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Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

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or click on a title below to see the list


An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow





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




Meatball Sundae

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



Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.



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.




Purple Cow

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



Small is the New Big

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



Survival is Not Enough

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




The Big Moo

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



The Big Red Fez

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




The Dip

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




The Icarus Deception

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





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




Unleashing the Ideavirus

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



V Is For Vulnerable

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




We Are All Weird

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



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.



THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

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« September 2003 | Main | November 2003 »

It's not a cow if I don't think it's a cow

So I just read about the Whirlpool Polara Refrigerated Range. An oven with a refrigerator built in (or is it a refrigerator with an oven built in?

Reminded me that I need to clarify what remarkable is.

You don't make a Purple Cow by doing something that you think is remarkable.

You make a Purple Cow by doing something that your PROSPECTS and CUSTOMERS think is remarkable.

Say it ain't so, Jerry!

Well, now it's official. Bad marketing, disrespectful marketing, organizational deadend marketing is officially entrenched, probably never to be extracted.

I just got my mailed copy of the Grateful Dead Almanac, a catalog of the best and greatest new Dead stuff. This is always an expensive moment for me. As always, I followed the links and took out the credit card.

First stop was THE DEAD - Official Concert Recording Series. Neat idea. After buying a few, I get to the checkout, and the little tiny fine print says, "Click here to opt out of mailings from OCRS". Huh? Opt out, guys, is spam. The notice is designed to be missed. The goal is to trick people into getting mail they don't want to get. Sigh.

Then, it's over to to buy the new Dicks Picks album, which is raved about in the Almanac. It's not there.

So I call.

Then I get the recording that, "Due to heavy call volume..." Have you ever called a company and heard the truth? "Due to budget priorities, we decided it was cheaper to have you wait on hold for a few minutes than it was to hire more operators..."

Anyway, after a few minutes, a nice guy answered and said, "Are you calling to buy Dicks Picks #30?" I responded in the affirmative. And then he said this (I'm not making this up):

"We won't have it until tomorrow, and until we have it, I can't take your order."

Yes, that's what he meant. I checked.

Does this sound like your organization? Are the systems so out of control that we've forgotten how to let one person do business with another person? This poor guy is spending his whole day telling thousands of people with money to spend to go away. This organization spent a fortune on stamps and printing for the Almanac, designed (in part) to sell Dicks Picks 30, but they can't figure out how to take the orders that come in.


Well, (at least for now) they're not trying to sell me Vi*gra, debt reduction services or mini RC race cars.

Smart entrepreneurial advice

"I don't like to go places that don't let me have my gun," said Ms. Casey, 33, who sells memberships to a Las Vegas survivalist training institute and models for comic books (her likeness has graced the cover of one called Reload). Her New Hampshire plans include starting eight businesses "because nine out of every 10 fail, and I've already started two, so I need to do eight more."

Libertarians Pursue New Goal: State of Their Own

Yet another idea worth stealing

Alas, it's not mine.

Howie Jacobson is awfully smart. And sometimes, he hits a home run.

The short version:

"When I start marketing a product, I naturally start by talking to myself.  I write sales copy that appeals to my values. I argue the price/value question in ways that I find convincing.  I use layouts and pictures that affect me. 

Bad Howie.

Unless my market is very much like me (which rarely happens, believe me), I'm going to fail.  

I'm speaking Gorilla-ish to Dogs.  To me, I'm saying "Buy my stuff," but they hear, "Run away! I'm a Dork."

I'm not going to succeed in teaching my prospects Howie-lish.  If I want to communicate with them, I have to learn their language. "

The whole thing: The Motivated Marketing Letter

Today's Free Idea

What I want is a service ($10 a month seems fair) that hooks up to a small box in my bedroom. It would have a wi-fi hookup to the Net, a speaker and a clock display.

I tell it what time I want to wake up in the morning. I use the web to teach it which information I'm interested in.

Then, every morning, it starts my day with a perfectly selected piece of music (picked by a program director, not me, based on my preferences). Maybe it wakes me up with Hannah Barbera sound effects on Tuesdays... Then it follows it up with the information I want to start my day--custom weather, or pollen count, or school closings or the Google news reports on the ten things I'm covering. Hey, if there's bad traffic or weather, it could even wake me up earlier.

If there's a power blackout, it reboots and has the right time. It doesn't worry about Daylight Savings (did you remember?) If I forget to press the "I'm up" button, it calls me on the telephone...

By the time I'm done shaving, I've heard what I want to hear, even if it's just the right music for today.

Wouldn't that be better than Casey Kasem or some shock jock?

If you build one, let me know. Thanks.

Pom Wonderful

Just finished my first bottle of Pom Wonderful. I love all the little things the company did to make the product remarkable.

It's even purple.


Astonishing new functionality from Amazon

Do a search on Amazon and it now searches the CONTENTS of the books, not just the titles. Books Search Results: "permission marketing"

Functionality is the new marketing.

Free hot spots are a Purple Cow.

Free hot spots pay dividends - Computerworld

"That means Wi-Fi service brings in more than $100,000 per year per outlet in return for an investment of about $8,000 per restaurant for wireless infrastructure, Wooley says. The largest continuing cost is backhaul to the Internet over 1.54Mbit/sec. T1 circuits, Wooley says. Since the cost of a T1 circuit varies from $300 to $700, depending on what part of the country you're in, he says Schlotzsky's would average those costs to induce existing franchisees to offer the service. (New franchisees will be required to offer free Wi-Fi, Wooley notes.)"

My note to Susan

I ran into an old colleague (old as in we worked together on Guts in 1990, so don't tell me you've been online a long time, okay?). Susan is a very talented web designer, and like most web designers, she's sort of in between the "oh boy, we need a website, let's hire someone!" stage and the "oh no, the economy is in the tank, let's cut costs!" stage.

I promised to drop her a note about the burgeoning niche I see for web designers, and here it is:


Within two years, companies are going to spend about $5 billion a year on search engine advertising, adwords, keywords and other smart ways to get strangers to click on over to their sites.

Further proof that the web is now officially a direct marketing business.

YET, at the same time that all these companies are aggressively spending to build the right kind of traffic (not the, "hey, I tricked you with a popunder or seduced you with a bikini" ads) they're dropping the ball.

Less than 10% of these advertisers regularly measure results.

Far fewer than that are changing their offer pages hourly.

What a waste.

People like Andrew Goodman (his site is Traffick | Minding the Internet Search Engines' Business) understand this. They realize that test and measure and evolve is the secret to direct marketing. There are no once-and-for-all secrets. It's a process, not an event.

So who's going to do this work?

I think it's going to be the next generation of web designer.

I think it goes like this:

You say to the prospect: I will work with you to build a four-page engine of revenue. The idea: the client loads it up with targeted traffic that he buys by regularly trying and testing adwords and other relevant, measurable media. Then, I will regularly, constantly tweak (or redesign) the four page site to turn those strangers into friends (and maybe, if your product is great and your followup is appropriate, you can turn those friends into customers).

The thing is, it's probably cheaper to constantly measure and evolve and redesign a four page offer site than it is to build the annual 400 page website overhaul. And there's no question it's more effective.

It takes patience. It takes a lack of ego. It takes a willingness to be creative and to try new stuff, to measure what works and to do it more.

The great news about direct marketing is that when it works, you know it worked. That makes it easy to get new clients.

The future belongs to disciplined designers, talented copywriters and patient, honest and respectful clients/marketers.

Have fun with it!

Windham mountain and sharp-eyed readers

I had no idea so many of you read this stuff so closely! Yes, Windham Mountain has a website that doesn't tell you where they are. Yikes!

I've pointed it out to the folks there. I bet they'll fix it soon.

PS Yesterday on the Shuttle, I found an entire magazine devoted to online gambling.

This is how ideas spread

A "Sneezer" quote in the Wall Street Journal, not from - Network Ad Campaigns For New Fall Shows Are Falling Flat

Unrelated web news

Take a look at this collection of actually intelligent celebrity interviews.

You'll spend a few hours, but most of it won't be wasted. Okay, most of it WILL be wasted, but it'll be fun. Harris Online: Radio Show RealAudio

I don't usually point to websites I like...

