How Corey Haines Applied Mental Models to Marketing [Practical Stories]

How Corey Haines Applied Mental Models to Marketing [Practical Stories]

Podcast Details

I’ve recently taken a course about Mental Models for Marketing from Corey Haines and it helped me become better at growth marketing.

Listen On: Apple Podcast I Google Podcast I Spotify

There were some principles that needed more details and stories. 

So, we decided to record an episode on that. We discussed:

  • 2:01 – Corey’s story in the marketing world
  • 4:15 – What’s the inversion principle? How did Corey use to at Baremetrics?
  • 10:46 – What’s Cobra Effect? How did Corey realize while trying to increase the activation metric?
  • 17:17 – A key lesson learned while trying to increase activation
  • 18:47 – Ockham’s Razor & Overfitting story related to his landing page
  • 25:25 – Favorite growth marketers according to Corey
  • 25:52 – Worst advice Corey ever got?

3 Mental Models we discussed in the podcast

Inversion Principle

Inversion is the practice of looking at things both forward and backward. Use negative visualization to:

  • Avoid mistakes and obstacles
  • Consider opposing views
  • Challenge the status quo, and
  • Become comfortable with failure

Listen to the podcast for Corey’s story related to this mental model.

The Cobra Effect

The Cobra Effect—when an attempted solution results in unintended consequences.

Most of our cause-effect experiences involve very simple, direct relationships. This causes us to think of things as a very linear chain of events. But the world is much more complex than we realize. In a real-world system, there will be multiple reinforcing and balancing connections between events, resulting in often unpredictable feedback loops. We have to understand dynamic systems. In dynamic systems, there are two basic types of feedback loops.

  • The first is reinforcing feedback—sometimes called positive feedback—which keeps a desired effect going.
  • The second is balancing feedback—sometimes called negative feedback—which keeps the system in a state of balance.

These two types of feedback loops explain why you should not think of dynamic systems as a chain of causal effects. Instead, try to predict how the behavior of a dynamic system usually emerge from the complex feedback interactions between its parts. In other words, take a step back to see the big picture.

Listen to the podcast for Corey’s story related to this mental model.

Ockham’s Razor & Overfitting

Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

In simpler language, Ockham’s razor states that the simplest explanation is preferable to one that is more complex. Simple theories are easier to verify and execute.

Ockham’s razor is also known as the Principle of Parsimony — the scientific principle that things are usually connected or behave in the simplest or most economical way, especially with reference to alternative evolutionary pathways.

Overfitting occurs when you use an overly complicated explanation when a simpler one will do.

We want to fight against overfitting and strive for simplicity.

It’s like idea minimalism. The simpler and less something is the better.

Listen to the podcast for Corey’s story related to this mental model.

There are 40+ Mental Models Corey has in his course. Check it out 👉 Mental Models for Marketing

Key takeaways

  • Use inversion to think otherwise. Other consequences. I use inversion for budget planning.
  • Cobra effect — Align your marketing to customers, not the other way around
  • Keep it simple silly – Ockham’s razor
  • It’s always okay to say that you don’t know and that you’ll figure it out.
  • Instead of learning the next big hack, try to understand your customers and position yourself in their context


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