A quick overview and highlights of Killing Marketing – How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Cost Into Profit

by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi.



The premise of this book by the folks behind the now defunct This Old Marketing podcast can be summed up by author Robert Rose:

“What if we actually killed marketing and restructured it completely? What would happen if we completely flipped the idea of marketing on its head? What if, instead of starting by figuring out how the features and benefits of the product that we offer for sale, we approached the whole structure and function of marketing by leading from our media strategy?”

Huge proponents of a media-approach to marketing, Rose and Joe Pulizzi make a case for why following the likes of Red Bull, with their massive media arm, is viable — albeit not easy to achieve.

Of the many tips and suggestions these content marketers offer in Killing Marketing, the three most prevalent may very well be:

  1. Own your content
  2. Build your audience
  3. Evolve your marketing efforts from being a cost center to a profit center.  

Brief take

With Killing Marketing, Rose and Pulizzi are preaching to the choir, admittedly. That aside, they would have done more to strengthen their argument against any potential naysayers by demonstrating how companies can do this about-face with their marketing — in a realistic manner. Without essentially abandoning an existing (and potentially revenue-generating) current strategy.

Switching one’s marketing approach — the way Rose and Pulizzi propose — is resource-intensive. It requires companies to delegate team members and dollars elsewhere — away from current campaigns.

What if in the likely event a company relies on their existing marketing campaigns to generate leads and customers? What then?

An emphasis on this angle would have served their readers well.

Below are highlights from the book Killing Marketing. Short, sweet, and to the point. So you can form your own opinion of the book — quickly.


  • The LEGO Movie was created as a for-profit initiative. On a $60 million budget, worldwide grosses of the movie totaled nearly a half a billion dollars.
  • There’s a 1 in 25 chance to reach a C-level executive through outbound marketing.
  • Building a loyal audience directly, gives you the best understanding of what products ultimately make the most sense to sell.

Chapter 1 | Killing Marketing

  • As marketers, we have come to a place where , as renters of media access , we have done the calculus and determined that a 30 percent  “tax” on a media buy is less expensive than doing something completely different.

Chapter 2 | Return on Audience

  • This story is, broadly speaking, why ROI is the wrong kind of metric to use for whether marketing is worth doing. It encourages us to underperform.
  • There are really only two core metrics we care about as a business — increasing revenue and decreasing costs.
  • We try to continually bombard the media with our message, to make sure that we’re hitting that consumer just in case now is the time.

We are, quite literally, like the kid in the back seat of the car asking, “Are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet?”

  • Marketing must be led, strategically, by a core story.

Chapter 3 | Media Marketing

  • Disney sustains value – creating growth by developing an unrivaled capability in family-friendly animated (and live-action) films and then assembling other entertainment assets that both support and draw value from the characters and images in those films.
  • Disney is one of the rare companies that was never a media company or a product brand — it’s always been both … by design.

Chapter 5 | The Marketing Media Savings Model

  • Even small and medium-sized businesses are finding that utilizing subscription data as a means of targeting their advertising can be profitable .
  • By actually slowing down the process of marketing, by focusing on providing consistent value to your most engaged customers, we can increase the average value of those particular customers.
  • Adobe looks at the content consumption across the CMO.com platform and uses that intelligence to understand how it might program its events, its thought leadership programs, and its marketing

Chapter 6 | First Steps on the Road to Killing Marketing

  • Cleveland Clinic has completely flipped how it presents content to the leadership in its business .
  • Three core components that the marketing team needs to have in place to begin this kind of transformation .

1 . Orchestrating events , not guiding buyers ’ journeys

2. Becoming meaning-driven, not data-driven

3. Organizing for agility, not speed.

  • Programmatic, targeted advertising is, quite literally, self-defeating. It’s ultimately bad for the advertiser. It’s bad for the publisher, and it’s bad for the consumer .
  • It only gives us insight into what that customer is interested in, when the customer is interested.
    • What we want is better insight into how to interest that customer to begin with.
  • Data, while powerful, is only half the story. The other half is an understanding of the emotive needs of our customer. What are their aspirations, fears, dreams, desires, etc.?
  • The fear of moving too slowly is causing marketers to do foolish things and to develop more ads across more social channels and conduct smaller experiments with digital content rather than trying to optimize a set of well-defined media experiences.

Chapter 7 | The One Media Model

  • More content does not mean more assets. The asset is the audience,  and the content is what gets you to the asset.
  • Our goal is not to create more content. It’s to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of resources.
  • The greatest media entities of all time selected one primary channel in which to build their platform.
  • The greatest media companies target one audience at a time. Anything more and there is no hope to be relevant enough to cut through all the clutter.
  • Now is the perfect time to go and analyze your content niche, the editorial mission within that niche, and whether or not you are hitting the mark of differentiated content. If you are like most companies, you probably aren’t.
  • The most popular content types are as follows (in order of usage): 
    • Articles or blog posts 
    • Textual stories in e-newsletters 
    • Videos 
    • In-person events 
    • Reports or white papers
    • Webinars / webcasts 
    • Books (print or digital) 
    • Printed magazines 
    • Audio programming 
    • Printed newsletters
  • Once you build an audience, anything is possible … and the subscriber makes it all happen
  • If you have a choice, email subscribers are the most valuable ultimately because of control.
  • Is your newsletter really, truly valuable to your target audience?
  • Three considerations for a remarkable email newsletter :
    • Consistent
    • Truly valuable to their needs
    • Exclusive content, not just repurposed

Chapter 8 | Today: The Beginning

  • Eric Ries, in his book The Lean Startup, talks about the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) .
  • This can be used for your media marketing model, but in this case, it would be a minimum viable audience ( MVA ).
  • MVA has three components:
    • Receiving enough feedback from comments, emails, social networks, and social media news sites in order to adapt and evolve your content to better serve the audience.
    • Growing your audience organically thanks to social media sharing
    • Gaining enough insight into what the people in your audience need to solve their problems or satisfy their desires beyond the free education you’re providing.
  • Size is not nearly, not even close to, as important as the passion of the core fan base.
  • In other words, do you have fans, or do you have a list?
  • After we build our minimum viable audience, we need to launch into new platforms just like a media company would
  • Yeti Perfects the YouTube Channel Strategy
    • Stories celebrating fatherhood (#MyOldMan)
    • Separate channels for hunters and fishermen
    • A Yeti Presents series that highlights adventurers and the country

Chapter 10 | The Future of Marketing

  • For those marketers that are not feeling successful with content, the main reason for the frustration is that we are in a catch-22 situation. We’re so focused on creating more and more content, we feel like we don’t have enough time, or budget, or we lack the business priority to focus on it.

Notes made you want to buy the book? Here you go: 

Killing Marketing – How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Cost Into Profit