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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

« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

Leadership is now the strongest marketing strategy

Yelling with gusto used to be the best way to advertise your wares. There was plenty of media and if you had plenty of money, you were set.

Today, of course, yelling doesn't work so well.

What works is leading. Leading a (relatively) small group of people. Taking them somewhere they'd like to go. Connecting them to one another.

I say relatively because there are few products that need everyone in order to succeed. A tiny sliver of the market is enough. Bill Niman used to run Niman Ranch, a cooperative raising meat for fancy restaurants and markets. That was already a sliver of the huge huge market for meat. He moved on to start BN, a 1000 acre farm raising goats for a subset of that subset. It's enough.

It's enough if the tribe you lead knows about you and cares about you and wants to follow you. It's enough if your leadership changes things, galvanizes the audience and puts the status quo under stress. And it's enough if the leadership you provide makes a difference.

Go down the list of online success stories. The big winners are organizations that give tribes of people a platform to connect.

Go down the list of fashion businesses or business to business organizations. Same thing. Charities, too. Churches, certainly.

It's so tempting to believe that we are merely broadcasters, putting together a play list and hurtling it out to the rest of the world. Louder is better. But we're not. Now we're leaders.

People want to connect. They want you to do the connecting.

The rapid growth (and destruction) and growth of marketing

Charlie030 Hand selling

Mass marketing
-Newspaper ads
-Radio ads
-TV ads
-Banner ads

Direct marketing
-Direct mail

Viral marketing

Permission marketing
-relevant text ads

Is there a pattern here? Marketing had an arc, one that started with personal, local interactions between real people and rapidly morphed into very corporate anonymous actions aimed at the unwilling masses. Charlie the Tuna is humorous, but he only existed to sell tuna, not to improve our lives.

Mass marketing created an angry, selfish beast, a hungry one, one that demanded to be fed. So marketers fed it, they fed it with any ads they could find. And when they couldn't find ads, they spammed us. All in the name of commerce, all because they're doing their job.

If this blog had existed twenty years ago, every single marketer reading it would have been a mass marketer, a direct marketer or a spammer. All day, every day. In the last ten years, the arc switched its trajectory and the selfish nature of marketing started to unravel.

The web led to permission marketing, which throws a monkey wrench into the selfish rationalization of marketers. Ads that went to people who wanted them outperformed (50:1) ads aimed at strangers. Suddenly, respect becomes profitable.

Wait! What about reaching new people? What about growth? Enter the ideavirus. Viral marketing, remarkable products, word of mouth online... all of these tactics are part of the same strategy: ideas that spread, win. If the internet is a giant meme machine, spreading ideas further and faster than ever before, the winners are those organizations that make things worth talking about. A purple cow isn't a fancy gimmick, or something you slap on to last year's item. A purple cow is a remarkable story, a story that spreads.

Social media's growth in the last three years, though, gives marketers an inkling that there may be something else going on. Sure, they can run spam ads on Facebook, but they don't work. Social media, it turns out, isn't about aggregating audiences so you can yell at them about the junk you want to sell. Social media, in fact, is a basic human need, revealed digitally online. We want to be connected, to make a difference, to matter, to be missed. We want to belong, and yes, we want to be led.

My new book is called Tribes and it comes out today. I started to write a leadership book but discovered that I was actually writing a marketing book. (Either that, or I started to write a marketing book and ended up writing about leadership, I can't remember). Either way, what I discovered in writing it is this: The next frontier of marketing is in leading groups of people who are working together to get somewhere.

As someone who was buying millions of dollars of magazine ads just 24 years ago, this is a lot of change to swallow. And it's also the biggest opportunity for good/meaning/success that I can imagine. More details are here.

Things have changed, far more dramatically than most people realize. Not just what marketers buy, but what the media does all day, and what marketers build, and what we get paid to do and what and where we pay attention...

Here's the wager: A year from now, 10/16/09, will you be leading a tribe of people? Will you be creating stories, connecting people, giving them a platform and making things better for people who care about each other? I'm betting you will.

Free Tribes ebook

In honor of today's publication of my new book, Tribes, I asked the people who joined the online triiibe group to write an ebook.

And they did. It's more than 240 pages long, and it's free.

Download CurrentTribesCasebook.pdf

You can get it from the link above. Feel free to share it or post it or print it, but please don't sell it.

Context: Three months ago, I posted just once about joining a private online group (it's on Ning... sort of like Facebook, but by invitation only). Well, quite a few people joined in, and about 10% became seriously active. On good days, there's a new post every minute or two. There are hundreds of groups, thousands of discussions and a lot of energy. The triiibe taught me a great deal about the dynamics of a group, and they've been a terrific resource, not just for me, but for each other. This ebook represents some of their thinking. The group remains closed, but feel free to start one of your own.

PS the photos on the inside flap of the book are not just the people in the triiibe. They are every photo I could squeeze in that got sent to me by readers in May. I have to confess I'm inspired every time I see it.

Maybe you can't make money doing what you love

The thing is, it's far easier than ever before to surface your ideas. Far easier to have someone notice your art or your writing or your photography. Which means that people who might have hidden their talents are now finding them noticed...

That blog you've built, the one with a lot of traffic... perhaps it can't be monetized.

That non-profit you work with, the one where you are able to change lives... perhaps turning it into a career will ruin it.

That passion you have for art... perhaps making your painting commercial enough to sell will squeeze the joy out of it.

When what you do is what you love, you're able to invest more effort and care and time. That means you're more likely to win, to gain share, to profit. On the other hand, poets don't get paid. Even worse, poets that try to get paid end up writing jingles and failing and hating it at the same time.

Today, there are more ways than ever to share your talents and hobbies in public. And if you're driven, talented and focused, you may discover that the market loves what you do. That people read your blog or click on your cartoons or listen to your mp3s. But, alas, that doesn't mean you can monetize it, quit your day job and spend all day writing songs.

The pitfalls:
1. In order to monetize your work, you'll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars
2. Attention doesn't always equal significant cash flow.

I think it makes sense to make your art your art, to give yourself over to it without regard for commerce.

Doing what you love is as important as ever, but if you're going to make a living at it, it helps to find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with.

A friend who loved music, who wanted to spend his life doing it, got a job doing PR for a record label. He hated doing PR, realized that just because he was in the record business didn't mean he had anything at all to do with music. Instead of finding a job he could love, he ended up being in proximity to, but nowhere involved with, something he cared about. I wish he had become a committed school teacher instead, spending every minute of his spare time making music and sharing it online for free. Instead, he's a frazzled publicity hound working twice as many hours for less money and doing no music at all.

Maybe you can't make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now). But I bet you can figure out how to love what you do to make money (if you choose wisely).

Do your art. But don't wreck your art if it doesn't lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy.

(And the twist, because there is always a twist, is that as soon as you focus on your art and leave the money behind, you may just discover that this focus turns out to be the secret of actually breaking through and making money.)

Do you know about twitter search?

Warning: addictive, disheartening, thrilling or banal... often in combination.

Visiting twitter search will allow you to track what the anonymous masses are saying about you, your favorite politicians, your brand, whatever...

You can grab an RSS feed of any search you do, so your rss reader will be always updated with what's going on with the buzz on things you care about.

It's sort of like a 24 hour a day focus group, a never-ending riff on what people are buzzing about. Don't say I didn't warn you.

PS if you use twitter, remember that what you say is not just seen by your few followers. It's seen by anyone who searches.

What does this remind you of?

Every time you visit a new website, enter a new airport, visit a new store, examine a new book... the question you ask first off is, "what's this like?"

At a strange airport, if it's 'like' your airport, you know just what to do. It's easy. If it's totally different, you have to stop, regroup, and start to understand what's involved.

If a book has cheap color separations, the wrong sort of gloss on the cover and the wrong hue to the paper, it just feels cheap and self-published and unlikely to be the real deal. It doesn't matter a bit what's inside, who wrote it, anything. You've already decided because this book reminds you of untrustworthy books you've encountered before.

Visit a website with a brown on brown color scheme, a stock photo of a nautilus, some flashing graphics, a bunch of widgets and a typeface that's not quite right, and you've already decided how you feel. Entirely based on the fact that this site is like those sites, and you didn't like those sites.

Meet someone at a conference who is dressed perfectly, with shined shoes and a great suit (but not trying too hard) and you're inclined to trust and respect him... because he reminds you of someone in a similar situation who was trustworthy.

Obvious, right?

So why do marketers so often miss this shortcut? Before you make what you're going to make, find something you want people to be reminded of. Feel free to discard this model if you want to make a point (the ipod did not remind you of a Sony CD player), but discard it on purpose. If you're writing a book, for example,  your goal (probably) isn't to reinvent what it means to be a book. You're merely trying to reinvent the words and ideas. So when it comes to the jacket and the type, steal relentlessly. Your audience will thank you, because it's one less thing to process.

When in doubt, ask your colleagues, "what does this remind you of?"

Rock stars

A bonus quote for a Sunday afternoon:

A rock star is not someone who takes the temperature, who gauges the marketplace before he creates his "art".  A rock star is someone who needs to create and is willing to tolerate the haters along with the fans.  He’s someone who incites controversy just by existing.  That’s what we lost in the dash for cash.  Unique voices.  I’m not saying we haven’t ended up with some pleasant music, but it just hasn’t hit you in the gut, it’s the aural equivalent of Splenda, it might do the trick, but it’s not the real thing.  The real thing grabs your attention, drives down deep into your heart and lodges itself there.  A rock star doesn’t follow conventions, doesn’t go disco or add drum machines just because everybody else does.  A rock star exists in his own unique space, and if you met him you probably wouldn’t like him. Because he tends to be self-focused to the point of being narcissistic.  Because he cares.  He needs to get his message out.

Dilemma: This is a quote from Bob Lefsetz (his blog is profane, direct and will make some people uncomfortable). Bob is, in fact, a rock star. But it's his blog, not yours, and you should only read it if you want to be provoked. And you shouldn't read it if it bothers you to read things online that you disagree with. Some people will be upset by Bob's blog, which means that they'll be upset by my quoting any part of it. At some point, though, the web comes down to bumping into things we might disagree with. That's my favorite part. It's where the learning happens.

Bowling 300

Last week, I had interactions with two organizations that did exactly what they said they would do. Thanks to Brad and his team at Catalyst and to Christoper Justice at Sparkskight. Neither asked or expected anything in return, they just did great work.

There are very few endeavors where perfect is possible (bowling is one, of course). It turns out that when you take on a complex task like putting on a conference or shooting a video, you won't deliver perfect. 300 is a random event, not something achievable.

In those situations (which means most of the time for most of us) the question is, "what do you do when things don't go exactly the way you planned a month ago?" And it turns out that if your bias is to always make it right, to use grace and flair to overdeliver at every turn, you've just discovered the single most important secret of marketing. Because when you amaze and delight, people talk about you.

Pithy quotes

Hughtrain8166 From an interview I just did with Hugh at gapingvoid

Everyone isn’t going to be a leader. But everyone isn’t going to be successful, either.

Success is now the domain of people who lead. That doesn’t mean they’re in charge, it doesn’t mean they are the CEO, it merely means that for a group, even a small group, they show the way, they spread ideas, they make change. Those people are the only successful people we’ve got.

Waiting until the last hour

I figure that the cliche was never, "the last hour," but for a long time, it was, "waiting until the last minute." In our ever-faster society, now we wait for the last second.

Of course we do. Why shouldn't we? The last second eliminates the need to make a decision, most of the time, because the last second doesn't arrive, thus saving us the angst. And when we do take action, there's no penalty (usually) for waiting.

Airlines and others penalize people for planning ahead by instituting non-refundable fares. We don't get treated like royalty for signing up early, and the penalties for waiting often seem fairly small.

In Florida, on the other hand, where dinner is half price before 5 pm, the restaurants are often packed.

Every time I've posted a job or an offer with a deadline, I get amazingly well-written and thoughtful notes one day after the deadline has passed, begging for another chance, or quoting time zones or some other sort of nonsense. Of course, it's all because we've persuaded ourselves to wait till the last second.

With less than two weeks to go, my event in New York has officially reached the last minute. If you want a seat, today is the day, as there are only 38 left. The first five people to buy a seat today (here's the link) get a free copy of my DVD set. Early bird special, you know.

« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »