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

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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




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Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.



Permission Marketing

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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

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Small is the New Big

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Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).




The Big Moo

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The Big Red Fez

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The Dip

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The Icarus Deception

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

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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?

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

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« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

But the focus group loved it

John writes in and wants to know why I don't think much of focus groups.

A properly run focus group is great. The purpose? To help you focus.

Not to find out if an idea is any good. Not to get the data you need to sell your boss on an idea.


Focus groups are very bad at that. Groupthink is a problem, for one. Second, you've got a weird cross section of largely self-selected people, the kind of people willing to sit in a room with bad lighting to make a few bucks.

What focus groups can do for you is give you a visceral, personal, unscientific reaction to little brainstorms. They can help you push something farther and farther to see what grabs people. But the goal isn't to do a vote or a census. Any time your focus group results include percentages, you've wasted an afternoon.

What to write

...when you don't know what to write.

Ads are expensive. Full page color ads, especially so. So are landing pages, when you count the cost of the traffic.

So, here's one, an insert in my New York Times from Alyse Myers, SVP of the NY Times.

Dear New York Times Subscriber,

You've probably heard about our great new rewards program called TimesPoints. This free program gives you exciting new opportunities to ...

and on and on for five paragraphs.

Or, this one from Wilson Audio, which sells $50,000 stereo speakers. From the top:

of tweeters and truth

There isn't a marketer alive, who, when asked what they most desire, won't tell you: a simple message.

I'm not making this up. I would reprint the entire ad but you would have to flee in pain. Here's the last line:

To say that our new speaker is worthy of your attention because it boasts this or that tweeter would be, at the very least, a half truth. And that's the whole truth.


If you don't know what to say, don't say anything.

If you don't have an ad worth reading and acting upon, don't run it.

But I like the sticky floors

Mcds Alex Krupp asks about the McDonald's redesign.

Sure looks like Starbucks. Will it work?

The other day, I walked into a Dunkin Donuts to buy a friend a muffin. There, in the center of the store, were six or eight seniors, clearly having been there for at least an hour. They were sitting in those classic DD plastic chairs, the kind that don't move, and they were really enjoying themselves.

They had plenty of options, options that were virtually the same price or possibly even cheaper, but they like it there. Because that's how it's always been.

The challenge McDonald's faces is not to be like Starbucks. Why? Because Starbucks is already like Starbucks. The challenge is to to tell a story to the existing McDonald's fan, a story that combines fresh and comfortable with the stuff they've always liked and trusted (the place is cheap, and it feels cheap, which makes it easier to bring the baseball team...)

The question, and I don't know the answer, is how does a regular feel when she steps into the new store? Better? Worse? Good enough to bring a friend next time?

Good for them for trying something. Now, if they test and measure, we'll see...

yolks are to eggs as mice are to...

okay, some people don't like analogies.

I was deep into conversation with someone the other day. He was smart, well informed and totally lost as I tried to explain something to him.

I realized that every single time I used an analogy, he didn't "get it." Instead, he started talking about the example in the analogy instead of the concept I was trying to get across.

Fortunately, I realized it and switched gears. The conversation was saved.

Marketing, at its core, is about teaching somebody something that they didn't know. More and more often, we use analogies to teach abstract concepts to prospects. It's essential to remember that some people aren't wired that way. Yes, your shampoo may be as fresh as a daisy, but if I don't think that way and I don't like daisies...

The tiny whiteboard seminar

The June 1 seminar is now ready for signups. First come, first served, 12 slots. Seminars: The tiny whiteboard seminar.

I'll post the other seminar next week. Hope to see you there.

CRM is dead

It might be more than just semantics. Disney Destinations Marketing has a new department:

Customer Managed Relationships

Here's the quote from them that Tim shared with me, "CMR is our version of CRM - just a slight nuance regarding our philosophy that our guests invite us into their lives and ultimately manage our presence/relationship with them."

Did I say that?

Pretty good interview about recruiting and HR: Recruiters Hawking Dead-End Jobs May Want to Quit - Articles - ERE.

bad news

Status2 But first, the good news. Wendy shares the following note from LLBean:

Dear Customer,

During a recent visit to, you indicated that you'd like to receive email updates on products, sales and special offers. Because you previously expressed a preference not to receive our Email Newsletter, we want to ensure that it is welcome in your home.

Please confirm that you would like to subscribe to the Email Newsletter, either by replying to this email at or by clicking the link below. Thank you in advance for your response.

And then Mike takes us right back down and sends us the photo above. What about you, are you "non elite"?

Lumpy curves

Jay Grieves points out that average is a little deceptive.

Outliers can change everything. One Bill Gates raises the average net worth of people at a conference by a whole bunch. Or as Zig Ziglar says, one foot in ice water and one foot in nearly boiling water means that on average, you're just fine.

The secret of thinking about average is to pick the right group. When you have a true bell curve, then you can start to figure out which slice you want.

Winning by telling the truth

Authentic storytelling, the lie that works best. Steve Strucely points us to: Nearly All Sodas Sales to Schools to End - Yahoo! News. What do the distributors get? Well, for starters, they make more money on a bottle of water than a Coke. Second, and far better, is they earn the goodwill and trust of an entire generation.


Okay, it's true. In every category, in every profession, half the people are below average.

This matters to marketers.

It matters because if you expect your customers to be smarter than average, you've just lost half the potential market. It matters because if succeeding in a project requires exceptional effort, you better realize that not just any team member is going to make it work--actually less than half of the pool might.

Same with the consultants, designers and yes, lawyers that you hire.

Mass marketing works best when it assumes that everybody in the entire chain is just plain average. Or even a little bit less. Sorry to lower your expectations.

Niche marketing, on the other hand, can thrive if it starts with the assumption that average products by average people for average people is just not your thing. Remember, though, that your sales expectations have to be in line with your niche mantra. Be picky. Make great stuff. Work with amazing people. Just don't expect everyone to love what you do.

Closed, for your convenience

Office_hours Bill S. sends us this great example of misguided customer "service."

Heal thyself

Why Don't Ad Agencies Advertise? from Simon Sinek.

Save the date: upcoming seminars

I'll announce all the details next week, but I wanted to give you some advance notice. I'll be doing a very small group whiteboard session in my office outside of NY on June 1, and a session for a slightly larger group in NYC on June 15th. Thanks to everyone who has written to cajole me into doing these. More soon.


Michael Dell could leave tomorrow and his company would do just fine.

Lee Raymond, retiring from ExxonMobil with $400 million, won't affect the company much at all by leaving. (They might not even notice the missing cash...)

If Jeff Jarvis quit, though, all his readers and clients would notice. Immediately. He's indispensable.

Before Tom Peters wrote The Brand Called You with Alan Webber at Fast Company, the idea that a single person would be much more than a convenient public face was considered a little nutty. Successful companies were big companies, big companies had assets and people were cogs.

Sure, there were the Lee Iacoccas and Victor Kiams and Frank Perdues, but generally, successful marketing and entrepreneurship was defined as building an enterprise bigger than you, an organization which made money while you slept, a company where you were, ahem, dispensable.

Five years later, it seems to have sort of snuck up on us. Now, there are tens of thousands of people out there where being "that" person is the career, is the business, is the next job. Not just micropreneurs and freelancers... but employees and experts and programmers as well.

What would it take to make yourself indispensable? Do you even want to be?

Tech issues

Apologies, but we've got some IE issues with the blog. Our fault, sorry. We're working on it.

For those ready to switch, I can vouch for the improvement Firefox will give you. Quick and easy.

Please go away (angry)

If you've got more than one person in your organization, you probably have a policy or two.

And those policies have certainly made someone angry. Now what?

Yesterday, I ran into one of those policies at the cell phone store. Try as I might, I couldn't get the clerk or his manager to see how ridiculous the policy was, or get them to show any ability to work with me on it.

So, the company gave me the following choices:
a. admit that you are wrong and we are right and do business with us on our terms no matter how much it annoys you.

b. decide that compromising your principles or the way you want to do business isn't worth it, decide that we are pathetic morons and leave angry.

Why would you only give your team these two options when dealing with prospects and customers?

The obvious answer is a lot more flexibility in the front line. But of course, that's tricky and expensive and sometimes impossible. I think, though, that there's an easier piece of first aid that every organization ought to install. It costs very little and it gives you another chance.

Give the team one more form. And here are the instructions:

When a customer is really upset about a policy or a procedure or something we did, and the only alternative appears to be telling them to go away angry, pull out this form. Explain (only if it's true) that you are disappointed that they're upset. Explain (if it's true) that you agree that the policy is stupid and doesn't make sense in their case.

Then, working as a team, write up the situation. Work WITH them, egging them on. Get all the details on this form, let them explain to you and to themselves what the problem is. Get their contact info.

When you're done, thank them for helping you (it's true, they are helping you!), then fax the form to the CEOs direct fax number.

No, the person won't get satisfied that minute. But they won't leave angry, either.

That and you just might get rid of a few policies and save a few customers.

« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »