December 3, 2018

What I’ll be doing in 2019

First, some historical context…

You wouldn’t be able to read this email if it weren’t for the invention of the semiconductor. Most electronic devices rely on them both existing, and being microscopically small.

When I was at university I studied the events surrounding the innovation of the semiconductor. Like most innovations, the semiconductor didn’t emerge out of a sterile R&D department. It emerged because just like today, engineers insist on breaking things… and subsequently talk to each other about the things they’ve broken.

(If you’re in any way an engineer, you’ll be nodding along at that…)

The story of innovation in marketing is a little different… at least on the face of things.

The ‘official’ version is that some high profile guru will uncover some marketing secret, funnel hack, or ninja copywriting trick. Generously, they’ll condescend to share crumbs of their unbounded wisdom with you, for a tremendous amount of money.

The ‘reality’ is that marketing innovation is more like the semiconductor story. Innovation comes from the people who actually DO the work. Especially when these people then get together, share a coffee (or something stronger), and discuss their findings.

I think it would be fair to say we desperately need less of the former version, and more of the latter.

A few years ago I published a number of my AdWords management processes in the public domain, under a Creative Commons open source licence. I put that work on the back burner for a while, but it’s now back on the agenda for 2019.

Contrary to what you might think, giving away your processes doesn’t blow up your business. I track how many people access the process documents, and it’s fewer than you might think.

Business owners generally just want to know there is a process, and have no intention of doing the work themselves.

Marketers who attempt to follow the processes end up being more likely to attend training courses, not less. The value isn’t really in the process, but rather the training, education, and other hand-holding measures that surrounds it.

Many ‘open’ platforms have worked in this way for a long time. Take Linux for example. The value in Linux isn’t in the Linux operating system. Have you ever tried to use a Linux machine?? But Chrome OS (found on the Chromebook) is built on Linux.

The value in WordPress isn’t in the source code, which anyone can access. The value is in themes, plug-ins, support, hand-holding, and other services.

Open platforms are well established in the software world. But as soon as you switch attention to marketing, we prefer to believe that innovation happens because one evening some genius dreams up a new type of funnel.

Honestly, it drives me nuts.

So anyway, I’m doing things slightly differently. (You wouldn’t expect anything less, right?)

I’ll be publishing more of my systems at You’re welcome to browse these, make copies and use for your own purposes, as long as you leave the attribution box in place at the top. You can also sign-up to email updates on that page.

Throughout 2019 I’ll be breaking, improving and expanding this body of documentation with my All Access Members. If you’re in the marketing trenches, I want to find a way to work with you on this.

I’m taking a leap of faith with this, but it fits my mental model of how innovation works in the real world, not in marketing guru land.

You have to ask: where is the value in your business? And could you increase the transparency of what you are doing?

And what would be the business impact of greater transparency?

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.