How to Get Free Marketing

(Episode 1 of 2 with Jay Samit)

How to Get Free Marketing

Jay Samit is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and an expert on disruption and innovation. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for startups and advised Fortune 500 firms. Jay has created strategic partnerships with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Microsoft, Ford, GM, Best Buy, and many others. 

In today’s episode, Jay and I will discuss how to get free marketing. We’ll also discuss the first three truths in his book Future Proofing You – Twelve Truths for Creating Opportunity, Maximizing Wealth, and Controlling Your Destiny in an Uncertain World

How to Get OPM (Other People’s Money) for Our Marketing

One of Jay’s best monetization strategies is what he calls OPM. It’s a strategy for getting other companies to give us millions of dollars without any equity or requiring us to pay it back. 

Whatever product or service we’re selling has a target audience, but we aren’t the only ones with that target audience. If we sell canes for people who are elderly, there are other companies trying to reach that audience: companies that sell medication, shoe horns, pill organizers, blood pressure monitors, etc. Because of the structure of corporations, many of these companies have huge marketing budgets, but no new ideas. If we can come up with an idea to help them reach that audience, they’ll spend millions of their dollars to make our business.

For example, a few years ago Sony was in trouble because Apple was killing it with the iPod and iTunes, and Sony was late to the game. Sony hired Jay to turn the situation around and launch their competition to iTunes, which was already out there and had a $100 million marketing budget. 

Jay didn’t have a marketing budget, so he looked in the news to see who else was in trouble. That year, the movie Super Size Me—a movie about how bad fast food, particularly McDonald’s, is for us—had come out, and McDonald’s sales were down 9%. 

Jay found the connection between the music store he wanted to launch and McDonald’s: buy a Big Mac, get a code on the box for a free track. McDonald’s did 60 million in TV commercials, put it on every bag and on every window of every store. It drove 20 million paying customers to Jay in the first week and didn’t cost him any money.

At the same time, Jay noticed United Airlines was struggling to come out of bankruptcy, and they wanted some attention. There were a lot of people who had frequent flyer miles that they thought they wouldn’t be able to use. Jay thought, “Why not make it so you can use your frequent flyer miles to buy music, and why not announce this by doing the first concert in the sky?”

They had Sheryl Crow perform on a flight from Chicago to LA, filled the plane with journalists and TV broadcasters, shot it, and then edited it in first class. Everyone walked off the plane with a DVD, and that concert played on every flight for a month.

Neither of these cost Jay a cent, so he essentially got millions of dollars worth of free marketing. We can also leverage companies with the same audience as us in our marketing with no cost by finding synergies and thinking out of the box.

Earning or Learning

One of the biggest mistakes Jay made in his career was when he was in his early 20s. His company had seven of the 10 best-selling video games in the US. A company that was bigger than his came along and said, “We’ll acquire you for 30%.” Jay turned them down because he thought they might mess up his company, but he didn’t understand the business world at that point. 

The company that had wanted to acquire his business was Activision, which publishes games such as Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot. That was a $9 billion mistake. Jay has since learned that mistakes propel you forward. 

“When you make a mistake, you don’t end up where you started. You either earn, or you learn. . . . Failing is part of the process,” Jay said. When we sit down to play a video game, we don’t play it for a couple of hours, make it to the end, and say, “Whoo, I’m done.” We hit an obstacle in the game, and we work it out. After that, there’s another obstacle and another.

Business is the same way. We have to constantly solve problems and figure things out. “There is a difference between failing and failure. Failing is learning what doesn’t work; failure is throwing in the towel and walking away. Every great company was made by a series of [failings],” Jay said.

Bill Gates, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford all had business ventures that failed before they found success. Imagine if they had thrown in the towel after their first failures. When we fail, we should see it as an opportunity to learn and do better next time. 

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The Requirements for Success: Insight and Perseverance

Early on Jay learned that we should be the best at what we do, or the only one doing it because if we’re the only one doing it, by definition, we’re the best. When Jay got out of college, he realized as he was looking for a job that someone else already had this job. He realized there would always be someone with more experience, someone smarter, richer, or better connected. He thought, “How am I going to compete?”

He found areas where no one else was competing. He didn’t have to have any specialties. He didn’t need to know how to code or how to be an engineer. Jay said, “You only need two things for success: insight and perseverance. Everything else [can] be hired.” 

All of us have written the same amount of code as Steve Jobs, who created the first trillion-dollar company. He didn’t need to know how to do that. He hired it out.

Jay started his first company with $1. After he saw Star Wars, he wanted to do Hollywood special effects. He didn’t know anyone in Hollywood, and he didn’t know anything about special effects. He did know that back then it cost a lot of money to do special effects and that there were lots of people who wanted special effects but couldn’t afford them. 

