The Remarkable Seth Godin

Seth Godin recently visited Australia as a guest speaker of business networking organisation Business Chicks. When I heard late last year he was speaking, I almost grabbed my sleeping bag to line up for tickets. Luckily I didn’t need to do that – I just added a reminder to my calendar and scored tickets to the lunch in Melbourne.

I’m not alone in loving what Seth Godin has to say. He is often described as a marketing guru and he’s authored books that have changed how people view marketing today. For me, he is a sage voice that makes me think I’m not alone in how my industry should be causing a “ruckus”.

Not everyone understands him. Not everyone likes him. But he will say that’s how it should be and is unapologetically talking to his tribe.

In a one hour speech, I didn’t have any major take away tips, more hallelujah moments that I wanted to applaud. Here are my 12 remarkable Seth Godin moments.


1. People like us

No longer can we market to everyone and we should aim to. Seth gave the example of TV viewership. Today’s top TV show in America is viewed by only a small percentage of the population.

Today, marketing is about being true to your beliefs and finding “people like us” who want to buy our product/service.

Have faith in your people. Seth gave the other example of Harley Davidson who embraces their bikes are for “people like us”. They are not concerned about marketing to the people who aren’t like them.

People like us do things like us. This is your tribe.


2. Be the change

Seth is very clear on this: Businesses that (affect) change are the ones that succeed. People are not just buying widgets any more.

It is damn hard, yes. But doing work that matters and influences change in consumers’ hearts and minds will produce results. Not quickly, but over time.


3. Best doesn’t exist

Oh one of my biggest annoyances too – people marketing themselves as the “best”. Adjectives no longer exist in marketing; it is up to the marketplace to decide what they deem “best”.


4. Be proud to be criticised

Seth believes it is our job to produce work that can be criticised.

So many people do safe work – stay in the “Industrial Age” of making widgets. The world is hungry for artists committed to doing work that matters to them, for people like them. The world wants people doing work they can love or hate.

It is your choice: Do work that will be criticised or to be like everyone else.


5. Be the connector

Seth reminded us that we live in a world where making connections is easier than ever before. With social media and online connection platforms such as Eventbrite and Meet Up, the world is just waiting for the connectors to organise the events.

Who will organise? Seth asked us. This was actually my biggest take away (not hallelujah) as I realised I need to step up my commitment to my “people like me” and be the connector.


6. Do you have permission?

This was one point that Seth had disagreement in the audience, people shuffling in their seats. Me I did my silent “booyah”.

He discussed how online banner advertising is no longer marketing. Marketing today should be about earning the privilege of consumers giving you permission to market to them.

Again, not easy or quick marketing. Today’s consumers are savvy. This is about long term quality, not short term quantity.


7. Would you be missed?

I love this question and have thought about it before. Really important to think if you disappeared, would your tribe notice you weren’t around? Would they miss not receiving your newsletters, social media posts, podcasts, videos? Would your Christmas card be missed?

The marketing objective and strategy should be to be miss-able.


8. No one cares about the facts

People buy the story they tell themselves.

And if you need convincing on this, Seth gave the example of why medical placebos work — its purely the story the (control) patient tells herself: “it will fix me”.


9. Start with a golf clap

You know the golf clap? That quiet, polite, soft clapping people do at the golf? Seth asked the lunch crowd to give him one. Then double the noise. Double that. You get the idea – it turned into a cheer.

That’s the goal of marketing. Turn the one or two fans into a tribe.


10. Be remarkable

Simply put: Do or be something that people want to remark on — something people will ask about and tell/show/share with others. (And Seth went back to those online banners: Not remarkable!)

Can remarkable be a marketing strategy? Seth Godin thinks so and told the story of the business who sold packets of unmatched socks. His daughter went to school with her unmatched socks and, of course, told everyone – well showed everyone. What happened? Her friends, then the rest of the school’s students, wanted to buy them; because they were remarkable.

Seth’s final point on being remarkable was: What did the person with the first fax machine do?
She had to tell people to get one! (Same can be said for Twitter, he suggested.)


11. Care about your industry

I’m always saying this too. Care more about promoting good people and work in your industry than winning business. Help your marketplace with goodwill advice and connections to your networks.

If your care is genuine and continual (quite easy to watch on social media or read in articles – I hope) it will result in clients by default.


12. Are you going to do work that matters?

Are you?


This article first appeared on Australian Businesswomen’s Network on 23 September 2014
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