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

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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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« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

25 cars a day

Peter Magelssen points us to CHOPIT!: The Seattle Times: Motoring: Putting the show in business.

Infomercials are not interruption media. They're not really ads. They are product pitches that people choose to watch. Good for him.

Funny riff

Link: Things That Make Me Angry. Best advice on what you should be given to play golf:

a shovel, a pool cue, and a wooden leg

Channel 608?


A marketing gig I don't want

Not sure anyone does...

The FDA just approved the Gardasil vaccine, which protects women against cervical cancer and some sexually transmitted diseases. It's a breakthrough that could save thousands of lives every year.

The thing is, it costs $360 and needs to be given by injection to girls before they become sexually active--about 12 is what they're recommending. And, since it's a vaccine, there are fears about long-term effects.

So, let's try to imagine that conversation taking place across the dinner tables and examination rooms across America... The idea that parents can be reached and then persuaded to confront these issues, in our culture, is a little overwhelming.

A reminder that marketing is always about a lot more than just facts.

Squidoo now permits comments

Heath has the news: SquidBlog.

Learning from the primaries

So, the New York Republican Party just nominated a candidate that by every judgment is to the right of the party as a whole and far to the right of this very blue state. Odds of winning: close to zero.

And it happens all the time.

The same way a few people will write in to a magazine to complain bitterly about a new design.

It's easy to confuse people who are passionate and loud with the majority.

The people who care a lot show up. They vote in the primary, or at the convention. They write letters to the editor and bash your products on their blogs.

If you want your idea to spread, you need these people. They are the ones with otaku, the ones who care, the ones who will take the time to spread the word.

But don't confuse them with the majority. If you need to win an election or sell a ton of products, this group (call them the early adopters) will almost always steer you wrong. As Brad Feld said, listen to what they say and do the opposite.

Important to note the part in the preceding paragraph about "need." I think most of the time, you don't need to have a majority. Most of the time, it's deadly to even try. Catering to the passionate is exactly what you should do.

What do I find?

When I type your brand or your name into youtube, what do I find?
What about technorati? or flickr?

You can fix all three of these things today.

It's easy to worry about Google rankings, but hard to change them. Now, though, there are dozens of horizontal search tools that you can populate yourself. They're not hiding. Are you?


Craig Miller points us to: Hansen's Clothing.

I believe in Duane. I'm not sure exactly why I do, but I do. Maybe because it feels like he wasn't following a manual when he built this store. Maybe it's because his dad was named Elmore.

Least sold

Brooke Browne points us to: VIN�ON.

After you click through on your language of choice, you'll notice that they don't just list their bestsellers. They list their leastsellers.

I love this.

Some people want to buy what everyone else is buying.

But some people don't go to restaurants that are, "so busy, no one goes there any more."

What a neat way to point out the overlooked.

Welcome to the lightning round

It was always the best part of the game show. No buzzers, no banter, just as many questions as you can answer in a minute. Quick. Quick. Quick.

Well, now that we've got a billion-channel universe (with more than 300 hits on the 'top ten' hit list: | popular urls to the latest web buzz) it's always the lightning round. There are hundreds of the most important posts of the day, and the list changes constantly.

Which means that subtlety may seem dead.

You get judged by your headline or your layout, or the first line of your press release or the first beats of your riff. If the smartmob can't figure out your story in two seconds, they ignore it or they make up their own.

If you want to please everyone, it helps to be clear, obvious and direct. And safe and predictable as well.

Of course, if you try to make it clear to everyone, the chances of having your story spread in the long run go down. Because direct is often not so interesting, especially to sneezers. And doesn't always involve the joy of discovery.

So perhaps, the best strategy is to be a bit less obvious, a bit indirect, telling a story you can live with because it's true, but a story that might take more than a minute to understand.

I actually think there's room in this big world for both approaches. They rarely meet (Google's did, I think--the simple search story was right there for everyone to see, while the more subtle elements unfolded over time) so if you try to do both at the same time, you've got your work cut out for you.

A lot of internal marketing conflict comes from camps that don't have the words to describe which path they're choosing. Being clear with your peers in what you hope to accomplish will help you roll it out. Of course, being subtle...

This one I don't get

Thrown_from_road Seen on a truck in Elmsford, NY.

Does the sign mean:

  1. If you get hit by a rock that my tire throws, don't sue me (cause if it does, does the sign really work? Doesn't his knowledge of the danger increase the chances of getting sued?) or
  2. If someone on the side of the road throws an object (what sort of object?) it's not his fault?
  3. Don't drive too close (if it meant that, why not just say, 'don't drive too close'?)

Is this a big problem for this particular truck or for all trucks?

The whole thing feels almost existential. Truckers, feel free to let me know.

[So, here's what people think: Trucks are more likely than some vehicles to throw back items they run over (one reader was almost killed by a shovel). This driver works for a company that would rather fight than settle. So, the sign is a double warning--don't drive close (to all trucks, not just this one) AND if you ignore the sign, don't bother calling us. Oh. Actually, this isn't true. See below.]

Mike Hapner knows the answer! The word that should be in italics is road.

