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The Published Author Podcast

PERRY MARSHALL AND THE STORY BEHIND 80/20 SALES & MARKETING

Perry Marshall is an unusual thinker. He is a marketer, published scientist, and trained as an electrical engineer.

You’ve probably heard of Perry, and if you haven’t . . . well, marketer Dan Kennedy says that’s unforgivable. So now’s your chance to learn about the amazing man who also happens to be one of the most expensive business consultants in the world. 

Perry’s 2013 book, 80/20 Marketing: The Definitive Guide To Working Less and Making More, has impacted thousands of entrepreneurs, and changed the way they do business. Even show host Josh Steimle said 80/20 has prompted him to change things about his business. 

80/20: FIGURING OUT WHAT YOUR NOT GOING TO DO

Explains Perry: “The whole idea of 80/20 is that the starting point is what you're not going to do. And the starting point is who you're not going to sell to. And the starting point is what you're not going to sell in the first place. That is so important.”

He says that most people with good intentions admire people out there doing stuff and we think: I want to do that. I want to be like that. 

“That’s great up to a point,” he says. But you really have to figure out who you admire. Is it just because they are admirable, and who you really want to try to imitate. 

Perry got his first job in sales and marketing after studying electrical engineering. He says his book 80/20 is what he wished he knew at age 26. 

WHAT’S YOUR UNIQUE FORMULA?

Back then, he read books by Zig Ziglar and listened to Tom Hopkins’ tapes, trying to figure out how to apply their formulas. But eventually Perry came to realize that not all formulas work for all people. Most people have their unique approach to persuading people and working with people. 

From that realization, his foundation for 80/20 was born, and also Perry’s well-known Marketing DNA Test. He says it is extremely accurate and helps people figure out how they actually persuade in the first place. “I believe that people have a go-to default way that they get other human beings to cooperate with them.”

Perry kind of fell into writing by accident. When he landed in a sales and marketing job he liked, his boss asked him to write an article for a trade magazine because he didn’t like writing. Perry was paid $500 per article which, years ago, was a decent sum of money. Perry loved the work.

WRITING A BOOK HE WASN'T INTERESTED IN LED TO INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM

Perry’s magazine writing drew attention to his work. Eventually, a publisher contacted him, asking him to write Industrial Ethernet

Even though Perry knew nothing about the subject, he accepted the book project, knowing that if he wrote Industrial Ethernet he would automatically become a thought leader in that field. 

He was right. Although working on Industrial Ethernet was in Perry’s words “a real pain in the butt to do”, it opened up immense new opportunities, massively lifting his profile and—15 years later—leading to the world's largest science prize for basic research. The Evolution 2.0 Prize, with judges from Harvard, Oxford and MIT iis 10 times the size of the Nobel $10 million technology prize.

Perry explains that Industrial Ethernet was a small but absolutely necessary doorway for him to be able to write Evolution 2.0, about evolutionary biology and genetic code. 

Adding context, Perry explains evolutionary theory is a field in which those in the know aren’t that open to an outsider showing up and telling them something new. 

“But the fact that I had written an ethernet book for the International Society of Automation (ISA) meant that people recognized I knew what I was talking about.”

THE LONG JOURNEY TO 80/20

Perry had quite a journey to travel before being ready to write 80/20 after the success of Evolution 2.0. After being laid off and simply not resonating with the Zig Zigler types of the world, Perry registered for a direct marketing even by Dan Kenney.

The logic of direct marketing formulas really appealed to Perry. “That whole: ‘We mailed out 10,000 letters, and then we got, you know, 1.7% of the people to respond. And then we sold X number of stuff. And we had an ROI of X’. 

“I was: ‘I get this! This actually makes sense’,” says Perry, who then moved into direct marketing. This was back in 1997, right at the start of the Internet. 

TIMING AND TECHNOLOGY BRING NEXT BIG BREAK

Perry recalls: “I remember reading an article where this guy said that the world just did a 180-degree shift. He said that it used to be that the marketers and salespeople were chasing the customers.”

The idea of being able to get right before consumers made sense to Perry who, at a web seminar, learned about keyword searches and what kinds of searches were taking place. “And so I wrote a book called The Ultimate Guide To Google Adwords.

The book is the bestselling guide ever written on Google ads, and is now into its sixth edition. 

DON’T DEFINE YOURSELF TOO BROADLY

Perry says that the big lesson he’s learned through his career is not to define himself too broadly. 

“Freelancers, consultants, and people like that. They're ‘ I can make your website and I can do your advertising. I can do this. And I can do that.’

“But there are 10,000 other people that can do those things. And even if you're better at those things, which you're probably not, nobody knows why they should pick you as somebody else.”

KNOW YOUR SPACE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE

Perry explains that the reason his clients picked him was because he understood industrial networking, and could prove it. He knew the language, the vendors, the customers . . . the whole space. 

“I unquestionably knew it better than anybody else wearing a direct marketing hat.”

Meanwhile, Perry was building a niche as a subject matter expert in marketing, which positioned him perfectly for success when Google rose into prominence.

“All of a sudden, six months later, I wake up, and I am a Google expert! And there aren't hardly any other Google advertising experts anywhere. And so this became a much bigger deal than the previous thing. It just kind of swept the other one (industrial networking) aside eventually. 

WISDOM IN OFFICE MEMOS

Perry’s latest book, released last month, is called Memos From The Head Office. He says: “There are a gazillion books on business strategy, but businesses find inspiration from elsewhere.”

This is a book about cultivating that uncommon wisdom that inspires. It’s made up of about 18 stories from different entrepreneurs that talk about how inspiration arose. Says Perry: “It’s a very unusual book and I think people will find it very, very interesting.”

Learn more: If you got a lot from this episode, listen to:

Author of 15 Books Proves Success Comes From Growth Mindset, Adaptability, Curiosity

And:

Overcome Imposter Syndrome To Finish Your Book

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ABOUT THE HOST

The Published Author Podcast is hosted by Josh Steimle, founder of Published Author. Josh is a book author himself and his article writing has been featured in over two dozen publications including Time, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, and TechCrunch. He's a TEDx speaker, the founder of the global marketing agency MWI, a skater, father, and husband, and lives on a horse farm in Boston. Learn more at JoshSteimle.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Today, my guest is Perry Marshall. I read Perry's book, 80/20 Sales and Marketing, a few years ago. And it changed my entire way of looking at my business and my life. I can point to several substantial and permanent changes I've made in my business because of his book. And it's privileged to have him on the show today. Perry, welcome to the show.

Perry Marshall:

Yeah. It's great to be here. Happy to be talking to you. All from Chicago to Boston, so.

Josh Steimle:

All right. Well, we want to dive into your book history and your career as an author. But before we get there, give us a little more background on who you are as a person, where you came from, what were some of the events that shaped you in your life.

Perry Marshall:

So I'm a pastor's kid from Lincoln, Nebraska, studied electrical engineering, married my high school sweetheart, moved to Chicago. And when Laura was about three months pregnant with our first child, I got laid off from my engineering job. And if I wanted to stay in Chicago, I had to, like, do something different. And so I ended up in sales. And that was a rather rude awakening. And I guess you can say that 80/20 Sales and Marketing is a bunch of stuff I wish I knew when I was 26, and like thrown into the lake and expected to swim. In fact, there's a lot of layers to that. So, for example, we made a rather sophisticated tool called the marketing DNA test, which is extremely accurate. And it helps you figure out how do you actually persuade in the first place. Like I believe that people have a go to default way that they get other human beings to cooperate with them. And some people like they get up on a stage and they bang a drum. And they get everybody excited about it. And other people do it with spreadsheets, and graphs, and charts. And like, these are completely different ways of being in the world. And so like, when I was in sales, and like cutting my teeth, I would listen to these like Zig Ziglar, and Tom Hopkins’ tapes, and I would read these books, and they would give you these formulas. But the formula, it took me a long time to figure out that formula will only work for a certain kind of person. Okay. And so, you know, it only took me 20 years to figure this out. Right. But I started to figure out, really, everybody enlists cooperation from other people, like everybody who gets anywhere in life, you know. And it's not like, there are some personalities that could just never be successful. There's all kinds of like, the world is just full of all kinds of crazy personalities that managed to do what they're trying to do. But they figure out how to do it their way. And so I think people can bypass years of pain and suffering and toil and rejection and frustration and self recrimination, right? Like, why can't I? What's the matter with me? Why can't I do this? Well, maybe you're not supposed to be doing this. And the whole idea of 80/20, which we can get into, is that the starting point is what you're not going to do. And the starting point is who you're not going to sell to. And the starting point is what you're not going to sell in the first place. And so that is so important. And I think, you know, all of us with very good intentions, we admire people that are out there doing stuff. And we go, I want to do that. I want to be like that. And that's great up to a point. But you got to really figure out, you know, who you admire just because it's admirable, and who you really try to imitate.

Josh Steimle:

Now 80/20 wasn't the first book that you wrote those. Tell us a bit about your journey before that, and how that led to your other books.

Perry Marshall:

When I was -- so I went through a few iterations, I finally found a job in marketing that actually worked for me. And I was basically a sales and marketing manager and I'm sending emails. And I'm talking to people on the phone about hardware and software and stuff. And my boss was asked to write a magazine article for a trade magazine. And his friend said, oh, Mike, this is like a golden opportunity because if a magazine, you know, like, this is like the best kind of publicity you could get is like editorial space in a magazine. And so he did it. And he ground his way through that. Mike was not a writer. he did not enjoy writing. And when he got done, he goes, man, never again. I know, in theory, that was a great thing to do. But that was like tearing my hair out. He goes, Perry, if you ever want to write magazine articles, I'll pay you 500 bucks. And I go, hang on a second. You will? And, Josh, you, you've been in this business.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, it's like a dream come true. It's like, wait, you're going to pay me to do something I like doing already.

Perry Marshall:

Right. And so like, uh, you know, I might latch on to that. And I did. Well, so I started doing that. And it was like, at that time, I mean, I get a wife and two or three kids, and, you know, like babies at home. And young guy, late 20s, scrapping, trying to make things happen. And so like an extra 500 bucks on top of my base on my commission that yeah, oh, yeah, like, that makes a difference. So I started doing that. And it worked. And he was happy to be paying me for that. And one day, I get this phone call from a book acquisitions editor at one of these, well, it was at IISA, which is a professional society for process engineers. And he goes, we need somebody to write an Ethernet book. And I like your articles. And I go, well, I don't know anything about Ethernet. I know about all these other networks. And he goes, well, we don't want a book on these other networks. We want an Ethernet book. And I like your writing style. So if you want it, you got it. And I'm like, okay. And so I ended up learning Ethernet, so I could write a book. But see, I knew, I knew that the guy that writes the book has a level of authority. And I already knew from writing all those magazine articles, that if I'm the first guy to write a book on Ethernet for the industrial space, which was the case, that I'm like, first mover advantage, and, like, the default thought leader. And so, you know, yeah, Perry, it's a real pain in the butt to go do this project, write a book. In fact, you got to research the thing to death before you can write the book. But if you do this, that's probably a good idea. And so I did. And so my book Industrial Ethernet, which is, it is a page turner. I'm telling you. You are going to love this book. You know, it's all about how ones and zeros go back and forth on the Internet, basically. Well, so I wrote this book, and it did open doors for me. Like there's a, after I hung up my shingle, there's a client I got that I'm almost certain I wouldn't have got, if I hadn’t wrote that book. It was like, okay, he's one of us. He knows, like, how many marketing guys understand that, right? And so it definitely helped me know. What's interesting, I think, even more than all of that is that I had no idea at that time. But if you fast forward in the future, that book was going to be a little tiny, but absolutely necessary doorway for me to be able to write my Evolution 2.0 book, which is about evolutionary biology and genetic code. And it was like, this is a field where nobody is interested in another outsider showing up and telling them something new. Like, evolutionary biology is one of the most resistant to evolution fields that there is. They really like their tired old stories. But the fact that I had written an Ethernet book for the world's largest Society of process control engineers, man, this guy absolutely knows what he's talking about when it comes to ones and zeros. And so you can't just dismiss him. And one thing led to another over 15 years. And now it's the world's largest science prize for basic research is 10 times the size of Nobel, $10 million technology prize. So, I guess, if there's a theme in this, it's that I found. So writing and explaining things is how I sell. I sell by teaching. And that would open these little doors. And I would just keep open, like when a door would swing open, I would walk through it and then another door would open and I would walk through it. And you end up very, very far from where you ever would have imagined 15 or 20 years later.

Josh Steimle:

Well, we've already talked about Ethernet and evolutionary biology. Help us connect these two marketing. How did you get from that to 80/20 Sales and Marketing and your other marketing books?

Perry Marshall:

Well, so when I was -- so remember, I got laid off from my job. I took a sales job. And that sales job was two years of struggle and bitter Ramen soup and, and bologna sandwiches and Velveeta and pounding the phone and trying to -- it was just miserable. And I wandered into a seminar where Dan Kennedy was speaking. And he was talking about direct marketing. And he levitated 300 bucks out of my wallet, and I bought his Magnetic Marketing thing. And the way I would describe that was, so this was hardcore, classic, old school direct marketing with a sort of Dan Kennedy cult twist to it. Okay. That's really what it was. All right. Now, the way I would describe it is direct marketing is marketing by and sometimes even for engineers. Okay. So direct marketers are like the propeller heads of marketing. They're not the guys doing the talking sock videos in the superbowl commercial. They're the guys with a pen and a pencil and spreadsheet and a calculator. And they're like, okay, so, you know, we mailed out 10,000 letters, and then we got, you know, 1.7% of the people to respond. And then we sold X number of stuff, and we had an ROI of X. And everything is a process. And it was like, I get this. This actually makes sense. Like, what Zig Ziglar says to the lady to sell her pots and pans does not really make sense to me. I don't even know why I would go sell pots and pans. Right? I don't like all those manipulative closes and everything. Like, it's just not me that that makes sense. And so I started to learn direct marketing. Well, this is in 1997. Well, what was about to happen in 1997, the Internet was about to go, you know, kablammo. And so I got fired from that job. But I took this other job. And this job hardware software company, we had a website, like my old job, didn't have a website. My old job was like, call somebody on the phone and go see him. Right. It's very old school. Now we're like selling on the Internet. And that old school propeller head like, slide rule guy all of a sudden (silence).

Josh Steimle:

That the last thing you were saying that old school propeller head guy.

Perry Marshall:

Yeah. So the old school propeller head engineer is like tracking everything. All of a sudden, you take that guy, and you put him on internet marketing, and he's the king of the world. Okay. Like Mark Zuckerberg, or Larry and Sergey, or Jeff Bezos would have never made it in the 80s. Okay. But all of a sudden in the 2000s, like, these are the new rules. And so, I mean, I just took to that like a duck in water. And it was like the greatest magic carpet ride. And at first, it was just, well, I know a little bit more about this direct marketing stuff than most other people. And so I'm ahead of the curve, right? Well, then, I think it’s got interesting because I hung up my shingle, which is whole story, and became a consultant. And six months later, Google's advertising system came along. And Google introduced Google AdWords. And now, the entire English language was for sale. You can bid on any phrase on a search engine. And you know, what's funny was, it took a while, it actually took a couple of years for the world to figure out that this was a big deal. They did not take to it right away.

Josh Steimle:

But you had the background to see this and say, wait a second, this is exactly what I do.

Perry Marshall:

Yes, if you -- so, I had learned, basically, I'd learned the basics of mail order marketing, right. And print advertising, you know, which has been around for 100 years, I learned that. And I remember this reading an article where this guy said that the world just did a 180. He said, it used to be that the marketers and the sales people were chasing the customers. He goes now with the Internet, the customers are chasing the marketing and sales people because they're typing things into a search engine and looking for stuff. And you can get in front of them. I'm like, yes, I get it. Right. And, like the first Internet marketing seminar I went to, this guy showed a keyword tool, where you could see how many searches there were for plumber, and how many searches there were for plumber unstop my toilet, and you know, all of these kinds of things. And I was like, wow, okay. So I understand the internet from behind the curtain instead of from the audience. And so I'm going to go back there, and I'm going to start, you know, pulling the lever. So, this just became incredible. And so I wrote a book called The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords. And probably two months after that book came out, the world of Google advertising hit critical mass. Because what happened was, affiliates started figuring out, hey, I can go sign up for an affiliate program and go bid on keywords, drive traffic, be an invisible arbitrage traffic broker and actually make money. And it sounds crazy, but it actually works. It works really well, when keywords were cheap, by the way. Doesn't work nearly as well now. But I like my book landed in the middle of that. And I was very well prepared. I mean, I had become a very diligent student of all of this, because it's an entire profession. And I said, I'm going to know I don't want anybody to ever stumped me. Like, I want a deep bag of tricks. And so I just pursued that. And so it was like catching the touchdown pass. And so I put this book out. And well, to make a long story short, it became the bestselling book on Internet advertising. And it's in its sixth edition now. It's called Ultimate Guide to Google Ads. So okay, so how does this get you to 80/20?

Josh Steimle:

Hey, before you go into 80/20, I'm curious. So you said that that book is in its sixth edition. But you also have this book about Ethernet and you have this book about evolutionary biology? Were you struggling during this time keeping your personal brand straight? I mean, do you still get people asking you about Ethernet stuff? And you're like, yeah, I don't really want to be the Ethernet guy anymore. I mean, what was happening during this time, as you had these books out there doing this work for you, sending you traffic that maybe you had grown out of, in a sense?

