To solve your marketing problems, make it complicated


✍️ Edo Sadiković
🏡 from Sende 

4/5/2020 – Reading time: 5 min

Señora Carlota was our neighbor from a small town in Portugal. She had a shop that sold old and used stuff; all kinds of stuff. But this space didn’t look like a shop, it looked like a junkyard. Things were everywhere, without order, on top of each other, even buried in the ground. It looked like she didn’t care at all.

Five minutes’ from this shop, there is another shop from Señor Amaro. He also sells old, used stuff. But everything was well polished, on the shelves, in perfect order.

Señora Carlota was about to buy her third house, while Señor Amaro was struggling to get customers.

One thing makes Señora Carlota the ‘queen of marketing’, and it’s the same thing that differentiates her from Señor Amaro’s business: It’s called friction.

Illustration by Ena

Friction in marketing is an obstacle that you need to cross while buying or experiencing some product or service.


Usually, obstacles in the form of unnecessary steps,  and hidden or hard to find information on the website (or in the shop) are bad for business.


It’s better to buy a subscription for an online magazine in 3 steps or clicks (less friction) than in 23 clicks or steps (more friction). 


When a company operator puts you on hold with boring music, it’s called friction, because you need to wait. 


Actually, if you google “friction in marketing”, you will see that 90% of the blogs are explaining how to remove friction from any process.


But, there are specific products and situations where more friction can solve all our marketing problems.


Señora Carlota added friction by creating a messy labyrinth in her space. Her clients would spend hours looking for furniture, comics, and interesting objects.


She added the element of a ‘quest’, that made this experience a treasure hunt – an experience where her clients might get surprised at any step, so they cannot stop looking around.


I had once opened an old, dusty wine box, to find a clock inside. I bought it for only 3€ and it was designed by Dieter Rams, one of the best product designers in the world. Señora Carlota didn’t care about Rams.


The people who flock her shop, are also people who like good stories. People who can see an old wooden mask and imagine their travel to Africa. People who would hang a ship’s wheel with 2 missing handles on their wall, because they can imagine that fishermen had used it for 20 long years until they replaced it.


But also, it’s the place where neighbors would come to find good deals, to buy old tools for cheap. And Señora Carlota knew this.


Buying an old ship’s wheel after looking around for an hour felt like a mission, like a game, where you had to jump over the sofa, and move that desk to reach the wheel. 



And when you enter Sr. Amaro’s shop, you enter a normal shop. 


He hadn’t figured it out yet – that he could add friction (make a mess in this case). Perhaps his tidiness stopped him from doing it, for 30 long years.


People go to Ikea to buy a bed lamp, while others go to Señora Carlota to enjoy the discovery and maybe, they might buy a bed lamp there.


Both Ikea and Señora Carlota are selling furniture, but they are not in the same business.


I have probably never said, “I can’t wait to go to the supermarket”. But I have said numerous times, “I can’t wait to go to Carlota’s shop again”. And that is because thousands of stories are waiting for me there.



Think about your (future) business. Do you need to remove some obstacles to make it easier, or should you add a few steps?


Kids sometimes prefer a toy that comes in pieces, unassembled, so they do it their way.


Manolo, who makes the furniture, has trouble selling his coffee tables for 39€.


Should Manolo try to add friction and offer a 2-day course, where you get to learn to use tools and build your own coffee table in his workshop, from scratch? You will still get your coffee table, but this time for 169€. In this case, the friction is called: “Make your own coffee table workshop”.


Maybe your clients are control freaks.  They  do everything in life the hard way, so they don’t accept the use of your easy solution. 3 extra steps could calm them down.


People who sell the same stuff as you, but in another country – do they do well? Do their clients have to ‘cross’ more obstacles than yours?


If yes, try a mini test while adding a few extra steps. We often get very surprised when marketing starts to work.


And remember that Señor Amaro probably struggled with his own obstacle to make it work. His personal obstacle was tidiness. And he could have removed it first by accepting it (removing friction), in order to convert his shop into a labyrinth (adding friction).


Ah, I almost forgot. When I went to Carlota’s home, everything was super tidy and polished, with a beautiful garden full of flowers. 



Señora Carlota knows – she is the queen of marketing. 


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📧 When you click “OK” you regularly get articles this and at least one of them will make you say, “Thank you Edo, this opened my eyes?” Because the same happened to me when I discovered all these concepts. 

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💈Some text may inspire you to start your own project. I believe that social businesses can completely transform the lives of families, neighbourhoods and countries.

✅ I will share what my desk looks like with each “To Do” step I follow to launch my next small social business (such text will only go through email, but not publicly). You will be able to zoom in and see how I do it, and of course, take each step and apply it.

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🗒️ Basically, all I share here are my notes from my notebooks and from computers and from travel, and every text at least to me is pure gold because these tips have helped me or someone I know. And you get it all over the mail, for a joke.

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