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SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

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.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

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IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

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IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

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IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

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IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

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IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

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.

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

Expose yourself...

With so many options in media, interaction and venues, you now get to choose what you expose yourself to.

Expose yourself to art, and you'll come to appreciate it and aspire to make it.

Expose yourself to anonymous scathing critics and you will begin to believe them (or flinch in anticipation of their next appearance.)

Expose yourself to get-rich-quick stories and you'll want to become one.

Expose yourself to fast food ads and you'll crave french fries.

Expose yourself to angry mobs of uninformed, easily manipulated protesters and you'll want to join a mob.

Expose yourself to metrics about your brand or business or performance and you'll work to improve them.

Expose yourself to anger and you might get angry too.

Expose yourself to people making smart decisions and you'll probably learn how to do it as well.

Expose yourself to eager long-term investors (of every kind) and you'll likely to start making what they want to support.

It's a choice if you want it to be.

Have you thought about your margin?

Gross margin is an often confused concept but a powerful tool in figuring out how to market your business (and decide what to make, who to hire and how to fund it). Few people understand it, while others use a definition I don't find very useful.

I like to think of margin as the money left over after you've paid the direct costs for making an item, the last one of the day.

If you run a pizza place and a large pie costs $10, your gross margin is $10 minus the cost of flour, water, yeast, tomatoes and cheese. And maybe salt. That's it.

If you're not operating at capacity, the key word here is margin. The marginal profit of one more pizza is high. You've already paid for the rent, the oven, the sign, the ad in the Yellow Pages, the hourly wage, the uniforms, all of it. Whether you sell that last pizza of the day or not, all those costs are fixed. So, if your ingredients cost $2, your gross margin is $8.

This is vital to understand, because it tells you how flexible you can be with a promotional strategy. Some people (like me) prefer businesses with high gross margins, even if we're less busy. Others make billions on companies that run on the tiniest of margins.

If someone offers to run a coupon in the Welcome Wagon envelope that goes to new residents, and the rules are, "one per customer, new customers only", and the coupon offers a large pizza for $2, is it worth it for you to run it? That's 80% off! Surely, this is too expensive. You can't afford 80% off.

On the margin, of course you can. You got a new customer for free. Unless your store is at capacity, with people waiting in line, one more pizza sold at cost is a great way to build your business (unless there are too many coupons and unless it changes your positioning as a high-end place, but that's a story for a different day).

You probably already guessed this part: for digital goods, the gross margin is 100%. Cell phone calls? The same.

One more customer costs you nothing. That doesn't mean you should price accordingly, but it surely means you should understand how high your margins are.

There is no tribe of normal

People don't coalesce into active and committed tribes around the status quo.

The only vibrant tribes in our communities are the ones closer the edges, or those trying to make change. The center is large, but it's not connected.

If you're trying to build a tribe, a community or a movement, and you want it to be safe and beyond reproach at the same time, you will fail.

Heretical thoughts, delivered in a way that capture the attention of the minority--that's the path that works.

When in doubt, disaggregate

The typical American buys precisely one book a year.

Ouch.

Of course, this isn't true, because when it comes to books, there is no typical American. There are a lot of Americans who buy zero books for pleasure each year. And then there are people like me who buy 400. The average is irrelevant.

When you can't figure out the best way to treat all your customers, the best way to price things, the best thing to offer, realize that the problem is almost always this: you're trying to treat everyone the same. Don't. Break them into groups with similar attributes, and suddenly the path becomes a lot more clear.

Breaking news

I don't know if you've noticed, but there seems to be a lot more breaking news than there used to be.

The thing is, there's no more news, just more breaking.

If news is stuff I need to know, want to know, stuff that will help me make better decisions or generally keep me informed, then, no, I'm not noticing more of it.

If breaking is stuff that interrupts a TV interview, flashes across a website, breaks into a radio show or just shows up on Twitter, then yep, there's a lot more breaking going on.

You can turn your reddit posts or your press releases or your Facebook updates or blog posts into urgent announcements that demand attention. And in the short run, it might work. But then you'll exhaust your readers. We don't want any more urgent emails from you.

... like the boy who cried wolf, the villagers aren't going to come.

Does knowing about something ten seconds or ten minutes faster really matter? Is it worth the adrenalin?

Sorry, wake me up in the morning, not in the middle of the night. Unless it's actually news.

Rights and responsibilities

Robert Bookman from the restaurant industry was quoted as saying that it would violate the free speech rights of restaurant owners if they had to post a health department grade of their cleanliness in the window.

More and more, businesses and businesspeople talk about their rights.

It seems, though, that organizations and individuals that focus more on their responsibilities and less on their rights tend to outperform.

You're responsible to your community, to your customers, to your employees and to your art. Serve them and the rights thing tends to take care of itself.

Another thought: If I worked at Pepsi, I'd be actively lobbying for the obesity sweet soda tax (a penny an ounce) being proposed in New York. Instead, in a no-surprise knee jerk reaction, almost everyone in the industry is lobbying like crazy to stop it. This is dumb marketing.

The benefit of a tax is that it affects you and your competitors at the same time, so you all benefit from doing the right thing, as opposed to having to compete against someone who doesn't care as much as you do.

Once people realize that excessive use of your product makes them sick and then die a long and painful death, it's probably time to stop lobbying and time to start doing something about it. This industry should stop thinking it is in the corn syrup delivery business (which brings nasty side effects along with it) and start focusing on delivering joy in a bottle. Lots of interesting ways to do that without giving up profits.

If your success depends on sickening the poorest and least educated portion of your customer base (and the ones that buy the most from you), it's time to redefine success.

The Levy flight

Clay Shirky taught me this very cool mathematical concept that shows up in nature, and now in marketing and social media.

Levy-flight-100000 An animal that forages will hang out in a small area, looking for nuts or berries, then will realize it has used up all the likely sources in this spot. It will then head off in a random direction, walk many paces, and start foraging again. When you plot the Levy flight, it looks like this:

Someone discovers your site. They poke and prod and join and return and return again. Then they feel as though there's no more benefit and they move on, surfing until they find another place to forage.

Someone finds your restaurant. They love it. They return with friends. They hang out and become regulars for a while. Then they get bored and start browsing again.

Adding the Levy flight to your understanding is a much more nuanced representation of consumer behavior than solely thinking about the ideas of brand loyalty or random web surfing.

Secrets of the biggest selling launch ever

Apple reports that on the first day they sold more than $150,000,000 worth of iPads. I can't think of a product or movie or any other launch that has ever come close to generating that much direct revenue.

Are their tactics reserved for giant consumer fads? I don't think so. In fact, they work even better for smaller gigs and more focused markets.

  1. Earn a permission asset. Over 25 years, Apple has earned the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to their tribe. They can get the word out about a new product without a lot of money because one by one, they've signed people up. They didn't sell 300,000 iPads in one day, they sold them over a few decades.
  2. Don't try to please everyone. There are countless people who don't want one, haven't heard of one or actively hate it. So what? (Please don't gloss over this one just because it's short. In fact, it's the biggest challenge on this list).
  3. Make a product worth talking about. Sounds obvious. If it's so obvious, then why don't the other big companies ship stuff like this? Most of them are paralyzed going to meetings where they sand off the rough edges.
  4. Make it easy for people to talk about you. Steve doesn't have a blog. He doesn't tweet and you can't friend him on Facebook. That's okay. The tribe loves to talk, and the iPad gave them something to talk about.
  5. Build a platform for others to play in. Not just your users, but for people who want to reach your users.
  6. Create a culture of wonder. Microsoft certainly has the engineers, the developers and the money to launch this. So why did they do the Zune instead? Because they never did the hard cultural work of creating the internal expectation that shipping products like this is possible and important.
  7. Be willing to fail. Bold bets succeed--and sometimes they don't. Is that okay with you? Launching the iPad had to be even more frightening than launching a book...
  8. Give the tribe a badge. The cool thing about marketing the iPad is that it's a visible symbol, a uniform. If you have one in the office on Monday, you were announcing your membership. And if it says, "sent from my iPad" on the bottom of your emails...
  9. Don't give up so easy. Apple clearly a faced a technical dip in creating this product... they worked on it for more than a dozen years. Most people would have given up long ago.
  10. Don't worry so much about conventional wisdom. The iPad is a closed system (not like the web) because so many Apple users like closed systems.

And the one thing I'd caution you about:

  1. Don't worry so much about having a big launch day. It looks good in the newspaper, but almost every successful brand or product (Nike, JetBlue, Starbucks, IBM...) didn't start that way.

A few things that will make it work even better going forward:

  1. Create a product that works better when your friends have one too. Some things (like a Costco membership or even email) fit into that category, because if more people join, the prices will go down or access will go up. Others (like the unlisted number to a great hot restaurant) don't.
  2. Make it cheap enough or powerful enough that organizations buy a lot at a time. To give away. To use as a tool.
  3. Change the home screen so I can see more than twenty apps at a time (sorry, that was just me.)

As promised, the folks at Vook made their deadline and were ready on launch day. It's early days, but it's pretty clear to me that the way authors with ideas will share them is going to change pretty radically, just as the iPad demonstrates that the way people interact with the web is going to keep changing as well.

[It turns out that Modern Warfare 2 did far better in its launch than the iPad. Thanks Jon, for the update].

The Linchpin index is now available (free)

Josh Bernoff is a generous guy with an unusual hobby... he likes to make book indices.

Safer than juggling knives, that's for sure.

Josh just posted the missing index for my book Linchpin. Usually, the publisher does the index, and I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't realized it was missing. Now I'm glad it's here.

Two asides about the book: The full-length audio (itunes, audible) is probably the best reading of one of my books. Audio books work (for me) when you can listen to them more than once. I listened to my Zig Ziglar tapes more than a hundred times each--and I'm glad I did. And the hardcover, (bn) I'm told, is selling twice as fast as any book I've ever published. Thanks for that.

Enjoy the index! Special thanks to Josh for making it happen.

Revisiting conspicuous consumption

The reason you have a front lawn? It's a tradition. Lawns were invented as a way for the landed gentry to demonstrate that they could afford to waste land. By taking the land away from the grazing sheep, they were sending a message to their neighbors. We're rich, we can happily waste the opportunity to make a few bucks from our front lawn.

Conspicuous consumption has a long history. Wasting millions of dollars on a shark in a tank, or on $50,000 platinum stereo cables that sound an awful lot like $2000 stereo cables (which sound a lot like $200 stereo cables). And on and on.

In fact, the origins of the luxury goods industry lie in this desire to waste, in public. 350 years ago in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert dreamed up the idea of bespoke, rare goods as a way of improving France's balance of trade.  LVMH and other huge corporations collect brands that telegraph scarcity above all else. Not that they're better at performing the task at hand, merely that they are expensive and rare.

(Interesting note: it's estimated that 20% of all the women in Japan in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton bag... scarce?)

In every city there are expensive hotels that are noisy, with $56 breakfasts, no parking, blinds that don't make the room dark and rooms that don't have enough closets. But the very waste of paying extra to stay there ensures that you'll be surrounded by others just as wealthy and just as interested in proving it.

Rich people will always indulge the desire to stand out, but I wonder if there's a new version:

Spending on and investing in time, not stuff.

And it's not so wasteful, this focus on craftsmen.

The new trend in spending money is to buy things that are painstakingly hand built instead of efficiently mass produced. It might not be a better price than what you could buy at Target, but the very fact that you can pay for an artisan to create it, an artist to design it, a talented worker to bring it to life--that act makes a powerful statement about what you can afford and what's important to you. Instead of a bigger house, it's a house that's built from scratch by craftsmen. Instead of a bigger steak, it's a handmade dish of local poached vegetables...

All marketers tell a story. The "this is the best price and value" story is just one of those available, and in fact, it's rarely the most effective for the audience you may be trying to reach.

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