Perry Marshall:

Well, so when I hung up my shingle, I said, I am a b2b marketing consultant. And for about two years, I made most of my bread from industrial networking. Okay. So there's actually a huge lesson here. And the lesson is about being a big fish in a little pond. Okay. So most people define themselves too broadly. Even freelancers and consultants and people like that. They're like, oh, I can make you a website. I can do your advertising. I can do this. And I can do that. But there are 10,000 other people that can do those things. And even if you're better at those things than everybody else, which you're probably not, but even if you are, nobody knows why they should pick you as to somebody else. The reason my clients picked me was I understood industrial networking, and I could prove it. I knew the language, I knew the customers. I knew the vendors, like I knew the whole space. I knew unquestionably knew it better than anybody else who was wearing a direct marketing hat. And so, you know, all you need is two or three or four clients. You can make a living. And so this is what I did. Well, so I'm doing that. And I'm putting groceries on the table. But then, on the side, I'm building this subject matter expert, as a marketer, and knowing marketing. And what happened was, Google fell in my lap. And all of a sudden, just like six months later, I wake up, and I am a Google expert. And there aren't hardly any other Google advertising experts anywhere. And so this became a much bigger deal than the previous thing in it just kind of swept to the other one aside eventually. Okay. And so now I was just the Google guy to a bunch of -- to a whole bunch of marketing people, I was just the Google Ads guy. And so what happened was, for literally 10 years, I was perfectly content to be pigeonholed as the Google Ad guy, even though I could do a whole lot of other things. And so I want you to notice the pattern. First, I'm the industrial networking marketing guy. And then I am the Google advertising guy. And in both cases, it was big fish, little pond, or little fish, tiny pond. And I can't tell you how important that is. You carve out an identity in something that's so small, that there is nobody else. That is a much better formula for success than knowing how to do 100 things.

Josh Steimle:

That is a great lesson. With your book being in its sixth edition, I'm also curious, do you revise those yourself every time? Or do you have people who help you with that? How do you get those revisions done?

Perry Marshall:

I eventually switched to co-authors. So at first couple of editions, it was mostly me. But as time went on, you know, the business of knowing a topic and the business of promoting a topic are really two different things. And, you know, back in the early days, Google was actually simple enough that one person could keep track of it all. It's not anymore. Okay. It's a huge subject. It's like a jumbo jet airline cockpit with like, all of these things, right. And so, for Google, I have Mike Rhodes. And for Facebook, I have Bob Regnerus, and a couple other guys. And they really know what they're talking about. And so my name is on the cover, but I'm not actually the Google expert anymore. And I'm not actually the Facebook expert anymore.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, this is how I feel like a book is kind of like running a business or starting a business. You start a business and then you hire people to help you as it grows. It seems like with a book that has legs like this, it's kind of similar. You build that book, and you get it started. But then at some point, you say, you know what, I need help. I need other people. There's too much here. And so you bring other people in kind of as employees. You call them co-authors. And you win because the book keeps coming out. They win because they get their name on a book that's established and already has an audience. And so it's good for everybody.

Perry Marshall:

Yes, it totally is good for everybody. And for all these guys, this is one of the best career moves they ever made. And it was a ton of work, like, doing a Google Ads book is a crap ton of labor.

Josh Steimle:

Especially these days, because I remember when I got into Google Ads years ago, it wasn't that bad. Now I look at it, and I'm like, no, I got to hire somebody to do this for me. There's no way.

Perry Marshall:

Right. And that's just, that's how the world evolves as it gets more complex and you just work with it. And so, yeah, my role in the world has changed a lot over time.

Josh Steimle:

All right. So let's get up to 80/20 Sales and Marketing. What was the inspiration for that book? You said, part of it was talking to your 26 year old self and saying, this is what I wish I would have learned. But what was that point when you said, this is the book and this is the book I'm going to write, I need to write this book?

