You never know what you are going to be asked when you go around the country flogging a book. My favorite question thus far: "What are the best marketing ideas you have ever heard?"

My response:

1. 50 isn't fatal.

I always liked the answer attributed to Willie Sutton when he was asked why he robbed banks.

He allegedly said, "Because that's where the money is."

I know traditional marketing wisdom is to target 18-to-49-year-olds, but that has never made much sense to me, or to the marketing people whom I respect.

What 18-year-old (not named Kardashian) has a lot of money? And even most 48-year-olds are burdened with paying not only a mortgage but college tuition as well.

It just make senses to me to try to sell stuff to people who can afford to buy it. Most of those people are 50.

2. Explain why you are different/better.

I can't begin to count the number of people who believe they can put out a me-too product and believe they are going to win because "we are terrific marketers."

Self-confidence is a wonderful thing. Self-delusion is not.

Unless your product is actually unique--and there ain't many of them--spend a lot of time figuring out why what you have is better than what the competition has, and then go tell the world.

3. There is a reason David won.

Large companies know there is a great strength in size. But you know there is great weakness as well.

While people may believe that larger companies know more, with that positive perception comes a burden of inaccessibility. Big companies are seen as cold and not caring.

Use that weakness against them.

4. You don't need to think of all the good ideas.

You don't have a corner on wisdom. And you can't hire enough people who do. Figure out who has the best ideas and buy those ideas, or access to them, to supplement your marketing.

5. Too much research is a bad thing.

Take focus groups, for example. If you want to test whether an idea will resonate, they are great. If you want them to tell you if a radical new idea is wonderful, they stink. New products are, by definition, beyond everyone's frame of reference.

Your role is to come up with the better idea. That is not the role of a focus group.

6. To listen to the customer, you have to talk to the customer.

As you get bigger, you get insulated and you stop interacting with customers. Oh, sure, you can come up with excuses for why that happens. You're busy. There are meetings to go to. Numbers to crunch.

All those excuses are lame.

If you don't talk to customers, you lose touch with the marketplace.

Who knows what question I would have gotten if I had actually written a book about marketing.

Published on: Mar 29, 2015
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