Developers January 13, 2021

2 books, 1 chapter and writing online can teach you Sales & Marketing 101

Nityesh Agarwal @nityeshaga

I went to college to learn programming. I've never met a marketer IRL.

But in the past year or so, I've read some books and I'm confident that I now have a good feel for what marketing is.

It is one of those things that's easy to learn but difficult to master. (Unlike coding - which is difficult to both learn and master.)

If you're a developer trying to learn marketing, you'll find this useful.

Reading 2 Books and 1 Chapter is enough

I recommend the following to help you understand what marketing is:

  • Chapter 11 of Zero to One by Peter Thiel - "If You Build It, Will They Come?"
    This chapter was the first thing that made me get a glimpse of what marketing is. It taught be how great marketing is atleast as important as great engineering for a company. How marketers aren't just those manipulative people trying to sell you water during rain.

  • Influence, The Psychology of Persuassion by Robert Cialdini
    An uncanny number of founders (Tobi Lutke, Naval Ravikant, Scott Adams, Tim Ferriss and more) have called this book as one of the most impactful book that they've ever read. It teaches you six way how humans are evolutionally wired to be influenced. You'll never look at the world in the same way again.

  • This is Marketing by Seth Godin
    It tells you how to think about marketing on the Internet. Seth explains how marketing is the act of finding your niche and helping them solve their problems. How it is an act of empathy.

How Writing teaches Marketing

Finally, I believe learning to write well will teach you a lot of the skills that are directly transferrable to marketing:

  • Knowing how to empathise with your reader
  • The tradeoff between being thorough vs. being concise
  • The importance of rewriting
  • The importance of being lean and confident in your writing

Now, I couldn't find any good courses for developers who have never published on the Internet to learn this.

So, I even created a free newsletter course to teach this - Clear Writing Clear Thinking. I wrote a few short, 3-minute lessons to help people take their writing skills from Level-1 to Level-5.

2 Grandmasters of marketing that you've seen but never identified

Marketing is one of those things that's easy to understand but difficult to master. It's also ubiquitous.

"If you don't know any grandmasters, it's not because you haven't encountered them, but rather because their art is hidden in plain sight." - Peter Thiel

Here are 2 of them:

  • Tom Sawyer (yes, from the book) - he managed to persuade his neighborhood friends to whitewash the fence for him. That's cool.
    But then, he convinced them to actually pay him for the privilege of doing his chores. That was the move of a grandmaster, and his friends were none the wiser!

  • Elon Musk - he famously identifies himself as an engineer more than anything. He likes creating things. But he is the best marketer that we've seen.
    He successfully persuaded NASA, a government entity, to sign billion-dollar contracts. He made Tesla the most valuable car company in the world without spending a dime on traditional marketing tactics.
    Remember when he got the Tesla flying into space with a little Starman in the driver's seat?


"Everybody has a product to sell - no matter whether you're an employee, a founder, or an investor." - Peter Thiel

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