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Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages

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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

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Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

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Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

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Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

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Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

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Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

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The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

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The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

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The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

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The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

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Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

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V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

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We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

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Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Member since 08/2003

"But why aren't you hysterical?"

I wonder if this has always been true: When things start to go awry, we get frustrated at leaders (or employees or co-workers) who seem to be calmly considering the options and doing their best work instead of hyperventilating. 

The amount of hysteria one demonstrates isn't at all related to how much work is being done (or how much we care).

You're right, they're wrong, but they won

Why is that? Is the world so unfair?

Actually, it might be because the other guys took the time and invested the effort to build a movement. They showed up, every time, again and again. They never contemplated that they might lose, even though they're wrong, sub-par or not as good as you are. Their operating system, corporate structure, political ideas or economic approach won.

Perhaps they told a story that resonated, one that resonated not with the better angels of our nature, but with our urgent desires. And most probably, they built a tribe, not one in their image, but in the image (and dreams) of those that wanted to belong.

But mostly, it's because they were prepared to spend a decade (or two or three) to change the culture of their part of the world in the direction that mattered to them.

Two ad campaigns of the moment

I don't usually write about these, because they're almost always over produced and riskless affairs promoting me-too and banal products.

But, consider this new book promo from O/R. They're also giving 20% off to Google employees, which is a clever touch.

And then amuse yourself with this pitch perfect ad from GE. Big-time ad execs could never run something this self-aware on TV, but of course, we don't need TV anymore. Not when people (instead of networks) spread around the stuff we choose to watch.

The sophistication of truth

A common form of complexity is the sophistication of fear.

Long words when short ones will do. Fancy clothes to keep the riffraff out and to give us a costume to hide behind. Most of all, the sneer of, "you don't understand" or, "you don't know the people I know..."

"It's complicated," we say, even when it isn't.

We invent these facades because they provide safety. Safety from the unknown, from being questioned, from being called out as a fraud. These facades lead to bad writing, lousy communication and a refuge from the things we fear.

I'm more interested in the sophistication required to deliver the truth.

Simplicity.

Awareness.

Beauty.

These take fearlessness. This is, "here it is, I made this, I know you can understand it, does it work for you?"

Our work doesn't have to be obtuse to be important or brave.

Wishing vs. doing

By giving people more ways to speak up and more tools to take action, we keep decreasing the gap between what we wish for and what we can do about it.

If you're not willing to do anything about it, best not to waste the energy wishing about it.

Two purposes of user feedback

What's a customer worth?

A customer at the local supermarket or at the corner Fedex Print shop might spend $10,000 or even $25,000 over the course of a few years. That's why marketers are so willing to spend so much time and money on coupons, promos and ads getting people to start doing business with us.

But what happens when it goes wrong? What if a service slip or a policy choice threatens that long-term relationship?

If you know what's broken, you can fix it for all the customers that follow. It seems obvious, but you want to hear what customers have to say. After all, if people in charge realize what's not working, the thinking is that they might want to change it.

At the same time, a critical but often overlooked benefit of open customer communication is that individuals want to be heard. Your disgruntled customer doesn't want to hear you to make excuses, and possibly doesn't even want you to fix yesterday's problem (probably too late for that), but she does want to know that you know, that you care, and that it's not going to happen again. Merely listening, really listening, might be enough.

Big organizations (and smaller, unenlightened ones) grab onto the data benefit and tend to ignore the "listening" one. Worse still, in their desire to isolate themselves from customers, they industralize and mechanize the process of gathering data (in the name of scale) and squeeze all the juiciness out of it.

If you live in the US, you might try calling 800-398-0242. That's the number Fedex Print lists on all their receipts, hoping for customer feedback. It's hard to imagine a happy customer working her way through all of these menus and buttons and clicks, and harder still to imagine an annoyed customer being happy to do all of this data processing for them.

The alternative is pretty simple: if you're about to lose a $10,000 customer, put the cell phone number of the regional manager on the receipt. That's what you and I would do if we owned the place, wouldn't we?

Answer the phone and listen. It's an essay test, not multiple choice.

When in doubt, be human.

None of this makes sense

Your own personal media company, the focus on building individual skills, the networks that we're all part of...

It makes no sense that we're busy spending our 'work' time weaving together audience, passion and new competencies.

Unless.

Unless we also acknowledge that the old method of productivity, of being a good employee by obediently doing what you are told, is obsolete.

Our job is to figure out what's next and to bring the ideas and resources to the table to make it happen. Otherwise, all of this (this blog, your online activity, the courses you take) is nothing but a worthless distraction.

We've created a huge web of inputs and levels and skills and distractions. It's thrilling to see people doing something with it. Go.

A simple way to look at effective advertising in a digital age

Would you miss it if it weren't there?

Vogue magazine regularly runs more than 600 pages in length. And that's fine, because it's worth more with the ads than without them.

On the other hand, if the ads disappeared from Twitter, would the service be better or worse?

Media companies of the future will be built on ads we want to see, ads we'd miss if they were gone.

[And yes, I mean your fundraising newsletter and your Facebook updates, and I mean the announcements on the speaker at the airport and the robocalls too.]

Symptoms and diseases

A fever is a symptom. There's an underlying disease that causes it. Giving you a fever (sitting in a sauna) doesn't make you sick, and getting rid of the fever (in a cold bath, for example) doesn't always get rid of the illness. 

The New York Times bestseller list used to be a symptom, the symptom that a book was really popular. Now, it’s so easy to game and fake that some people have confused themselves into thinking that being on the list can actually cause your book to be popular.

It’s easy to be fooled into paying a lot to hire a salesperson who is leaving a fast-growing company. After all, it seems like hot-shot gifted salespeople are often the cause of a company growing fast. In fact, we often see that a fast-growing company seems to produce hot-shot salespeople (or programmers or whatever).

Does the really buzzy launch party make the movie good, or does a good movie get a better party?

Sometimes cause and effect can be flipped (enthusiastic people can become happy, or happy people become enthusiastic) but it’s often worth keeping track of which part of the process you’re trying to invest in and which part you're working to create.

Spending time and money gaming symptoms and effects is common and urgent, but it's often true that you'd be better off focusing on the disease (the cause) instead.

Feeling the heat

When things get dicey, we notice that some people are feeling the heat. Others are just fine, doing their work, unfazed by the situation.

The thing is, it's not the heat that's actually the issue. It's the feeling.

How we process what's happening is up to us, isn't it?

Smaller and smaller

For a long time, Australians thought of themselves as living on the edge of the Earth, a long haul from markets, from industries and from colleagues.

Today, of course, Australia is precisely in the middle.

Australia_upside_down_map_-_Google_Search

That's because the world keeps getting smaller and ideas and connection are the currencies that matter, not atoms or molecules.

Consider this new campaign for really comfortable handmade shoes from Lahore. Lahore as in Pakistan. Handmade leather shoes are a click away, regardless of where they were made, but you might choose these. 

There will always be two ends of the market. There's the race to the bottom, based on efficiency at all costs, that says, "we have what they have, but cheaper." The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win.

The other end is for items that we want, regardless of how far away they come from, because the ideas they embody are worth seeking out.

If you're in the idea business, it doesn't matter where you're from. It matters if we care about the change you're making.

But the Beatles were out of tune

The pedant (that's what we call someone who is pedantic, a picker of nits, eager to find the little thing that's wrong or out of place) is afraid.

He's afraid and he's projecting his fear on you, the person who did something, who shipped something, who stood up and said, "here, I made this."

Without a doubt, when the Beatles played Shea Stadium, Paul was a little out of tune. Without a doubt, the Gettysburg Address had one or two word choice issues. Without a doubt, that restaurant down the street isn't perfect.

That's okay. They made something. 

Sure, make it better, by all means put in the time to bring us your best work. But no, of course not, no, the pedant is not our audience, nor is he making as much of a difference as he would like to believe.

News for those to seek to make something: Shopify has run a build-a-business competition every year, and I was lucky enough to be involved a few years ago. Next year, Sir Richard Branson and a few other mentors are going to be offering advice and coaching to the winners on his island (!) for a week. I wanted to let you know that I'll be making a surprise appearance (as a benefit for Acumen), running a special seminar for the winners there next September. Check it out--looking forward to seeing what you build.

Producers and consumers

In the short run, it's more fun to be a consumer. It sure seems like consumers have power. The customer is always right, of course. The consumer can walk away and shop somewhere else.

In the long run, though, the smart producer wins, because the consumer comes to forget how to produce. As producers consolidate (and they often do) they are the ones who ultimately set the agenda.

Producers do best when they serve the market, but they also have the power to lead the market.

The more you produce and the more needs you meet, the more freedom you earn.

What everyone reads

Everyone used to read the morning paper because everyone did. Everyone like us, anyway. The people in our group, the informed ones. We all read the same paper.

Everyone used to read the selection of the book of the month club, because everyone did.

And everyone used to watch the same TV shows too. It was part of being not only informed, but in sync.

Today, of course, that's awfully unlikely. Only 1 or 2 percent of the population watch the typical 'hit' show on cable. Of course, it's entirely possible that everyone in your circle, the circle you wish to be respected by, is watching the same thing, but that circle keeps getting smaller, doesn't it?

And when 'everyone' isn't part of the picture any more, when the long tail is truly the only tail, plenty of people stop trying. They stop reading difficult books or watching less-than-thrilling video, and they don't push themselves to do the hard stuff, because, really, why bother?

Society without a cultural, intellectual core feels awfully different than the society that we're walking away from.

What are you seeking at work?

Some people want safety and respect. They want to know what the work rules are, they want a guarantee that the effort required is both predictable and rewarded. They seek an environment where they won't feel pushed around, surprised or taken advantage of.

Other people want challenge and autonomy. They want the opportunity to grow and to delight or inspire the people around them. They seek both organizational and personal challenges, and they like to solve interesting problems.

Without a doubt, there's an overlap here, but if you find that your approach to the people around you isn't resonating, it might because you're giving your people precisely what they don't want.

Two elements of an apology

Compassion and Contrition

"We're sorry that your flight was cancelled. This must have truly messed up your day, sir."

That's a statement of compassion.

"Cancelling a flight that a valued customer trusted us to fly is not the way we like to do business. We messed up, it was an error in judgment for us to underinvest in pilot allocation. Even worse, we didn't do everything we could to get you on a flight that would have helped your schedule. We'll do better next time."

That's what contrition sounds like. We were wrong and we learned from it.

The disappointing thing is that most people and organizations that take the time to apologize intentionally express neither compassion nor contrition.

If you can't do this, hardly worth bothering.

But it is worth bothering, because you're a human. And because customers who feel listened to help you improve (and come back to give you another chance.)

Avoiding S-curve error

The future is bumpy. It comes in spurts, and then it pauses.

It's tempting to connect two dots and draw a line to figure out where the third dot is going to be. 

In the long run, that's a smart way to go. For example, if we look at the cost per transistor in 1970 and again today, we can make a pretty smart guess about where it's going in the future.

But we won't get there in a straight line.

Consider this graph (from this must-read article):

Graph - Dynamic Range_inline

If you connected the first two red dots (1885 and 1925), your prediction for dynamic range today would be have been way off, far too low.

If you connected the second two dots (1928 and 1933) again you'd be way off. Too high by far.

That's because science doesn't march, it leaps.

The S curve is flat, and then it's not. It's punctuated. A technical innovation changes the game, industry takes a development generation to incrementally pile on, then it happens again.

You can't multiply a one-year increase (in computers, your income, your height, the cost of a commodity) by a hundred and figure out what it's going to be in a hundred years, any more than a salesperson can multiply one day's commissions to figure out a year's pay.

Day trading is a risky business.

People who like this stuff...

like this stuff.

When you work in a genre (any genre), break all the rules at your own peril. Sure, you need to break some rules, need to do something worth talking about. But please understand who the work is for.

If it's for people outside the genre, you have a lot of evangelizing to do. And if it's for those that are already in it, you can't push too far, because they like the genre. That's why they're here.

Those who have walked away probably aren't just waiting around for you to fix it. Those who have never been don't think the genre has a problem they need solved. Blue sky thinking isn't really blue sky thinking. It's a slightly different shade of the blue that's already popular.

It's a little like the futility of the "Under New Management" sign on a restaurant. People who like the place don't want to hear you're changing everything, and people who didn't like the old place aren't in such a hurry for a new place that they'll form a line out the door.

The opportunity is to create a pathway, a series of ever-increasing expectations and experiences that moves people from here to there.

The most important thing

The next thing you do today will be the most important thing on your agenda, because, after all, you're doing it next.

Well, perhaps it will be the most urgent thing. Or the easiest.

In fact, the most important thing probably isn't even on your agenda.

Without a keyboard

When the masses only connect to the net without a keyboard, who will be left to change the world?

It is possible but unlikely that someone will write a great novel on a tablet.

You can't create the spreadsheet that changes an industry on a smart phone.

And professional programmers don't sit down to do their programming with a swipe.

Many people are quietly giving away one of the most powerful tools ever created—the ability to craft and spread revolutionary ideas. Coding, writing, persuading, calculating—they still matter. Yes, of course the media that's being created on the spot, the live, the intuitive, this matters. But that doesn't mean we don't desperately need people like you to dig in and type.

The trendy thing to do is say that whatever technology and the masses want must be a good thing. But sometimes, what technology wants isn't what's going to change our lives for the better.

The public square is more public than ever, but minds are rarely changed in 140 character bursts and by selfies.

Law and order

At some point, the world (the project, the moment) becomes so chaotic or dangerous that we sacrifice law in exchange for order.

The question is: when.

When is it time to declare martial law? (or your version of it)

When do you abandon your project plan because the boss is hysterical? When do you go off the long-term, drip-by-drip approach to growth because cash flow is tight? When do you suspend one set of valued principles in order to preserve the thing you set out to build in the first place?

When Richard Nixon was at his most megalomaniacal, he was willing to suspend any law in his way to preserve what he saw as order. Failed entrepreneurs and project leaders fall into the same trap: it feels as though this time, it truly is the end of the road, and throwing away principles is tempting indeed.

You've probably met people who declare this sort of emergency ten times a year.

History is filled with examples of people who pushed the order button too soon... but few instances where people stuck with their principles for too long.

The launch meeting

You've probably been to one. The organization is about to embark on something new--a new course, a new building, a new fundraising campaign. The organizer calls together the team, and excitement is in the air.

Choose which sort of meeting you'd like to have:

The amateur's launch meeting is fun, brimming with possibility and excitement. Everything is possible. Goals are meant to be exceeded. Not only will the difficult parts go well, but this team, this extraordinary team, will be able to create something magical.

Possibility is in the air, and it would be foolish to do anything but fuel it. After all, you don't get many days as pure as this one.

The professional's launch meeting is useful. It takes advantage of the clean sheet of paper to address the difficult issues before egos get in the way. Hard questions get asked, questions like:

  • What are the six things most likely to go wrong?
  • What will lead us to go over budget? Over schedule?
  • How will we communicate with one another when things are going well, and how will we change that pattern when someone in the room (anyone in the room) realizes that something is stuck?

Right here, in this room, one where there's nothing but possibility and good vibes—here's your moment to have the difficult conversations in advance, to outline the key dates and people and tasks.

By all means, we need your dreams and your stretch goals and most of all your enthusiasm. But they must be grounded in the reality of how you'll make it happen.

Worthless (priceless)

We can transform a priceless thing into a worthless one. Mishandle it, disrespect it, break it, leave it out in the rain. The compromise of the moment, the urgency of now, the lack of a long view--it's trivially easy to destroy things we think of as priceless.

But we can also transform the worthless into things valuable beyond measure. When we attach memories to something, it becomes worth treasuring. And when the tribe uses it to connect, we have a hard time imagining living without it.

The value of access

Access to people

Access to capital

Access to technology

Access to infrastructure

Access to gatekeepers

Access to trust (and the benefit of the doubt)

Access to civilization

Access to energy

Access to information

Access to a clean, natural world

Access to responsibility

Access to freedom

Some come from free markets, some come from societal infrastructure, some from technology.

So easy to undervalue, until you don't have them. I don't think we should be so quick to take these for granted.

Functional jewelry

Watches and eyeglasses have morphed into devices that many choose to spend time and money on, becoming not just tools, but a form of identity.

We could extend this a bit to handbags and to cars, but the number of items that qualify as functional jewelry is fairly small--and the market for each is huge, far bigger than if the only use was as a tool.

Apple has long flirted around the edges of this psychological sweetspot, and the reaction to yesterday's watch is fascinating to see.

1. What does this remind me of? is a key question people ask. Certain glasses make people look smart, because they remind us of librarians and scholars. Some cars remind us of movie chase scenes or funerals... If you're going to put something on my wrist, it's going to remind me of a watch. What sort of watch? The Pulsar my grandfather wore in 1973? A 175,000 euro Franck Muller Tourbillion, with complications

Marketers rarely get the chance to start completely fresh, to say, "this reminds you of nothing, start here."

2. Do people like me wear something like this? is the challenge that the Google glass had (a challenge at which, so far, they have completely failed). Remember when bigshots used to wear Mont Blanc pens (oh, another bit of functional jewelry) in the outside pockets of their Armani suits? They didn't need a fountain pen that handy... it was a badge, a label, something the tribe did.

3. What story do I tell myself when I put this on? is the core of the fancy wristwatch marketing promise, because, after all, most people aren't going to realize quite how much you paid.

4. Do I want this to be noticed or invisible? is the fork in the road for all of this. You can buy a car or glasses or a watch that no one will comment on, remember or criticize. Or you can say, "look at this, look at me."

The iPhone and the iPod weren't launched as functional jewelry, they were pocketable tech, designed to be a tool for a user seeking a digital good-taste experience, but not originally thought of as jewelry. White headphones and phone cases and then Beats transformed these devices into a chance for individuals to wear a label and a message and tell a story (to themselves and to others) about their importance and tool choice.

The challenge the Apple watch faces right now is that there are only three of them. And successful jewelry is never, ever mass. Even engagement rings come in 10,000 varieties.

So, as technology people continue to eye the magical fashion business with envy, they're going to have to either change our culture, to create a 1984-style future in which all jewelry is the same jewelry, for all knowledge workers, slave to their devices, or they need to shift gears and understand that people are sometimes more like peacocks, eager for their own plumage, stories and narratives.

Or they could just make tools that are hard to live without.