    Were you generating close to $700 million, my hunch is that you’d still write this newsletter — is Tony still engaged with P90X? What could change is that you might have the ice cream party in Paris and fly everyone over, or, have the ice cream party every day at Kimball’s Farm or on your compound at the Cape, the Vineyard or Nantucket (with free transport).

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      You make a good point. In fact, not only would I have the event daily, in Paris, with free ice cream and transport for all, I’d hire Tony Horton to show up and personally train us in losing all that extra poundage we’d add.

  3. Rev. Cat Cox

    I’m a Reverend (Unitarian) and I write a pretty irreverent blog post weekly – directly thanks to you, Michael – as part of my Path of Joy ministry of spiritual guidance for individuals, couples and communities. Also pretty quirky: I help people resolve the conflicts that are holding them back from claiming the awesome joy and fulfillment they have always deserved with the radical idea that the Spirit of Life (sometimes called the big G word) is always and only about LOVE and is always opening us wider to receive to the blessings that are already lined up for us. Oh…and that solutions to conflict always exist which benefit everyone.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Now that is very cool, Cat. Where might one sign up for this irreverent reverence you speak of?

  4. Rev. Cat Cox

    One might head over to The Path of Joy where one would discover in a HomePage sidebar an offer of a free download “The Seven Biggest Mistakes of People Who Care” for those who subscribe to the aforementioned blog post, One Step on the Path, (which is not named in the offer and is also incorrectly and boringly described as a monthly newsletter. Yawn.) Obviously, like Frank Morgan in The Wizard of Oz, someone has been too busy “communing with her fellow wizards” to take care of piddling details like accuracy and pizzazz. (I have to fix this before my mentor, Michael Katz, finds out!)

  5. Rev. Cat Cox

    What a day for in-your-face learning of tech basics! Last meaningless post was intended to give URL – which your comment box does not seem to accept. A cursory attempt to google myself reveals the The Path of Joy without my moniker added – Rev. Cat – does not even list me among “The Path of Joy” options… a challenge to bring to my tech gal for sure! Ideas welcomed!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Cat! Just added your URL to your previous post. WordPress stops those generally to keep the spammers away. Looking forward to checking it out.

  6. Barbara


    Always great stuff! I also enjoyed checking out the whiteboard animation submitted by Charles! They are really cool! Thanks again for your insights and information. Makes me want to go out and get the DVDs to work out at home. I never seem to maintain interest in the home workout programs. I will get back to working on my website blogging and plan to publish an e-book before the end of the year.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Good for you Barbara! (Keep checking out those home workout programs and maybe you’ll stumble on somebody you really like. I think that’s what got me hooked!)

  7. Diane Spadola

    Just shared this newsletter with my face and body art guild. There is a misnomer in this industry that fantastic artwork will lead to the greatest income from party entertainment. I have said that it is about 50% personality and 50% artwork that makes one successful as an entertainer for all ages. Now, I have to revise that with an additional wedge in the “pie chart” that reminds my colleagues that they have to be able to communicate what they offer in terms of likeability and artistry…over and over and over again, the same way, for it to sink in and be remembered and be restated. Now if you can just help me figure out how to make 50 and 50 and 25 add up to 100 percent–I will be set.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thanks for sharing it, Diane. Sounds like you are on the right track.

      And I’d love to help you with the math, but, as they say, there are three kinds of people in the world, people who are good at math and everybody else.

  8. Michael McLaughlin


    Great advice. as always. The biggest myth of P90x is when Tony Horton tries to tell you that “Pam will show you the modified move.”


    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I agree, Mike! That’s the move for people who are in way, way better shape than normal people, as opposed to the “standard” move for people who are in unbelievably better shape.


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