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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


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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Member since 08/2003

« August 2004 | Main | October 2004 »

Book Em Danno!

"What are you in for?"

"I robbed a bank. You?"

"Kidnapping. How about you, little man?"

"Well... I videotaped five minutes of Lord of the Rings."

And they all moved away from me...

House Bill Makes Camcording Films a Felony

If I bore a cocktail party with my ability to perform, from memory, the Woody Allen moose joke (verbatim, from his live album) is that just a misdemeanor? What if I quote Arnold on my blog? Take a picture of my wife in front of a movie poster?

It's easy to laugh at this, but it's also insanely scary.


Treb points us to JudysBook, sort of Craig's List meets Zagats meets Orkut.

It's all in the details, but thought you'd like this on your radar.

Now that there's a name for it

I'm even more frightened.

Boing Boing: SPIT: New Internet acronym!

What happens when some offshore spammer sets her computer to call, say, 10 million people, every night. At home. For free.

And yes, the name is perfect.

Three kinds of blogs

The other day, someone was taking a look at Joi Ito's Web and asked me what I liked about it. The subtext to her question was, "this is very different than what you're doing... is it better? worse?"

As more and more people consider blogs for politics (cover of tomorrow's NY Times magazine) or business or ego or as a hobby, I wonder if we need to get a little taxonomic here (Carolus Linnaeus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Forgive me if others have done a better job, but here's my best shot.

There are three important kinds of blogs:

1. News blogs. These are the original model. The idea is simple. An author (or authors--see Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things) chronicles the events of the day. This can be commentary on politics or news or dieting sites or merely pointers to interesting technology introductions.

Some of the most popular blogs are just carefully edited indices of the best of today's Net. Others include a lot of pithy commentary on the part of the writer. News blogs are a fantastic solution to the noise filtering problem.

2. Writer's blogs. You're reading one. These are blogs that while they occasionally riff about today's news, are mostly an opportunity for the writer to engage in an extended monologue. The monologue is influenced by reader feedback and new happenings, so it's a lot more interactive than a book, but it certainly isn't a conversation. I think this is a very new form of media (it's a process, not a batch).

3. Our blogs. This is what Joi is at the forefront of. Our Blogs are blogs that are the tip of the community iceberg. A posting on an Our blog is nothing but a firestarter, a chance to start the conversation and see what happens.

Sometimes, it's easy to assume that all blogs are the same, and therefore a blog isn't the right solution for a given problem. At the same time, there are those in the blogging community who are upset when all blogs aren't the kind of blog that they're used to. I think it's early days, and there are bound to be a few other types of blogs as time goes on.

Less than a Decade

I think some people are missing the two giant takeaways from this study:
Study: More Net Equals Less TV
. The first? It took only ten years to topple the most important, most powerful medium of all time. TV elects Presidents, sells cars, introduces products and changes the culture. It also sucks the initiative and creativity of entire generations down the drain.

Ten years is a heartbeat. This is an astonishing change in the way we buy and learn and vote and grow our businesses. I don't think it has really sunk in yet.

The second? That the consumers who make the biggest difference (the busy ones, the ones who earn a lot, spend a lot, vote, talk a lot and change things) are the ones most likely to be online and least likely to watch TV.

Yes, Oprah is still far more powerful than Yahoo. But at the same time, Drudge and Jeff Bezos and Doc Searls are way more influential than their offline cousins.

If someone steals your car...

you call the police.

It's a lot trickier in the idea business. (And more and more, that's what we do, right? Invent and propogate ideas).

I'm on record as recommending that you do very little to protect your ideas and move as quickly as you can to spread them. Michael Cader's Publisher's Lunch Deluxe today points to Dan Brown and Lewis Perdue -- Dueling Da Vincis: Legacyan extraordinary indictment of the Da Vinci Code.

What's so neat is that it is entirely possible that Dan Brown never read or was even aware of the Perdue book. That's the thing about ideas... unlike cars, they go many directions at once and are quite nuanced. I bet that the books are actually quite different.

Other than gaping at the charts on this site, I'm not sure what you should do with this tidbit. Maybe just realize that if you've got a neat idea, it's likely to be "stolen" one day (be prepared to live with that) and if you hit a homerun, you're probably going to get sued (sigh.)

More proof that TV is dying

(as a mass medium, anyway)

From the Washington Post: "In fact, just one of the 13 shows that divvied up the 27 Emmys attained, in the course of the TV season, as many viewers as did Sunday's Emmy broadcast. That one show was ABC's own broadcast of February's Academy Awards ceremony, which clocked nearly 44 million viewers; it was named best directed variety, music or comedy program."

In other words, the biggest audience went to the show about the shows (same way Google has a far bigger audience than any of the sites it points to). And the Emmy's had their second lowest ratings in recent history.

Reality TV is the new Dot Com

A friend told me yesterday that he had just sold a TV concept on behalf of a famous author he represents.

Uh Oh, I whispered to myself, I'm going to have to pretend to like another reality TV show. (good news, it wasn't and I didn't have to, cause it's a great idea)

It appears to be trivial to invent bad reality TV, because, after all, it is.

Just like a bad dot com.

But in the middle of all this noise comes Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban to give away $1,000,000 in ABC's new 'The Benefactor' series

Mark got snickers when he launched Not only did he prove the investors wrong when he sold out to Yahoo, he proved himself right (but early) as the web moves ever closer to TV.

Mark is smart and honest and a terrific guy. But most important, Mark Cuban is not afraid to challenge the status quo. I haven't seen his show, probably couldn't get my TV to work if I tried, but if you've got some time to kill, why not check it out? At the very least, it'll give you a healthy dose of vitamin Mark.

Number Ten

Certainly the most noticed from my recent list (below).

One reader writes, "I know you are busy so what I write bellow is just background to the question above. I am starting a business from the ground up right now. It seems that I cannot get in ANY door unless I know somebody. Please let me know your thoughts."

Here's why I wrote what I wrote...

When your idea is gaining traction, the easy and obvious and natural thing to do is to fear that you won't succeed because you don't know the right people. After all, we see Donald Trump getting in NBC's door, and we see some famous author getting on a talk show or some rock star getting a video on MTV twenty years after he hit his prime... it just doesnt' seem fair or right that all too often access is determined based on relationships, not some other measure of quality.

I'm all for the momentum that goes to a creator once she establishes a brand or a hit. But the facts belie this excuse. Microsoft, for example, almost always fails when they introduce something new. Most successes (in books, music, movies, politics, non-profits, etc.) don't come from where the established wisdom tells us they're going to come from. No one bet on Phish or Boing Boing or Google or Dan Brown.

Yes, it looks like the big guys (McKinsey, Steven King, General Foods) always manage to win, but what's really happening is that the big guys slowly fade away and the real growth comes from where no one expected it.

In a world where things are viral, you're more likely to succeed with passive networking (strangers recommending you) than the old school active kind. In other words, make great stuff, do your homework, build your audience and when you've got something worth talking about, people will talk about it.

Lies to protect the status quo

1. Canadian pharmaceuticals are dangerous

2. Piracy is killing the ongoing creation of music and movies (notice I didn't say anything about the movie and music businesses)

3. Dental work lasts forever

4. A bottle of Evian is dangerous to airline security and must be surrendered

5. The Microsoft monopoly pays dividends to all users (like IE, for example)

6. You can’t start a business without venture money or a big bank loan

7. Working hard for your boss and following instructions is the best way to get ahead

8. We need to spend taxpayer money on support for traditional factory farming

9. It’s impossible to make a fuel efficient automobile Americans will accept

10. Who you know is more important than what you do

The edge is always moving.


MSNBC - Truck maker unveils a monster pickup

Hummer owners now have permission to feel inadequate. Does this mean this unpatriotic gas guzzler is destined to success? of course not. Being on the edge is no promise of success. Just because it's stupid doesn't mean it's a purple cow!

What it does mean, though, is that it's harder for the Hummer to stay fashionable, and that all fashions fade as competitors crowd in. Thanks, Helene, for the link.

Trust and Respect, Courage and Leadership

[the last Fast Company column]

What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?

What if your spouse sold your personal information to anyone who would pay for it? If your boss promised you miraculous changes and then failed to deliver? If your co-workers refused to talk to you unless you spent half an hour on hold first?

What if the people you liked and trusted made promises to you in order to get your attention and cooperation, and then broke those promises whenever they could get away with it?

Most of us wouldn’t choose to work with people who disrespect us as much as marketers do. Most of us wouldn’t choose a career where everything we interact with is prettied up and dumbed down.

Why do we hate marketers so much?

We don’t just hate them. We ignore them. We distrust them. In fact, when a marketer actually keeps his promise to us, we’re so surprised we tell everyone we know.

I got a call yesterday from a company that wanted to “confirm my order”. When I returned the call, I discovered that there was no confirming… it was just a come-on from a company I had never heard from to sell me something new.

Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. We substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law. Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.

As businesses have become commodities, many of them have decided that respect is the first thing they can no longer afford. If you’ve ever been herded onto a cattlecar airline, or put on interminable hold by a cell phone company, you know the feeling. One telcom executive confided in me last week, “after we sell you an account, we never ever want to hear from you again. If we hear from you, it’s bad news.” Hey, it’s just business.

The few successful marketers we hear about again and again (we hear about them so often, they seem trite) are all on our short list because they still show their customers respect. Apple, “Frasier” (the long-running TV show), the Ritz Carlton, Linux—none of them talk down to their audience.

The magic kicks in when marketers are smart enough and brave enough to combine trust with respect. When a marketer doesn’t frisk you on the way out of a retail establishment, or trusts you to make intelligent decisions, you remember it. The number of companies that keep promises to their customers, respect their intelligence and keep their promises, alas, is quite tiny.

Of course, this means that a huge opportunity exists. It means that if you seek the very best slice of the market (the individuals and companies that can spend money—wisely—on new things) you’ll likely do best if you eschew trickery and misdirection and pandering and instead focus on customers that will embrace a realistic and honest approach to doing business. RULE ONE: Smart marketers treat their customers like respected colleagues and admired family members.

The ironic thing is this: at the same time that marketers have coarsened commercial relationships, they’ve spread their ethical mantra (or lack of one) to individuals as well. At the start if this column, I asked, “What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?” Well, in many cases, it turns out that they do.

Now, apparently, it’s okay if a company reneges on a pension commitment. Now, if the contract doesn’t specifically spell out how one company will treat another, it’s okay to rip the other off as long as there’s a loophole. Now, apparently, it’s quite alright to treat your friends and colleagues the same way a marketer treats his prospects.

If an organization makes a promise, then keeps it, delight kicks in. If a manager or an employee or a co-worker takes an extra minute or jumps through an extra hoop to honor a commitment to you, it’s something you’ll remember for a long time—precisely because it’s such a rare occurrence.

So there’s the real opportunity… to follow in the footsteps of the great marketers by reclaiming the interactions that used to be commonplace. Have the courage to make promises and keep them. Do more than you promised, not what the contract says. Assume your colleagues are smart, and show leadership by respecting their work as if it were your own. RULE TWO: Treat your colleagues the way a smart marketer would. With respect. And keep your promises.

So long to Fast Company

It's hard to believe, but a lot more than five years ago, I met Bill Taylor and Alan Webber and my life changed (for the better!)

Since then, I've written more columns (and possibly more pages) for Fast Company magazine than anyone else. I've been thrilled and pleased by the terrific response I've received from the magazine's readers--thank you.

Most especially, thanks to Alan and Bill for their insight, their guidance and their commitment to the original vision of the magazine. I think it really did change the world.

I wish John Byrne and his staff the best of luck--it's still an important, vibrant publication that matters.

More on woot

Jason McCabe Calacanis reports on the relationship between and Engadget -
, a neat blog of cool, you guessed it, gadgets.

Obviously, the people who read engadget are big time nerds and high-tech fashion sneezers. The blog has permission to talk to people and authority when they recommend something. The big spike in Woot’s traffic happened in September when engadget moved from putting just "go check out woot" on their site to actually putting the product of the day on the engadget page. So, the blog is trusted, but not too much. People wanted to see if it was worth the click.

Jason reports that next Woot is going to give a five minute jump on the deal of the day. So, at 11:55 you can get a secret link from to woot, which actually will make a difference, he says, because some of their products sell out in the first couple of minutes.

Going first is a free prize. For sure.

A modest customer service proposal

So, the trend is pretty clear: move your customer support operations offshore to cut costs. After all, customer service is a cost, not a profit center, and if you can cut those costs, you win.

I can do that one better.

Just spent the last few days on the phone with HP, Creative and Maytag. Infuriating. Difficult. Time-consuming. In two cases, I "won" the discussion, but of course, both of us lost. In the other, they won, I gave up and don't expect to return any time soon.

Here's the plan:

Someone starts a service designed to cut customer service costs close to zero. The way it works: a computerized operation, totally turnkey, located on some desolate island with very low wages and very little English. Any firm with a customer service 'problem' can hire them--they can handle dozens of clients at once. The extremely polite operators answer with the name of the firm and use a database to keep track of all the information they receive. They keep people on hold for as long as possible (but not a moment longer) and then transfer them to someone else.

The goal is make the customer feel as though the operators are doing their best, but of course, to never actually DO anything. Keep track of the conversations and the record numbers. Keep transferring people. Promise to call back, never do. Sooner or later, the customer gives up and walks away. (If the firm does their job right, the customer blames himself, at least a little bit, for not being more patient.)

End result? Not only are operator costs saved, but you don't even have to fix any products!

Are the cameras on?

Here's a Chinese news service covering a British dad dressed in an American costume breaking into a world famous palace. :: Xinhuanet - English ::


It's all marketing... if marketing is defined as doing something that helps your ideas spread. From Palestinians who schedule protests for the convenience of cameramen to cameramen who create their own protests, the very techniques pioneered by PR folks are now fair game for everyone.

You've seen this before, no doubt


But still worth commenting on.

Woot goes all the way to the edge in that they sell just one product a day. This is extreme (about a millionth the size of Amazon) and very effective in attracting your interesting and spreading the word. What could be good enough or cheap enough to be the only product of the day?

The second thing they do that's neat is that they support RSS. Which means you don't have to remember to go there every day. You can subscribe. I love subscription-based businesses.


Here: No. 17 is the entire website for the hottest design firm in New York City.

That's the whole site. And they're turning away business.


What would happen if you did better work and less marketing?

One more thought about the echo chamber

If you're defining yourself and your business in terms of your competition, you're living in the echo chamber. Companies and organizations don't grow fast at the expense of existing competitors. They grow fast for reasons that have nothing whatever to do with whether your service is 5% better or your product is a little more convenient.

You don't beat McKinsey with better consulting advice, you don't raise more money than the United Way by spending it more efficiently, and you don't sell more widgets with a slightly longer guarantee.

The echo chamber (part 2)

Ask an undecided voter who Dan Quayle is and more than half have no clue. Ask them who Zell Miller is and the number drops into the single digits. (think about this for a second... how out of the loop do you need to be to be an undecided voter anyway?)

Yet, if the pundits on television are to be believed, what Zell Miller has to say is vitally important. Same with Dick Gephardt or John Edwards' wife.

The pundits are there to spin for the people already in the echo chamber. They stick to their talking points and they busily keep score, just like the baseball fanatics with their box scores. But it really doesn't matter and the networks are doing us a disservice by not featuring someone who can talk about the way the ideas spread, as opposed to what the ideas themselves mean to the insiders.

Howard Dean caused millions of words to be spilled while most people still had no idea who he was. Then, the moment with the very least amount of content (his famous scream) leaked out through the chamber and reached the public. And the rest didn't matter one bit. What mattered was the idea that ultimately spread.

So, what does this have to do with you? Well, instead of worrying about the finest details of your competiton and our offering and your media buys, what really matters is this: who's going to talk about you? What are they going to say?

Your prospects are just like the undecided voters. They are woefully uninformed, extremely difficult to contact and very prone to quick judgments and first impressions.

We don't need Mary Matalin. We need Malcolm Gladwell.

The echo chamber (part 1)

Have you ever been to a trade show? I've been to a bunch... mostly consumer electronics and books, but lately, a whole host of others. At every trade show, there's a buzz about a few products or services. Industry scandals or breakthroughs or some new product that gets everyone excited.

What's extraordinary is the huge disconnect about what people in the industry care about and what the public cares about.

Lots of insiders cared about the Tivo. They were astonished by some book or other. Amazed by a new pricing scheme launched by an industry leading consulting firm.

And no one in the marketplace cared.

It's easy to get confused about what reverbates inside and what leaks out and spreads to the rest of the world. It's easy to start cycling faster and faster on the inside the chamber It's easy to spend a huge amount of time and money worrying about what the industry thinks or what features to add or what to charge. And then, after you've spent all that time, nobody notices.

Just a reminder that the second order effects (what leaks) is a lot more important than what you hear around the water cooler.

The last Dobbs Ferry Seminar

Some of you have heard about the Seminars in my office. It's a dump, but a charming one. I have eight slots left for September 22 (click above for details). After that, I'm moving my office to a (much) smaller space, and that's that.

« August 2004 | Main | October 2004 »