“The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles and is reasonably exact. The causes and effects have been analyzed until they are well understood. The correct methods of procedure have been proved and established. We know what is most effective, and we act on basic laws.”

— Claude Hopkins, ‘Scientific Advertising’

I’m writing this article from Mumbai, where I’ve just wrapped up the last stop on my cross-India growth hacking tour. It’s been an amazing trip and such a wonderful experience to meet India’s rapidly growing startup community.

India is a land of incredible potential. 72% of India’s startup founders are under the age of 35. In 2015 there were 4,200 startups in India, and this is projected to become 11,500 by 2020. 83% of India’s population will be in the prime working age group by 2026.

India is a wonderful place to come and do business, and you’ll find yourself welcomed with open arms here. It’s been my pleasure to come and teach marketing and growth hacking to this eclectic group of young entrepreneurs.

During my most recent workshop, last week here in Mumbai, my host at the Ministry of New coworking space asked me to summarize “five takeaways” that the audience could take from my presentation. So, I quickly jotted down five important points to remember. These form the core of my marketing ethos, mistakes you need to avoid, marketing tools, and my mindset for success.

Fortunately enough, I’ve listed out these five takeaways in detail for you in this article. Enjoy!

1. The #1 Reason Why Marketing Campaigns Fail

When it comes to marketing, people get so caught up in the media — the new, shiny object or trend (such as FB ads, Snapchat, Instagram, SEO, and on and on) — that they want to ignore the basics of what creates a successful campaign in the first place.

This is where so much time, money, and energy is wasted. People who take this approach to marketing are looking through the wrong end of a telescope – they tend to focus more on how much (or little) they are spending on advertising rather than a simple, basic truth of marketing: you should be able to convert one person effectively before you try to scale and convert 1,000.

It does no good to spend two years doing SEO to rank for a keyword term only to find that you can’t make any conversions from those rankings. Yet the SEO agency you hired is laughing all the way to the bank.

To make things simple, remember that all marketing that was ever created has three elements to it (this is called the “Marketing Triangle”): Market (Who), Message (What), and Media (How).

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they do not define their market clearly enough. You need to narrow this down as much as possible and first focus ONLY on the group of people who will most likely convert to your business. Targeting everyone, or targeting the wrong market, will waste your time and you won’t have much fun.

Next, do not ignore the importance of having a great message. One filter to strengthen your message is to apply what’s called the “Three AM test.”

If you were to wake up your prospect at three in the morning and deliver your message, would they care? Would they sign up immediately? Or would they beg you to let them go back to sleep?

Running your message through the Three AM test is an excellent way to develop a stronger and more convincing pitch, offer, or promotion.

2. The #1 Way to Grow Any Type of Business

Marketing is big business. In large companies, whole departments are devoted to marketing. There are thousands of books about marketing. It is easy to get overwhelmed and get confused. To find clarity in the world of marketing, remember one thing: all businesses grow from conversations. It is that simple.

All businesses grow from conversations

Facilitating these conversations is marketing. This can take place through any form of media — in-person, on the phone, in an ad, or in a piece of content. But the formula is very consistent and once you understand exactly how to create conversations that lead to sales (and delivering value to your market), then you are on the right path.

3. How I Grew More Than One Million Instagram Followers

As an entrepreneur, I’ve embraced automation and placed it at the core of my business model. It’s had a profound effect on my business and completely transformed my life.

With the right automation tools, combined with a solid strategy (see points above), I am able to grow my businesses on autopilot. I generate massive marketing reach and create never-ending, high-value leads, subscribers, fans, and customers for my business.

Using marketing software and automation tools, I’ve been able to amass huge followings on social media accounts for myself and those I work with. My clients and I have driven millions of visitors and page views, sales, and revenue.

Using certain automation software, you can set up your business or brand on every major social media platform. You simply set up the campaign once, and it will go to work for you every single day, executing your marketing campaigns, for so long as you license the software.

4. How to Find and Start Conversations With Endless Pools of Prospects — With Zero Ad Spend

If you want to generate leads quickly, direct outreach is the way to go. However, it can be quite time-consuming and draining to do this all manually. Some great outreach tools for semi-automating the process include Streak (free tool for Gmail), Dux-Soup (Linkedin connecting and messaging), and FollowLiker (automated tools for various social media channels).

5. The Secret to Viral Marketing

The Cynefin framework of labor.

Viral marketing lies in the fourth quadrant of what’s called the Cynefin Framework — aka “novel practice.” Big wins happen by leveraging a novel idea, strategy, or marketing platform BEFORE it becomes too saturated. Once a form of marketing becomes mainstream and accepted, it becomes more competitive, harder to gain a share of the market, and the costs and effort increase.

Be careful about following the herd, and instead commit to testing new and novel marketing ideas (all while keeping the marketing triangle in mind) all of the time and discovering and/or leveraging the big wins before too many others do.

With that said, if you’re starting out in “novel practice” area, you can see what ideas are going viral and use these as a model to begin constructing viral campaigns. These won’t generate as much attention and interest as the original campaigns, but they are still head and shoulders above established marketing practices.

For example, you could take a viral headline from a video, like “Sh*t Girlfriends Say,” and then replace “Girlfriends” with whatever your niche or target audience might be. “Sh*t Interior Designers Say,” or “Sh*t Vegans say.” You get the idea.

And there you have it. Five simple takeaways to keep in mind whenever you begin creating marketing campaigns online!Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Danny Flood is an adventurer, entrepreneur, author of six-best selling books, host of the OpenWorld podcast, editor of OpenWorld magazine, and founder of Productive Panda. Danny has been traveling the world for over 5 years as a backpacking entrepreneur and now publishes content inspiring and advising others to do the same. He has traveled through over 30 countries, lived in more than a dozen, and explored the world from the dank jungles of Iguazu to the shifting sands of Mui Ne and the badlands of Tamil Nadu.