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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

« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

One, a few, most or all

There are four kinds of marketing situations, and the approach to each is radically different. Yet most of the time, we lump them together as just plain 'marketing'.

If you are trying to sell a house or fill a job, you only need to persuade one person.

If you want to make your book sell a bunch of copies, your restaurant to be filled on Saturday night or your coaching practice to have a full schedule, you need to sell a few people.

On the other hand, viral bestsellers, killer websites and essential conferences hit their stride when most people in a marketplace have been converted. You can't get elected President (most years, anyway) without persuading most of the people who vote.

Lastly, when the market is defined right, there are situation in which you need to persuade all of the people involved. If you need 51 Senators to agree with you on a bill, or if you need the purchasing committee at a big company to buy your software, then you need a unanimous decision.

This four-way distinction is important for two reasons. First, because you often have a choice. You can choose which approach your venture will take on its way to accomplishing its goals. Gandhi didn't need most of the people to change India, he instead relied on a smaller few, but with more passion than most politicians are able to generate.

You could, for example, plan a business that works once almost everyone adopts it (like eBay) or you could alter the business so it works just fine if a much smaller universe of people embrace it (like threadless). Worth noting that neither business would work if just a few people showed up. 37Signals has done a great job of designing web products that only need to be sold to a few people, and then those people do the hard work of getting everyone in their organization to use them.

Here's a quick list of how the four differ:

ONE: You're a needle, the market is a haystack. Make your needle as sharp as you can, put it in as many haystacks as you can afford. Alternatively, you've already decided on your one (the date for the prom or the perfect job). In that case, throw the haystack out and engage in a custom, one-on-one patient effort to tell your story to the person who needs to hear it.

A FEW: Being exceptional matters most. Stand out, don't fit in. Shun the non-believers.

MOST: Amplify the excitement of the few and make it easy for them to spread the story to the caring majority.

ALL: Compromise. You need to be many things to many people, embraced by the passionate but not offensive to the masses. Sooner or later, the issue for the reluctant part of the buyer community is that it becomes more expensive/risky to stand in the way of the group than it is to go along.

Blogs, for now, are almost always about the few. Google and Starbucks and the iPod are exciting stories because they've moved from the few to the most. The most important industry trade shows make huge profits because they've transitioned to the all.

Choose wisely, and realize that as you succeed, the game will change.

Pundits are (nearly) always wrong

Here's why:

Because we measure the wrong thing.

Talk show bookers, business plan competitions, acquiring book editors, movie critics, tech entrepreneurs who run trade shows that try to predict the future, tech bloggers, marketing bloggers... when we're trying to predict whether a new technology or web site or book or song is going to hit, we're almost always wrong.

Take a look at some of the picks for past web2 shows, or see who got hyped on various morning TV programs or see which authors were turned down by five or ten or fifteen publishing houses... "surprise hits" they call them.

[Uncharacteristically, I'm leaving out the names of the clueless and the misinformed (other than me). I'm not sure why, I guess I just don't want to have a fight with people, who, unlike me, are unwilling to admit they're wrong all the time.]

The astonishing thing isn't that we're wrong so often (see below) but that given the amplifying power of our platforms, we're unable to yell loud enough to make our predictions self-fulfilling prophecies. In English: You'd think that being featured by a big publisher or at a big conference would be enough in and of itself to make something undeserving a hit. Alas, only Oprah can do that.

So, why are we wrong? Why does your boss/in-law/friend/VC/editor/pundit always get it wrong?

Because they measure 'presentation.' Not just the PPT presentation, but the way an idea feels. How does it present. Is it catchy? Clever? Familiar? We measure whether or not it agrees with our worldview and our sense of the way the world is.

The problem is that hits change worldviews. Hits change our senses. Hits appeal to people other than the gatekeepers and then the word spreads.

How? Through persistence and hard work and constant revision. By getting through the Dip.

If I have a skill in developing stuff, it's in ignoring these people. Purple Cow was turned down by my old publisher and a few others. Squidoo was dissed by some of the best in the business (the site is about to hit 8 mm monthly page views). The Dip was a hard sell to my agent and my publisher.

No one 'pre-predicted' the astonishing success of Flickr or Google or Twitter or Bill Clinton's first run for President. Sure, it was easy to connect the dots after the fact, but that doesn't count.

Of course, there are plenty of failures to go around (I know that I've got more than plenty). Just because everyone hates it doesn't mean it's good. Execution is everything. Execution and persistence and the ability to respond to the market far outweigh a pundit's gut instinct. But, the thing to remember is this: if everyone loves it, it is almost certain to have troubles.

