Catch and Release Marketing

The world doesn’t require another marketing metaphor, and that is the exact reason why I created The Catch and Release Marketing Framework, because it’s unnecessary. We shouldn’t be forced into changed perspectives, we should choose them.

A few points before we get started:

1 – Easy to find, easy to buy, and easily thought worth it. The marketing mantra behind Catch and Release Marketing. All of the following advice flows through this mantra. It is unassailable advice and applicable to every vertical and industry, so please feel free to ground your strategic focus in this faithful bit of evergreen marketing advice.

2 – Another fundamental principle behind Catch and Release Marketing are the 6 Ethical Principles of Marketing by George Brenkert, which are:

  • Autonomy
  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Well-Being

Marketing is an anxious profession because “best practices,” even ethics, are seemingly in a state of perpetual flux.

There is typically no standard for marketing activities beyond maximizing value and diminishing costs, which is why the Brenkert principles are more than just ethical woo-woo; when strategically applied, they alleviate marketer anxiety, respect consumers and eco-systems, guide planning, and direct resources and budgets to the tactics that sustainably expand opportunity, awareness, and distinction in your marketplace.

3 – Most marketing and business advice, while trying to be helpful, makes marketers and biz owners feel like shit. Too much marketing advice today is about passion, loyalty, and fanaticism, and the examples extolled are usually from the top 1% mega-brands. For the 99% majority of garden-variety marketers working across every vertical and market-size imaginable, this toxic advice cannot and never will apply to our nuances, niches, and network effects.

It’s my hope that this framework, while giving reliable and well-researched business advice, gives grace to marketers and takes pressure off the business owners that feel “less-than” because of all the highlight reel hustletology that surrounds us about brand loyalty and purposeful passion.

Marketers shouldn’t be made to feel bad if they fail to start a revolution with their brand. Simply selling something well, is good enough. The less puff, bluff, and guff around this stuff, the better for all of us.

“People don’t need gas-burning vehicles, they need transportation. They don’t need a watch, they need the time. The items that create wants & desires come and go, but the wants and desires never go away.”

– George Brenkert

“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man. With his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”

– Bill Bernbach

Step 1 – The Marketer and The Brain

The first step to the Catch and Release Marketing Framework, is to appreciate how the human brain actually functions in regards to stimulus, learning, and memory. If you know how information is imprinted and stored in a brain, you’ll create better marketing and messaging.

BRAIN FACT ONE: Your brain does not switch between active and passive, learning and non-learning; it’s recording everything. All the time.

Because your brain is an alarm system as well as a university, your limbic system is tracking your surroundings, even while your conscious brain is not. In case something leaps out, or a twig snaps, you have to be able to respond quickly. Why is this important?

Most marketers believe the only purpose of advertising is to drive direct response, but there are other important functions for advertising, like price elasticity and maintaining market share or share of voice. There are several ways an ad might directly, or indirectly, impact an audience, outlined in this brilliant graphic from Stephen King (not that one.)

Since a human’s brain is constantly recording, effective advertising does not have to be directly responded to, necessarily. Research on the mere exposure effect, that encountering something makes you familiar with it, and that familiarity makes you like it more than you did before you encountered it, has shown how advertising can have a latent and low-level impact. 

Consistent, low engagement, well-branded advertising that is passively experienced can be impactful, particularly if there is an emotionally triggering component that tags/associates the experience with memory. Notice I didn’t say compelling facts, research, call to action or unique selling proposition, concepts that are believed to trigger interest and rationality. That’s because…

BRAIN FACT TWO: Your brain does not separate rationality from emotionality, in fact, instinctive emotional responses shape our rational behaviors. 

There is a common misconception that there are two different types of brains inside us, the rational brain and the emotional brain. Descartes famously separated the two, but Gestalt research and neuromarketing science have proven that rational complex thought is formed out of emotion. There are also more dendrites flowing from the limbic system to the frontal lobe, than vice-versa – meaning, on a physical level, emotions and base feelings flow to rational/complex thought.

Our thinking around how to build memorable experiences in marketing is stuck. We’re stuck in ‘brands transmit/people receive rational messages’ mode, when we need to be thinking about deeper ways to communicate and connect to the human brain through associations and passivity.

Humans tend to remember emotions and forget facts. And the stronger the emotion, the stronger the memory. Is it your hope to be rationalized, or remembered by your audience? Remember the mantra; easy to buy, easy to find, easily thought worth it.  

Marketers would be shocked to find out how hard consumer brains work to ignore EVERYTHING. But if marketers paid attention to the way THEY walk through a store or search for solutions, they’d recognize a huge portion of their potential options are cognitively blinded, perforce.

Imagine the psychological benefit to marketers and brands if they operated from the perspective that most people do not want to see marketing and advertising at all, in fact they actively ignore and disregard it?

MARKETING FACT – The goal of advertising/marketing is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product. 

BUT JAKE!? I’m in B2B marketing! It’s different! 

Look, I hear you. You think because your product or service is complicated, and the target decision making audience you need to reach is isolated in an ivory tower, and impenetrably logical, that this all can’t apply to you. 

In a very real way there are differences in B2B, because unlike choosing the wrong granola bar, employment can be endangered by poor, uncalculated, or unvetted decisions in B2B. However, since we’re attempting to be logical, we should recognize what recent research from Ehernberg-Bass tells us about the total addressable market ground reality for B2B marketers;

Add in the statistic of the average lifespan of a tech start-up, which is 8.5 years, and the prioritization of marketing will become clearer; In order to grow, you have to stimulate future demand at the same time you capture existing demand.

The only way brand marketing can ever take off is by building a proper runway for memorability. Walk backwards from “The Close”….people won’t buy your brand unless they’re convinced, they aren’t convinced because they have no brand preference, they don’t know if they like you or not because they aren’t even aware you exist.

So along with short term campaigns that educate the audience and activate sales, long term campaigns that create affinity, preference, and mental salience help generate broad category awareness to help close sales faster, more often.

Wiemer Snijders has written brilliantly about the “differences” between B2C and B2B marketing, and how creatively approaching branding is a distinct advantage, as well as a scientific imperative, for B2Brands. This next fantastic passage perfectly summarizes the Catch and Release Marketing framework;

“It’s all about people buying and people don’t change much. We are still working with Homo Sapiens version 1.0; a cognitive miser, emotionally dominated though rationally capable (in short bursts) and forgetful. This crowded mind needs reminding, steadily, whether it’s about your industrial ducting, electricity supply or chocolate bars. The easier it is to get a place in that memory, the more chance you have of growing, one light buyer at a time, a few of whom will become a bit more loyal, but only for a while, but that’s another story.” 

Step 2 – The Marketer Gets Consumption

The second step in CNR marketing, is to accept consumerism and the mathematically proven power laws of loyalty and influence. Thanks to industrialized consumerism, we are surrounded by more stuff than people.

Look around you. How much of these items are you loyal to? You have loose affiliations and passing relationships to these objects, they signal certain things about you, but loyalty to objects doesn’t define you. Does it?


Marketers will gladly flatten their fellow humans into consumer behavior categories and branded loyalty silos; but if someone told us brands and consumption patterns define our lives, we’d reject them outright as dismissing our complex nature.

If a marketer is in consumer-mode, you’ll say loyalty is a very small part of your life. If the CEO is near, you’ll make up some shit about brand intimacy and how consumerism is central to identity. In a way, we’re right about loyalty and consumerism – but we’re not being realistic.

Among all of the objects surrounding you, it may be true that there are a few brands you are “loyal” to, but the mathematical reality that there can only be a few favorites needs to be perennially at the forefront of thought. 

There will always be fewer loyalists than generalists, and loyalty can shift; what looks like favoritism might be a fluke response curve to a fad, loyalty could be laziness or inertia, habits can appear like devotion.

Is loyalty something marketers should depend on? 

Loyal Flush

Loyalty is an abstraction of a complex set of behaviors. Loyalty is not as dependable for growth as acquisition. The laws of Buyer Moderation and non-binomial Direrchlict have proven that loyalty can only ever mathematically exist in small, precious amounts, and research from MIT has proven that loyalty metrics, such as NPS, have no bearing on anything other than the direct questions posed; recommendation means recommendation, not an indication of future purchasing power or lifetime value.

Even more importantly, recent research from Ehernberg-Bass has shown that changes in customer satisfaction scores have no association with changes in business revenue! 

Cram this simple truth about NPS into your brain: Recommendation intention does not predict loyalty, and NPS does not predict growth.

Loyalty is a wonderful thing, but it’s a mathematical anomaly. Buyer moderation and the concept of NBD is succinctly phrased by Wiemer Snijders as, “a few buy a lot, and a lot buy a little.”


This is another pan-industry, well-researched, irrefutable marketing science fact that can gird your strategic loins. Catch onto the idea of light buyers, and release your grip on loyalty.

You want loyalty from people? No, you don’t – you want more money/yield/gross. One of these perceptions makes you feel like shit, one makes you feel like a cult leader; it’s no wonder where we put our hopes, and no wonder why we’re treated like dopes when the loyalists fail to multiply in droves.

THE HOOK – Marketers hoping to expand their market share must be mentally and physically available and attractive to ultra-light category buyers, and cannot depend on growing through customer loyalty, which is a welcome but arithmetical anomalous abstraction, not a strategic action item.

A note about consumer income level and loyalty: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is research that finds consumer income levels appear to have some impact on preferences and behaviors. The study roughly showed that:

  • Lower income consumers were more likely to be Loyalists and that they value low price, fair treatment and caring staff.
  • Middle-class consumers value a convenient shopping experience as well as VIP benefits.
  • More affluent households tend to be Roamers and look for unique products, status, incentives and VIP benefits.

Also worth noting that ‘lowest price’ ‘good value for money’ and ‘quality of product’ were far and away the top factors driving loyalty at all income levels. 

Understanding how income affects the factors that drive consumer loyalty and engagement can help guide your customer retention strategies. But it also helps if we remove our heads from our Brand Bibles, and recognize the fact that most people simply want a good deal on stuff that doesn’t suck, more than they value a trusted, purposeful, blah blah blah. 

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH NOTE – It is critical to understand your clients & customers as much as possible before you try to apply any persona or growth framework. The single best way to understand your clients and customers is to have telephone conversations with them, ask open questions and actively listen to answers.

Humans generate reality through exchanging ideas, not examining patterns in a vacuum.


Step 3 – The Marketer and The Fish

A lot of marketing advice aims to establish autocratic relationships with consumers and the marketplace, not autonomous ones. 

The Catch-and-Release Marketer believes consumers want autonomy and don’t live to consummate a relationship with brands.

Consumers can be reeled in with hooks, they can be captured, measured, and monetized, but they belong to, and will ultimately return to, the river.

The Catch-and-Release marketer genuinely believes that there are always more fish in the sea, because, there really are. No matter your market size, industry, or vertical, this graphic applies to you. 

Planning Fact – There will always be more clients who don’t know you and you’ve failed to reach & catch, than “loyal” ones you’ve engaged & held onto. 

While it’s good to retain “loyal” customers, it’s more important, and more impactful to the bottom line overtime, to operate from a catch & release mentality and prioritize new acquisition and reach, over loyalty yield and retention. 

The Catch-and-Release marketer understands the consumer is autonomous and is not sad when clients move on, indeed Catch-and-Release marketers anticipate it from the beginning because that’s what consumers do; consume and move on.

If you are lucky to be in business long enough, the amount of clients you’ll have had and lost will be greater than the ones you’ve held onto since the beginning; that is natural and good.

The Catch and Release Marketer does not pine for love from the wild creatures called consumers. They create an environment which welcomes them, respects and treats them kindly like the important asset they are, with an open-exit mentality, not a zero churn policy.

Catching new fish may seem more expensive and costly, but what is the cost of recreating and maintaining an aquarium or a faux-natural ecosystem that’s designed to capture and hold “loyal” fish indefinitely and for your own maximization, not their benefit? 

The cost of failing to run a closed-off loyalty aquarium for your customers has to be significantly higher than maintaining an adjacent-eddy of value they can swim through, give a little and gain a little, and be on their way, right? When it comes to loyalty programs, why are consumers signing up? It’s not to deepen their relationship with the brand and content – it’s to snag deals, today or later.

Worst of all, if you don’t run the loyalty program as a growth center, which remember it contains wild, emotional creatures, then it’s YOUR FAULT. The arbitrary acceptance of marketing is an externality that is absorbed by marketers, not the indifferent marketplace. If they didn’t loyally love it (indeed, most consumers are not looking to fall in love with a brand, and remember NBD), it’s our fault. 

This quest for personalized, loyalty-inspiring marketing is a recipe for mental imbalance/anguish. Why?

Quick tangent on Mimetic Theory…

The Marketer and Mimesis

“Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.”

– Rene Girard

Originating from the French historian and philosopher of social science, Rene Girard, the mimetic theory of desire is an explanation of culture and human behavior and it’s one of the more groundbreaking social insights of the 20th century. 

The name of the theory is derived from the philosophical concept mimesis, which carries a wide range of meanings. In mimetic theory, mimesis refers to human desire, which Girard thought was not linear but the product of a mimetic process in which people imitate models who endow objects with value. Girard called this phenomenon mimetic desire.

Mimesis makes the goal of marketing much more simple – In order for your product or service to become popular, people need to see *other people* using your product or service. 

Another point; if mimesis is a factor, marketers have to recognize that personalized advertising and hyper-targeted marketing is counterproductive at the strategic level, resource-draining at an operational level, and potentially psychologically damaging at the personal level. 

MIMETIC MARKETING TIP – Obsess about being seen, not how you can create obsession from behind the scene.

Another reason mimesis is important, is that it undercuts another big premise in modern marketing; that people want personalized ads. 

On top of this, studies from Dentsu Aegis and Sephora have demonstrated that contextual ads outperform ads based on behavioral targeting.

It’s silly to dismiss the related digital advertising concepts based on personalized data, like retargeting, as useless – indeed these can be powerful branding tools. We should seek to improve the manner in which we perceive the effectiveness and measure the use-cases for personalized vs broad messaging, and always err on the side of autonomy. 

The Marketer and The Empathy Gap – I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to acknowledge that there is a massive gap in what marketers and advertisers perceive to be mainstream values, and what the actual mainstream values are.

Look at the imbalances between adland ‘s perception of mainstream values, and mainstream values!? Advertisers are underestimating the value mainstream society places on things like Universalism, Tradition, and Benevolence and drastically overestimating the emphasis of Achievement, Power, and Hedonism. 

This gap in understanding has drastic effects on the impact of marketing and advertising.

If marketers are pushing a cognitively dissonant framework on customers, there is a significant chance that such messaging might cause a loss in market share, simply because the schism between purported value systems is so unnecessarily exaggerated by marketers. 

There’s also the psychological toll such misconceptions can place on the marketing team. If you are expecting/anticipating/messaging a target audience that values hedonism and striving for power, while in reality they value those things much less, it makes it seem like it’s YOUR FAULT for not turning customers into hedonistic power hungry super achievers. 

ON DIVERSITY – The best way in which advertisers and marketers can correct this issue, is by having more diverse staff (class, race, gender) and viewpoints in agencies and on campaigns. I wonder if a diverse advertising team that looks and thinks like the audience, might naturally lead to more effective and widely accepted work?

The Marketer and The White Whales

By now, we have established that marketers wrongly believe their growth exists in a loyalty-obsessed world where a few white whales can float the whole operation, when in reality it’s the majority of the “small” accounts that keep the lights on. Maybe it’s time we took our hands off our Moby Dicks?

We brag about netting huge accounts, but we’d be embarrassed to admit the outsized client is creating a “eggs in one basket” scenario; so why is it the “smart” strategy to get more loyal whales, when there’s way more fish? It’s a trophy hunter mentality, and it’s unsustainable. 

The Catch and Release Marketer prefers to mitigate risk, secure cash flow, manage capacity, and foster creativity and innovation. They can achieve these things by focusing less on netting whales, and more on netting weight.

A diverse and expansive customer base is stronger than one filled with loyal whales. 

A diverse customer base includes; Anchor Clients, Seasonal Clients, Opportunistic Clients, On-Going Small Accounts.

The way Buyer Moderation works, is that on-going small accounts make up the bulk of the clientbase, with a few anchor accounts bringing in big bucks. However, high customer concentration, particularly high value accounts, creates reason for concern.

With a diverse clientbase you mitigate the financial risks, secure multiple pathways towards profit, manage effectiveness and energy levels, and different clients require different innovative go-to-market strategies, a diverse client portfolio guarantees work won’t be stagnant and rote but engaging and creative.


Step 4 – The Marketer and The River

The River

The consumer journey is never linear. “The consumer is in control” is a marketing philosophy *not* created by consumers, nor is it one they adhere to. It’s a total scapegoat mechanism for rudderless marketers, which ends up ensnaring them in their own dreamcatchers.

The externalities of marketing strategy should be designed to be absorbed by the generally disinterested/disorganized/non-linear marketplace, not by the marketer. 

Pathways to purchase will always be non-linear, read: chaotic. One of the latest marketing metaphors to help map out the customer journey, the Hankins Hexagon, does a very good job of illustrating the non-linear pathways consumers might take. 

Rather than existing adrift in the messy middle – effective marketing strategy is all about increasing probabilities that you’ll be chosen, and keeping as many potential customers “in-play” 

“We should be thinking over lifetimes, not campaign windows or quarters.”

– Thom Binding

The Catch and Release Marketer has lures, decoys, bait, and nets in the water, maximizing their chances to catch the interest of slightly more fish at measured expanses along the river.

The marketer’s goal is more fish to catch and release, not “happier” fish in the tank. And, you think that sounds sociopathic, until you pour the hot sauce of marketing science on your plate… 

Customer Satisfaction ≠ Zero Churn

According to customer satisfaction research by Professor John Dawes from Ehernberg-Bass, dissatisfaction is NOT the principal driver of churn. What!!?

In one study, Bolton, a telecomm company, reported an annual churn rate of 30%, yet their customer satisfaction was on average 4.3 out of 5! Plainly, with such a high average score, most customers who left must have actually been satisfied, so satisfaction was not the principal driver of churn.

Think about it in your own world, for real. If you are handed a satisfaction survey, even if you decide to fill it out, how often is it 7-10 all the way down?

So then, are customer satisfaction scores worth anything? Yes, in regards to product and service, but no in regards to forecasting financial growth. 

“The effect of customer satisfaction on business revenue should therefore occur via bolstering (or at least maintaining) a customer’s likelihood of repeat-purchasing a good or service from a provider, or staying with the provider longer.”

Another amazing insight Prof. Dawes illustrates in this paper, is the omitted variable bias that can creep into customer satisfaction/loyalty research if the customer’s past behavior is not known, which is often the case.

“If past behavior is correlated with future behavior, and with current satisfaction, then not measuring it will inflate the effect of satisfaction of future behavior. Despite the intuitive appeal of attitudes as a driving force for behavior, there is considerable evidence that it could be the other way around: behavior drives or reinforces attitudes.”

That last sentence is where things start connecting; emotions drive logic, behavior drives attitudes, we mimetically move with the waves of consumer culture. This is natural. This is Catch and Release. 

SO WHAT GOOD IS NPS, ANYWAY!? – As a tool to improve services and products, NPS is a fine and useful measurement. However, NPS metrics cannot be relied on as a financial predictor of growth or loyalty.

Step 5 – The Marketer and The Lure

By now we’ve established the biological basis for how brains work, how customers and the rivers they swim through behave, and how businesses should perceive, value, and leverage their relationships, we can discuss HOW to apply this and actually catch more customers.

I share the belief that innovation and creativity are the last true advantages in business. I also believe that creativity is not considered “serious thinking” by the business world and it’s the last thing they think about applying to their serious problems, hence “The Cheap Genius Theory”

In my Marketing Metaphorest series, I write extensively and exhaustively on metaphorical approaches to marketing, and two metaphors stand out as applicable to Catch & Release; Mousetraps and Nutrition.

The mousetrap marketing metaphor relates to Catch and Release in a few ways:

  • The job of an exterminator is to catch as many mice as possible, not meet their personified needs individually. Marketers are obsessed over targeted sales personas, rather than obsessed about hitting sales targets. By widening your strategy to include consistent penetration into category audiences, you’ll ensure the supply chain.
  • Since Mimesis is a thing, mice do what other mice do, so one way to bait them with cheese effectively, is to attract them via exposure to other mice eating that piece of cheese. Mousey see, mousey do. Once again, we should obsess more about being seen, not just manipulating personalized loyalty algorithms behind the scenes.
  • And lastly, when baiting a trap, always leave room for the mouse. You never fill up the trap with just cheese. So for us marketers that means, less “WE” in the copy, more “YOU” – marketing has to be relatable, not just bull.

Nutrition, as a marketing metaphor, can help us tactically prepare for Catch and Release Marketing. Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands while increasing brand longevity. Marketing strategy should be a diverse mix of brand growing fundamentals and foundations, and sales activating campaigns and quick hits.

Foundations – Solid 4p framework, great experience, good CRM, strong branded assets
Nutrients – Physical presence/availability – merchandising, search/SEO 
Fundamentals – Mental availability, funnel content, low-engagement awareness
Campaigns – Events, webinars, lead gen, ads 
Boosts – Direct response, gated content
Quick Hits – Discounts, viral videos, paywall content, buying mailing lists

Every marketer and vertical will necessarily have differing definitions for the above framework, but the main point is to metaphorically illustrate that a diverse set of tactics, with the strategic goal of balancing short term activations with long term brand growth initiatives, can keep you strategically focused.

In Summary

The main purpose behind Catch and Release Marketing is giving marketers grace by keeping it simple – be easy to buy, easy to think of, and easily thought worth it. That’s it.

Because of well-meaning but wrong-headed advice, the modern marketer (who would never tattoo a logo on their head) is stressed out because die-hard loyal customers haven’t tattooed their client’s logo onto their heads. We’re out of touch with mainstream values, we base our strategic assumptions off false premises around loyalty and growth and market penetration. We’re eager to collect the wrong kind of market research and even more eager to develop wrong forecasts and predictions off of it.

There’s got to be a better way.

Catch and Release Marketing is your ticket to creating campaigns free of cognitive dissonance, engineering strategies based on research, and implementing effective tactics that successfully operate in the real world. 

Catch and Release Marketing starts and ends with holism. Respect the way human brains operate, appreciate how humans function in society, acknowledge the empathy gap and aspiration window, understand how communities are formed and fed, and finally master an ecological conceptualization for how supply chains ethically connect producers and consumers.

Catch and Release Marketing means to catch the attention and memory of the marketplace, and release the notion of loyalty as a growth opportunity. As gingerly as we reach out to catch customers, we should just as easily release them – this is the only way we’ll be able to catch more. And there’s always more fish in the sea.

Abundance, not scarcity. Autonomy, not autocracy. Ethical actors, not edge lords. Consistency over loyalty. Strategy over tactics. Peace over passion. I hope this metaphor helps and finds you well.

Happy fishing!

The Catch and Release Marketing Takeaways

1 – Easy to find, easy to buy, and easily thought worth it.

2 – Autonomy, Freedom, Justice, Trust, Truth, Well-Being – operate with ethics, always.

3 – Don’t take marketing too seriously; selling stuff well is good enough.

4 – “A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging human.” Bill Bernbach

5 – Brain Facts! a) Your brain does not switch between active and passive, learning and non-learning; it’s recording everything. All the time. b) Your brain does not separate rationality from emotionality, in fact, instinctive emotional responses shape our rational behaviors.

6 – The goal of advertising/marketing is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product. 

7 – Mimesis is powerful! Obsess about being seen, not how you can create obsession from behind the scene.

8 – Mind the Empathy Gap & The Aspiration Window – Research has proven there is a gap between what marketers perceive to be mainstream values, and what those aspirations actually are. Get to know your ACTUAL customers by ACTUALLY communicating with them, then you might make some marketing that ACTUALLY works.

9 – “a lot buy a little, a little buy a lot” – remember the laws of Buyer Moderation and NBD

10 – Marketers hoping to expand their market share must be mentally and physically available and attractive to ultra-light category buyers, and cannot depend on growing through customer loyalty, which is a welcome but arithmetical anomalous abstraction, not a strategic action item.

11 – There will always be more clients who don’t know you and you’ve failed to reach & catch, than “loyal” ones you’ve engaged & held onto. Open it up. 

12 – Focus less on netting whales, more on netting weight. 

13 – Pathways to purchase will always be non-linear, read: chaotic. Catch and Release Marketing is all about increasing probabilities that you’ll be chosen/considered/remembered, and keeping as many potential customers “in-play”

14 – Customer satisfaction does NOT mean Zero Churn, nor does it equate to WOM.

15 – NPS is BS in regards to forecasting. As a tool to improve services and products, NPS is a fine and useful measurement. However, NPS metrics cannot be relied on as a financial predictor of growth or loyalty.

16 – Focus on catching and holding attention. Release your grip on loyalty, open up to more opportunity. 

17 – THE MARKETING GOLDEN RULE: Do unto consumers, that which you would gladly do unto yourself. 


“Marketing Ethics” by George Brenkert 
Three Rules For More Effective B2B Marketing from Marketing Week
Ehrenberg-Bass: 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market for your products
“Descarte’s Error” by Antonio Damasio, 2005
“Consumer Society” by Jean Baudrillard, 1970
Info on Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory
“The Advertised Mind” by Erik DuPlessis, 2008
“Eat Your Greens” by Wiemer Snijders, 2018
How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp, 2010
Loyalty stuff from MIT
“Do Customer Satisfaction scores link to business revenue over time?” by Prof. John Dawes
Buyer Moderation
Low Engagement Model and creativity in B2B by Wiemer Snijders
“Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey” by Bob Hoffman
Do people really want personalized online ads? 
Hankins Hexagon on Marketing Week

The Marketing Metaphorest – SPECTROSCOPY

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business?

Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

The Spectroscopy of Content is an attempt to find the connective and underlying structures that all marketed messages share. 

Whether it’s account based marketing, content marketing, mass market advertising, native, guerrilla, paid, earned, owned, taglines, slogans, calls-to-action; marketing is about humans communicating with other humans.