Perry Marshall:

So I had a big epiphany about 80/20 in about 2003. And I realized that for the first time, this is one of the most important things you could ever learn. Like it is so powerful. If you really have 80/20 under your belt, It's better than reading like 25 other marketing books. And so it became the basis for how I solved Google Ads. So like when Google Ads was new, it’s like, they invented this thing, and a bunch of engineers put it together. But okay, so what is the process that you use in order to build a marketing campaign, all that kind of stuff? Well, nobody knew. Well, I said, 80/20 is how you know. You start looking at all this data you're generating. And you start asking, what is the 20% of this data that is making 80% of the difference? And what is the 20% of the traffic that's getting 80% of the clicks and 80% of the sales? What are the 5% of the keywords that are generating 95% of the traffic? And because there's this huge amount of data, you have to chisel this down. It's 80/20 tells you, yes, 10% of this data is way more important than the other 90%. This is all a game of figuring out what to ignore, and what to pay attention to. And so I started teaching 80/20 in little bits and pieces along the way. So I would get these Google customers. I always had a chapter in my book about 80/20. I would talk about a little bit. And when I would get customers into coaching programs, and trainings, and workshops, I would really teach them 80/20 properly. And it always helped them. And so I knew that it worked once somebody knew me, like me, trusted me. Now the experiment was, can I lead with 80/20? If I explain this different than anybody else has ever explained it to them, like, will that sell as a book? And well, the answer was, I don't know. But I'm going to try. And so we wrote this book. And the thing that I liked about the book was, my Google book is about somebody else's platform. Okay. It's about Google and Google will regularly change the rules, shoot a whole bunch of advertisers dead and throw their bodies into a ditch. And, you know, it's nice that I can use their platform to teach people this stuff. But I am not passionate about Google. I want something that I can kind of make my own. And so I did that with 80/20. Well, it turns out that it was well received, and people did like the book. They loved the stories in the book. They liked the way I explained it. And so it's become an evergreen marketing classic. I mean, it's been out for eight years, and it just consistently sells and sells and consistently people like, oh my goodness, I never knew this before. And now I have this, like what you said, well, I have this whole other way of seeing my business now. That's cool. I never thought of that. So I guess I'm just very happy. And you know, sometimes you put things out there. And sometimes the world understands them and things are great, and sometimes they do. And that's just being an author.

Josh Steimle:

What was your first introduction to the whole concept of 80/20? Was it Richard Koch or was it Pareto principle or when did you first become introduced to the idea?

Perry Marshall:

Well, it wasn't Richard Koch. It was thing before that it might have even been Jay Abraham. But somebody said 20% of your customers generate 80% of your invoices and 80% of your customers only generate 20%. And I was like, is that right? And I went, and I ran a QuickBooks report. I was like, sure enough, this is actually true. And then I didn't do anything about it. Okay. Like, I didn't really get it. It didn't really click. And, well, then I read Richard Koch’s book. And on page 14, he says, just a throwaway comment in he goes 80/20 has a lot to do with fractals and chaos theory. And then he just moves on. He doesn't say anything else about it. Well, that happened to be a rabbit hole I had been down. If you want an interesting, like YouTube trip, go to YouTube and type in fractals and chaos and like, watch videos for 45 minutes. And you'll find, oh, there's this whole world of repeating patterns in nature, that operate at every level of scale. So a tree is fractal. A tree has a branching pattern, whether like, there's a tree across the street, and it looks like it's 50 feet tall. And, you know, but I can zoom in to the veins in the leaf with a magnifying glass, and I still see the branching pattern. So that's what fractal means. And it was like, hey, wait a minute. He's saying that 80/20 is a pattern in the repeats at every level of scale. And if that's true, that means there's an 80/20 inside every 80/20. And then there's another one and another one and another one and another one. Well, anytime, okay, so I knew anytime you encounter that, you are dealing with a core fundamental pattern of nature, that most people don't even know about. I’m like, really? Hey, wait a minute. Let me go look, is this true? And it was true. And the interesting thing, hardly anybody was talking about it. I mean, people, business people would talk about 80/20. And then you go in academic literature, they had this very obtuse thing called an 80/20 distribution, which you had to have understand calculus to even use it at all. And I was like, nobody is making this simple and understandable for people. And so, I said, I'm going to explain this properly. I mean, I help people understand that not only the 20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue, 20% of the 20% of the 20% generate 80 of the 80 of the 80. So there are huge levers in marketing, if you like push certain buttons. And this doesn't just apply to customers. It pretty much applies to everything in your whole business, like anything that could be put into a spreadsheet, anything that could be measured, you know, defects of products, or support tickets in your support desk, or sources of traffic, or sources of revenue, or shoplifting, all of it, all of it is 80/20. And so it's like, if you have an 80/20 filter, it's like you take your funny colored 80/20 glasses, and you put it on, and like some things just become invisible. And other things are like in sharp relief. You're like, okay, that's important. That's important. That's important. Fix these three things, and your whole business gets better. And there's all these other problems, you don't even have to think about. Right? And so most of the time, when people get this, they really get it. They're like, oh, my word. How did I never seen this before? They're talking to their wife about it, and they're talking to their clients about it. And so it's just a really cool thing. And I think it's pretty much the most useful thing you could ever learn in business.

Josh Steimle:

Right. Because it cuts down the effort. I mean, it allows you to focus on the stuff that matters, rather than focusing your attention on a bunch of things that don't make that much difference. I mean, it's all about leverage, right?

Perry Marshall:

Yeah, I don't, I don't -- I think it's for anybody who basically works. You’d be a scientist. You can be a massage therapist. You can be a chiropractor. You could be a librarian. 80/20 is old around you. It'll make you more effective at whatever you do.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. Let's talk about 80/20 as it relates to authors, because we've got entrepreneurs listening to this who want to write a book and they're thinking I need to write a book that's going to help me in my business. And they've got questions about writing the book. They've got questions about marketing the book. How would you guide this aspiring entrepreneur author through 80/20 Sales and Marketing in terms of them writing the right book, and then getting that book out there?

Perry Marshall:

So I think this starts with, you only write books that actually need to be written. You know, if there's five other books about the exact same thing, what's the point? Okay. And, in fact, that is an application of the star principle, which is one of Richard Koch's adages that you need to -- whatever you do, you need to be number one in a growing market. Okay. So let's say that you're a therapist. And you've done what you've done for a long time. And you know that it's useful. And you know, that it helps people. Okay, great. Right. It's you go, I'm going to write a book about this kind of therapy, and I'm going to help people sort themselves out. Okay, that's great. But what most people try to do is they write a book that like tells everything they know. It's like, they want to show everybody how smart they are. Well, the book you really want to write is the part of therapy that no other therapist has written a book about. And this is the big fish, little pond principle all over again. So you carve off a slice of the market that nobody else is addressing. You solve a problem that nobody else is solving. And you build your identity around that one tip of the spear, because that is really the only thing that's going to cut through the clutter. I mean, God knows we got enough books. There are so many books, okay. And it doesn't mean we don't need new ones, but we don't need new ones that already got written five years ago. And this should come as a relief because it might mean that instead of writing a 300 page book, you only need to write a 35 page book. In fact, I just did this last year. I wrote a book called Detox, Declutter, Dominate. It's 36 pages. And it's a third illustrations and charts. Okay. So you can read the whole thing in an hour. People need things to be broken down to be simple and easy, like even the assumption that your book needs to be 150 or 250 pages, that is a very questionable assumption now. Like, who wants a 250 page book if you already know that 80% of the value is in 20% of the book? Why do you even need the other 80% fact? The reason that my 36 page book is not 150 pages, I had written 150 page book, and my partner Robert Skrob said, “Hey, Perry, send me your manuscript, I got an idea.” And I did. And two weeks later, he says I 80/20 your book. He's like, you didn't need 80% of this. I just I chopped this down to what people actually need. It's 8,000 words now. I'm like, wow, I never would have done that myself. Maybe it was ego. Maybe just, you know, people have this idea about what a book is. Well, how do you know your idea of what a book is, is what you really should be doing? So I mean, that book has done pretty well. And I'm very happy with it because in 36 pages, I said what I needed to say.

Josh Steimle:

Finally, I'm going through this process right now, because I'm creating a workbook for my audience for these entrepreneurs who want to become authors. And the workbook is already 350 pages or something. And by the time I finish it, it's going to be closer to 500 pages. And I know that's way too long. So I started going through and I started doing this 80/20 thing, because I realized, you know, 80% of my audience just needs to write a book really quickly and easily. And they don't need to build an email list or a social media following or a website or all these other things that they can do. Now there's 20% of my audience, they want to do all that extra stuff. And so I started just dividing it and saying, okay, what do the 80% need? They just need to know how do I get this book done? How do I get it up on Amazon quickly? And I don't need to do Audible. I don't need to do hardcover, just the paperback version in Kindle because it goes along with territory. But I just need to get that book out there. And I think by the time I'm done, I might just scrap the other 80% say, you know what? Let's just publish the workbook with that 20% and call it good, because that covers 80% of my audience.

Perry Marshall:

Yeah, yeah. Well, and see, that's true. And also, it's actually harder to write a 20% book, because every word has to count. And you already know that four fifths of this is going to get thrown away, so that what's left has to be really good. So it's possible that it could take longer to write a 40 page book than it takes to write a 200 page book. But there's a saying, which is easy reading is damn hard writing. Now, I'm not trying to intimidate people. But here's what I'm saying. If you do the work for the reader before they ever pick up the book, that's when they're going to like your book. Okay, you make it accessible. Most, the world being the way it is, with all of the social media channels, and all the distractions and cell phones and the texts and everything, most people are not going to take the time to do any kind of a scholarly digestion of a large amount of material. It's just not like you can cut away what you should, all they should. Fine, but they want.

Josh Steimle:

That's perfect. Well, this has been great chatting with you, Perry, about your book career and the books that you've put out. What's coming in the future for you?

Perry Marshall:

I have a new book that is just coming out right now called Memos from the Head Office. And, you know, there are a gazillion books about--

Josh Steimle:

Got my copy here. Was this an advanced copy? Am I like privileged here--

Perry Marshall:

Yeah, that is an advanced copy. You're one of the first to get it.

Josh Steimle:

One of the few. I've got it right here.

Perry Marshall:

In fact, the soft cover as we speak right now, it's still a couple days away. And on Amazon, the Audible and the Kindle just barely came out now. So there is a gazillion books about business strategy, and you should do this, and you should do that. But there's a way that inspiration comes for a lot of businesses that is not any of those things. Like J. K. Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter as a mental download on a stalled train, and you can go read the story. She's like I'm on a train. And all of a sudden, here it comes, like from somewhere. This is a book about that. And this is a book about cultivating what I call Memos from the Head Office. And I just think it's one of the most underrated forms of wisdom in business. And it's got about 16 or 18 stories from different entrepreneurs that have like, this is how it happened. And very unusual book, and I think people will find it very, very interesting.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. And I haven't read it yet, because I just barely got the copy. But you can look at this. And you can say, well, that's God or you could say it's the universe or some sort of inspiration that you've tapped into. You could say it's your subconscious speaking to you and putting this information together and delivering it to your whatever. But it is interesting how many of these stories are out there. Even Stephen King, I was listening to an interview of him a couple years ago on NPR. And this is probably a guy that you'd say is not being inspired by God in terms of his writing, right? It doesn't seem to align really with anything we think about a loving God. But he was talking on this interview on NPR about how every book that he wrote just came to him. He said it was just like somebody was putting it in my head. And he said that got turned off for a while. I can't remember how long it was. It was like 10 or 15 years or something that he could not write a thing. And then all of a sudden one day it turned back on and they started coming into his head again. So this idea of information coming into our heads as though it was coming from outside from God or again, wherever. But that does seem to be a common idea with a lot of creative people out there who are producing a lot of interesting, influential work, even if we don't necessarily like all of it.

Perry Marshall:

Well, the Greeks called it the muse. And when the Greeks talked about a genius, genius was not something that you were or had inside of you. It was something you were tapped into that was on the outset. Yeah, I think that's correct. I don't think our best ideas come from ourselves. And I don't believe that we figure out our best ideas. The guy Mendeleev, the guy who came up with a periodic table, it came to him in a dream. There's a crazy story of him having a dream about beer bottles or something. I mean, it's really kooky, almost. And like, the periodic table is like, one of the most ingenious things in the history of mankind. I mean, it is, if you understand chemistry, I mean, it is like really clever. It came to him. And, like, the thing is you don't have to sort out exactly where all this comes from in order to receive it. And that's kind of what you're alluding to is like, no, you know, I very much believe in God. And I think that that is a part of it. But you don't have to believe the way I do in order to turn on that channel.

Josh Steimle:

That's great. Well, I think that's a good final message for our listeners here. Try to tap into that, whether you believe in God or whatever that is. I tend to believe in God too. But I know other people don't. But still, there's something out there that you can tap into. Thanks so much, Perry, for being with us here on the show today. Where's the best place for people to connect with you?

Perry Marshall:

Go to PerryMarshall.com. And just scroll down on the homepage. And there's a course called the 30 Day Street MBA. And it'll smack you in the face from the very first email. And you'll know really quick if you belong in my world or not just from reading that. 30 Day Street MBA.

Josh Steimle:

Awesome.

Perry Marshall:

PerryMarshall.com.

Josh Steimle:

Great. Thanks so much for being on the show today, Perry.

Perry Marshall:

Thanks, Josh.

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