8 slots left

Last chance to sign up for the June 15 seminar in NYC. Thanks.

Fifteen minutes?

Picture_79 Just went to buy some advance Amex tickets at Ticketmaster. This is the screen that comes up. I'm not IT guy, but what's powering their computer... gerbils?

It's hard to imagine how many customers, cash in hand, walk away when confronted with this screen. Wouldn't it make sense to figure out a way to get back to me later?

People will be incredibly patient if you set expectations and keep your promises.

Thank you

I got a form thank you note from a clothing store in the mail yesterday. It's pretty clear every customer gets one.

I think that's a little like writing a thank you note on the back of a check when you get it for your bar mitzvah.

For most people, a thank you is a thank you when it's real, personal and honest. Hard to do when you sell stuff all day long to total strangers, though. I'm not sure that a non-thank you is really worth the effort. Sure, be kind. Be grateful. But don't send a facsimile of a personal note when that's not what it is.

The 84th problem

It really is about walking in someone else's shoes: 83 Problems.

The thing about coupons

Coupons are a surprisingly subtle invention. Now that anyone can offer them (because now anyone can have a store), it's worth a second to think about what they're for.

First benefit to the marketer is that coupons allow you to offer different prices to different people.

There's a reason that most coupons are not trivially easy to find or redeem. By trading effort for a discount, the marketer says, "if you care about price, I'll sell it to you cheaper, but you have to prove it." Hence the original idea behind Priceline. It was intentionally awkward to use so that the airlines could be confident that only the fare-obsessed would use it.

"Outlet" malls are just coupons in disguise. There's a reason that Armani doesn't have an outlet store on Fifth Ave. in NY. The drive is your way of proving you're serious about price.

The second benefit is that they provide the shopper with a totem. Paper coupons are best, but even digital codes work. With something tangible in hand, the shopper feels as though they have the power to go make an exchange. It's not just about trading money for the object or service. It's about trading in this thing I have in my hand (or pasted onto my clipboard). If I don't buy the thing, I've just lost the value of my totem. Now the purchase isn't just about spending money... it's about realizing the value of a thing I possess--or losing it forever.

Which leads to the third benefit: a coupon can mean now. Give me a coupon and I am forced to make a decision. Will I buy the service or product before the coupon expires or gets lost, or should I forfeit this thing of value?

Three benefits from one tool--and two caveats.

The first: don't do a coupon unless you can execute properly. It needs to be big enough matter. It needs to avoid alienating the middleman (retailer) if that's not you. And it can't destroy the product and what it stands for. No coupons for high-end plastic surgeons, please. Why? Because those that don't want to use the coupon might see it, and its very existence means the surgeon is no longer who you thought they were. No coupons for Tiffany's either.

The second: if you make the use of the coupon a hassle, you've blown it. Barbeques Galore lured me in with a 10% off coupon. Yes, I'm a cheapskate, but it was the totem that got me to go do something I'd been meaning to do anyway. It took me two minutes to find the item I was replacing. I handed them the coupon, picked out some overpriced accessories and stood as they wrote up the whole thing.

The clerk handed me the receipt, and I asked, "Where's the discount? It seems to be missing." The manager walked over and said that the coupon wasn't valid because the grill was on sale.

Well, sure, that's their privilege, but:
They didn't tell me, I had to ask
The coupon said no such thing
They didn't even apply the coupon to the non-on-sale other stuff.

No budging on their part, I finished my transaction and went home.

So, the smart marketer used the coupon properly. The short-term minded sales ops team decided that they could boost profits by alienating the very people the marketer lured in. One more reason that the marketer needs to be responsible for the whole chain.

The best thing about coupons in the post-newspaper insert era is that they are trivially easy to test and practically free to distribute.

PS Bryan Murley points out the other key benefit of coupons... they make it easy to track the media. That's why newspapers embraced them early on. Proof! Now, of course, they make it easy for you to see what's working and what's not. Thanks, Bryan.

And things to do off your blog...

Rajesh has a neat list.

Why I don't have comments

Judging from the response to my last post, some of my readers are itching to find a comment field on my posts from now on. I can't do that for you, alas, and I thought I'd tell you why.

I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers. Not for me, though. First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters. I'm already itching to rewrite my traffic post below. So, given a choice between a blog with comments or no blog at all, I think I'd have to choose the latter.

So, bloggers who like comments, blog on. Commenters, feel free. But not here. Sorry.

How to get traffic for your blog

My friend Fred, a talented blogger, asked me for advice the other day. Here's a partial answer, with a few apologies to Swift: (and when you're done with this list, feel free to read my post about shark attacks).

  1. Use lists.
  2. Be topical... write posts that need to be read right now.
  3. Learn enough to become the expert in your field.
  4. Break news.
  5. Be timeless... write posts that will be readable in a year.
  6. Be among the first with a great blog on your topic, then encourage others to blog on the same topic.
  7. Share your expertise generously so people recognize it and depend on you.
  8. Announce news.
  9. Write short, pithy posts.
  10. Encourage your readers to help you manipulate the technorati top blog list.
  11. Don't write about your cat, your boyfriend or your kids.
  12. Write long, definitive posts.
  13. Write about your kids.
  14. Be snarky. Write nearly libelous things about fellow bloggers, daring them to respond (with links back to you) on their blog.
  15. Be sycophantic. Share linklove and expect some back.
  16. Include polls, meters and other eye candy.
  17. Tag your posts. Use
  18. Coin a term or two.
  19. Do email interviews with the well-known.
  20. Answer your email.
  21. Use photos. Salacious ones are best.
  22. Be anonymous.
  23. Encourage your readers to digg your posts. (and to use furl and reddit). Do it with every post.
  24. Post your photos on flickr.
  25. Encourage your readers to subscribe by RSS.
  26. Start at the beginning and take your readers through a months-long education.
  27. Include comments so your blog becomes a virtual water cooler that feeds itself.
  28. Assume that every day is the beginning, because you always have new readers.
  29. Highlight your best posts on your Squidoo lens.
  30. Point to useful but little-known resources.
  31. Write about stuff that appeals to the majority of current blog readers--like gadgets and web 2.0.
  32. Write about Google.
  33. Have relevant ads that are even better than your content.
  34. Don't include comments, people will cross post their responses.
  35. Write posts that each include dozens of trackbacks to dozens of blog posts so that people will notice you.
  36. Run no ads.
  37. Keep tweaking your template to make it include every conceivable bell or whistle.
  38. Write about blogging.
  39. Digest the good ideas of other people, all day, every day.
  40. Invent a whole new kind of art or interaction.
  41. Post on weekdays, because there are more readers.
  42. Write about a never-ending parade of different topics so you don't bore your readers.
  43. Post on weekends, because there are fewer new posts.
  44. Don't interrupt your writing with a lot of links.
  45. Dress your blog (fonts and design) as well as you would dress yourself for a meeting with a stranger.
  46. Edit yourself. Ruthlessly.
  47. Don't promote yourself and your business or your books or your projects at the expense of the reader's attention.
  48. Be patient.
  49. Give credit to those that inspired, it makes your writing more useful.
  50. Ping technorati. Or have someone smarter than me tell you how to do it automatically.
  51. Write about only one thing, in ever-deepening detail, so you become definitive.
  52. Write in English.
  53. Better, write in Chinese.
  54. Write about obscure stuff that appeals to an obsessed minority.
  55. Don't be boring.
  56. Write stuff that people want to read and share.

Marketing pothole (#3 of 3): What will the boss think

This is the biggest one, and the reason for the whole series.

I now believe that almost all marketing decisions are first and foremost made without the marketplace in mind.

That's a pretty bold statement, but here goes.

I think that most marketers, most of the time, make their marketing decisions based on what they think the committee, or their boss, or their family or their friends or the blog readers with email will say.

When I speak to groups, the folks who are stuck, or who are not finding the growth they are hoping for, rarely say, "we don't know how to get the market to respond." Instead, they say, "my boss or the factory or the committee or the design folks or the CFO won't..."

Now, of course most of this is whining. Most of this is nonsense. It's not everyone else's fault. But that's not my point. My point is that if you market intending to please those people, you only have yourself to blame.

Great marketing pleases everyone on the team, sooner or later. But at the beginning, great marketing pleases almost no one. At the beginning, great marketing is counter-intuitive, non-obvious, challenging and apparently risky. Of course your friends, shareholders, stakeholders and bosses won't like it. But they're not doing the marketing, you are.


I'm a little obsessed with the Tabasco story.

First thing: people have a bottle of Tabasco in their house and in their restaurant. It solves their "hot sauce problem". If someone asks for it, you've got some. This is a very good thing for the Tabasco people.

Second thing: people only buy more Tabasco when they run out of it. Which doesn't happen so often, at least in most blue states. Replenishment only is not as good as people buying something because they like buying it.

And the third thing, the biggest change, is that there are now thousands of brands of hot sauce, many of which are far better than Tabasco, and millions of people are buying not one flavor, but several. And they buy more varieties because they want to, not because they have to.

Being brave with names

Mark Ramsey is usually right. This time he's wrong, twice. "Podcasting" has a bad name.

Mark says "podcasting" is a bad name, and that something understandable, like "audiomag" would be better, because more people would know what it is.

I guess TV should have been called "pictureradio".

Not only is podcasting one of the great names of our generation, but it could have been even braver, not less brave. If you've going to invent a new product that is more than just an incremental improvement, then that new product requires a new slot in the mind, a new way of thinking. Giving it a name that permanently links it to old thinking doesn't help. "Sneakers" is better than "athletic shoe".

Sometimes, you're able to come up with a name that manages to be incremental to a tiny, very influential portion of the population and just strange to the rest of us. So, in this case, "pod" referred to iPod--but just to the 5% of online techies that were instrumental in spreading the word in 2004 (two very long years ago). In other words, the architecture of the name perfectly matched the vector the word needed to travel to make it. Compare that to the brave but foolish "RSS." (Really Stupid Slogan).

Sure, "email" couldn't be anything but email, and that was a pretty chicken name. But in general, if you need people to think differently, it helps to be brave when you name something new.

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