But my friend Ingrid just sent me the site she's been working on for a while. I'm delighted that she and her colleagues came to a seminar in my office... I think they did a fantastic job with Windham Mountain. Check it out if you want to see a relatively flash-free, effective, nicely designed site. Go Ingrid!

My friend Miller going trick or treating as a telemarketer.

She says that since they're not allowed to call anyone at home any more, she's got no choice but to go door to door.

Miller is 12.


A.Word.A.Day--Today's Word (In case the link has changed, here's their definition, which I LOVED):

octothorpe (OK-tuh-thorp) noun

The symbol #.

[The symbol # is derived from a shorthand way of writing lb, the abbreviation for the Latin libra (balance), just as $ is a shorthand way of writing US. Octothorpe is an alteration, influenced by octo-, of earlier octalthorpe, probably a humorous blend of octal (an eight-point pin used in electronic connections) and someone whose last name was or ended in "thorpe", and whose identity is subject to speculation. It may be James Edward Oglethorpe, an eighteenth century English philanthropist, but more likely it is an Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe. In the early 1960s, Bell Labs introduced two special keys in its innovative touch-tone telephone keypads, "#" and "*", for which it needed fresh names. Having eight points, "octo-" was an obvious first element. Since the engineer involved in introducing this innovation was active in a group seeking the return of Jim Thorpe's medals from Sweden, he whimsically added "-thorpe", creating octothorpe. (Jim Thorpe was disqualified because of his professional status, but his medals were restored posthumously.) The "#" is also known as a pound sign, crosshatch, number sign, sharp, hash, crunch, mesh, hex, flash, grid, pig-pen, gate, hak, oof, rake, fence, gate, grid, gridlet, square, and widget mark.]

Some other eight-based words, other than the obvious octagon, octave, and octopus, are octamerous, having eight parts or organs; octane, a type of hydrocarbon in fuel and solvents; octant, the eighth part of a circle; octonare and octapody, a verse of eight feet; and octonary, pertaining to the number eight.

"In Boise, Idaho, US West is testing a system it calls Voice Interactive Phone, or VIP. By dialing the octothorpe (#) and 44, then saying 'Messages,' a subscriber can retrieve voice mail." Gene Bylinsky and Alicia Hills Moore; Fortune (New York); At Last! Computers You Can Talk to; May 3, 1993.

White Collar Spam

Nick Usborne coins a useful new phrase. nick usborne's excess voice: White Collar Spam. I would adjust it slightly, to include stuff from "real" companies that is certainly spam but the sender is so clueless that she doesn't realize what damage she's doing to the brand... until the fan gets hit. I've gotten this sort of spam from Citibank, for example.

What would happen...

If there were a way, in less than five seconds, that you could pay for online content (10 cents, a quarter, a dollar at a time) with no fees, no hassles.

Would the quality of online stuff increase?

Does the existence of a market increase the supply?

Scott McCloud (brilliant, blow you away cartoon theorist, who's also a cartoonist) has a rant about BitPass. Rather than sending you to the company's site, start with the rant, because it's easier to understand the point of view when you see it in opposition to a critic: Misunderstanding Micropayments - Scott McCloud.

Well, I joined BitPass, and I bought Scott's first online for money comic (it's really good, and totally worth a quarter.)

As most of you know, I've been at (okay, near) the forefront of the "attention equals cash" argument, pointing out that getting someone's permission is worth far more than getting their quarter. But now that things are settling down online, I wonder if there's a chance for BOTH to happen.

Take a look.

PS I think BitPass may have a good solution, but I'm sure they've got competition. I also know that an aggressive affiliate arrangement would change the entire dynamic of the business for them...

Traffic doesn't matter does a neat trick. They track all the traffic to just about every site on the web. (Here's the Related Info for:

So, it appears that is about 47,000 on the hit list, but we peaked at about 12,000 (out of a billion sites!) last May.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that if I did search engine optimization and had the blog open daughter windows instead of changing your basic window, and, and, and, I could increase my traffic.

My guess is that for most sites, it doesn't really matter that much.


Here's why:
1. The single best thing you can do is change the YIELD of your site, not its raw traffic. That means changing the site to increase the number of people who do what you want them to do, not dumping more people on a broken site.

2. The next best thing you can do is encourage visitors (subtly or not) to get like-minded folks to visit., for example, has got that just right.

3. You can make the most of the visitors you have by getting permission, by giving visitors the ability to sign up for more info later.

I've never tracked my traffic, but I track all of three of these things quite closely. Maybe once I get them all right, I'll bother to worry about raw numbers. In the meantime, I can't help but notice that Tom Peters is about 50,000 behind me on the Alexa list, though he has a better reputation, sells more books, changes more lives and writes better than I do.

No matter what the folklore says, traffic doesn't matter that much if the rest is broken.

Not just for formal testing

Mark Hurst has a great column about Four Words to Improve User Research. He's writing from the point of view of a rigorous UI/design tester. I think the mantra needs to go much further though--looking at the world through a different lens.

I got a call from a hospital, pestering me about a bill I'd gotten a week earlier. The caller then said, "I need to know your birthdate." Why, I asked. "So I can prove I spoke to you."

Of course, I don't care at all about their systems or their management tools or their productivity. I don't care that someone thought this was a clever way to manage their many callers. I just know that telling this guy my birthdate wasn't going to help me at all, so I said no.

When people interact with your site, your product, or your company, you don't have the luxury of telling them a story first. You don't get to give a speech about WHY it is the way it is. It just is. So the experience must stand on its own.

Note to my Italian readers...

If you find this in a local store, Pizza Scented Bubble Bath, please send me a bottle.

thank you.

Important point: if it's remarkable to the manufacturer, it doesn't matter. If it's important to the user, then it has a chance of being remarkable. In other words, " no one cares about you."

Business card of the week


What happens when everyone has...

a digital camera. Kevin's MoBlog

Easy to start...

...hard to kill.

As a society, we've gotten pretty good at launching new things. New ideas, new technologies, new flavors.

But we're really bad at killing off the bad stuff. They still sell hot dogs at ball games. We still have answering machines at home. And, as Bruce Sterling points out, we still have incandescent light bulbs. Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die

The question worth asking is: Could our organizations (big and small) get better at regularly discarding what doesn't work any more? (he says as he types on a qwerty keyboard giving him carpal tunnel).

Add a zero

Yesterday, I got 255 pieces of spam between 3 pm and 5 pm. My friend Michael gets 500 a day. And a journalist I know, Rebecca, gets 5,000 every weekend. For those that think spam is just a nuisance, add a zero and then think about it. How long would it take YOU to sort through and delete 5,000 emails?

A problem with our networked world is that so many problems are becoming exponential ones.

The thing about spam that's really surprising and makes me distraught is that previously reputable marketers (but lazy ones, apparently) are willing to risk their entire brand for a few bucks. Herb Cohen, who's a fine writer, is apparently working with Warner (who should know better) on this sort of scheme. Publishers Weekly writes:

> For her next trick, McColl will do a one-day blast for Herb Cohen's
> new book, "Negotiate This! By Caring, But Not T-H-A-T Much." Published
> by Warner Books, the title is now sitting at number 838 at Amazon. On
> Oct. 7, an e-mail will go out with a sales pitch similar to the one
> sent for "The Saint." The message will promise $644 worth of free
> self-help material for buying on that day. It will proclaim that Cohen
> wants his book, "at the top of the charts today, October
> 7th and he needs your help to make it happen, and for doing so, he has
> created an offer that will have you stunned."

Peggy McColl is a spammer, sending out more than a million emails at a time to people, directing them to Amazon to buy "self-help" books. I don't know about you, but I didn't ask Peggy to send me mail. Is this the worst kind of V*agra sort of spam? No, of course not. That's why it bothers me so much. Once the harvesting of sort-of approximately-maybe it's-kind-of-focused-by-topic opt-out spam becomes socially acceptable, you can certainly bet that we'll be adding one or two more zeroes to the volume of spam that comes in every day.

The ironic twist is that Amazon spent about $33 a person building their truly permission-based opt-in list. For someone to walk in and spend .1% of that in order to have a thin shroud of respectability pulls the entire structure apart. It means that anyone who markets the right way has an even harder time starting tomorrow.

If you know Peggy or Herb or Warner, drop them a line. Let them know that acting like the DMA--that assuming that people WANT to get your junk--is a great way to ruin their brand.

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