80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall (Book Summary)

80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note: This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see Affiliate Disclosure.

This book applies the 80/20 (Pareto) Principle to sales and marketing, showing how to exponentially amplify results by focusing your efforts on the most important 20%, iteratively. It's a good mix of theory and application. Read it if you want to do more with less in your business.

Google AdWords is mentioned frequently due to the author's experience, but the principles can be applied to many forms of online and offline marketing.

I read this because it was recommended on the Agency Advantage podcast. I'm thinking a lot about marketing right now, as we market our WordPress Maintenance Plans. My notes follow.

How 80/20 Works and Why

Real power of 80/20 is that if you look at only the top 20%, the rule still applies. And so on if you keep taking the top 20%.

If you hire 10 people, 2 will generate 80% of results. Those 2 are 16x as effective as the others.

Averages almost never tell you what's really important; the extremes do.

"Everything that really matters in business isn't linear, it's exponential. 80/20 is about Power Laws - powers of 10. … Customers' ability to spend money is not in increments but multiples."

You Can Do Better

Most companies waste 80% of marketing money. If you put that money into the top 20%, ROI would improve 16x.

80/20 Traffic

Turn publicity into a sales funnel with white paper, diagnostic tool, or cheat sheet.

Focus on 1-3 forms of marketing and advertising, to get much better at them than competitors. Master 1 first.

How to Use the “Invisible Money” Finder at www.8020Curve.com

Scratch the unscratchable itch. Sports teams get 50% of revenue from 1% of fans by offering luxury options.

Simplify Your Life with the Power Triangle

Capitalize on the willingness of the top-shelf customer to spend money. Sell up-sells, cross-sells, additional products.

Sell results, not procedures. Sell complete packages that solve total problem, not a la carte parts.

80/20 Conversion: Now That You’ve Racked the Shotgun, Make ’Em MOVE

To make big bucks, your product has to address one or both of following urgent things ("bleeding necks"):

  1. Big pain: pain and great inconvenience, loss of money, threat of life
  2. Big pleasure: craving for pleasure that borders on irrational.

A good headline should read like a classified ad that would move people to call.

B2B Sales Message

  • Headline: start with their bleeding neck, and offer a benefit statement.
  • Empathize. Show that a page of your diary looks like theirs.
  • Talk about pain and suffering. Throw in some pleasure.
  • Find pain point and hit with hammer.
  • Use headlines, italics, bold for skimmers.
  • Big promise, big benefit.
  • Charge a small amount (such as shipping) to eliminate tire-kickers.
  • Add a P.S. with more bleeding neck and hammering pain.
  • Call to action.

Your USP

Questions USP must answer

  • Why should I listen to you?
  • Why should I do business with you and not anyone else?
  • What can your product do for me that no other can?
  • What can you guarantee me that no one else can?

How to be unique

  • Service. Guaranteed friendliness, delivery, live person on phone, etc.
  • Unique market. E.g., businesses with under 10 employees.
  • Unique product. Guaranteed result, tailor-made, guaranteed experience.
  • Unique experience. Perks.
  • Unique price. Low, premium, or guaranteed add-ons others don't offer at your price.

It’s Not Failure. It’s Testing.

Google AdWords is the best place to test offers and headlines.

Scale Up-Massively

Before you redo your entire website, pick the single most important page and split test. Iteratively improve, and you'll get half the total benefit of redoing the entire site by redoing just one page. Optimize a handful of pages and maybe your overall template, to get almost all possible improvement benefits.

Expand marketing in this order:

  1. AdWords
  2. SEO
  3. Other PPC (Bing, display, etc.)
  4. Email marketing
  5. Social media (but use isfbforme.com to determine your ranking)
  6. Affiliates
  7. Direct mail
  8. Banner ads, ad networks
  9. Press releases
  10. Print, TV, radio

Expand, Diversify, and Conquer Planet Earth

Using methods 2-10 (from list above), you can generate 5-50x more sales than with AdWords alone.

After you refine your marketing, partner with resellers and affiliates to get more traffic than you can handle.

Make More From Every Customer

20% of customers will spend 4x the money. 4% of customers will spend 16x.

Of repeat buyers, 20% account for 80% of repeat sales. 20% of orders represent 80% of quantity. 20% of orders represent 80% of diversity (different types of products purchased at a time).

Power Guarantees

"If it doesn't make your stomach churn, it's probably not an awesome guarantee."

Power USP: If you are [qualifying type of customer] and if you [commit $X and follow steps Y and Z] then you will achieve [specific results] or else [penalty to me/vendor].

This USP removes uncertainty and doubt and delivers results, allowing you to charge more than competitors. It also attracts better customers (not those who want cheapest option).

To command higher prices than anyone, guarantee better results than anyone.

Make $1,000 Per Hour Doing What You Love

Find the selling environment that lets you harness your persuasive/sales gifts (writing, speaking, video, etc.) to maximum advantage.

80/20 Hiring and Outsourcing

Replace interviews with auditions (test projects).

When hiring from an online job board, look for the top 1%. Look for "top 100" lists.

Set an application fee (such as $25) to weed out applicants who don't think they can win.

80/20 Controversy

"When you take that position and beat the drum, you build a powerful publicity platform." "The fastest, easiest way to become famous is to pick a side that you're passionate about and start advocating." If you take a definite position, you're quotable, and will be quoted by magazines and invited to conferences.

You can achieve rapid attention and stardom by triggering panic in the top 1% of your opposition."

80/20 Market Research in a Single Afternoon

Survey questions for prospects and customers:

  1. What's your single most important question about [your topic]?
  2. Why would it make a difference in your life to get a good answer or solution? Details, please.
  3. How difficult has it been to find a good answer or solution?

Pay attention to responses from those who said "very difficult" and gave long responses. Here you'll find most motivating language, needs, and your point of difference benefits.


You can buy the 80/20 Sales and Marketing ebook, book, or audiobook on Amazon (aff. link).

This book emphasizes the importance of online marketing. What's the center of online marketing? Your website! Make sure your site is well cared for, so it doesn't fall down on the job. The easiest way to do that is by leaving website maintenance to the experts. Sign up for your WordPress Maintenance Plan today!

Filed Under: 

Want tips to rocket-boost your website?

Simply sign up.

4 comments on “80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall (Book Summary)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to Blast Off?

Let's talk.

Contact OptimWise
crossmenuarrow-right