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For $1 he printed business cards for his new company, Jasmine Productions. He gave himself a sales title, knowing people wouldn’t trust a 21-year-old as head of the company. Jay went out and hustled, getting projects he had no idea how to do, but he hired people who did know-how. 

We shouldn’t get hung up when we don’t know how to do something. We don’t have to know everything. There are plenty of people out there who can fill in the gaps in our knowledge. Just like we may not know how to build a plane or fly one, but we do know how to utilize it to get where we need to go.

All we need is insight to bring fresh ideas to the table and perseverance to keep going when others would quit.

How Jay Wrote Future Proofing You

After Jay wrote his first book Disrupt You, he heard from people all over the world about how much it helped them. Occasionally, however, he would get an email from a younger person saying, “This is great information, but I could never do it.”

Jay wondered why he couldn’t reach that generation. He decided to put his reputation on the line with Future Proofing You. He asked, “What if I take somebody with no support system, an immigrant, somebody new to the country, somebody that grew up on welfare, somebody that was basically couch surfing from home to home and basically a step above homeless, could I teach them these things in a year?”

He found a young man named Vin Clancy. Jay didn’t give him any capital or contacts. He didn’t tell him what business to start, but it had to be something that took no money. He mentored him, Vin made his first million in 11 months. Jay took the things he’d taught Vin and synthesized them into 12 truths, turning them into his book.

The First Three Truths

Here are the first three truths Jay discusses in his book. We’ll discuss the rest of the truths in episode 2 with Jay Samit. 

1. We Must Have a Growth Mindset


Throughout life, our teachers, parents, and mentors want to shield us from pain; they steer us away from trying things we might fail at. Because of this, we develop a voice in our head that says, “You’re not good enough. You can’t do it.”

With Vin, Jay didn’t have time to change that mindset with organic growth, so he lied to him. In their first interview, Jay told Vin that he’d interviewed over 100 candidates and he was the only one that had all the attributes to be a self-made millionaire. 

This is a psychological phenomenon called the Pygmalion effect. A professor went to a school, tested all the kids, told the teachers which three students would be super learners and achievers and would excel that year. At the end of the year, when they tested all the kids, those three kids were the stars, but the professor had lied. He’d chosen the kids at random. “If you tell people they’re special and you treat them as special, they will be special,” Jay said.

When Jay lied to Vin, it put him in a different mindset. He thought, “If this successful guy sees it, then it must be true.”

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” The growth mindset is simple. It is all about our attitudes and beliefs. If we believe we can do something, we can do it.

2. Obstacles Are Opportunities in Disguise


Jay starts each morning saying two things to himself in the mirror: “Today can be better than yesterday, and I have the power to make it so.” This exercise releases endorphins lights up his synaptic nerves and puts him in a mindset to be able to go out and solve whatever problems he’s facing.

Jay sees problems as opportunities in disguise. For example, when Vin was starting his business, it was at the time that Bitcoin went from 1,000 to 20,000. Everyone was creating alternative currencies and launching initial coin offerings. 

Vin wanted to do social media for his business but there were a lot of obstacles. So, he made himself an expert in these currencies so he could help people with their problems very quickly. At first, he was making only $100 or $200 dollars a week, but soon he was making $30,000 a month.

Whenever there are problems or obstacles, there are also opportunities. We must learn to recognize and seize these opportunities.

3. Fear is Good


Some people say fear isn’t real. Jay believes fear is very real. We are biologically hardwired with fear; it’s why we have survived as a species.

There are many fears we might have about starting a business: failing, embarrassment, losing our money, losing other people’s money, etc. These are all legitimate fears, but if we’re walking across some railroad tracks and a train is coming at 120 miles an hour, we’re not thinking about those fears; we’re thinking about losing our life and jumping out of the way. We can prioritize fears.

Jay said, “If you’re in a job where you’re not learning, you’re not growing, they’re paying you enough to show up but not enough to care, and . . . you’ve given up your life . . . for what? Because you’re afraid of being embarrassed because you’re afraid to try. Every day that you put off trying is a day less that you have to make mistakes and build your future.” 

We can prioritize certain fears to motivate us to start a business or do whatever it is that we most want.

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Jay for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. We can use creative marketing partnerships with companies that have to reach to grow our marketing exposure like Jay did with McDonald’s.

2. We often fail before we have success. We should use our failures as lessons to learn. 

3. Success requires insight and perseverance.

4. Wherever there are obstacles, there are also opportunities. We must learn to seize these opportunities. 

5. Fear is good. We can prioritize fear and leverage it to motivate us to do the things we want, like start a business.

Connect with Jay

To learn more about or connect with Jay:

Next Steps

1. Get my free ebook about passion marketing, and learn to identify and leverage the highest passions of our ideal customers at

2. Subscribe to Monetization Nation on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, our Facebook Group, and on your favorite podcast platform.

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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