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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

« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

Do you know enough?

If not, what are you doing about it?

If so, who do you think you're kidding?

[Interesting side alley: I was talking to a friend yesterday and encouraged her to speak at an upcoming conference. She said, "No way. I don't know enough." I explained that volunteering to speak was the best way to be sure that she'd end up knowing enough by the time she was through.]

The system doesn't know what to do with a movement

Scott reminded me of this post today.

If you've been waiting for an opportunity, this might just be the opportunity you've been waiting for.

The number one secret of the great blogs

Every one of them leads a tribe.

Boingboing readers recognize each other at conferences. We use the same shorthand, we recognize the same memes. Huffingtonpost editors don't try to reach everyone. Instead, they are hosting a digital cocktail party for invited guests that have something in common. Garr Reynolds doesn't try to teach everyone about Powerpoint... instead, he leads a tribe of people committed to changing the way the world communicates in meetings.

Go down the list. Hugh leads a tribe. Josh  leads a tribe. So does Mitch. And Guy, who just wrote a book for his tribe too. It's not hard to find other examples for my thesis.

In each case, the function of the blog is to be a standard bearer, the north star that tribe members can point to as a place to meet or for ideas to circle around. The blog isn't about the writer, it's about the readers.

The key takeaway is this: once you realize that your job is to find and connect and lead a tribe, to give them something to talk about and a place to go, it's a lot easier to write a blog that works.

Too good to be true (the overnight millionaire scam)

You probably don't need to read this, but I bet you know people who do. Please feel free to repost or forward:

Times are tough, and many say they are going to be tougher. That makes some people more focused, it turns others desperate.

You may be tempted at some point to try to make a million dollars. To do it without a lot of effort or skill or risk. Using a system, some shortcut perhaps, or mortgaging something you already own.

There are countless infomercials and programs and systems that promise to help you do this. There are financial instruments and investments and documents you can sign that promise similar relief from financial stress.


There are four ways to make a million dollars. Luck. Patient effort. Skill. Risk.

(Five if you count inheritance, and six if you count starting with two million dollars).

Conspicuously missing from this list are effortless 1-2-3 systems that involve buying an expensive book or series of tapes. Also missing are complicated tax shelters or other 'proven' systems. The harder someone tries to sell you this solution, the more certain you should be that it is a scam. If no skill or effort is required, then why doesn't the promoter just hire a bunch of people at minimum wage and keep the profits?

There are literally a million ways to make a good living online, ten million ways to start and thrive with your own business offline. But all of these require effort, and none of them are likely to make you a million dollars.

Short version of my opinion: If someone offers to sell you the secret system, don't buy it. If you need to invest in a system before you use it, walk away. If you are promised big returns with no risk and little effort, you know the person is lying to you. Every time.

Don't sell to bar owners

Rama wrote in and asked why I mentioned this. What's so hard about selling advertising to bar owners, and what can we learn from that?

My answer:

1. they're not eager to buy new stuff (like ads)
2. they don't come to the phone
3. they don't come to the front of the bar because they're not at the bar, they're somewhere else
4. they're not really trying to grow the business

The universal lesson is this: every business has customers. In order to grow, you either need to sell more to those customers or find new customers. When thinking about your business, I'd ask:

  • How difficult is it to get permission to talk to our existing customers?
  • How difficult is it to get them to introduce us to their friends, colleagues and competitors?
  • What's the worldview of this audience? Do they trust us? Are they looking for new solutions?
  • Will this audience go out of their way to avoid us? Will they try to rip us off as a matter of course?
  • How price sensitive are they? Will that change if a truly remarkable or game-changing product or service appears?
  • Is there a problem that they know they have? If not, then we have to not only sell the solution, we need to sell the problem too (Jeremy mentioned that to me today--problems are missing from so many new product launches).

The biggest problem marketers make is misjudging their audience. The see the size of the market, but not its true nature: Their accessibility and eagerness. Their worldview and motivation. All too often, we say, "that's Sales' job." And it's true, a superstar salesperson might very well be able to sell to an audience that doesn't want to be sold to.

Marketers are guilty of hoping for too much from a typical salesforce. In my experience, 90% of the salespeople out there are below average (because performance is a curve, not a line). The superstars are hard to find, hard to keep and hard to count on scaling. So that means you must create a product that doesn't require a superstar to sell it. And the only way you're going to sell an ad to a [insert difficult marketplace here] is to create a product/service/story that sells itself.

Good advice, easily overlooked


Number one rule for avoiding alligator attacks:

Don't swim in bodies of water containing large alligators.

Of course, sometimes the thing you want is on the other side of that body of water. If so, don't complain, just swim fast.

The marketer's attitude

Traditional job requirements: show up, sober. Listen to the boss, lift heavy objects.

Here's what I'd want if I were hiring a marketer:

You're relentlessly positive. You can visualize complex projects and imagine alternative possible outcomes. It's one thing to talk about thinking outside the box, it's quite another to have a long history of doing it successfully. You can ride a unicycle, or can read ancient Greek.

Show me that you've taken on and completed audacious projects, and run them as the lead, not as a hanger on. I'm interested in whether you've become the best in the world at something, and completely unimpressed that you are good at following instructions (playing Little League baseball is worth far less than organizing a non-profit organization).

You have charisma in that you easily engage with strangers and actually enjoy selling ideas to others. You are comfortable with ambiguity, and rarely ask for detail or permission. Test, measure, repeat and go work just fine for you.

You like to tell stories and you're good at it. You're good at listening to stories, and using them to change your mind.

I'd prefer to hire someone who is largely self-motivated, who finds satisfaction in reaching self-imposed goals, and is willing to regularly raise the bar on those goals.

You're intellectually restless. You care enough about new ideas to read plenty of blogs and books, and you're curious enough about your own ideas that you blog or publish your thoughts for others to react to. You're an engaging writer and speaker and you can demonstrate how the right visuals can change your story.

And you understand that the system is intertwined, that your actions have side effects and you not only care about them but work to make those side effects good ones.

The cool thing about this list is that it's not dependent on what you were born with or who you know. Or how much you can lift.

Seen it all before

What can you assume about your audience?

If you’re running a commercial, sending out a sales letter, making a presentation--what have they seen? What do they know?

A hundred years ago, when people went to see live music, the expectation was that they had never seen the work performed before, and they were unlikely to ever hear it again.

Forty years ago, it was assumed you were up to date on the current TV shows and the current commercials and the recent movies, but something from a decade earlier was too far in the past to refer to.

Now, if I give a presentation, I have to figure that some people in the audience have not only seen my five year old talk at TED, but they’ve seen EVERY talk that’s ever been giving at TED. Today, if you make an online video, you need to assume that some people have seen thousands or tens of thousands of online videos before you got there. Every TV show ever made is floating around somewhere. Cultural references don’t go away, they just get added to the stack.

Nokia now assumes that you’ve seen the iPhone. New photo sharing sites assume you’ve seen Flickr. Stephenie Meyer assumes you’ve read Harry Potter.

While it’s likely that some people in your audience have seen almost everything, it’s also quite likely that there’s nothing (nothing!) that everyone in your audience has seen. There are going to be people who don’t get this reference or that reference. There are certainly going to be people who, given the needle in a haystack culture we live in now, just haven’t seen the particular idea you’re riffing on.

Your audience isn’t as homogeneous as it used to be. That means you have a few choices:

1. Inquire. For a small group, or for important interactions, ask. Ask if they’ve been to your site or read your recent blog posts. Ask if they use this software or that software. Ask if they’ve seen Buckaroo Bonzai or not. Ask if this is the first time in your restaurant (or better yet, let your database tell you).

2. Assume. If you don’t ask, you’re going to have to guess. You can make it clear you’re assuming, which puts the burden on the unclued to keep up, or you can take a huge risk and just assume. This strategy works best for large groups, where hitting a home run with half the audience is probably worth the journey.

3. Punt. Don’t ask, don’t make thoughtful assumptions, just pretend we’re living in a three-channel, all-on-the-same-page universe. I think this is the default setting for most marketers, and quite a mistake.

Off the record

One of the best lines of Animal House, sanitized here for your enjoyment: "You screwed up. You trusted me."

In a world where everyone owns a media channel, I guess that makes us all journalists. Journalists have more power than ordinary folks, because they can spread a message farther and faster. The question is, what sort of long-term choices are you going to make in your career as an amateur journalist?

Seymour Hersh has won a Pulitzer Prize for his hard-hitting coverage of the Pentagon, and one reason he's able to break big stories is because his sources know that they won't get busted for talking to him. The reason? He doesn't reveal them. There's no doubt that he could make a huge splash by writing, "Colin Powell told me..." but of course, if he did that, burned a source that spoke to him off the record, he'd never be trusted again.

I end all my emails with a sig that says, "This note is off the record (blogs, too) unless we agree otherwise." I don't do this because I have something to hide, I do it because it makes it easier to have a human-to-human conversation. If I believe I'm talking on the record, to everyone, I need to be a lot more careful in what I type. Of course, there's no way for me to enforce this. No way for me to sue you or something if you start taking my words (in context or not) and post them here and there. Except for one: I just won't trust you again. And in fact, neither will your other readers. [Blogs, profiles, and tweets of course, are out there for anyone who wants to borrow or share them.]

Go to a party and take embarrassing pictures of your friends to post on Facebook. That's fun, certainly, but it's possible that you won't be quite as trusted next time.

Take that email your boss sent to the six people in your group and post it anonymously to some web gossip site... wanna bet your boss is a lot more careful about telling you and your peers the truth next time?

The good news is that we all need to act as if we're on camera... behavior ought to improve. The bad news is that it's harder to trust people we might have expected to be more discreet or engaged.

There's a giddy history of amateurs using the web to build up scandal sheets and generate traffic by violating the trust of their friends and colleagues. What's clear is that this isn't a long term strategy for success. When in doubt, ask first. Maybe your source doesn't mind. Maybe you misunderstood the intent of the original message. Trust is really valuable and equally fragile.

You can fool us once, but probably not twice.

Three new jobs you might want to consider

Every company that works online today ought to consider hiring three amazing people to lead these projects:

  1. COMMUNITY ORGANIZER. Find and connect and lead a tribe of dedicated users that contribute to and benefit from the work you do.
  2. STATS FIEND. Measure everything that can be measured. Do it efficiently and consistently. Find out what metrics are important and cycle until they improve.
  3. MANAGER OF FREELANCERS. Find and hire and manage the best outside talent in the world. If it can be defined as a project, and if great work defeats good, seriously consider having the MOF get it done.

With three superstars doing these jobs, it's possible you can create almost anything.

« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »