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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


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

« April 2005 | Main | June 2005 »

Search is lousy

Two years from now, people are going look back at Google and Yahoo and marvel at just how primitive they were.

A quick glance at a new search engine (Exalead) demonstrates that while it's a long long way from perfect, the areas where existing engines can get better are legion.

Do you know Rich...

Apparently, the ellipsis is part of his name.

Anyway, the blog book tour continues on his site: "Hello_World": Business Blog Book Tour: Seth "Pinocchio" Godin. The rest of his stuff is worth a read as well.

The Marketplace Radio Interview

Try not to operate heavy machinery while listening.  Welcome to Marketplace.

The Placebo Affect*

PillEverybody already knows how powerful the brain is. Take a sugar pill that’s supposed to be a powerful medicine and watch your symptoms disappear. Have a surgeon not perform bypass surgery on your heart (link.) and discover that the angina that has been crippling you vanishes.

The placebo effect is not just for sick people anymore.

Why do some ideas have more currency than others? Because we believe they should. When Chris Anderson or Malcolm Gladwell writes about something, it’s a better idea because they wrote about it.

Even as your culture of ideas and marketing enters its long-tail, open-source, low-barrier, everyone-has-a-blog era of mass publication, we still need filters. Would your iPod sound as sweet if everyone else had a Rio? Would your Manolo Blahniks be as cool if everyone else were wearing Keds?

Arthur Anderson audited thousands of companies, and those audits gave us confidence in those companies, made them appear more solid, which, not surprisingly, made them more solid. Then, post Enron, the placebo effect disappeared. Same companies, same auditors, but suddenly those companies appeared LESS solid, which made them less solid.

The magic of the placebo effect lies in the fact that you can’t do it to yourself. You need an accomplice. Someone in authority who will voluntarily tell you a story.

That’s what marketers do. We have the  “placebo affect.” (* The knack for creating placebos.) Of course, we need to persuade ourselves that it’s morally and ethically and financially okay to  participate in something as unmeasurable as the placebo effect. The effect is controversial and it goes largely unspoken. Very rarely do we come to meetings and say, “well, here’s our cool new PBX for Fortune 1000 companies. It’s exactly the same as the last model, except the phones are designed by frog design so they’re cooler and more approachable and people are more likely to invest a few minutes in learning how to use them, so customer satisfaction will go up and we’ll sell more, even though it’s precisely the same technology we were selling yesterday.”

Very rarely do vodka marketers tell the truth and say, “here’s our new vodka, which we buy in bulk from the same distillery that produces vodka for $8 a bottle. Ours is going to cost $35 a bottle and come in a really, really nice bottle and our ads will persuade laddies that this will help them in the dating department… nudge, nudge, know what I mean, nudge, nudge…”

It would be surprising to meet a monk or a talmudic scholar or a minister who would say, “yes, we burn the incense or turn down the lights or ring these bells or light these candles as a way of creating a room where people are more likely to believe in their prayers,” but of course that’s exactly what they’re doing. (and you know what? there's nothing wrong with that.)

It’s easier to get people to come to a meeting about clock speed and warranty failure analysis than it is to have a session about storytelling.

We don’t like to admit that we tell stories, that we’re in the placebo business. Instead, we tell ourselves about features and benefits as a way to rationalize our desire to to help our customers by allowing them to lie to themselves.

The design of your blog or your package or your outfit is nothing but an affect designed to create the placebo effect. The sound Dasani water makes when you open the bottle is more of the same. It’s all storytelling. It’s all lies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In fact, your marketplace insists on it.

We need immediate action!

Will the night sky be filled with giant billboards soon?

JT Hoagland points us to...  FAA wants to ensure no ads in space, preserve dark night sky - May. 19, 2005.

Government: No billboards in space. FAA says it lacks authority to enforce existing law prohibiting 'obtrusive' ads in zero gravity.

If you have a review

Amazon is now willing to let you post it (finally).

Feel free... Link: Books: All Marketers Are Liars : The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World.

Thanks for making this one a bestseller. And for the very nice words you've been e-mailing over. I appreciate it.

The book tour comes to a blog near you

You really need to check out Brand Autopsy.

Not only is it flattering to be taken apart and then put back together by these guys, but they're seeing things I never saw and are delivering an enormous amount of value about the new book.

My favorite are the "shorten" links. You'll see. Go read it.

$17 billion a year

Do you have a lawn?

You know, the wasteful green expanse in front of your house... that kind of lawn.

It turns out that lawns were virtually unknown in the USA until after 1850, and were invented in the UK not too long before this.

The reason for a lawn? To demonstrate wastefulness. A lawn tells your neighbors you can afford to waste land, waste water and have a team of servants to keep it all pretty (History of Lawns In America.)

The marketing of lawns is true marketing. Not interruptive clever ads, but an idea that spreads and sticks. Just like Starbucks. Or e-mail. The challenge facing industries and organizations is to create ideas that have the marketing built in.

You don't have a front lawn so your kids can practice soccer. You have one so your spouse won't yell at you for embarrassing the family in front of the neighbors.

Happy mowing.

share of wallet

The brilliant Jerry Shereshewsky at Yahoo! chimes in with another riff about the Bowling Green orchestra. "Music isn't a centrality in their lives, although it probably once was.  The orchestra can extend their relationship, increase their perceived value and get lots of word of mouth (not to mention a few bucks too) by sharing programming thoughts (aka playlists) for their greater audience.  If you like this concert, here's some other stuff you would love.  Send them to an affiliate link to buy or download."

In other words, share of wallet, not share of market.

A letter from Kentucky

Jeff Reed writes,

I am the music director of an orchestra that is entering its sixth season, which is located in a town of 50,000 people.  Our budget was about $15,000 the first season and it will be nearly $500,000 this season.  We have always had balanced budgets and will finish this season (ends July 1) with about a $20,000 surplus.  This is happening at a time when many orchestras have ended in bankruptcy or are finishing with large deficits.  I owe much of our success to you.

Having read several studies on why orchestras are failing, I have learned (which came as no surprise), that people these days don't want to hear one type of music (which is what orchestras usually offer-only classical) and that audiences get bored without a visual element in a concert (merely watching the musicians isn't enough).

To respond to these studies, we created what we think is a purple cow:  an orchestra that programs Beethoven and the Beatles on the same concert (usually, orchestras perform only "serious" music on one concert and have a pops orchestra to do the "light" stuff--they usually use two different orchestra names, even though the same musicians do both concerts!).  All of our concerts are centered around themes which tie the various musical styles together, often with an added visual element on a screen above the orchestra. For example, we did "That '20s Show" which featured "serious" music from the 1920's by Shostakovich, a commissioned film score to accompany a silent film (the orchestra played the score while the audience watched the film on a screen above the orchestra), and popular songs by George and Ira Gershwin.   We did a bluegrass concert that featured Copland's "Appalachian Spring," standards performed by a Bluegrass band, and a new composition for bluegrass band and orchestra.

I don't know how remarkable all of this is nationally or internationally, but it is certainly working in Bowling Green, KY.  Our audiences have grown from 100 the first season to an average of 800 this past season (some concerts sell as many as 2,000 tickets).

I just finished reading "All Marketers Are Liars."  My question is:  what story are we telling or should we be telling?  It seems like we are telling quite a few, for example: (1) orchestras don't have to be boring (which deals with a common perception); (2) We think outside the Bachs (sorry for the pun), which seems to make people feel good about the fact that they want to hear several different types of music and that they aren't stupid if they get bored listening to some classical music.  All of our season themes are along those lines:  Anything Goes, Thinking Outside the Bachs, Bluegrass to Baroque, etc.

I thought it would be fun to answer Jeff's questions on the blog... The fact is, he's already 99% of the way there (through no fault of mine!)

Most orchestras are run by people who are focused on the "truth" of what they do. They are performing the canon, doing it with skill and passion. They offer their community the best of what they are able to produce, and hope that those that are intelligent and genteel enough appreciate what they have to offer. If people don't come, it's some sort of commentary on the declining state of our culture, not, in their view, a reflection of the story they're telling.

Every once in a while, a traditional orchestra decides to go slumming to raise money. They program a Pops concert or bring in PDQ Bach. The problem with this is that they're still talking to the very people they always talk to, so it's not enough. That, and because it's seen as an extra, a lesser task, few orchestras really get very good at this sort of programming.

Jeff, on the other hand, has figured out a totally different way to look at the situation. It starts by understanding worldview. There is certainly a tiny population in Bowling Green that walks around with the worldview, "I love traditional classical music and will pay to see it live." These people would be an easy sale, but there are very very few of them.

There's a much larger group that has a worldview that says, "I'm interested in live music and enjoy an evening out. I want to do something fun and something that doesn't make me bored or feel stupid." These people are the kind of people who read movie reviews and movie ads--not because they have to, but because they want to. They are the kind of people who don't skip over the entertainment section of their local paper.

In walks Jeff's group with a simple story, well told. "We're not slumming, we don't look down on you and we're here to have fun, too." By taking advantage of clever programming, slide shows and other non-traditional techniques, Jeff is busy putting on a show--a show that people want to hear.

I don't think Jeff needs help telling his story. The challenge is now to make it easy for people to tell that story to their friends. I'd obsess about getting permission from my fans (via email, or a traditional newsletter) and then deliver regularly news to them that's easy to spread. I'd offer "bring a friend" evenings and discounts, and start programming in venues outside of the traditional theatre.

The takeaway here is that if your target audience isn't listening, it's not their fault, it's yours. If one story isn't working, change what you do, not how loudly you yell (or whine). Nice work, Jeff.

« April 2005 | Main | June 2005 »