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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

« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »

Mean vs. Median

How to be wrong: measure the mean when you really should measure the median.

Consider a website that reports a mean (average) of 2.1 pages per visitor.

Then realize that the median is 9. (actually, my math nerd friends inform me that my example is impossible, because of the peskiness of zero and negative pages. I'll leave the number here as a testament to my carelessness, and will inform you that my point remains correct... that the distribution is way more important than the average. I hope Godel will forgive me).

That's because there's a large number of people visiting 1 page and a large number visiting 10 or 20.

Once you see that, you will completely change your understanding of what's happening and what you need to do to change it. (In this case, the goal wouldn't be incremental improvement from 2.1 to 2.4. It would be to figure out how to activate the one-page people and turn them into 20-page viewers... a 2000% increase from each impacted person).

You'll find the same behavior among McDonald's customers. The typical (mean) American eats a meal at McDonald's once every two weeks. But I never go and some people eat there twice a day. That's a lot more useful to know.

[Bill did a graph.]

Life-changing internship

Acumen has just posted this year's application.

Not only do 100% of the participants report an astonishing experience, but the people they touch (thousands of them) do as well.

Two kinds of 'don't know'

I don't know French. I can't play the piano. I have no clue how to catch a bony spinefish. This is the first kind of don't know. Stuff you don't know because you haven't been taught it yet. Books are awfully good at solving this problem, so are good teachers.

The second kind of 'don't know' is often confused with the first type, but it's really quite different. This is the person who says they don't know how to cook, or that they can't balance a checkbook. This isn't about technique or a lack of knowledge. It's usually either fear or lack of interest. People with this type of deficit won't find the answer in a book or (usually) in a seminar either. You don't learn how to cook from a cookbook.

The answer lies in trial and error and motivation and in overcoming the fear that makes us avoid the topic in the first place.

And why should a marketer care?

You need to care because if you try to solve the second kind of ignorance with a manual or a PDF or a blog post or even a long infomercial, you're going to fail. If you discover that users are afraid or resistant to what you're trying to get them to do, more information is almost always the incorrect response. The effective technique involves peer pressure and support and in changing the design and inputs of what you're doing so that this group is more receptive to what's on offer. For example, internet penetration isn't up by a factor of 20 because people read a lot of copies of Internet for Dummies. It happened because of what peers said to each other over time, and because the act of getting online is a lot easier than it used to be. And you can help that happen.

Sweet spot marketing

Golf (or maybe tennis) has the true myth of the sweet spot. That special part of the club (racket) that magically makes the ball go farther and straighter.

There's a sweet spot in promotion and PR as well. Let me give you a few examples from the book world to get us started:

Peter Drucker was in the sweet spot for the Harvard Business Review. His background, reputation and style of writing contributed to him writing more pieces for them than anyone else. (My stuff, on the other hand, is blacklisted by the HBR. They won't even consider my work.)

If you want to get reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, don't even consider self-publishing. Don't write a how to book. Don't write something particularly funny, either. But it sure helps to be published by Knopf. Literary fiction by respected writers published by Knopf is the sweet spot (history comes in a close second).

There's a sweet spot for getting on Oprah and for being on NPR as well.You rarely hear about romance novels on All Things Considered.

My point isn't that you shouldn't try to get these middlemen to broaden their horizons or to give up on something you're passionate about. It's just that it might be easier to build a new sweet spot than it is to persuade an established middleman to change his rules for you.

I never had a chance with existing magazines so I invented a writing style for myself that worked well with Fast Company, which until then had never had a columnist. Bloggers around the world are discovering that it's cheaper and faster and more effective to build their own media channel than it is to waste time arguing with the old ones.

So I guess my advice would be to either build your product and network along the way to align with exactly what the middlemen want... or reject them and live/thrive without them. It's the middle ground that's really frustrating.

Alarm clocks

For twenty cents or so, alarm clock manufacturers can add a chip that not only knows the time (via a radio signal) but knows what day it is too. Which means that they can add a switch that says "weekends." Which means that the 98% of the population that doesn't want to wake up on the same time on weekends as they do on weekdays will be happier (and better rested.)

This isn't as complicated or expensive as my idea four years ago.

So why doesn't every alarm clock have this feature? Because most people in that business are busy doing their jobs (distribution, promotion, pricing, etc.), not busy making products that people actually want to buy--and talk about.

There are very few products and services that wouldn't get a lot better if people just tried to make them better.

You get to choose

That's the cool thing about marketing. Unlike most other functions in the organization, you get to choose where and how you do what you do.

If you don't have the money to do a full-scale TV campaign that's going to work, you shouldn't choose TV.
If you don't have the organizational support to engage in a long-term grassroots strategy, don't do it.

I was talking to a journalist about bootstrapping the other day and he wanted me to share some examples of big, capital-intensive companies that got their start by bootstrapping. My answer was pretty simple, "If you don't have a lot of capital, don't choose a business that requires it."

If you have an organization that is slow and deliberative, don't enter a market that rewards the fleet of foot.
If you have colleagues that love to discuss everything out loud, don't choose a campaign that will fail if the market senses internal discussion and disagreement...

Don't raise VC money for a business that can't possibly pay off for the investors. Don't promote a lunch menu in a neighborhood where no one goes out for lunch. It seems terribly obvious, but bad choices, choices where you're going against the wind instead of with it, are the easiest mistakes to avoid.


Google analytics has been available for free for a while now, and most of us still aren't using it properly. Here's a book (and blog, etc.) that really helped me get started.


New times demand new conventions. In a world where twitter and facebook and blogs can spread an idea around the world in a few seconds, how do you have a conversation with someone in confidence?

Just say NFYB ("not for your blog.")

Just like safe sex, it might not be romantic, but it's something we need to talk about. So talk about it. The presumption is rapidly changing. It used to be that all emails or whispered hallway discussions were 'off the record.' Now, more and more, there is a bias to post/twit or share. "NFYB" clears the air.

When everyone is a journalist, most things are on the record.

Hugh's list

The net loves lists. Sometimes, they're even really inspiring and really useful.

Punishing the outliers

Mushahid points out that a nearby McDonald's has a sauce policy. If you want six or eight packets of dipping sauce for your chicken knuckles (or whatever), they charge you for them. The sign is big and loud and probably in ALL CAPITAL letters.

I can see why this happened.

99 people out of a hundred take one or two packets of sauce. One guy takes 20. This is infuriating. You lost money on this guy. He's a pig. He probably hordes the sauce and uses it on his eggs in the morning or whatever.

Like the jerks who buy a couch at DWR and then return it after the party.

Just because you're in business doesn't mean you have to be a patsy, doesn't mean you have to give away everything all the time. Or does it?

There are two pieces of math that might help you figure this out. The first is simple: How much do the bad guys cost us? If it's a cost of doing business, it's probably not worth changing your atmosphere/guarantee/state of mind over. Sure, shoplifting would go down if you locked up each item behind the glass. But punishing the majority costs you far more than the theft does.

The second is a little more subtle: does the bad behavior spread or damage the experience of the good guys. Not in the sauce example, certainly, but yes when it comes to people spamming your comments board or smoking in the elevator.

If I were McDonald's, I'd just add another item to the menu: Extra sauce, 20 cents. Give your frontline staff the authority to waive the fee for good customers or small extras ("I'm supposed to charge you for the extra sauce, but don't worry about it, it's free for you today.") but it's an easy way to deal with the guy who wants 25 packets. It doesn't offend the good guys and provides a limit for the bad guys.

« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »