The test of time.

Ryan Holiday on how to promote products that outlast the competition and practically sell themselves.

The test of time.


Marketing isn’t enough. Here’s what it takes to sell a product that stands the test of time.

Marketing is all about selling your product, right? Think again.

Ryan Holiday, author and self-proclaimed media manipulator, made the case that only a great product sells. Marketing's just how people hear about it.

In his 2017 book, Perennial Seller, Holiday shows how marketing anything — from a two-thousand year old journal to an album from the 1970s — requires a damn good product before anything else.

Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom from this instant classic.

Have conviction about what you’re selling

Holiday says that before you go to market, make sure you have the best possible product. It's got to speak to your customers in a way that they'll want to tell the world about it.

Even the best admen will admit that, over the long term, all the marketing in the world won’t matter if the product hasn’t been made right. In fact, it’s a classic “measure twice, cut once” scenario, in that the better your product is, the better your marketing will be.

Perennial Seller (pp. 18-19)

If you believe in the quality and worth of your product, marketing it will be easy. You simply tell people about it like you'd tell a friend about your favorite album.

Don’t worry about trends

It's easy to get caught up in whatever's latest and greatest. But good marketing doesn't care about today's fads. A good product will naturally outlast the competition.

They are timeless, dependable resources and unsung moneymakers, paying like annuities to their owners. Like gold or land, they increase in value over time because they are always of value to someone, somewhere.

Perennial Seller (p. 4)

Invest in your product, then simply tell its story. If it's good, you'll be telling the same story for years to come and raking in the profits.

Creation itself is an act of marketing

While an ad can be creative, it's usually best if it's informative. If what you're offering solves a problem or fills a need, customers' imaginations will go wild.

And once you've built a solid product, it's not wise to rest on your laurels. Get back to the drawing board and figure out what other problems your customers need solved.

Holiday says this is crucial:

Even as someone who loves the challenge and creativity and rigor of marketing, I’m alarmed at how many creators gloss over creating.

Perennial Seller (p. 18)

So keep creating, keep telling people about your creations, and keep bringing in the business.

If you’re not motivated, give up

Holiday says before you go to market, ask yourself this:

What is your motivation? Because the answers will determine how likely you are to be successful.

Perennial Seller (p. 24)

If you're just trying to get rich or make a quick buck, you're going to lose steam fast. Instead, dedicate yourself to an interesting problem or customers you truly want to work with.

Don't ever take the easy way out

From sacrifice comes meaning. From struggle comes purpose. If you’re to create something powerful and important, you must at the very least be driven by an equally powerful inner force.

Perennial Seller (pp. 26-27)

Find the struggle, and you'll find your story.

Then all you have to do is tell it.

— Mike Doane


P.S. Don't walk away empty-handed

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