Educate November 2017

Book Review: “Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts” By Ryan Holiday

Written By: Sharon Brown, Prospect Strategy Analyst, University of Florida Office of Advancement

In today’s world where there are so many things competing for our time, marketing should start with you and your connections.

It’s official, Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite present-day authors. It started with “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph,” his modern guide to Stoic philosophy.

Then I treated myself to “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living,” a page-a-day book filled with guidance and inspiration. I even subscribe to his Daily Stoic email and monthly reading list.

Still, “Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts?” I read a wide variety of subjects, but one on marketing wouldn’t be a typical choice. It was surprisingly relevant, though, and changed the way I think about my 9 to 5 and side-hustles.

Ryan Holiday

Early in his career Holiday was the director of marketing for American Apparel, and he wrote his first book on the subject, “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator’” in 2012. In “Perennial Seller,” he delivers on everything I’ve come to expect from his work. It is well-researched, logically outlined and full of little stories and anecdotes that serve to enhance his concepts.

This is a book for anyone wanting to create a classic product, be it a book, app, start-up or anything else. Continued success over time makes a perennial seller, and Holiday offers ideas – so many ideas – to help achieve lasting status.

“Perennial Seller” has four parts: Creative Process, Positioning, Marketing and Platform. Notice that marketing doesn’t come first – this is deliberate. Before the marketing blitz and Twitter followers must come a gem of an idea, tested and polished to perfection. Taking time with your idea increases your chances of creating something lasting, something that people will refer to others.

I thought the concept of the ‘drawdown period’ was interesting – this is when you get quiet and focus so your ideas have time to simmer and you can consider all the angles. An important point he makes is that you have to know your “why.” Are you compelled to act – do you have no choice? Are you willing to sacrifice? Then you’re ready to start.

Holiday is a cheerleader at times, but not in the bubbly sense. He is a man who believes that we are capable of tremendous things. He urges us to act boldly and bravely.

Marketing – do you think you’re personally above it? Think again, Holiday cautions. In today’s world where there are so many things competing for our time, marketing should start with you and your connections. Word of mouth is your goal, and getting a champion, someone who will genuinely promote the product to others, is ideal. If you can, give your product away! It’s a sure-fire way to build loyal supporters and create word of mouth.

Press is expensive, so start small, Holiday says. Local press and interviews – print or podcast – can get picked up and take off. Again, this shouldn’t feel beneath you. If it does, time to go back to the beginning and examine your motivations.

In his section on Platform, Holiday challenges us to think even bigger than a perennial seller – how about a perennial career or an empire? To achieve this, you have to play the long game. Yes, social media can reach a wide variety of people, but also don’t forget friends, community, media, influencers and your email list. Yes, email. Other media comes and goes but email is here to stay. Holiday surprised me with this tidbit – email as we know it has been around since 1971, almost 50 years! An email list can help you collect your future customers and fans. Then, when you release your perennial seller, these are the first people you go to.

“Perennial Seller” is recommended to anyone who has the itch to create and the desire to produce something lasting. Consider Holiday your personal business consultant and start the process now.


SHARON BROWN is a Prospect Strategy Analyst with the University of Florida Office of Advancement. A graduate of UF’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, she is happy to have found a career that marries reading, writing and being curious. She and her husband, also a CLAS alum, live in Gainesville.

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