Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address

preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog






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

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

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

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

« April 2004 | Main | June 2004 »

The Curse of Great Expectations

I can benchmark everything now.

I can benchmark my morning workout. The rowing machine tells me if today’s workout was a personal best. Even better, I can go online and compare my workout to the efforts of thousands of other people.

On my way to work, I can track my mileage. (My record is 89 mpg). Once there, I can watch the status of my books on Amazon, comparing their sales to every other book published in the English language… and then go check out, where I can track the book’s performance over the last 90 days.

The problem with benchmarking is that nothing but continuous improvement (except maybe spectacular results) satisfies very much. Who wants to know that they will never again be able to beat their personal best rowing time? What entrepreneur wants to embrace the fact that the wait time at her new restaurant franchise is 20% behind the leader—and there’s no obvious way to improve it?

Our interconnected, 500-channel world lets us be picky. We can want a husband who is as tall as that guy, as rich as this guy and as loyal as my brother-in-law. We can ask for an apartment that is in just the right location, with just the right view and just the right rent—and then reject it because the carpeting in the hallway isn’t as nice as the one in the building next door. Monster lets us see 5,000 resumes for every job opening… and imagine that we can find someone with this guy’s education and that woman’s professional experience—who works as cheap as this person and is as local as that one.

In the old days, data was a lot harder to come by. You didn’t know everything about everyone. All the options weren’t right there, laid out in Froogle and compared by We didn’t have reality TV shows where each and every component of a singer’s presentation or a bridal prospect’s shtick were painstakingly compared.

Yes, benchmarking is terrific. Benchmarking is the reason that cars got so much better over the last twenty years. Benchmarking has the inexorable ability to make the mediocre better than average, and it pushes us to always outperform.

But it stresses us out. A benchmarked service business or product (or even a benchmarked relationship) is always under pressure. It’s hard to be number one, and even harder when the universe we choose to compare our options against is, in fact, the entire universe.

Of course, the boomers have this problem even worse (and we’re all boomers, aren’t we? Even if you’re not, we don’t care—it’s all about us). Boomers are getting older. We can benchmark our eyesight, our rowing speed, our memory or even our ability to come up with great ideas at a moment’s notice. As a result, we benchmark ourselves into a funk. We get stressed because we have to acknowledge that nothing is as good as it was.

In addition to the stress, benchmarking against the universe actually encourages us to be mediocre, to be average, to just do what everyone else is doing. The folks who invented the Mini (or the Hummer, for that matter) didn’t benchmark their way to the edges. Comparing themselves to other cars would never have created these fashionable exceptions. What really works is not having everything being up to spec… what works is everything being good enough, and one or two elements of a product or service being AMAZING.

So, I’m officially letting go. I’m going to stop comparing everything to my all time best, to your all time best, to everyone’s all time best. Instead of benchmarking everything, perhaps we win when we accept that the best we can do is the best we can do—and then try to find the guts to do one thing that’s remarkable.

Was this my best blog entry ever, or what?

The next time...

you want to group your employees, your shareholders or, worst yet, your employees into one homogeneous blob, click on this: JP Brown's Serious LEGO - CubeSolver.

Watching TV all day apparently makes us the same. But we're all really different. Different hobbies, different values, different needs. When you deliver something that matches someone's long-held desire, you win.


In 1995, I didn't believe in the Web. Didn't think it would beat the paid online services. Beginning in 1996, I started to come around.

Soon thereafter, I invented the term "landing page" to describe the page you went to after clicking on a banner or a link (give me long enough and I'll take credit for inventing HTML too!). Anyway, at Yoyodyne my peers and I spent years pitching people on how to improve their landing pages. I still believe it is the single biggest flaw in web design.

Back then, we sketched out a device called the Yoyodyne Engine for Sales. The idea was an automated system that would test landing pages on the fly.

Today, I heard about Offermatica - Landing Page Optimization. I have no idea if it does what it appears to, but if it does, hooray. It only took seven years.

The Ringtone Magazine

This is a little jarring at a lot of levels.

Ringtones, it turns out, are now a sizable portion of all music purchases for certain users. Weirder still, in addition to willingness to pay money for tones, people are even subscribing to a magazine about them.

The Ringtone Magazine

It's pretty clear that we're down to buying what we want, not what we need!

A federal offense?

Someone I know took this picture on an airplane.

1. what is headphone photography?
2. did she break a law? She didn't use headphones. Really.
3. why is this not allowed?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Flying on Song

first time today for me. Song is Delta's response to Jet Blue. Bright leather seats. TVs in the seat backs. An attempt at better snacks.

Here's the thing: it's more than the equipment.

The flight attendant yelled at everyone for asking questions about the TV. "NO YOU CANNOT use the tv until I turn it on" she barked into the loudspeaker.

Then the pre-recorded safety instructions, intentionally hippydippy newagey came on. More bad marketing via audio. It was actually sort of scary.

Yes, the flight was on time, safe, right to the gate. All the minimum hurdles are met. But trying to be remarkable by copying someone else who's special (but not doing it quite right) made me a little sad.

Five years from now...

Assume that:

Hard drive space is free

Wifi like connections are everywhere

Connections speeds are 10 to 100 times faster

Everyone has a digital camera

Everyone carries a device that is sort of like a laptop, but cheap and tiny

The number of new products introduced every day is five times greater than now

Wal-Mart's sales are three times as big

Any manufactured product that's more than five years old in design sells at commodity pricing

The retirement age will be five years higher than it is now

Your current profession will either be gone or totally different

What then?

BzzAgent's Free Prize Inside Contest Blog

Free Prize Inside Contest Blog

The rules are at the bottom of the page...

PS... the contest is now open to all.

Revenge of the spam filters

last week, I was sent important (important to me, anyway) personal emails from people at General Mills and at Citibank.

Didn't get either one.

My Yahoo spam filter nabbed both of them.

We've seen cracks in the email firmament for a while, but it's pretty clear that too many big companies are doing too much mailing to too many people who aren't totally sure they want to get it. As a result, sometimes the real stuff isn't getting through.

The sad thing, of course, is that the clever spam/scam artists at the little fly by night companies are agile enough to beat the filters. Boy do they have a lot of people in Nigeria with secret bank accounts!

On thinking big...

I just finished giving a talk to a group of 400 high-powered (high-leverage, high-paid) credit card execs. As I left the hotel, I passed a much smaller room, where a seminar for local CPAs was going on.

The snacks didn't seem as good. The booklets weren't that interesting either. apparently. But what occurred to me is that the folks in the second room were just as smart and just as talented as the execs in the first room.

The first group was enjoying the benefits of aiming high. They didn't get these jobs because they were arguably smarter or had better connections or had gone to Harvard. No, they were starting with the same raw materials as the group in the second room. The difference, i think, was that a long time ago, the people in the second room had made a decision about what they deserved, or what they were capable of, or what they were going to stick with. And it was a bad decision.

No, not everyone should be a banking executive. But no one who aspires to be a bank executive should sell themselves short because of a decision they made a long time ago. In a world where the past matters a lot less than it ever did before, where it's easier than it ever was to hit the reset button, it's sad to see someone choosing to be stuck. So, if you want to, switch.

Hey, the snacks are better.

Happy Birthday, Brad

purplecakeHis team baked him a purple cake.

Be Bold!

The last stop on my tour is Marketing - The Bold Approach Method. Look for posts a little later today.

Thanks to everyone who followed along. And especially to my unbelievably gracious hosts!


Why can't it be fun?

polkaThis sign is right next to the escalator at the convention center in Milwaukee.

Doesn't cost much. Transforms the mundane into the memorable. That, and you get to hear a polka for your entire ride.

Who do you trust?

newyork2There are come-ons and scams everywhere we go, but nowhere worse than Times Square in New York. That's why this sign almost didn't catch my eye. $2.99 for a shirt? Hardly. I figured you got a baby shirt for that price, but an adult size would probably cost four times as much.

I saw the fine print, but at my age and this distance, couldn't make it out. Figured it must be pretty outrageous, so I got closer. Click the picture to see for yourself.

Sometimes, it seems, you can be remarkable just by telling the truth.

Copy as decoration

paneraYes, we're practically illiterate. But in our tv-culture, the new thing is signs as decor, not as communication. Check out this banner from Panera. Does anyone actually read it? Did the person who WROTE it read it? Probably not (I polled people at the store and not one person I asked could tell me what the sign said... moments after walking away from it.)

Bright red ideas!

The blog tour continues.

Thinking by Peter Davidson

Please come to a seminar in my office

The next one is June 14. I hope you can come. Click -> Seminars for more info. I'll extend the free offer until Monday, the 24th.

(free? Yes it's free if you buy enough books, per my previous post. It's still free, cause you get the books and get to keep the books, so it's no extra cost. But no, it's not free as in you can just walk in).

Next stop: Branding Blog

Sometime this morning, I'll be appearing on the Branding Blog as the online book tour continues.

See you there.

Ripping the lid off ideaviruses

Thanks to Tim Manners for a great pointer: Intelliseek's BlogPulse. This very cool site tracks millions of blogs and shows you what's up. Even more interesting is the search function, because the number of blogs is hitting critical mass.

marketers are neanderthals

if you've been to one of my talks, you'll know that's a favorite punchline.

You can find out more about how business evolves (as my blogging tour continues) at Business Evolutionist

Have you seen Flickr

Sort of iphoto meets Friendster.

This peer to peer, infinite disk space, share and share alike world keeps getting more interesting.

Ultimately, only a few will leak out to the mass market, but they'll make it ever harder for the gatekeepers (big media, big marketers, the government) to control conversations

Welcome to Flickr! reviews the new book

"Buy this book and use Godin's ideas to remake yourself, your product or your company. Then pass it on to your boss or your employees. Tell them they've just won a free prize." Read This (Free Prize Inside)

Thanks, Jean!

the online bus tour continues

Didn't think I could use the dalai Lama and george W in the same sentence? Guess again.

My online blogging tour continues: WonderBranding: Marketing to Women

Next step on the blog tour

There are a few posts on Jeremy's site. Just click on the << arrow near the top left to read the others.

Seth: It's Not Just for Big Companies - Ensight - Jeremy C. Wright

Free Prize reviews are posted

Click here to see them: FreePrize


My new book ( Free Prize Inside) officially publishes on Tuesday. For a variety of reasons, I’m willing to trade a bunch of cool stuff to people who buy a bunch of books right out of the starting gate.

Here’s the deal: If you buy X copies of the book (where X is a number you see below) at a retailer (online or offline, I don’t care) between today and May 12th, you get the prize listed below. While supplies last, of course!

No, I’m afraid that if you already bought books, they don’t count toward the total. You have to buy books starting now and ending then. No exceptions.

To collect your prize, all you need to do is email me a copy of your receipt, or fax me a copy if you buy it in a real store instead of online. Make sure your subject line includes the word in quotes after each prize so my filter will put it in the right place. My fax is 914 206 3586. Be sure your fax includes your email address! (email your entries to

The prize list below is not cumulative. Meaning that if you buy 100 books, you only get the 100 book prize or two 50 prizes, but not the 10, 20, 50 AND 100 prize. That makes sense, right?

Anyway, here you go:

If you buy enough copies between now and May 12th, you're qualified for:

1 BOOK A free ebook that used to cost money and was a #1 bestseller. (this works on the honor system. Just visit ( Free Prize Inside) and there it is. No need to send me a receipt.

8 BOOKS A free audioconference. You can have as many people listening in on a speakerphone as you want. One line per prizewinner. The date? June 8th, 2 pm Eastern Time. It’ll last for 45 minutes and I’ll present my riffs on the new book and on Purple Cow. (subject line “audio graft”)

32 BOOKS One seat at a free seminar in my office outside of New York City. The date? June 14th. We start about 10 am and go to about 4. I promise you’ll have a great time. Even includes a free lunch. (subject line “session graft”). You can find all the details here: Seminars


41 BOOKS One of the long lost Purple Cow in a milk carton things. (subject line “skin graft”)


49 BOOKS A crystal engraved Purple Cow tzatchke desk ornament/hood ornament/holiday gift. These are actually pretty cool. See the photo if you don’t believe me. I only have 12 to give away, first come first served. (subject line “crystal graft”)

75 BOOKS A free (private) phone edgecrafting session (which I don't often do, but in a moment of weakness, decided to try). You and your team get an hour with me on the phone, at a mutually agreeable time, to talk about your company, your site, your mission, whatever. (subject line “phone graft”)

Hey, if you buy 2,000 copies, I'll even give you a ride in my Prius.

