This is Marketing by Seth Godin – My Six Lessons and Takeaways

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled How to Market Yourself.  I think about this a lot, because I need to do more marketing.  I always need to do more marketing!

This is MarketingAlong comes Seth Goidn, with some real help for us all.  In his new book This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, he takes us thorough the terrain of marketing pretty thoroughly.  He believes that marketing is a noble effort – a high calling.  And, depending on what it is you are marketing, that certainly can be, and should be, true.

I presented this book at the January First Friday Book Synopsis.  And, yes, it is a good book.

Here is the way I summed up the book:

This is a book about roots.
Marketing seeks more. Marketing is driven by better. Marketing creates culture. Most of all, marketing is change. Marketers make change happen.

I ask What is the point?  Here it is: Identify your smallest viable audience. Figure out the problem they have that you can solve. Solve their problem. This is marketing.

And I ask Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – It always helps to know the why underneath the what.  This book will remind us of, and explain, the why that is the foundation for all marketing. 
#2 – There are dramatic changes in the marketing landscape with the arrival of all the technological changes.  This book will help you understand these changes. 
#3 – One’s tribe; one’s hierarchy; one’s place on the hierarchy; these are critical understandings for your marketing efforts. It really almost does start with this: “People like us do things like this.”

Here are a few key excerpts from the book (the best of the best of Randy’s highlighted passages):

The market decides. 
How to spread your ideas. How to make the impact you seek. …How to improve the culture. Marketing is one of our greatest callings. It’s the work of positive change. 
The other kind of marketing, the effective kind, is about understanding our customers’ worldview and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focused on being missed when you’re gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers, not victims.
We build something that people would miss if it were gone, something that gives them meaning, connection, and possibility.
You can learn to see how human beings dream, decide, and act. And if you help them become better versions of themselves, the ones they seek to be, you’re a marketer.
Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us. pg. 20
If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions.
All effective marketing makes a promise.
The goal of the smallest viable audience is to find people who will understand you and will fall in love with where you hope to take them.
The marketer can begin with an audience worth serving, begin with their needs and wants and dreams, and then build something for that audience.
When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete.
We sell feelings, status, and connection, not tasks or stuff. It’s our job to watch people, figure out what they dream of, and then create a transaction that can deliver that feeling.
The virtuous cycle and network effects. …Every very good customer gets you another one. …Your best customers become your new salespeople.
When we find the empathy to say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t for you, here’s the phone number of my competitor,” then we also find the freedom to do work that matters.
At the heart of the exclusive organization is a simple truth: every member is “people like us.”
We don’t want to feel left out, left behind, uninformed, or impotent. We want to get ahead. We want to be in sync. We want to do what people like us are doing.
Almost no one wants to feel stupid.
As people work their way through the funnel—from stranger to friend, friend to customer, customer to loyal customer—the status of their trust changes. …You can fix your funnel. … Everything gets better once you earn that trust.
The best marketers are farmers, not hunters. Plant, tend, plow, fertilize, weed, repeat.

Mr. Godin identifies four key steps.  Here, first, is my re-working, and then his actual wording: 

The steps (R.M., pulled from the book):
• Step #1 – Make better things. — The first step on the path to make things better is to make better things.
• Step #2 – Share your path to better — Sharing your path to better is called marketing, and you can do it. We all can. – Everybody wants better!
• Step #3 – SEE! – with empathy; and service — Instead of selfish mass, effective marketing now relies on empathy and service. – aim for “amazing” service….
• Step #4 – Solve their problem. — Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.

The steps – in Seth’s own words:
• #1 — The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
• #2 — The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
• #3 —The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
• #4 — The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
• #5 — The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.

And among his other key points are these:

  • Pay very careful attention to “tribes”
  • “People like us do things like this” is how each of us understands culture. “Do people like me do things like this?”
  • Pay attention to status and respect- “Choosy mothers choose Jif,” is a promise about status and respect.
  • This is what tension feels like. The tension of being left behind.
  • When you say “People like us donate to a charity like this one,” — The right answer is not “The people who give are people like us.”
  • And the reason is status. Where do we stand? What does the tribe think of us? Who’s up, and who’s down?
  • Who is it for? Who’s it for?! – (and, a few words about your “it”)…
  • You cannot change everyone; therefore, asking, “Who’s it for?” can focus your actions and help you deal with the nonbelievers.
  • So, you need to change someone. Or perhaps a group of someones. Which ones?
  • Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. In other words, use psychographics instead of demographics.
  • Not your market; your audience…but, your students. — we could call them your “students” instead. Where are your students? It’s the student–mentor relationship of enrollment and choice and care. If you had a chance to teach us, what would we learn? If you had a chance to learn, what would you like to be taught?

And here are my six Lessons and Takeaways:

#1 – You can’t market to everyone.  But you can market to some-ones.  Who are the ones you will market to?
#2 – Start here:  what is the problem frustrating that small viable group of ones you will market to?  Identify that problem.  Make sure that your solution is genuinely suited to solve that problem.  Never offer a solution without fully, deeply grasping the problem it solves.
#3 – “They” are part of a tribe; a specific tribe. Understand the tribe that your small viable audience is a part of.  They will only accept your marketing efforts if it enhances and solidifies their place in their tribe.  They will not ever accept your marketing if it jeopardizes their place in their tribe.
#4 – Really cultivate that small viable audience – your “1000 true fans.”
#5 – Keep aiming at better; better product/service/solution(s) for your smallest viable audience.
#6 – And…market!  Keep marketing!

Almost every book I present at our monthly event in Dallas, now in our 21styear, makes me think:  “I could be doing my work so much better than I am.”  This book definitely left me with that feeling. If you market at all – and you do!, by the way – this book could be really useful.


My synopsis will be available soon on the “click here for our newest additions” page on this site.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentaiton.

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