The Spectroscopy of Content provides an understanding of human behavior, it’s shared triggers and environments, and uses this information, preemptively, to increase the relevancy and effectiveness of the marketing we choose to foist upon the world.

First – let’s cover what spectroscopy is;

Spectroscopy is a scientific measurement technique. It measures light that is emitted, absorbed, or scattered by materials and can be used to study, identify and quantify those materials. One thing that you need to remember, is that “light” is a lot more than just the colored visible light that we can see. – NASA

This is interesting for two reasons –

  1. What we see as plain, white, visible light, actually contains all the colors of the rainbow, plus a collection of wavelengths that we can’t even sense as humans.
  2. Spectroscopy breaks up a complex, noisy signal, such as light, into discrete, constituent parts, provides a glimpse of once imperceptible structures, and brings meaningful data points out of chaos.

Now, let’s bring this back to marketing. 

Content starts as this solid concept, a beam of light, ready to illuminate the minds of our target audience. 

The beam is the message, and the message is the beam. 

Strong calls to action. Tracking is set up. We’ll know what success means and we’ll be able to point to business goals that Content will help to achieve. We fire the solid beam of light into the blackness of Deep Space/The Internet/America’s Living Room.

Now, let’s briefly return to the science of light.

Light is perceived by it’s reflection off of surfaces, and two different reflections are possible – Diffuse and Specular.

Light rays travel from a source and then reflect off of an object towards our eyes. 

There are two types of reflection: specular and diffuse. Specular reflection sends discreet beams in specific directions. Diffuse reflection sends many different beams in several directions.

So what about our Content? Once our beam of light is perceived by our audience, will they, via the specular reflection principle, be able to understand specific messages or triggers embedded in the beam? Or will the light spread out into a million different meanings, fade into the background – a diffuse reflection of our loaded beam?

Well, didn’t we think about the audience and the affect our content would have on their Mind Prisms? Did we think to analyze our content’s Impact Spectrum?

A few more metaphors….

Just as prisms help to break apart light, the interpretation of marketing content happens in the audience Mind Prism. The audience’s Mind Prism, is the only medium through which your lighted message is decoded and understood.

Content is not what you think it is – it’s what your audience thinks it is.

Content is not the beam of light you send, it’s the beam of light that is received. And, further complicating things, each Mind Prism is unique and it’s absorption can change with it’s environment – and no two will absorb information the exact same way.

So in The Spectroscopy of Content, we’re seeking to consciously pre-fabricate the beam of light, knowing what spectral lines need to be absorbed by the audience, amplifying the strength of those wavelengths, and thoughtfully anticipating the myriad ways our Content may be interpreted, or misinterpreted, by the Mind Prism.

Once the light is considered through the Mind Prism, the Impact Spectrum should be analyzed and considered. To explain this last piece – we return to the light. . .

The spectrum from distant stars contain the signatures of the elements that compose the star. Spectral absorption lines in the wavelength of visible light, correspond with elements, present in the stars chemical makeup. There is a Hydrogen Line, a Sodium Line, Magnesium, etc.

In The Spectroscopy of Content, the “absorption lines” reflect the ideas or concepts that are anticipated to hit the intended Impact Spectrum – and we have several different Spectra of Understanding. Here are three versions I’ve created specifically for this piece – but there is room for thousands more!

Are we soliciting buyer behavior, are we making someone mad, are we talking about cultural values? Is this a curveball with a mysterious trajectory, a fast pitch in an elevator, or a beachball in a stadium? Does this message leave enough room for the recipient’s ego? Does the Content talk about personal things, or relevant ideas in society? Will this make them think of Church, School, the bedroom, the barber shop?

Before we launch any Content, we have to ensure that it’s light will reflect into at least one Impact Spectra, if not multiple. And although it is true that each Mind Prism is unique, certain concepts like the ones briefly covered in the above examples, work on more basic levels. Humans are unique, but human behaviors and reactions tend not to be.

In closing – The Spectroscopy of Content aims to understand the ways information impacts people on this basic level, and use this information to fortify and empower the messages we send in the future. 

Whether we’re analyzing various Mind Prisms, or the associated Impact Spectrum of a message, one thing remains true throughout this marketing metaphor. . . Our success depends not on how much we put ourselves into our marketing, but by how strongly our marketing considers it’s audience.

Want to add onto this metaphor, or find out how it can all apply to your business, hit me up on the posmarketing blog, follow me on social, and until next time – I’ll see you on the internet!

The Marketing Metaphorest – HORSE RACING

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders!

Marketing is like a horse race, in that people are overly-obsessed with winning & dissecting champions to discover fail-proof-strategies, which unfortunately reinforces biases, and creates ethical & strategic blind spots for business development.

1 – Winner Takes All

In horse racing, winning is everything, And so if what it takes to win may be dirty, sneaky, edgy, or otherwise, most racers that want to be “winners” entertain these thoughts, not because they are amoral, but because if the racer next to us is “enhancing” their performance, to win at all costs, then why shouldn’t we?

In George Brenkert’s excellent “Marketing Ethics,” he outlines why game and racing metaphors are incompatible with marketing ethics, exactly because they warp our sense of morality around business development decisions.

Instead of obsessing over how to “win the race” for your brand, set internal goalposts & benchmarks for “marathon” marketing performance, that are aligned with driving business results, over the long run. 

2 – More Data, Doesn’t Mean Better Prediction

Part of horse racing is dissecting champions to discover proven-strategies, and race fans will use everything, from superstition to big data, to get insights from every which seemingly all lead to big rewards.

A note on this –

In 1973, Paul Slovic, Univ. of Oregon, studied horse betting and data interpretation and found, the more data points a trained handicap setter had to predict a winning horse, the less accurate the prediction became. 

Out of a total of 88 data points, test groups were given 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40, the most accurate predictions for winning horses occurred in the group with just 5 variables. 

With more data, comes overconfidence, which in the horse racing study dramatically increased inaccurate predictions.

So – when it comes to data-driven marketing decisions, don’t be fooled, be focused. Reduce data points, and divine direction via interpretation, not intuition.  

3 – Survivorship Bias

And finally, the horse racing world, like marketing, is so biased towards understanding every nuance of winners, that strategic, possibly winning insights, gleaned from the whole competitive field, tend to be ignored because, losers don’t write the rule books.

Survivorship bias or survival bias is the logical error of concentrating on subjects that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility.

The famous example is Abraham Wald’s study on returning WW2 bombers – where he discovered that the places on the aircraft that needed reinforced armor were not the places that bullets had punctured the surviving aircraft, but where the bullets had missed, and hit the aircraft that had been shot down.

Taken in the horse race marketing context – we’re obsessed with what it takes to win a race, we fail to study and research the bounty of knowledge in what it takes to lose one.

So – to create a marketing strategy that’s robust and not reliant on the winning horse to come in – dedicate some research to the thousands of unlucky, anonymous brands that never made it, rather than studying and copying the ins-and-outs of the few, lucky, anomalous winning brands at the top of the marketing hill.

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The Marketing Metaphorest – NEWTONIAN DYNAMICS

Hey everyone, Jake Sanders, POSmarketer here, today we’re overlaying the metaphor of Newtonian Dynamics on Marketing, but first, we should probably define Newtonian Dynamics….

1) A body stays at rest, or in uniform motion, until acted on upon a force.

2) The rate of change seen in the body is proportional to the force acting upon it.

3) When a force from one body impacts another, then an equal and opposite force acts simultaneously on the impacted body.

So, are you ready to find out how this all relates to marketing? Let’s go!

A body at rest, stays at rest

Taken in a marketing context, this principle really means your brand, good ideas, solid content, won’t go anywhere without being affected by an external source of energy. You have to promote, your marketing. You have to advertise, your advertisements. 

This sounds dumb but folks are filling up their organic content bins with no plans on promoting any of it. Well, newton says, unless you got the energy to commit to it, all that content ain’t goin nowhere. 

You get out, what you put in

If the result expected from marketing strategy is huge, the energy and commitment that goes into executing the strategy needs to be equally huge.

You want SuperBowl results, but you’re only paying for junior football scrimmages…Newton says, if you want unreal results, plan to work unrealistically hard for them. 

3. Every action, has a reaction

Lastly, it’s important to remember that while external forces influence your marketing, your brand is also capable of influencing and guiding external forces. 

Marketers spend so much time reacting to things, new trends, following standards and statistics, that we forget we can create new standards, and statistics, OURSELVES.

Ad legend Bill Bernbach, had a quote, that outlines this idea…..

So Newton says, if you’re looking to create distinct, momentum for your brand, focus less on how you respond to market dynamics & trends, and more on how you can create them.

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The Marketing Metaphorest – MOUSETRAPS

In this episode we talk: MOUSETRAPS. Is it necessary for an exterminator to know every mouse’s name, before they can do their job? Is a floor full of traps, better than a big piece of cheese? When you bait a trap with too much cheese, where does the mouse fit in?

If one of the main goals of marketing is to lure buyers out of their homes, using associated, maybe cheesy, memories, to guide behavior, action, and close the deal, then the mousetrap is a perfect metaphor to explore.

Mousetraps help explain marketing & advertising in a few ways…

To catch a lot of mice – do you need to know each one personally?

Imagine, if an exterminator came to your house and before handling the mouse problem, he wanted to get all their names.

Seems silly, but for marketers, we spend more time obsessing over “sales personas” than obsessing over selling.

In today’s hyper-targeted world, advertisers believe that marketing budgets are wasted on not understanding every movement and click of every mouse – that with enough data, we can ID all personas, find the loyalists, and get them to buy, buy, buy.

But serious research, from Byron Sharp, Ehrenberg Bass, and others, shows that personalized ads perform poorly next to generalized ads, buyers are extremely brand agnostic, and loyalty isn’t a growth strategy, if not an outright myth.

Would you rather oversee ONE plan to market and capture the attention and intention of a single category audience, mice, or have to manage MULTIPLE plans, based on THOUSANDS of individualized, market-segmentations?

That’s where AI comes in, you say? Deep learning in your martech stack? Yeah….no.

You want to attract & catch the most mice, which of the following do you think would perform the best?

Giant Cheese on Floor – think of this as mass media. Expensive.

Floor full of traps – Think of this as direct response. Exhausting.

AR projection of mice eating cheese – Think of this as social media, or influencers. Exhibitive. 

Pretty sure every CEO would be interested in the AR mousetrap – low overhead, low stakes for failure, no one get’s hurt, and no one wastes cheese. Actually, nothing happens! 

Most marketers think if they push out enough sales messaging and activity, if they lay traps all over the floor – that the mouse will show up, eventually. 
Nothing wrong with this. But overtime – the mice become wise to it, ignore the inticements. The ROI for short activations like this, diminish overtime.

In initial polls, everyone chose the giant cheese. Why? If the main point of advertising is to bring awareness and drive action, then the giant cheese hits it – it’s less important that certain mice show up, and more important that ANY and ALL cheese eating mice show up, and remember the experience. 

“When baiting a trap with cheese, leave room for the mouse.” – Saki

This quote merits deep reflection – marketers tend to bring too much of their own cheese to the marketing trap.

Too much brand puffery, too much “We,” very rarely a “You”

Every customer is looking at a brand’s advertising asking, “What’s in it for me? Where do I fit in?”

Your marketing should be relatable, not just BULL.

Before you write that next cheesy bit of copy, ask yourself, “am I leaving enough room, for the mouse?”

So – to summarize – In order to capture the most attention and intention for your brand, focus on categorization rather than segmentation, utilize broad-reaching campaigns, and make sure your marketing copy is focused on, and leaves room for, the buyer.

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The Marketing Metaphorest – TREES

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

In this episode we talk: TREES. A single acorn contains the mighty oak, depends on a diverse forest ecosystem for distribution, and if the rate at which trees are planted, is slower than the rate at which you cut them down, then trouble starts.

ONE – Like tiny acorns contain all the information required to grow a forest of full blown oaks, a marketing campaign should 1) seek to condense required brand messaging into small, distinct, easy to ingest packages, that are 2) easily replicable, dropped by the thousands, and spread by a variety of category buyers in the audience, 3) with the knowledge that without broadcast awareness, singular behaviors will never take root.  

TWO – Like a tree can become a forest, effective marketing strategy takes a while to grow business into self-sustaining cycles. 

And if the rate at which you plant the long term strategy seeds for new business, outpaces the rate at which you seek short term rewards, (i.e. cutting down trees for fire) progress will be unattainable.

THREE – Like an interdependent collection of diverse trees & shrubs, ensures holistic health and progress for an entire forest ecosystem, marketing strategies must be diverse in tactics/methods/applications/settings, because business development that relies on a single cash crop is waiting for famine. 

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The Marketing Metaphorest – WATER

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business?

Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

Dive into the latest episode of the Marketing Metaphorest – WATER!

In this episode we talk: WATER. Water is everywhere, but it’s quality (drinking water vs salt) and conditions it exists in (ice, clouds, liquid), can vary greatly, without ever changing it’s substance.

How else does marketing relate to water?

Marketing is like WATER in a few different ways


Just like rivers and oceans were the connective tissue for thriving port-towns throughout history, developing business effectively through marketing, depends upon understanding and viewing your audience through the natural pathways that brought them to the marketplace, not just as consumers in a decision vacuum.

Too many marketers think about their product only in context of it’s relationship to their buyer, but never consider the things outside of that relationship, behaviors in the buyer’s busy life and brain, which impact a brands chance of sticking out.

When you understand the tides & behaviors of your marketplace, research the rivers your buyer crosses everyday, you create more effective, resonant marketing.

To learn more about taking a behavioral approach to marketing & advertising, I recommend  “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton Christensen and CO. and “The Advertised Mind” by the brilliant Erik DuPlessis.


The quality of water in the river, leading up to a spring, isn’t equal to the water you’d drink from it – and yet, both types of water, potable and non-potable, are necessary for survival.

In this metaphor, the spring is a marketing source for clear, quality sales, and the river is a pathway that ensures traffic. Business owners need to cultivate marketing activities which secure traffic as well as leads, and should respect the differences in quality.


Like water, marketing effectiveness fills the strategic vessel you pour it into. You could be under a torrent of leads, but if you only have a teacup commitment to marketing strategy, you’ll be sipping progress, when you could be chugging it.


Like water, effective marketing strategy needs to be able to change and adapt, based on environmental conditions. Marketing should be lithe enough, and supported by a strong enough brand, to shift easily through varying mediums, lengths, and tone. 

Like water can become ice, liquid and vapor, while remaining water, marketing must be able to phase shift through mediums and messaging, without sacrificing brand ethos.

From email to billboards, from one-line-copy to 3,000 word white papers, and ranging in tone from boardroom-buzzwords to borderline bawdy, the execution of your marketing strategy needs to contain an element of adaptability to survive, and thrive, as the environment of your marketplace changes.

Interested to learn more about this metaphor, want to pile on your own version, or find ways to apply it all in your business? Hit me up on the POSblog, follow me on social, and until next time – I’ll see you on the internet!

The Marketing Metaphorest – NUTRITION

In this episode we talk: NUTRITION. Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of a balance of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands, while also increasing brand longevity.

The latest marketing metaphor from POSMarketer, Jake Sanders.

Marketing is Nutrition – Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands while increasing brand longevity.

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Marketing Metaphorest – INTRO & FUNNELS

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders!

The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist, mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

In this opening episode we learn why metaphors, and why now, and then we dive into the first metaphor:


Marketing is a funnel; first goal to broadly reach potential buyers with Awareness, which narrows into Consideration for a smaller group of buyers, which then shrinks into a Decision set of buyers.
In regards to prioritizing budget for marketing activities, turn the funnel upside down to get a sense of how to properly fund marketing.

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