No refunds. Void where prohibited. Deadline for submitting receipts: May 20. Your mileage may vary.

Price War!

Sorry to be flogging my book so much (I promise to stop in a day or so) but B&N has just started a price war with Amazon. Members pay $13.26.

Barnes & - Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea

Now shipping

Amazon and 800 CEO READ have both jumped the gun and started shipping Seth Godin :: Free Prize Inside.

Amazon has a very aggressive price. 800 CEO READ is even cheaper if you buy 6 at a time. Your local bookstore might be inclined to give you a discount if you let them know your options and are willing to buy a bunch for all your friends.

No promises, by the way, on how long the cereal box will last. As I write this, both Amazon and CEO READ have at least 1,000 left.

The "final" Free Prize

Cemetery offers coffin with panic button

A cemetery in Santiago, Chile is offering its clients coffins with a sensor that detects any movement inside them after they have been buried.

According to the Camino a Canaan cemetery the sensor attached to the coffin is to avoid anyone being buried alive.

Spokesperson for the cemetery told La Cuarta: "We want to be pioneers and avoid catalepsy cases, in which a person gets completely paralysed for a few hours and ends up buried as if they were dead.

"We want families to rest assured that if a case like this ever happens their loved ones will be immediately rescued."

Thanks to BusinessPundit

what happens when storage is free?

gmail is based on a model that says storing your mail will cost them basically zero.

What else changes when that happens?

stock.xchng has more than 80,000 photos and more than a quarter million visitors a month. This is the perfect place to get great photos for the powerpoint presentations you're doing that have no bullet points.

Is there a business model here? I don't know. Does it matter?

Meditating on the free prize...

Sometime later today, visit What's Your Brand Mantra? to read the latest riffs on my around-the-blog tour for Free Prize. It continues for another week or so.

The clowns respond!

My recent Fast Company column about clowns brought this response. I like the shoes part best:

Seth, I feel I must set the record straight about clowns and clowning because
I do not feel that you truly get what clowns are all about. As a professional
clown for 18 years and as a business person I feel that your analogy is far
from accurate. Here's why:
1. I beleive that being called a clown is a great compliment no matter what
your line of work! It means that you have a sense of humor and aren't afraid
to share it. Your derisive definition of a clown offends what I am and what I
do. I hear your definiton as meaning dumb, ignorant, stupid, etc...
Clowns are far from stupid. It takes great intellect to see the humor in all
situations, good and bad. And I have medical benefits!
2. Clowns are based on us, but not neccessarily about just what's wrong with
human nature, we also like to show what is right about it. We point out what
may seem obvious. Some people can't see the forest for the trees. We show
them the trees.
3. Clowns do not ignore science. We use many of the basic principles of
science. For example: in juggling we use the principle of what goes up, must
come down. We also embody the principle that gravity does work! There is
no "magic" that can fit 16 clowns in a car, it's science, spacial relations!
We use cetrifugal and centripital forces, inertia, roatation, revolution,
momentum and many other great scientific principles and theories!
4. Clowns do not argue with gravity, it is all too real! it challenges us,
sure, but it always wins.
5. Kodak shouldn't be called clowns, they should plain and simply be called
blind business people with poor leadership.
6. Clown measure their results by audience reaction. Did it make an impact?
Did they get what I was tryoing to say? We are philosophers and commentators
on the way we all live our lives.
7. Clowns are reality!
8. Clowns plan ahead! We spend hundreds of hours practicing and perfecting
our craft for the amusement of others. I personally have spent 18 years
studying and perfecting my craft and thousands of dollars. That takes careful
9. For the sake of the squirrel I'd like to mention that if they don't plan
ahead, then what is the purpose of storing nuts for the winter if not a
10. I believe that most humans don't plan ahead and blindly stumble thru life
looking for a hand-out.
11. Clowns overreact to prove a point. (Remember the trees, some need a good
whack over the head with a our number three point may be the only one I agree
12. If clowns aren't nice to each other, then waht does that say about
humanity? we are after all only mirrors of the human condition. the stooges
are just down right stupid. Stan and Ollie are a better example, they are
natural comics, they don't try to be funny, they are just unaware of their
plight, now THAT'S funny!

Some of the best working environments I have had were working with other real
clowns. We are a team, we care about each other and work together to reach a
common goal: laughter. That sure beats any other business goal I can think of.

I think issuing red noses is a great idea! it would lighten things up and
maybe people would stop ripping ewach other appart. In stead of not being
like clowns, maybe more people should be! It would certainly make people take
notice of how utterly ridiculous most arguments are and how working together
would be much more effective.

So, before you downgrade the life of a clown, maybe you should walk a mile in
my shoes. The offer is open to you any time!

Thanks for listening.


Christy McDonald
Goodwill Ambassador (and clown)
Ringling Brothers and Barnum& Bailey Circus Hometown Edition

You'll find me at the 800CEOREAD Blog

four new riffs as the blog book tour continues. Check it out at 800CEOREAD Blog

You're very smart

Here's an example: you're reading a blog, any blog. You know the blogosphere exists. Believe it or not, you're among 10% of all people who surf the net.

This hit home when I was giving a talk at Eli Lilly. Before the talk, I mentioned a blog to a senior person who was prepping me. Here was somebody with authority, experience and, I would imagine, some online chops. Not only hadn't she been to a blog, she'd never heard of one.

Listening to NPR today, I heard a bunch of talking heads ranting about Google. In particular, they were repeating the canard that Google's gmail product somehow invades our privacy. It must, they asserted loudly, because the ads are contextual, which means your mail is getting read.

News flash! It's getting read by a computer.
News flash! Computers are already reading your mail! Spam filters, for example.
News flash! If someone wants to read your mail, it's pretty easy to do.

Yet the canard persists. I'm sure Google was amazed at how vociferous the irrational attacks on privacy invasion were.

That's my point. Being smart doesn't matter. Having a blog or doing something technical is irrelevant if you're invisible or seen as a threat by everyone else.

Is it still irony

if you have to explain that you're being ironic?

Turns out that a few stuffy people aren't getting the joke about the packaging and stuff in Seth Godin :: Free Prize Inside

No, I'm not proposing that everything look like a cereal box with a little man and with bright colors. In fact, I'm doing exactly the opposite.

It was actually painful to explain this, but hey, the customer comes first.

On the edge with Decent Marketing

The book tour continues today with: Decent Marketing: On the Edge with Seth Godin

All the fun of a book tour with none of the travel.

How cool is that?

What does your brand sound like?

Marketers are pretty visual people. We realize that consumers get their cues primarily from visual stimuli.

Except they don’t.

We all are driven primarily by the interpersonal and the interpersonal is frequently verbal.

How do they answer the phone at your office?

Just flew to Florida with JetBlue (I LOVE JetBlue) and I was reminded of this in a very busy terminal. JetBlue does everything right… and then, boom, they yell at you.

They yell at you on the PA system, and they do it with either panic or aggression. They are flustered, overworked, distraught and totally stressed out when they use the PA.

There’s no way in the world the brand wizards at JetBlue would let each employee design their own graphics. So why do so many employees get to yell at me?

Why not have soothing background music and Bette Midler or Clint Eastwood doing a little tag? Why not have professionally pre-recorded announcements for 85% of the stuff they do?

How do they answer the phone at your office?

Brand Autopsy--the tour continues

John Moore (or as he likes it johnmoore) and Paul Willliams have terrific credentials and for some reason, seem to like my new book. Check out today's stop on the blogging tour: Brand Autopsy Lots of free reading here, worth your time.

This has been a ton of fun, and these two guys are wicked smart... so, when's their book coming out???

Hitting the (virtual) road

My online book tour starts today.

First stop: A Penny For.... I field some creampuff questions from Todd.

Thanks, Todd, for setting it up. More as it develops all week.

Why did it take me so long...

To find BlogRunner: Business.

This is a neat blog indeed. Full disclosure: I will now be stealing ideas from them with abandon.

I'm an idiot (read these blogs)

Readers know that I posted the free ebook BULLMARKET 2004 yesterday. What you might not know is that through the magic of missing neurons and inherent sloppiness, I left out two blogs by mistake. Yikes!

Brand Autopsy

Adrants: Advertising and Media News With Commentary, Gossip and Opinion by Steve Hall

Worth a visit.

« April 2004 | Main | June 2004 »