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Fortune Cookies Contain Good Marketing Advice

By Gil Effron

My wife and I frequently visit a Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. The food is good, the service is great, and the philosophy is always right on target.

I’m referring, of course, to the fortune cookies that I receive from time to time. One evening, the cookie contained a fortune so profound that I took it home and taped it to the frame of my computer. It says, “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.”

Good advice for me; good advice for you.

I see too many business owners bury themselves in details that don’t matter. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing. In seeking perfection, a message critical to the success of the business sits on the owner’s desk for weeks or months while he or she is pondering adding a few words or changing out a photo. Could it or would look a little better or read a little better? Perhaps. But would it significantly improve response or sales? Probably not.

I grew up in and around the direct mail business. It was pretty much common knowledge that the best message, the best presentation, the best offer mailed to the wrong target audience would fall flat on its face. On the other hand, an average message, an average presentation, an even average offer mailed to the right target audience could perform nicely.

When it comes to marketing, I believe that thinking, planning, and working strategically holds the answer to effective marketing; not tweaking words, colors, headlines, or photos in a marketing piece.

In my book “How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover“, I outline a five-step process for developing marketing strategies and materials that directly supports the sales process. This is a critical step within the process that I call “creating the ideal sales process.”

Keeping in mind that “good marketing is any activity that speeds, shortens, streamlines, or otherwise favorably influences the outcome of the sales process,” here’s what happens.

By “working backwards” – from the sale and delivery of the product or service (the tail end of the transaction) all the way back to the initial client attraction step – you can readily see where various obstacles or points of constraint can slow you down or stop the sales process entirely. You can also see where – within the sales process – you could be introducing marketing support or materials that would facilitate a favorable outcome to the sales process.

Depending on the business and industry, some of the marketing materials that clients use to achieve this could be considered homemade or unprofessional. But because they are part of the overall strategy to obtain a favorable outcome to the sales process, they do an outstanding job of moving the transaction forward to the favorable conclusion.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you “dumb down” your marketing materials or insert typos just for the fun of it in the hopes of finding a single, magical silver bullet that will bring you instant fame and fortune. But I definitely am encouraging you to think, plan, and work strategically – to build a powerful strategy first before you begin creating random marketing materials and tweaking them, in the hopes that they will bring you success.


Gil Effron is a New York City based marketing consultant and author of the book “How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover“. For more information about the book and the five-step process mentioned above, visit



This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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