Edge Marketing

In the short video below I introduce a new term: “edge marketing”.

Essentially, the principle is that growth happens on the edges. We are unlikely to find greatness, breakthroughs, or massive success by repeating the same stuff that has kinda worked before.

On the contrary: Safe is now risky, and risky is the new safe.

Edge marketing means expressing your brand (who you ARE) in whatever way comes most completely naturally, without holding back.

tarot-fool-cardLike the Fool card in the tarot, it means stepping boldly from the safety of solid ground and over the edge into the as-yet-unknown. (Read more about what the Fool represents.)

Good News and Bad News

This knowledge gives us good news and bad news.

  • The bad news is that nobody else can show you the way. Only you can find this path.
  • The good news is that only you can find your path! You don’t need anything else.

By definition, Edge Marketing tells you that your right path is NOT where everyone else is gathering! You have to do what everyone else is NOT doing.

When you start thinking “Edge” you’ll see it everywhere.

It will be obvious why “524 Profitable SEO Niches” is direct a path to failure.

You will realise that no “guru” can deliver you success. (But, if they’re a good marketing strategist, they may be able to coach you to find the answers you’re looking for.)

524 Profitable SEO Niches? Nope!

…that will disappear the moment you try to capitalise on them!

Do you remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker has to walk into the dark cave to face his ultimate fear? That’s one of the core steps of the classic Hero’s Journey, and it also represents what we must all go through, if we’re going to fulfil our true potential.

Face the fear... and do it anyway

Face the fear… and do it anyway

You’ll know when you’re on your Edge because you’ll experience exhilaration and anxiety in equal measure.

Nothing is certain.

Anything could happen.

Wow! Anything can happen!

Watch the Video (16 minutes)

Further Thoughts on Your Edge (15 April)

I have been thinking constantly about The Edge for the past few days, and have gotten a little more clarity.

As I see it, there are three distinct regions where we can dwell…

  • Behind your edge,
  • On your edge,
  • and Ahead of your edge.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with not living on your Edge! Sometimes, life requires predictability and security. And sometimes craziness is called for! But I’ll offer some thoughts on how you might discern where you are dwelling.

I’m reminded of this quote from Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote the Tao De Ching.


Living Behind Your Edge

If the Edge represents the true Moment, being totally present, then to live behind your edge is to dwell in the past.

The past is fixed, complete, certain, dead, and appears safe. You will not find anything new in the zone behind your edge, you will repeat what has been done before.

How do you know you’re behind your edge? The emotion that best typifies living life behind your edge is probably boredom. That means there is no risk in your life, little change, and really little opportunity.

In business and marketing, it may pay to operate in the safe, unchanging zone behind the edge, simply repeating what has worked before over and over. Many businesses deal in commodities and have customers who don’t expect or want change. In these situations, marketing is very predictable and repetitive.

What makes us live behind the Edge? Fear has to be the greatest one. Fear of failure, fear of getting it wrong. But, of course, if fear stops you from trying stuff, you’ll be condemned to getting the same results. Like Einstein’s definition of insanity…

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As an antidote to this fear, I really love this video of Oprah Winfrey’s presentation to the Stanford School of Business’s “View From the Top” series in 2014.

That’s how you know, when you’re not at ease with yourself. That is the cue that you need to be moving in another direction… Failure is just there to point you in a different direction.

“Relax. There Are No Mistakes.”

If you’re looking around you and thinking that you should be doing what you think is working for everyone else, that could be a sign that you’ve living behind your Edge. Stop looking over your shoulder. Other people’s paths are not your path. And no one else can show you your path.

Living Ahead of Your Edge

The region in front of your Edge is the future, which is typified by chaos. It’s the opposite of the past, where everything has happened and is a done deal. In the future, anything is theoretically possible.

The future is dangerous, unstable, chaotic, and uncertain. However, you can’t actually DO anything in the future. You can only do stuff in the present moment.

Living in the future is typified by anxiety or panic, and also by daydreaming. This is a state that’s very familiar to me, spending my time dreaming about what might be… very often at the expense of what actually can be done now.

Can businesses operate ahead of the Edge? Sure! People who sell impossible dreams, like “get rich quick” systems, are playing on people’s dreams. You might also say that many artists, writers, and visionaries dwell in that space.

However, to make the future relevant, and to make change happen, we surely need to return to the Present. That’s the difference between an idealist and a revolutionary. Idealists and romantics can get off on the hit of their utopian vision, but if nothing is actually done, what’s the point?

Living ahead of the Edge can be like a drug for certain personality types. It provides a constant cycle of excitement and stimulation, but ultimately when the dreams don’t materialise, the excitement is replaced by a sense of regret, and the addict needs to find another hit.

So living ahead of your Edge is equally as paralysing as living behind it.

If you’re worrying about not fulfilling your potential (in other people’s eyes), you’re ahead of the Edge. Get back to the Edge, and know that there is nothing you have to do other than to be completely yourself.

Here’s a great life lesson from Mike Rowe (star of Dirty Jobs), who assures us that…

Do you have to have passion? Absolutely! Do you have to rely up on it to drive you? No, I don’t think so.

Mike offers this warning against putting passion first…

When you follow your passion, when you follow your dream, when you grow up being told that you’re a precious little snowflake, and all you have to do is look inward and identify that thing in you that you want more than anything else, that’s a trap.

Living ON Your Edge

Living on your Edge is not the same as “being edgy”. When brands engage marketing consultants to help them bolt on “edginess” I think they’re doomed to failure. The Edge is not an appearance, it’s where you truly are right here, right now, being you 100%.

The Edge is the present moment, and to be living on your Edge is to be fully engaged with the now, not replaying the successes and failures of the past, not dreaming your life away in the future.

On your Edge, you acknowledge the past, without being controlled by it. You appreciate the path that has brought you to this place, but that path is not this place. You appreciate the experiences, education, and background that are part of who you are, but they are not who you are.

On your Edge, you also gaze at the future, but you are not sucked into it. You acknowledge your dreams and your desires, which are part of you, without being defined by them, and without becoming disheartened that they always seem out of touch.

Instead, you take threads of the future and you weave them in the present moment to create what you want to have happen right here, right now.

So how do you do it?

I think the answer is deceptively simple. You don’t have to do anything!

It starts with knowing the truth about who you are (which applies to a business as much as an individual).

You are a being that comes from the past AND the future. Your being is influenced by the product of all that stuff that has happened in the past (but not defined by it), and it is also influenced by your dreams and visions for the future (but not defined by them).

As Oprah said in the video above…

The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself: What is the next right move?

Here’s another section from the same talk by Oprah, where she answers, “What’s the secret of your success?” saying it starts with being.

In what direction do you choose to travel? What is the next step towards the “highest, truest expression of yourself”? Just take that step, even if (like the Fool) you don’t know where that foot is going to land.

Case Studies

I can offer you a few examples from my own career of what it’s like to live on your Edge.

Save the Pixel

That’s what I did when I wrote “Save the Pixel” in 2008. I started with one idea, and just threw myself into it. Over the next few months, because I was aware, because I listened and noticed the truth that was evolving for me, I saw there was a pattern in how I approached the task of web design, and I followed that golden thread.

The result was a short e-book that made me $250,000 in sales over the next few years.


In 2010, I became infected by a desire to know what really made web pages work, so I challenged myself to find out! I started another book (which became Convert!) with a plan to run dozens of tests on dozens of websites, thinking that I would be able to decode the main drivers for conversion.

As I did my research, reading the work of classic marketers like Claude Hopkins and John Caples, I came to appreciate that the problem was far more complex.

But it was okay. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. In the end, I wrote that book twice, and the result has probably brought me more clients and more business than anything else I have done.

Pro Web Design Course

Later that year, after my marriage fell apart, I knew in my heart that I wanted to teach everything I knew about making effective websites. So I created the concept for the Pro Web Design Course, and wrote a sales page.

I got $20,000 of commitments in the first week, even though I had zero material. But I pulled that vision of a course out of the future and started working with it right there in the present moment.

The course took enormous effort, but it was work that I loved to do. It carried me through a very difficult time and also generated a good six-figure revenue over a couple of years.

Open Source Marketing

The same pattern goes for Open Source Marketing in 2015. It was driven by a deep, radical appreciation of what I wanted to achieve, but more what I wanted to BE for the world. Open Source marketing fell naturally out of that work, and it totally inspires me today!

[To be continued…]

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