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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

« July 2005 | Main | September 2005 »


There are two ways to catch a plane. The first, which happens to be the most common, is to leave on time, do your best to park nearby, repeatedly glance at your watch, and then start moving faster and faster. By the time you get to security, you realize that you're quite late, so you cut the line ("My plane leaves in 10 minutes!" you shout). You walk fast. As you get closer to your gate, you realize that walking fast isn't going to work, so you start to jog. Three gates away, you break into a run, and if you're lucky, you barely make the flight.

The second way is to leave for the airport 10 minutes early.

The easiest way to deal with change and with all the anxieties that go with it is not to deal with it at all. The easiest thing to do is to allow the urgency of the situation to force us to make the decisions (or take the actions) that we'd rather not take. Why? Because then we don't have to take responsibility for what happens. The situation is at fault, not us. The beauty of the asymptotic curve is that at every step along the way, running ever faster for the plane is totally justified. The closer we get, the more we've invested ourselves. The more we invest in making our flight, the easier it is to justify running like a lunatic to make it.

Years ago, I published a directory of law firms. No fewer than 70% of the firms sent their payment the night before it was due, by FedEx. Eight of the firms sent their payment by messenger--at an expense that was equal to about 10% of the entire cost of their listing. Obviously, there was no need to waste all that money. Law firms spend millions every year on last-minute deliveries because, like most of us, they confuse urgent with important.

Urgent issues are easy to address. They are the ones that get everyone in the room for the final go-ahead. They are the ones we need to decide on right now, before it's too late.

How can you tell if you're too obsessed with urgent?

Do senior people at your company refuse to involve themselves in decisions until the last minute?

Do meetings regularly get canceled because something else came up?

Is waiting until the last minute the easiest way to get a final decision from your peers?

Smart organizations ignore the urgent. Smart organizations understand that important issues are the ones to deal with. If you focus on the important stuff, the urgent will take care of itself.

A key corollary to this principle is the idea that if you don't have the time to do it right, there's no way in the world you'll find the time to do it over. Too often, we use the urgent as an excuse for shoddy work or sloppy decision-making. A quick look at Washington politics (under any administration) is an easy way to understand how common this crutch is. No responsible business (or diligent family) would spend money and resources the way our government does when faced with an "emergency." Urgent is not an excuse. In fact, urgent is often an indictment--a sure sign that you've been putting off the important stuff until it mushrooms out of control.

The most important idea of all is this one: You will succeed in the face of change when you make the difficult decisions first. It's easy to justify running for your plane when it's leaving in two minutes and you're only five gates away. It's much harder to justify waking up 10 minutes early to avoid the problem altogether. Alas, waking up early is the efficient, effective way to deal with the challenge. Waking up earlier may seem foolish to the person lying in bed next to you, but when you enjoy the benefits of a pleasant stroll to the gate, you realize that your difficult decision was a good one.

Organizations manage to justify draconian measures--laying people off, declaring bankruptcy, stiffing their suppliers, and closing stores--by pointing out the urgency of the situation. They refuse to make the difficult decisions when the difficult decisions are cheap. They don't want to expend the effort to respond to their competition or fire the intransigent VP of development. Instead, they focus on the events that are urgent at that moment and let the important stuff slide.

A quick look at the gradually failing airlines, retailers, and restaurant chains we all know about confirms this analysis. They're all content to worry about today's emergency, setting the stage for tomorrow's disaster. Better, I think, to wake up 10 minutes early, make some difficult decisions before breakfast, and enjoy the rest of your day.

(Thanks to Rick Terrien for pointing me to this article. I wrote it more than a year ago in Fast Company, then things got urgent...)


We're all clueless. That's the best word I can use to describe the state of the art of marketing.

Three examples:

I'm at the supermarket yesterday. I run into my friend John, not someone I often see at the Food Emporium. John has a list. Standard grocery list, "here honey, please go out and get this..." But John wants to show me something on the list. It says,
1 woman's razor that matches our bathroom.

Wow. Gillette has been making razors for almost a hundred years, and you wonder how many hours and how much money they've spent trying to answer that want... probably .0001% of what they spend on blade technology.

Then, this morning, I head to the bank. Poor guy is arguing with the "customer service manager". The problem? He had $4 in his checking account as he was waiting to close it. The bank charged him a monthly $5 service fee. The fee bounced. Then they charged him $30 for bouncing the fee on an inactive account.

The manager was trying to explain the policy, but the bottom line is that all the real estate, all the ads, all the marble, all the computers... all wasted... because they were enraging the guy. Over $4.

And finally, leaving the bank, I saw the most amazing interaction (yes, this is true.) A woman is first in line. She's withdrawing $1,000 from her account. The teller pushes away from the desk and goes and gets her signature card (this is a neighborhood bank) to match it against the woman's signature on the withdrawal slip.

The customer tells me that:
1. the teller has been working there for twenty years.
2. the customer comes in at least once a week.
3. they always check her signature
and, ready for this...
4. she's been a customer at this bank for seventy years. I am not making this up. She is very proud that she's nearly (nearly!) their longest-serving customer. The account is more than seventy years old. And they check her signature.


Marketing is now officially about wants, not needs. That's what Liars is about and what your entire day should be about. Your church, your company, your restaurant, your blog. Doesn't matter. Give me what I want or I'm out of here.

Will you help us?

Moocoverlittle_1In eight weeks, my last traditional book project hits the street.

I have 32 co-authors this time and 100% of our royalties go to charity.

This time, we're shooting for the big time. And we need your help.

The book is called: The Big Moo by The Group of 33. Our goal is to sell a million copies before the end of the year and to raise millions for three worthy charities. Our bigger goal is to transform thousands of organizations--corporations, non-profits, community groups, whatever.

Here's where you come in.

I've found that most business books don't get bought. Those that do, don't get read. Those that do, make a difference, but only for those that read them. Every once in a while, a business book breaks through because organizations buy it by the truckoad. When a group buys 100 or 1,000 copies of a book, it gets talked about. It becomes a touchstone, something that people can refer to, use as a shorthand and take as a common foundation.

When I pitched Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki, April Armstrong, Julie Anixter, Marcia Hart and dozens of other big thinkers on contributing to a book that was designed to change the way organizations dealt with being remarkable, they all said yes. No hesitation, just yes.

Now it's your turn to say, "yes."

For the first time that I'm aware of, we're selling the galleys to a book. The galley is the very expensive pre-publication not-quite-paperback version of a hardcover book. The galley is created to give reviewers a chance to read the book before everyone else. I persuaded my publisher to print 10,000 galleys, a huge number. And we're selling them at cost.

Here's the catch: I only want to sell the galleys (50 at a time) to people who will give them to people who will buy a lot of the $15 hardcover. (Sell isn't really accurate. The fine print is that we're actually giving them away, but you need to spend $100 on postage and handling to get them... we promise to handle them very carefully.)

That's complicated, so I'll type it slowly:

I only want to give the 50 pack of galleys ($2 a copy s&h) to people who will turn around and give galleys to people in organizations with the will and the ability to pre-order a dozen or more copies of the final hardcover.

This means that if you buy a bunch of galleys and give them to people who don't do anything, you've killed the project and turned me into a publishing pariah.

If, on the other hand, I'm right and every galley turns into 10 or a hundred pre-sales, we just hit a home run.

So, there's only 100 or so sets of these galleys left (my co-authors bought most of them to distribute) so I apologize in advance if Jack at 800 CEO READ runs out. If he does, don't despair... just pre-order the hardcover. Not for me, for you. For you and your organization and your friends and our charities.

Here's that address again: The Big Moo by The Group of 33.* Please don't order a set unless you know the right sneezers/connectors/influencers. And thanks.

*At the site above, you can order galleys, pre-order the hardcover from various sites, see the bios of the authors and read about our charities. (Did I mention that Hugh Macleod is doing the illustrations?)

The problem with lawyers (part of an ongoing series)

This site featuring cheesy furniture (FedexFurniture.Com) would have essentially no traffic--except for the fact that Fedex sent a cease and desist letter and claimed it violated the DCMA (that and Kinko's refused to print cards for the site's owner, because, of course, they're owned by Fedex!)

No, it probably won't hurt Fedex's business, but it's sure not worth the hassle, is it?

Let's just say the unlikely happens

And Hollywood and the music guys manage to sue the users and organizers of online file sharing out of business. Let's imagine that against all odds, you can't find copyrighted stuff online any more.

If that happens, sites like ibiblio - Sights and Sounds begin to do better and better. Here's hours and hours of stuff for free.

Now what you end up with paid online radio and free online radio. Paid online video and free online video.

At first, the paid stuff is good and the free stuff is less good.

But soon, producers seeking an audience start to make their stuff free. Because when they do, the audience goes up 100x.

And then, in order to compete, others do the same thing. Wouldn't you if you had a touring band? Wouldn't you if you had already exhausted your DVD sales and wanted a big enough audience for your sequel?

And then, of course, we end up where we sort of are today.


The voice on the answering machine at the big fancy "customer-centric" company said (italics are theirs, not mine),

We guarantee a member of senior management will call you back as soon as possible.

and the spokesperson for the huge corporate lobbying organization assured us that, "we have very strict guidelines for members."

and of course, the box in the supermarket said FREE with purchase.

Naturally, none of these sentences mean what they appear to mean. And I think that people have finally figured that out. Nobody really guarantees the weather will be good... what are they going to do, give you your day back?

It may very well be that the tried and true weasel technique of joining a powerful assurance with a weak, hard-to-define modifier is finally reaching the end of the road.

I can unequivocally assure you that there's a 100% certainty that weasel words are pretty close to dead.

Pseudofeatures and the Purple Cow

Abhijit Nandy points us to Guest Commentary - Killer Features vs. Pseudo Features : Gizmodo. It turns out that one reason we ignore what marketers say is that they tout stuff that's nonsense. What makes something purple is that a fellow human touts something that happens to be really and truly great.

Two kinds of writing

If you're writing for strangers, make it shorter.

Use images and tone and design and interface to make your point. Teach people gradually.

If you're writing for colleagues, make it more robust.

Be specific. Be clear. Be intellectually rigorous and leave no wiggle room.

Takeaway: the stuff you're putting online or in your blog or in your brochures or in your business letters is too long. Too much inside baseball. Too many unasked questions getting answered too soon.

Takeaway: the stuff you're sending out in your email and your memos is too vague.

Figure out which category before you put finger to keyboard!

What would Jerry do?

Articles about the Grateful Dead have the inevitable snarky headline (Jerry Garcia: The Man, the Myth, the Area Rug - New York Times) and often try to trivialize what the band accomplished, or make the case that it was a unique occurence, something that will never happen again.

Of course, this is nonsense.

More than Campbell's Soup or American Airlines or CAA or Cisco or McKinsey, the Grateful Dead is the template for how organizations are going to grow and succeed moving forward.

No, not every element of who they were and what they did, but the idea of conversations and open source, the idea of souvenirs and emotion and live events and of remarkability. The Dead sells through permission marketing, spread their music through an ideavirus and yes, as long as we're slinging buzzwords, profits from the long tail.

The most important takeaway is this: They repeatedly did things that felt like huge risks, that challenged the status quo and that seemed, on their face, to give too much power to their audience. And in those moments, the Grateful Dead were at their most successful.

Tiny cuts

The portobello mushrooms in the shrinkwrapped container seemed like a great idea. Until I got them home, unwrapped them and discovered that the bottom layer was rotten. I'm sure some produce mailer is smiling because he got rid of those mushrooms. But was it a smart decision?

Salt_1The Napa Style catalog arrived at my house today. On the cover is some overpriced artisanal salt. And the amount of salt pictured couldn't possibly fit into the container you'll receive. Of course they may be able to claim that they were just touting, but is the disappointment worth it?

Starbucks wouldn't sell me a cappucino over ice today. Instead of answering, "I don't know," to my question of why, the barrista said, "we're not allowed to because pouring the cappucino over ice causes bacteria to grow."

I love the fact Toyota is fighting with the EPA over the mileage reported on the Prius. It turns out that the way the EPA computes mileage means that the typical Prius driver will rarely or ever achieve the mileage posted. Toyota has realized that big mileage on the sticker isn't nearly as good as big word of mouth in the parking lot.

Fine print is everywhere I look. Fine print means that a lawyer has made sure that you probably won't win a lawsuit, but is the lawsuit really the point?

When did marketers fall in love with the idea of overselling and then hiding, instead of doing precisely the opposite?

« July 2005 | Main | September 2005 »