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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


An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



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

« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

So, what's wrong with small business?

Erik Severin points us to Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? The essence, I think, is that entrepreneurs think big thoughts and do big things, while small business owners settle, working their way through the day to day.

The distinction I've always made is that an entrepreneur is trying to make money while she sleeps, and does it with someone else's money! That she builds a business bigger than herself, that scales for a long time, that is about processes and markets. A small businessperson, on the other hand, is largely a freelancer with support, someone who understands the natural size of her business and wants to enjoy the craft of doing it every day.

The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are. They often make more money, take fewer risks, sleep better and build something for the ages, something they believe in and can polish and be proud of.

Growth for growth's sake makes less sense every day.

PS please don't read this as anti-entrepreneur! I'm one, and proud of it. I think I was boosting the small business side more than I was tearing down the entrepreneur side...

The Rocky Horror Blog

In my free ebook about blogs (Who's There?) I write about three kinds of blogs: cat blogs, boss blogs and blogs designed to spread ideas. Shame on me, I left out a fourth kind, a kind that is growing in popularity and influence.

Remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Some people saw the movie 10 or a hundred times. They knew the lines by heart. And audience interaction wasn't just welcome, it was almost required. Throwing toast at the screen was part of the deal.

I think we're seeing the rise of the RH blog. These are blogs with a posse, a cadre of loyal readers who participate by chat, comments or in a tightly-knit circle of blogs. The goal of the blogger is to put fuel on the fire and to keep the existing audience engaged. The ideas don't have to be new, and they don't have to spread, but the blog is a great way to create and maintain this community of fellow travelers.

Four things to remember

1. Ryan points us to Hello hello? XM's Wrong Number Fiasco - Always check the phone number and url on anything you print. Have a friend dial it, just to be sure.

2. If you have an apartment, get tenant's insurance.

3. If you ride a bike, wear a helmet


4. Don't put anything about a customer or a boss in an email or on a blog that you don't want the world to see.

Enjoy your weekend.


Most marketers have one.

Often unconsciously, we use these marketing heroes to help us make decisions. We model our decisions after the ones we think they would make. What would Richard Branson do? What would David Ogilvy do? What would my dad do?

Because marketing is as much art as science, we have to acknowledge that there are no right answers, and that there are very different approaches to a problem.

There are two big opportunities for problems. The first is alignment. When you and your boss or your colleagues have different heroes, communication and implementation is a mess. And second is picking the wrong hero for the wrong project. You can do everything right and fail because you're busy being Lester Wunderman but marketing perfume.

Off topic

My limb savior (bad shoulders) Fred's book is hovering in the top few hundred on Amazon. I talk about it on my back pain lens: How I beat my aching back. If this is irrelevant to you, congratulations! For the rest of us, hope it helps.

Ten items or less

Ian reviews the brand new Google Checkout Payment System

Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses)

Continuing in the series:

  1. Selling is hard. Harder than you may ever realize. So, if I seem stressed, cut me some slack.
  2. Selling is personal. When I make a promise, I have to keep it. If you force me to break that promise (by changing processes, features or a rollout schedule) I will never forgive you.
  3. Selling is interpersonal. I am not moving bits, I'm trying to change people's minds, one person at a time. So, no, I can't tell you when the sale will close. No one knows, especially the prospect.
  4. I love selling. I particularly love selling great stuff, well marketed. Don't let me down. Don't ask me to sell lousy stuff.
  5. I'm extremely focused on the reward half of the equation. Salespeople love to keep score, and that's how I keep score. So don't change the rules in the middle, please.
  6. I have no earthly idea what really works. I don't know if it's lunch or that powerpoint or the Christmas card I sent last year. But you know what? You have no clue what works either. I'll keep experimenting if you will.
  7. There is no comparison, NONE, between an inbound call (one that you created with marketing) and a cold call (one that you instructed me to create with a phone book.) Your job is to make it so I never need to make a cold call.
  8. Usually, customers lie when they turn me down. They make up reasons. But every once in a while, I actually learn something in the field. Ask!
  9. I know you'd like to get rid of me and just take orders on the web. But that's always going to be the low-hanging fruit. The game-changing sales, at least for now, come from real people interacting with real people.
  10. (a bonus, switching points of view for a moment): I know that selling is hard and unpredictable. But if you're going to be in sales, you've got to be prepared to measure and predict and plan. You need to give me sales reports and call lists and summaries. It does neither of us any good to keep your day a secret. If you don't plan and organize, I can't do my job of marketing.
  11. (and bonus number two): The two worst pieces of feedback you can give me (because neither is really actionable or especially effective): a. lower the price and b. make our product just like our competitors.

My seersucker suit

It's hot enough that it came out of the closet for today's speech.

It totally transformed the way people treated me. Doormen, people on the subway... in an increasingly casual age, I was sort of stunned by how easily a $99 suit changed the reaction people had.

When everyone (men, anyway) wore the same thing, it was pretty difficult to make an impact with your clothes. Today, it's a conscious choice and it matters whether you want it to or not.

PS six years ago, at Yahoo, Jerry Yang caught me wearing a suit while he was giving a tour to a bunch of hotshot visitors. He sent me home.

Why does Fred have ads on his blog?

Fred Wilson (A VC) is a good friend and a terrific guy, and you really should read his blog. My guess, without seeing his bank statement lately, is that he doesn't need the income he gets from the ads on his blog.

So why do it?

Well, I just posted on the squidblog about Squidoo's experiment with AdSense. I think there's something non-obvious going on here. Magazines are better with ads, and so are many websites.

Better? I know that Fred does his ads as an experiment/handshake with the firms he knows or is interested in. But for many sites, it turns out that sites with good ads ("Anticipated, personal and relevant" as I wrote eight years ago) actually give users more confidence and meaning.

In other words, even if you never cashed the checks from Google, you'd come out ahead. (Your mileage may vary, natch).

Jeremy Wright on the big lies

Ann Handley has a nice post here: What's the Biggest Lie About Blogging? | Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog.

Jeremy Wright had the best answer:

1. Blogging's just a fad.

2. Always maintain a hostile relationship with your audience.

3. Don't ever admit you did something wrong.

4. It's just a PR channel.

5. Don't have a personality if you're blogging for business.

6. I can't blog because I can't write.

7. Bloggers should let it all hang out.

8. Facts just get in the way of blogging.

9. Without open comments, it's not a blog anyway.

10. There are 10,000 new blogs launched every day.

11. I don't have time to blog.

12. Fast is better than right.

13. It's impossible to make money blogging.

Find the rest on Ann's post...

Black, white and grey

When I was growing up, most marketers wore a white hat.

White hat marketers have jingles. They buy TV commercials. They tell the truth about what they sell and how they sell it. They offer a money-back guarantee and honor it. They belong to the better business bureau and to the Lion's Club. White hat marketers donate money to charity because it's the right thing to do. They build long-term relationships with people and with organizations. They belong to associations. They go to trade shows and have big booths staffed with struggling models, often in bathing suits. They offer a free bonus--and clearly state what you have to do to earn it. They have a sales force that sticks around.

Lately, there have been a bunch of black hat marketers in our lives. One firm offered to put my new book on the bestseller lists--not by selling more, but by manipulating the system. Many websites manipulate the search engines to rank higher. Companies are organized around spamming people. Firms hire squads of clickers in the developing world to boost their income or to punish their competitors. They say they are giving away something but are really harvesting names. There are rings of people who trade links to influence their Alexa rankings. Squadrons of fraudsters work the eBay universe, just barely staying a step ahead of the system.

It's a slippery slope. Is it okay to vote for your site a million times in an online poll? What about encouraging your readers to vote for you a million times? Digital systems have so much leverage that sooner or later, a line gets crossed.

I worry that it's inevitable that black and white are mixing. That brands we trust send out spam, but call it a legitimate use of their privacy policy. That they hide the results of this test or that ruling because the law permits it. I worry that their webteam is under so much pressure to deliver results that just a little black hat SEO feels just fine. It's easy to shade your accounting and even easier to lie about your online presence.

Online, where a bit is a bit, where no one knows you're a dog, where a big company looks just like someone in their garage... sometimes the people who succeed the most are the ones acting the way we'd least like them to. I wonder what happens next.

Does free mean free?

People are getting very strict in how they define "free."

Patrick Hurley writes,

"Hi Seth:

So I took my two kids to the Oakland Museum today to check out the Disney exhibit.  Very informative.  Everyone liked it. 

We even got to have our picture taken in one the sailing ships from the Peter Pan ride courtesy of USA Today.  Nice touch I thought.  We were told that it would be waiting for us in my email box when we returned home.

Sure enough, there was a link (albeit in my junk folder).  I clicked on it and .................... was taken to a survey.  Sorry kids.  Instant gratification delayed.

Okay, I thought, I'm a marketer.  I can kind of understand and accept this, even though it absurdly "required" that I provide my income level and gave no option to decline.  I completed the survey and......... was taken to a page notifying me that I'd have to pay a $1 "administrative fee" to the photo fulfillment company, Foto Fetch.  That would have been a deal breaker but my kids really wanted the photo.  I tracked down my wallet for my credit card, typed in all my personal data and got the photo.

My good feelings toward USA Today after this experience -- gone.  Wiped clean.  The quid pro quo that I expected -- me receiving a photo from the good folks at USA Today in exchange for possibly having some branding on the photo frame or receiving a special subscription offer -- was instead a complete rouse. The file folder in my brain titled "USA Today" now has a sticky note on it with a sad face."  [end of story...]

On a similar note, Gil got his "free" cell phone in the mail today. He knows it's not really free, he had to sign up for a two year contract. BUT, also, just to make a few bucks, the box is stuffed with come-ons, offers and other subterfuge. Is it really worth the few cents they earn back?

Exactly how many times are you going to get tricked by a "free iPod" site?

Even when I was seven this irked me. "Mom," I'd say, "We really don't get 33% more toothpaste free... we have to buy the toothpaste in order to get it."

And finally, today I got an email from a ten-year-old girl who had read Free Prize Inside. She was complaining because there really wasn't a free prize inside the box.

The best free stuff is really and truly free. All you get in return is loyalty, consumer satisfaction and word of mouth.

Pictures work

Amy Cham sent me to the: Similarity Web.

X is for X Ray

Darren has a lens on his blog now, a very useful click magnet of resources for bloggers: A - Z of Professional Blogging.

Burning chicken entrails helps too

Several people have pointed me to: - Indian Web sites go with the flow - Jun 26, 2006.

Experts say using a combination of astrology and numerology, the ancient sciences will help you choose the right colors, font, placement of graphics and navigation bar to make the perfect Web site.

These, of course, are the very same experts who know the gender of Britney's next kid. I missed that day in school when astrology got classified as a science.

But hey, it's easier than working on the content.

Dividing by zero

Scratch When you first learned division, you were told it was against the law to divide by zero. As if something horrible would happen if you tried.

Check out the cover of this cookbook. There are way more than a million copies of the series in print. The key tagline? "Nothing is made from scratch."

Can you imagine ten years ago pitching that idea? It goes against everything a cookbook stands for. It's inconsistent. An oxymoron. You're a moron. That's like dividing by...

Oh. It worked.

The clearance bin

I love this:  Dollar Bin |

Cleaning out inventory? Making more room on the shelves?

Even in a world of unlimited inventory, humans can't resist a garage sale.

Ten things programmers might want to know about marketers

In my travels, the group that wants to know the most about marketing, and seems to know the most about marketing (except, of course, for marketers) is engineers. Software engineers and programmers, to be specific.

Why? I think it's because online marketing is particularly interesting and often allied with programming techniques. That and the fact that programmers toil long and hard and get bitter pretty quickly when some marketing dork screws up their efforts.

So, if there are ten things I'd tell you, Professor Engineer Software person, it would be this:

  1. Marketing is not rational. Programming is. Works the same way every time. Marketing doesn't, almost in a Heisenbergian way. If it worked before, it probably won't work again.
  2. Marketing is even more difficult to schedule than bug fixes. Marketing expenses are easily timed, of course, but the results are not. That's because there's a human at each end of the equation.
  3. Most marketers have no clue whatsoever what to do. So we do unoriginal things, or stall, or make promises we can't keep.
  4. Just because Sergey is both a brilliant programmer and a brilliant marketer doesn't mean that all brilliant programmers are good at marketing.
  5. People often prefer things that are inelegant, arcane or even broken. Except when they don't.
  6. Truly brilliant coding is hard to quantify, demand or predict. Same is true with marketing.
  7. There is no number seven.
  8. Unlike mediocre programmers, mediocre marketers occasionally get lucky. When they do, they end up with a success they can brag about for a generation. But that doesn't mean they know how to do it again.
  9. Just because some marketers are dorks doesn't mean your marketer is a dork. Some programmers aren't so great either. Be patient.
  10. Without marketing, all your great coding is worthless. Push your marketer to be brave and bold and remarkable. Do it every day. Your code is worth it.

Flipping the funnel down under

How a composer on the other end of the earth (at least the other end from where I am) helps customers find him: the amber theatre.

A lesson learned at the mall

Retailers that spend on real estate, win.

The most expensive real estate in my county is a mall filled with stores. And those stores are jammed with shoppers. Almost none of them fold, none of them appear to be struggling. Almost all of them are expensive.

Two blocks away, independent stores, stores that cheaped-out on their real estate investment, those guys are struggling.

Well, you're not in retail, maybe, or you're virtual, so what difference does this make to you?

Question: what's your "real estate"?

For most of us, it's people.

Expensive people are just like expensive real estate. If you invest in them, you may just find they pay off. Some businesses work as hard as they can to pay people as little as they can (witness the fights over the minimum wage). What sort of growing business wants the minimum wage? If your business is people-based, as opposed to machine-based, why wouldn't you want people who command more than the minimum?

Shiny and deep

The most successful marketers tell two stories at the same time. A shiny one and a deep one.

The shiny story is easy to notice, easy to enjoy, easy to spread.

The deep story is fascinating, worth your time. It has texture and mystery and it lasts.

Consider The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. It's more than 800 pages long. Dylan is shiny (sometimes). His songs get played on the radio or around the campfire. It's not unusual for a teenager to hear an old Dylan song for the very first time and then add it to her iPod.

But Dylan's also pretty deep. Hence the encyclopedia. Can you imagine an encyclopedia about... The Back Street Boys?

Most marketers choose to be just shiny. Deep, it seems, is way too much work.

I don’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me

Matt points us to this very fine post about context, design and the swoosh: Design Observer: writings about design & culture.

Do you have too much monoamine oxidase?

Japanese researchers diagnose neophilia, the unhealthy love of the new, so says Media Life Magazine.

I for one don't think it's organic. If it is, why does it strike computer geeks and people who live near oceans, virtually bypassing certain suburban subdivisions?

It's a great neologism, though. I wish I'd thought of it.

Thirty Thousand Pennies

I have no idea how much that weighs. A lot, I think.

You can win them all here: Squidoo Thirty Thousand: 1 to 1,000.

It's really cool to see that much stuff, edge to edge. Makes you realize just how big the web is.

Now they spam the new social news finders like Furl

Picture_14 A quick look at popurls shows that of the top 20 sites featured on Furl, more than half are spam (unless there's been a huge upswing in interest in colon cleansing and acne).

At first, the spam problem for things like Furl and Digg was about self-hype. "Hey," the poster says, "It only takes 30 people to 'Digg this' for me to see a huge traffic flow, so please, do it." But now, it's a more focused and concerted effort.

Spammers are short-sighted and selfish, and don't care what they wreck. It's the enemy of anything open. Once again, just like with email and with comments, the answer is reputation. Get rid of anonymity or at the very least, track reputation over time. When reputable people speak up, it should count for more than when a stranger does. That's the way it works in the real world, right?

[update: reputation, by the way, is not the same as a real-world ID card. It just means that your virtual identity benefits when you are consistent over time. Clark Kent has a reputation, even though he's really... Superman.]

Talking to the future

Mark Hurst makes it easy for you to talk to yourself by email... tomorrow. Good Experience - Introducing Gootodo, a bit-literate todo list.

And Brandon points us to the free app oh, don't forget....that lets you text message yourself (or a buddy) at some date in the future.

[PS I wrote this at 4:30, but arranged to have it posted near midnight. Just because I could.]

Changing everything (again)

Eder points us to this post about CPA ads from Google.

Bottom line: in addition to buying clicks from Google, you can now bid on actions. Meaning sales, or sign ups. An action is worth 100 or 1,000 times as much as a click, so this means that a huge amount of the marketing risk is being transferred from the advertiser to Google or the affiliate.

A thoughtful profit-maximizer would buy every single bit of available inventory. Why not?

The challenge is thus on inventory. With such a low production rate (only one in ten thousand or a hundred thousand impressions pay off), the ads are more like lottery tickets for a typical website. The next step will be landing pages that are optimized for these actions. Example: company X does a bad job converting, so they start buying CPA ads. They pay, say, $100 an action. But media company Y figures out an efficient way to convert people. So they build pages that do this for say $50 each. They can scale and make money all day long being in company x's business... without the pesky overhead.

Should happen pretty quickly.

Time to quit?

The Cowen Group reminds me of this piece I wrote about five years ago:

I just got back from lunch with my friend Doug Jacobs.

Doug just got another promotion. He works for a software company in Indiana, and over the last 14 years, he's had a wide range of jobs. For the first seven or eight years, Doug was in business development and sales. He handled the Microsoft account for a while, flying to Redmond, Washington, every six weeks or so. It was hard on his family, but he's really focused -- and really good.

Two years ago, Doug got a huge promotion. He was put in charge of his entire division -- 150 people, the second-biggest group in the company. Doug attacked the job with relish. In addition to spending even more time on the road, he did a great job of handling internal management issues.

A month ago, for a variety of good reasons, Doug got a sideways promotion. Same level, but a new team of analysts report to him. Now he's in charge of strategic alliances. He's well-respected, he's done just about every job and he makes a lot of money.

So, of course, I told him to quit.

“You've been there a long time, my friend.”

Doug wasn't buying it: “Yes, I've been here 14 years, but I've had seven jobs. When I got here, we were a startup, but now we're a division of Cisco. I've got new challenges, and the commute is great --”

I interrupted him before he could go on. I couldn't help myself.

Doug needs to leave for a very simple reason. He's been branded. Everyone at the company has an expectation of who Doug is and what he can do. Working your way up from the mailroom sounds sexy, but in fact, it's entirely unlikely. Doug has hit a plateau. He's not going to be challenged, pushed or promoted to president. Doug, regardless of what he could actually accomplish, has stopped evolving -- at least in the eyes of the people who matter.

If he leaves and joins another company, he gets to reinvent himself. No one in the new company will remember young Doug from 10 years ago. No, they'll treat Doug as the new Doug, the Doug with endless upside and little past.

Let's look at it from the perspective of evolution: Species that evolve the fastest are the ones that don't mate for life. By switching mates, swapping genes with someone new, you continually reshuffle the gene pool, making it more likely you'll create something new and neat and novel and useful.

Our parents and grandparents believed you should stay at a job for five years, 10 years or even your whole life. But in a world where companies come and go -- where they grow from nothing to the Fortune 500 and then disappear, all in a few years -- that's just not possible.

Here's the deal, and here's what I told Doug: The time to look for a new job is when you don't need one. The time to switch jobs is before it feels comfortable. Go. Switch. Challenge yourself; get yourself a raise and a promotion. You owe it to your career and your skills.

No word back from Doug yet. How about you?

[this is post #1505 for my blog (I missed the milestone earlier in the week.) No plans to quit any time soon, I'm afraid].

Googling prospects

I got a cold call on my cell phone yesterday. Someone was looking for me, trying to sell me something. Typical cost of a call like this (not from a boiler room)--perhaps $100 when you add it all up.

When I explained to the person what I did and where I did it, she realized that I had no interest at all in what she had to sell and politely hung up.

She followed up by email asking for a referral and I asked her why she didn't Google me before calling. Her answer, (ellipses are hers) "It depends...  you came recommended by more than one source (confidentially).  If I trust someone I make the call right away...  if someone is interested in talking, then I dig deeper."

So, it's okay to waste my time (and by extension, hers) and she'll do some research after she's got a warm lead.


Twenty seconds in Google would have saved both of us a lot of time. More important for her, that twenty seconds could have turned a "no" call into a decent shot at a referral.

SEO: Passive vs. Active

A lot of search engine optimization writing passes by my desk, and I don't think I've ever seen a simple distinction made.

PASSIVE SEO is the idea that you can do things to your site (metatags, phrases, even the articles you choose to write) that will be warmly received by the search engines. As we all know, the best passive strategy is to make great stuff, but beyond that it's pretty clear that architecting your site properly is smart. There are people far better at this than I am.

ACTIVE SEO is the act of going outside of your site to build other sites (blogs, Squidoo lenses, delicious tags) or influence other sites (links and directories) to point to you. Not just you doing it, of course, but your readers and fans and employees as well. I wrote an ebook about part of this  (download for free: flippingpro.pdf).

There's no doubt that these two activities need to be closely coordinated. But I'm not sure they should be done by the same person. Sometimes, dividing a task increases your ability to get it done...

[updated] Peter Bell writes in to amplify:

In the SEO industry, it's often referred to as "on page" vs. "link building".

Not only should on page and link building be done by different people, on page should also be divided between technical and content.

A technical person should follow best coding practices to optimize site tags (including proper use of CSS and headers) for SEO (and accessibility). It's about 2-8 hours of work to redesign most site templates and then whatever it takes to load that into your content management system.

A writer and/or subject domain expert should create the great content to drive traffic.

A top SEO guru should ADVISE you on how to do the link building with the latest hints and tips (2 hrs at $300/hr - high rate, low hours).

Someone between your sales/marketing team, an intern and a college kid in Vilnius should then actually implement the various recommendations depending upon the skills required for each.

Over the top

Robin writes to me about an experience at Papyrus, the dramatically expensive card shop chain in New York (and probably elsewhere.) She bought some cards, got back to her office, a card was missing from the bag.

She was on deadline, called them and they hand delivered (by messenger) a replacement card.

Now, of course, if that was a stated policy, it would be abused and taken for granted.

What makes it over the top and remarkable was that it came, out of the blue, just when it was needed.

Line-caught swordfish

and antibiotic-free eggs.

Well, the thing is, all swordfish is line caught. The long lines they use catch a whole bunch of other things as well, leading to significant depletion. That's a big part of the reason you should never buy it. (the other reason is that it's got poisonous mercury in it). And all eggs are raised without antibiotics.

And no, it doesn't matter if the swordfish is "Atlantic" or "Pacific". Yet another clever modifier. My current favorite is "Ahi" tuna, a cool word that describes a less desirable kind of tuna!

Sometimes, marketers add a label where no label is needed. And that label is an effective way to highlight something about the product (or hide something).

This blog, by the way, is organic.

More on RSS

From Brian: How to Sell RSS. I don't think there's an easy solution in terms of renaming RSS... instead, I think we'll see it become invisible, built in to browsers and such. You'll "subscribe" to something, but the technique and technology will be nameless and transparent. Or not.

The premium premium

When I was a kid, a bad bike cost $39 and a great bike, a really great bike, cost $99. Maybe an adult could figure out how to spend $300 on a Campy or something, but a 10:1 premium was considered pretty extreme.

Today, a bad bike costs $69. A really great bike costs $3,000 and a superduper bike costs $8,000 or so. Figure the premium for the best is up from 10:1 to 100:1.

Same thing is true for restaurants (McDonald's is still cheap, but Alain Ducasse is not.) And for cars, management consulting, coaching, charitable donations and wine.

The gap is getting wider and wider. In a lot of categories online, the bottom has gone to ... free. Shopping online, in fact, is largely about the edges, and the people who are premium are at the edge.

Hot is the new sour

Luke over at Big Sky Brands just sent over a mini case of their new Jones Soda Carbonated Candy (with "tongue-tingling flavor boosters" of course).

The boomers have even taken candy away from the kids, now.

Worse than the Upper Crust

Thanks to John Dodds: We now have far more silly store names to chuckle over: Shop Horror - Funny Shop Names.

Breakage and giveaways

Picture_7 Here's a giveaway I got by email from Continental.

While appreciated, it was a total surprise. So, I have no idea why they did it... clearly not to induce me to buy something.

Second problem: the wording, from the subject line on, seems designed to keep me from actually opening and then redeeming the code. My guess is that they don't have to pay for the unredeemed ones, but it seems silly to do a promotion that you don't want to actually work.

P.S. trademark symbols are a legal tool, not a marketing one. No one ever lost a trademark because they left the ® out of an email. Or, in this case, almost a dozen of them.


Uppercrust Andy Gadiel sends in this photo. Why is this pie wearing a tie?

Tip: never use the word "shear" in the name of a hairdresser or "crust" in the name of a pie company. Trust me on this one.

Joel can write

The blog shouldn't be called: Joel on Software. It should be called Joel on Things that Matter. The first half is a beautifully written post about a meeting with BillG at Microsoft.

There's a lot of mythology in our lives, especially at work. Most of the time, that mythology is a lot more important than whatever fact you're in love with right this minute.

And the lunch was good, too

Thanks to everyone who came to my seminar yesterday (reviewed: The Marketing Message Blog: Seth Godin's June 15th teleseminar.) I'm still exhausted, and apologize for the light posts this week.

The key lesson for me was how much smarter people are getting about the online world--and fast. It used to be pretty easy to offer people new online ideas, because the future wasn't very well-distributed. It's getting a lot more difficult to do that now, because it seems as though (almost) everyone knows (almost) everything. At least that's what my audience demonstrated yesterday.

Hiring the right people

Bought some stuff at the Container Store yesterday (this is a true story, btw).

The clerk bagged the items.

Then decided she had used too big a bag.

So she took the items out, carefully refolded the bag and grabbed a smaller bag.

Bagged the items.

Decided that this was good, but that new bag might not be sturdy enough.

So she took a second bag and put the first bag into the second bag to reinforce it.

I finally had to grab the stuff out of her hands, stifling her screams for more time, more time, and ran out of the store, even though she was concerned that the 'paid' sticker on the oversize item was a little crooked.

Sure, she was an annoying nut. But she was passionate about containers, certainly. Smart hiring goes a long way.

Maybe you don't want traffic so badly?

My previous post on traffic for your blog placed tongue in cheeck and described more than fifty ways you should change your blog if you want traffic.

But what good is traffic if it gives you laryngitis?

For most bloggers, the point of blogging is to find your voice, to share your ideas, to let the world hear what you have to say.

But if you need to conform, to fit in, to follow the rules, you may very well find that you've lost the reason you had for blogging in the first place.

And the delicious irony is that those that conform often don't get more traffic. They often get less. Because following all the checklists can make you boring.

Safe is risky.

Do customers have responsibilities?

Yesterday on the plane, a couple spent the entire flight badmouthing the JetBlue staff. I mean significant profanity and personal attacks. They should have had the cops waiting at the runway, imho.

What fascinated me was that this couple didn't seem to mind that their beef was trivial (they didn't get to sit together in row 10, as they hoped. They could either sit together in row 20 or sit separately) but that they were willing and able to go nuclear with total aplomb.

It struck me that this would have been inconceivable for sober people just ten years ago.

Would it be okay for JetBlue to blacklist this couple? To say, "you guys totally crossed the line, you can't fly with us any more?"

As consumers gain more power and anonymity starts to disappear, I think this might happen a lot. And not just on airplanes. What happens to the person who builds the "I hate McDonald's blog" and spends his life ranking on them? Does she end up banned from the fast food she loves to hate?

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

The only reason to go this page: Apple - Support - MacBook Pro is because your new Mac is not working right. So, how many people want to read:

So kick back, have a look around, and stay awhile...

Webpage words are free in that they don't cost anything to write. They are not free, though, because they keep the user from what they really need, and increase the chance that they'll just leave.

If you're not sure what to say, say nothing.

Oddica Loves Brian

A t-shirt with...packaging. Oddica Loves Me.

My breakfast was right

Room service just arrived, and my insanely complex OCD breakfast was exactly the way I ordered it. This was possibly a first.

Then I discovered the reason. The person who brought it to my room was the very same person who assembled it.

Boy that was obvious.

The spreading paradox of Broadway

It costs many millions of dollars to open a Broadway show. If it doesn't run for months or years, investors get creamed.

Yet one or two bad reviews can crush a show, impacting attendance so seriously that it never recovers.

The obvious answer is to make a show review proof. You do this by intentionally scheduling a short run and stocking the play with big stars.

Big stars, though, likely require you to modify the show so that it's not so good--at least not so good by Broadway standards. (Julia Roberts is a star, her show was not well respected). Result: You sell a lot of tickets (in fact, The Odd Couple sold out before it opened). You are review-proof. And you train the audiences who attend that Broadway shows aren't so great.

The new Superman movie will cost more than a fifth of a billion dollars to make. Perhaps the same strategy will cross their mind?

As the stakes get higher, it's easy to play it safer. And when you play it safe, more often than not, the very plight you were seeking to avoid becomes more likely.

Do people care?

In response to my post about Nisus and fear, Charles Jolley writes that most people don't care.

Actually, I think it' s more accurate to say that most people don't care enough.

The enough is critical.

People didn't used to care enough about coffee, or gas mileage or ski bindings or Darfur. The challenge of marketing is to get people to care enough... because deep down, most people care. Just not high enough on their (your) priority list of life problems.

The death of the sales call?

I wonder if the sales call has a lot of life left in it.

Before you faint, let me get my terms straight: I think a sales call is a meeting (in person or on the phone) when a salesperson endeavors to sell something to a prospect, and where the prospect is doing the salesperson some sort of service by being there.

Today, though, with streamlined organizations, there are plenty of people who no longer have the time to politely listen to a sales call in order to not offend a b2b salesperson.

And with so many shopping options available, I'm not sure many consumers have the time or desire either.

Instead, I think we're seeing the rise of the buying call.

I have a problem. I'm willing to talk to a buyperson (okay, bad neologism) to help me solve it.

My factory needs to be more efficient. I want to buy a solution. I call a salesperson.

My publishing company needs to grow. I'm eager to have a meeting with an author who will show me a new book that will help me do that.

What changes more than the words is the posture. If you ever find yourself in a meeting, arms folded, barely paying attention, waiting for the salesperson to leave, the right question to ask yourself is, "Why did you bother wasting your time by going?" If you're going to go to a meeting with a salesperson, the new expectation is that you'll come armed with questions, eager to learn what you need, ready to buy the moment you find the right solution.

An unprepared salesperson should be shown the door. What about an unprepared or unmotivated buyer?

When a salesperson gets asked, "Hey, are you trying to sell me something," the best answer may be, "I sure am, and if you're not here to buy something, we should both be somewhere else..."

Fear of switching

So, there's no version of Word optimized for the new MacBook. In fact, my copy keeps crashing my crash-proof machine. I just switched to Nisus. Let's see, it's faster, cheaper, compatible, more reliable, optimized and friendly. And yet, almost no one with a MacBook has switched.

The other day, my family saw the supersized version of Scrabble, which comes with a bigger board and more tiles. We played once. We hated it.


Just because something is newer or better or bigger doesn't mean you should switch. In fact, one of the big fears people bring to the table is investing the time to figure out if it's worth it (the other fear is that switching will just wreck everything.)

Getting someone to switch to super-sized Scrabble is hard. Getting them to switch word processors is almost impossible. Fear is a huge barrier, no matter what you're selling.

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