How to Find Marketing Secrets Hiding in Plain Sight

Handsome young man holding a magnifying glass to his eye with a happy friendly smile conceptual of a detective searching for clue

Handsome young man holding a magnifying glassWhether you want to learn copywriting or marketing, email or direct sales, or be the next super-blogger, there’s an almost limitless supply of information at your fingertips to help you along.

From Bob Bly to Jeff Walker, and everyone in between, there’s an amazing amount of material available to you about marketing strategies you might use: e-books, free reports, blogs, books, guides, podcasts, videos, programs, and so much more.

But with all this information, there’s one source often overlooked by even the most eager students — and it’s hiding in a place you’d least expect it: right under your nose!

Yes, some of the best and most current marketing secrets are hiding in plain sight.

To find these secrets, you don’t have to listen to the marketing experts.

You just have to watch what they do!

After all, when you see a launch for Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, he’s not only pitching you on how to do product launches, he’s also doing a launch!

More importantly, he’s doing it in a way that uses what he’s learned from years of research and testing.

Do you think it’s a coincidence so many experts open their Shopping Carts on Thursdays? Or that they set the deadline to buy at midnight?

[Spoiler Alert] It’s not.

If the experts are doing something a certain way, it’s because all the tests have shown it to be the best way.

In his most recent course, “How to Write Better Headlines – for Content, Email & Social,” master online marketer Nick Usborne tells the story of a pattern he noticed on BuzzFeed’s website. He realized how more than one of their headlines used the number 23 (23 Ways to…).

Explains Nick: “When you get a website where you know the company is totally professional and extremely sophisticated in the creation of their content, the writing of their headlines… when you see something that they do, and that they do often (like BuzzFeed seems to use the number 23 a lot), you can be sure that it’s worth testing, because they wouldn’t be using it if they hadn’t tested it and hadn’t found that it works really well for them.”

Again, the Ryan Deisses of the world incorporate the results of test after test after test into their marketing… why not try to benefit a little from all their hard work, experience, and investment?

The point, of course, is not that you should copy what the “big boys” are doing, but at the very least, it’s a starting point for your own tests. As with many other endeavors, there’s no use reinventing the wheel.

So, if Michael Hyatt and Jeff Walker use Thursdays as their “Open Cart” days, and if I have no clue on what day to open my cart, I’m probably going to start by trying a Thursday.

And, my special offer will probably close at midnight!

How To Find These Marketing Secrets

First of all, you need to know where to look.

And the answer to that question is: everywhere!

Here are a few places to get you started…

Opting In

In the past, when I saw a free report that interested me, I’d click, fill in my email, and think nothing more of it, as far as the marketing part of it was involved.

Now, I take a much more proactive part in the process.

Each sign-up now triggers many questions:

  • Where did I see that ad?
  • Why did I click that particular ad? Was it the topic, the headline, or the image?
  • Why that particular one, and not the one before or after?
  • On the opt-in form, did they ask for a full name, separate first and last name, or just the email address?
  • Did I receive the report promptly?
  • Was I bombarded with upsells before getting my report?
  • Did the site use a Pop-Up if I tried to leave the page?

These days, I keep track of all my questions and answers in a notebook.

I watch what happens, look for patterns, and ask myself, “Why did they do it this way?”

Specifically, I’m watching for how they follow up, if at all.

When I do get a follow-up email (or a series of follow-ups), I study what content or strategy they’re using.

And, most importantly, after reading those emails, I ask myself, “Do I feel better about this business, or worse? And why?”

That’s the beauty of direct response… it’s all based on results, so the most successful companies are the ones that test the most and refine their methods… and that makes them the best to observe and learn from. So don’t let all that valuable information go to waste!


Do you have any email subscriptions?

Here are a few questions you could ask yourself about those subscriptions:

  • Which ones do you read regularly, and which ones do you mostly just delete?
  • What is it about the emails you enjoy reading… do they have anything in common?
  • Does it matter to you when you receive the emails?
  • Do you react better to daily, weekly, or monthly emails?

Again, email messages you get from experts like Dan Kennedy are the result of much testing. They’re specifically engineered to extract the maximum money from your wallet… so don’t miss the opportunity to learn a thing or two from their approach. This is very valuable information… and worth noting and tracking.

Learning Twice

Now, when I sign up for a course or program, I try to learn twice… once from the material being taught in the program, and twice, from my experience of going through the program — how it’s delivered, the structure of the site, the look, feel, and usability.

For instance, I’ll take note of things like:

  • Is the course being taught by the person pitching it, or is someone else doing the training?
  • How many modules are in the course, and do you find it to be too few, or too many?
  • How is the support for the program?
  • Are the videos too short, too long, or just right?
  • Do they have a private Facebook group for the students?
  • Is the instructor an active participant in the group?
  • Did the program under deliver, or over deliver?
  • Do they drip the content out weekly, or do you get access to everything all at once?

Remember, there are probably very specific reasons why things are being done the way they are. Look for the patterns and common threads.

And again, if you’re thinking of creating your own course… this information is plenty of “wheel” you won’t have to reinvent.

A Quick Example

Once you start to think this way, you’ll start to see these “marketing secrets” on your own.

Case in point: Facebook videos.

Quite often, when I’m scrolling through my newsfeed on my phone, I see videos. But until I click on them, I don’t hear the audio. Most of the time I’m watching these while killing time in line-ups or in public places, so I don’t want any sound. And, on I scroll.

Then, I started to see videos where the first few seconds there would be someone trying to get my attention and pleading for me to turn up the sound. Since I don’t do that based on someone waving at me in a video, those videos were also ignored.

However, lately, I’ve been noticing more videos with subtitles, and more than that, I’ve caught myself watching those, quietly, just reading the subtitles as I watch.

Then, I had an “Aha!” moment… subtitling works! After all, I’m watching many of these subtitled videos. And I’m seeing more and more of them. You can bet with the next video I release, I’ll add subtitles and watch my insights to see if it improved my views. It’s not a guarantee it works, but it’s definitely something worth testing.

Watch and Learn

I’ve listed a few options for starting your search for these “hidden” marketing gems, and from now on, I encourage you to learn as much as you can from all the marketing messages coming your way, and from as many sources as you can.

Keep notes and focus on what you’re seeing, how it affects you, and whether or not it looks like it’s working — and then add it to your “test” list.

Carefully watch and pay attention to how you’re being marketed to, and soon you’ll discover those marketing secrets hiding in plain sight.

The best part is you’ll then be able to enjoy the benefits of someone else’s testing and research at a fraction of the cost.

I’d love to hear your comments. And if you have any thoughts on this article, I hope you’ll share them below.

Jim Wright

Jim is a writer, teacher, consultant, and an advocate for clarity in communication. He helps clients make sense of their online presence, and translates tech-speak into plain English.


  • Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the article. I think it’s critical to the development of marketing and copywriting to follow the masters. But not in the usual way, i.e. classes, webinars, etc. I like to sign-up for mailing lists to get the information, obviously, but I also try to deconstruct the message, why they chose the words they did, the pacing they use, the close and CTA. It helps me understand the experts appeal and how they craft their message. Once I have a feel of the specific messages, I write out the copy to ingrain the lesson further.
    I also think we should consider entertainment, especially sitcom style entertainment, as a form to study. A sitcom is driven by getting the audience to the next act with cliffhangers, and getting them further still, to the next episode. By looking at where they create dramatic breaks and cliffhangers, that keep us glued to the screen, the writers are able to get us to commercial – which is the purpose of this format. Peeling back the onion just a bit allows us to recognize some masters at work with their techniques and one I study everytime I’m watching something.

    Thanks again!

    • I love you point about sitcoms. In fact, I’d probably be open to an article on what sitcoms can teach us about writing… if you wanted to pitch that my way.


    • Hi David,
      Yes, another great idea… thanks for that! And that was the main point; all these techniques are all around for us to see… everywhere.
      And by the way, I hope you follow up with Heather on the pitch idea!
      Cheers and thanks again,

  • Great idea, Jim! It’s true… the ‘big boys’ do spend a lot of money on testing and analyzing what works. We can all learn from what they’re doing! And we’ll have more strategies to apply to our own projects.

    • Hi Nan!
      Thanks for the comment.
      Yes, but the trick of course, is to implement those ideas! 🙂
      Cheers and thanks again,

  • Great article. I learned a lot. Yesterday I posted my first video and now I wish I had added subtitles. Something to do next time.

    • Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for the comment and the kind words!
      Yes, there’s always something more to do… 🙂
      Cheers and thanks again,

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