In fact, my rule of thumb is this: if the right people like it, I'm not trying hard enough.


Maybe the reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is...

... that you haven't given them anything else to care about.

And your lucky number


Someone has created a business dynasty around machines that give you your weight (well, sort of, within a few pounds) and your lucky number. Questions:  Which Turnpike visitors use these machines? Which doctors recommend them? Is the number really lucky? 

Who should you hire?

Most fast-growing organizations are looking for people who can get stuff done.

There is a fundamental shift in rules from manual-based work (where you follow instructions and an increase in productivity means doing the steps faster) to project-based work (where the instructions are unknown, and visualizing outcomes and then getting things done is what counts.)

And yet, we're still trying to hire people who have shown an ability to follow instructions.

I'm almost done with my (sold out) book tour,  and the biggest pleasure of the project was working with people who totally understand what it is to get things done.

Derek in Ann Arbor, Rajesh, Edith and Deepika in Silicon Valley, Matt in Tempe and Phil in Salt Lake each led huge teams of people (with no infrastructure.) They invented, described, networked, wheedled and most of all, organized. They didn't do it because it was their job, and they didn't have organizational authority. They just did it.

That's who I would hire.

The netflixing of everything

Fedex plus smaller plus cheaper equals opportunity.

Consider Meeting Tomorrow. These guys will ship a projector, a sound system, a wireless microphone... whatever you need for a meeting... directly to your hotel or venue. You arrive, it's waiting for you. You drop it off at a Fedex box and move on.

This was inconceivable five years ago. The stuff was too big and too expensive and there was no easy way to interact with the user.

I'm betting that there are hundreds of applications of this idea, especially in the business-to-business area. Stuff that you need, reliably, but not often.

Day old sushi

Sometimes you can't make this stuff up.

As the photo below attests, a profit-minded entrepreneur is trying very hard to make ends meet. The problem with this strategy is obvious. It sends the anti-sushi message. Hey, we're not fresh. We don't even care so much about fresh.

If I ran a quickserv sushi place, I'd write the time the product was created on every single box and would offer a local shelter anything that was more than 55 minutes old. The money they make selling the old sushi can't possibly make up for the horror the full-price customers feel.


Transparency comes to cars

Rick points us to this article about a Saturn initiative. You'll be able to test drive the competition at the Saturn dealership.



Embedded If you look down the left hand column of this blog, you'll see some little blue arrows next to some of my books. (Here's a photo).

Click on any of the buttons and a window pops up, offering you all sort of things you can now do. Places to buy, places to post, ways to bookmark.

After exploring that, take a look at the bottom of each of my posts. There's a 'flare' (perhaps named after the buttons Jennifer Aniston wore in Office Space) that brings the functionality of services like Technorati into the blog at the same time it makes it easy to bring the pithiness of the blog out to Digg, etc. [Sometimes the flare magically disappears... hey, life is a beta. If you don't see it, try the next one down].

The sooner we view the web as a process, not a place, the quicker we will understand it. It's two flows. The flow of information and the flow of attention.

I'm just not that kind of person...

Craig writes in with a story about a Dyson vacuum:

I have a question for you about buying decisions.

A while back I upgraded my Dyson vacuum cleaner when I got a great deal on the latest model. I had been using my old one for about 5 years or so but it was still in perfect working order. I had even replaced a couple of attachments for it via the Dyson website.
I gave my old Dyson to a friend. She had never used a Dyson before and she loved it. So much so that the very next day her own vacuum cleaner was put outside ready for the refuge collection!

But here’s the thing: a few months later the Dyson I gave her stopped working (not sure why, that thing was indestructible) so she decided to buy a new vacuum. Even though the vacuum I gave her was the best she had ever used, she didn’t buy a Dyson.

I was amazed how someone could love a product so much but replace it with an inferior product. I don’t think it was about cost because I told her where she could get an excellent deal on a new Dyson.

This just doesn’t make sense to me so I thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts as to why this happens?

My take: Craig’s friend didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would buy a Dyson. Sure, she might use one, especially if it was free. But buying a weird, fancy-looking vacuum is an act of self-expression as much as it’s a way to clean your floors. And the act of buying one didn’t match the way his friend saw herself.

So many of the products and services we use are now about our identity. Many small businesses, for example, won’t hire a coach or a consultant because, “that’s not the kind of organization we are.” Wineries understand that the pricing of a bottle of wine is more important than its label or the wine inside. The price is the first thing that most people consider when they order or shop for wine. Not because of perceived value, but because of identity.

« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »