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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

« February 2011 | Main | April 2011 »

The limits of evidence-based marketing

That's what most of us do. We present facts and proof and expect a rational consumer/voter/follower/peer to make an intelligent decision on what's better.

That's how science works. Thesis, test, evidence, conclusion. All testable and rational.

Here's the conversation that needs to happen before we invest a lot of time in evidence-based marketing in the face of skepticism: "What evidence would you need to see in order to change your mind?"

If the honest answer is, "well, actually, there's nothing you could show me that would change my mind," you've just saved everyone a lot of time. Please don't bother having endless fact-based discussions.

[Apple tried to use evidence to persuade IT execs and big companies to adopt the Mac during the 80s. They tried ads and studies that proved the Mac was easier and cheaper to support. They failed. It was only the gentle persistence of storytelling and the elevation of evangelists that turned the tide.]

What would you have to show someone who believes men never walked on the moon? What evidence would you have to proffer in order to change the mind of someone who is certain the Earth is only 5,000 years old? If they're being truthful with you, there's nothing they haven't been exposed to that would do the trick. I was talking to someone who has a body of artistic work I respect a great deal. He explained to me his notion that the polio vaccine was a net negative, that it didn't really work and that more people have been hurt by it than helped.

I tried evidence. I showed him detailed reports from the Gates Foundation and from the WHO and from other sources. No, he said, that's all faked, promoted by the pharma business. There was no evidence that would change his mind.

Of course, evidence isn't the only marketing tactic that is effective. In fact, it's often not the best tactic. What would change his mind, what would change the mind of many people resistant to evidence is a series of eager testimonials from other tribe members who have changed their minds. When people who are respected in a social or professional circle clearly and loudly proclaim that they've changed their minds, a ripple effect starts. First, peer pressure tries to repress these flip-flopping outliers. But if they persist in their new mindset, over time others may come along. Soon, the majority flips. It's not easy or fast, but it happens.

That's why it's hard to find people who believe the earth is flat. That's why political parties change their stripes now and then. It wasn't that the majority reviewed the facts and made a shift. It's because people they respected sold them on a new faith, a new opinion.


Is something important because you measure it, or is it measured because it's important?

Does our new ability to see things with web data make the previously overlooked now visible, or are we giving weight to things merely because we''ve measured them?

broken link, fixed

Sorry guys, here's the correct link from the previous post:

Initiators #2 [and a free workbook]

[There's now a free digital workbook to go with Poke the Box. Subscribers to the Domino blog got it already. You can find it here.]

For thousands of years, restaurants were dull. Feeding the public is hard work, and being a chef was perhaps a craft, but not often an art.

Consider, then, the case of Grant Achatz, founding chef at the groundbreaking restaurant Alinea and his new restaurant, Next. Every three months, the restaurant is going to abandon its entire menu and start over. First up is a recreation of nineteenth century French food. Then, a futuristic Thai menu. Set it and forget it is precisely not the point. Given all the places you could go for dinner in Chicago, surely this one is now on the list... iniative is the reason.

Or David Chang, raised in Virginia, of Korean descent, who started a career in New York by building an homage to a Japanese noodle bar that may or may not be named after the inventor of dried ramen noodles. Chang is an iconoclast (he adds bacon to his broth, just because he can) and is on a tear, piling up one innovation after another. Failures along the way? Definitely. That's part of what it means to move forward.

And finally, Sarma Melngailis, a chef and entrepreneur who continues to redefine what a chef is supposed to do all day. She found a niche and started poking, building, launching and learning. Is a juice made from yuzu and dandelion for everyone? Of course not. That's part of the point.

The worst moments are your best opportunity

That's how we judge you and how we remember you.

You are presumed to be showing us your real self when you are on deadline, have a headache, are facing a customer service meltdown, haven't had a good night's sleep, are facing an ethical dilemma, are momentarily in power, are caught doing something when you thought no one else was looking, are irritable, have the opportunity to extract revenge, are losing a competition or are truly overwhelmed.

What a great opportunity to tell the story you'd like us to hear about you.

The thing that makes it popular...

might be precisely the thing that keeps it from working.

Chatroulette was popular because you might randomly see some horrible naked guy. It was like a train wreck attracting rubberneckers. But the very attraction that drew a crowd also ensured it would never be seen as a serious tool.

That kid in school that everyone cheers on as he works to become a class clown might appear popular, but it's certainly getting in the way of his being taken seriously enough to get into college.

I'd argue that the same thinking applies to the way you first encounter someone. You can certainly be over the top enough to get a handshake or even a meeting, but the thing that got you that meeting might be exactly what costs you the deal.

There are a hundred ways you and your organization can become more popular, earn more clicks, generate more comments... but is popular what you're after?

Jumping the line vs. opening the door

Every morning, the line of cars waiting to get onto the Hutchinson River Parkway exceeds 40. Of course, you don't have to patiently wait, you can drive down the center lane, passing all the civilized suckers and then, at the last moment, cut over.

Drivers hate this, and for good reason. The road is narrow, and your aggressive act didn't help anyone but you. You slowed down the cars in the lane behind you, and your selfish behavior merely made 40 other people wait.

This is a different act than the contribution someone makes when she sees that everyone is patiently waiting to enter a building through a single door. She walks past everyone and opens a second door. Now, with two doors open, things start moving again and she's certainly earned her place at the front of that second entrance.

Too often, we're persuaded that initiative and innovation and bypassing the status quo is some sort of line jumping, a selfish gaming of the zero sum game. Most of the time it's not. In fact, what you do when you solve an interesting problem is that you open a new door. Not only is that okay, I think it's actually a moral act.

Don't wait your turn if waiting your turn is leaving doors unopened.

Initiators #1 [PTB]

To celebrate the launch of Poke the Box, I'm going to profile a dozen people who have, in various ways, made the decision to lead, to poke, to initiate. Starting things is a scarce resource, the fuel we need to change things for the better.

Let's kick it off with Sasha Dichter, Director of Business Development at the Acumen Fund. He doesn't run a company, he has a boss, and he works for a non-profit. Certainly there's not a lot of room for initiative and innovation in a setting like this.

Except there is. Sasha has one of the most influential non-profit blogs online, something he started on his own. He has written provocative manifestos and recently launched a national holiday.

It's so easy to get hung up on reacting to incoming, on working through a checklist and on imagining what the boss wants you to do next. It's far more productive, I think, to decide where you want to go and then go there. And the power and low-price of online tools makes that easier than ever.

The key difference between initiators and everyone else is the simple idea of posture. What do you say to yourself in between assignments? What do you do when you see something that needs doing?

Sasha asks himself (not his boss), "what's next?" And that's the shift. You look at a world of opportunities and you pick one. Initiative is taken, it's not given.

Who will say go?

Here's a little-spoken truth learned via crowdsourcing:

Most people don't believe they are capable of initiative.

Initiating a project, a blog, a wikipedia article, a family journey. Initiating something even when you're not putatively in charge.

At the same time, almost all people believe they are capable of editing, giving feedback or merely criticizing.

So finding people to fix your typos is easy.

A few people are vandals, happy to anonymously attack or add graffiti or useless noise.

If your project depends on individuals to step up and say, "This is what I believe, here is my plan, here is my original thought, here is my tribe," then you need to expect that most people will see that offer and decline to take it.

Most of the edits on Wikipedia are tiny. Most of the tweets among the billions that go by are reactions or possibly responses, not initiatives. Q&A sites flourish because everyone knows how to ask a question, and many feel empowered to answer it, if it's specific enough. Little tiny steps, not intellectual leaps or risks.

I have a controversial belief about this: I don't think the problem has much to do with the innate ability to initiate. I think it has to do with believing that it's possible and acceptable for you to do it. We've only had these doors open wide for a decade or so, and most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it.

There's a huge shortage... a shortage of people who will say go.

Today we're shipping my new book Poke the Box. Writing a book isn't that difficult for me (I've done it before), and it would have been easy to keep publishing books the traditional way, the way it's supposed to be done. Instead, I took the opportunity to start a new publishing company, to reinvent a lot of what we expect when we think of when we consider publishing a book. I took my own advice.

I hope you'll check it out.


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