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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

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The Big Red Fez

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Tribes

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V Is For Vulnerable

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we.are.all.weird

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?

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« public service announcement | Main | The end of the cosmic jukebox »

What I learned at summer camp

My friend Tim dropped me a note, asking me if I had any tips as to where he might go to improve his public speaking. I was flattered that he asked, and then took a minute to think about where I learned how to speak in public.

Answer?  Camp Arowhon.

Wait, there's more. I also learned marketing there.

My summer camp was a marketplace (a loud one). Everyone had to do something, but what you did was up to you. So the canoeing instructor (that was me) was always struggling with the sailing instructor (that was Mike) and the others to get people to come to our dock. If no one came, you were a failure and you didn't get asked back.

I discovered that:
1. No one cared about me. They didn't care about how hard I'd trained, how little I'd slept or how much effort I was putting into my job.
2. People were rarely willing to try something new. If they'd never done it, they didn't want to start any time soon.
3. Word of mouth was electric.
4. You didn't get many chances to screw up.

The biggest and best discovery, though, was how willing people (even sullen teenagers, which if you think selling to cranky purchasing agents is hard...) are to suspend disbelief. One week, I persuaded 300 people that Paul McCartney was coming to visit, checking the place out for his daughter. It was only at the last minute, when a friend of mine, impersonating Sir Paul, fell out of the approaching motorboat and was (allegedly) mangled by the spinning rotor that people figured out that it wasn't really him.

My point, and I do have one, is that marketing is a show, a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney entertainment designed to satisfy wants, not needs. We need to take it a lot less seriously (even if we're marketing Social Security fixes or a world religion) at the same time that we take more risks. If you're not growing now, playing it safe isn't going to help you grow tomorrow.

My advice was Tim is the same advice I've got for you, whether you're speaking or running ads. Be fearless. (but wear a lifejacket.)

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What I learned at summer camp:

» Camp Marketing from brad
I never did the “Camp” thing other anizers did. But I’ve heard regularly how life-defining it can be. You think so? You’ll like to read this... [Read More]

» Being Fearless at Summer Camp from A Mountain Top

Seth Godin just put up a hilarious post about what he learned at
Summer Camp. Seth is an author, entrepreneur and agent of change. You
can find his blog here.

My [Read More]

» Being Fearless at Summer Camp from A Mountain Top

Seth Godin just put up a hilarious post about what he learned at
Summer Camp. Seth is an author, entrepreneur and agent of change. You
can find his blog here.

My [Read More]

» Reminiscing and public speaking from Write On!
Seth Godin talks about how recalling good times can bring back shared memories (and help you learn a little bit more about yourself). I would add one thought to Seth's post ... [Read More]

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