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

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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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Linchpin

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

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Meatball Sundae

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

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Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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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.

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Purple Cow

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Small is the New Big

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Survival is Not Enough

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

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The Big Moo

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

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The Big Red Fez

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

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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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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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Tribes

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

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

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

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V Is For Vulnerable

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

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we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

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

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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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« April 2011 | Main | June 2011 »

A marketing lesson from the apocalypse

If you're reading this blog, then the world didn't end, at least in my time zone.

How does one market the end of the world? After all, you don't have a big ad budget. Your 'product' is something that has been marketed again and again through the ages and it has never worked. There's significant peer pressure not to buy it...

And yet, every time, people succumb. They sell their belongings, stop paying into their kid's college fund and create tension and despair.

Here's the simple lesson:

Sell a story that some people want to believe. In fact, sell a story they already believe.

The story has to be integrated into your product. The iPad, for example, wasn't something that people were clamoring for... but the story of it, the magic tablet, the universal book, the ticket to the fashion-geek tribe--there was a line out the door for that. The same way that every year, we see a new music sensation, a new fashion superstar. That's not an accident. That story is just waiting for someone to wear it.

And the some part is vital. Not everyone wants to believe in the end of the world, but some people (fortunately, just a few) really do. To reach them, you don't need much of a hard sell at all.

Too often marketers take a product and try to invent a campaign. Much more effective is to find a tribe, find a story and make a product that resonates, one that makes the story work.

That's the whole thing. A story that resonates and a tribe that's tight and small and eager.

I hope you can dream up something more productive than the end of the world, though.

Busker's dilemma (busker's delight)

If you play music on the street with a bucket for donations, every song has to be a showstopper.

No chance for interludes or pauses or moments where you build up for the big finish. If the passerby doesn't stop, it's all for nought.

So your music changes. You're always at 11, always jamming it, always pushing in the moment.

Online, we're all buskers. For a while, anyway.

Once someone has stopped and started to listen, you have a choice. You can take that person on a journey, forego the next stranger and instead seduce the one you've got...

Or you can keep pushing for more attention from more people.

Both work. The challenge is in making a choice, your choice, a choice based on why you're doing the work in the first place. It's not up to them, it's up to you.

How else are you supposed to take it?

"Don't take it personally."

This is tough advice. Am I supposed to take it like a chair? Sometimes it seems as though the only way to take it is personally. That customer who doesn't like your product (your best work) or that running buddy who doesn't want to run with you any longer...

Here's the thing: it's never personal. It's never about you. How could it be? That person doesn't truly know you, understand what you want or hear the voices in your head. All they know is themselves.

When someone moves on, when she walks away or even badmouths you or your work, it's not personal about you. It's personal about her. Her agenda, her decisions, her story.

Do your work, the best way you know how. Is there any other option?

 

Coming to Seattle for a half-day Road Trip session

If you're in the neighborhood, come join me early on June 24th. Ticket information is now live, and there are some discounted early bird seats.

No slides, mostly Q&A, the sort of thing you might want to bring your boss to. I hope to see you there.

Attendees in Chicago made a video about their experience last year...

Easy and certain

The lottery is great, because it's easy. Not certain, but easy. If you win, the belief goes, you're done.

Medical school is great because it's certain. Not easy, but certain. If you graduate, the belief goes, you're done.

Most people are searching for a path to success that is both easy and certain.

Most paths are neither.

The privilege of being wrong

When you are truly living on the edge, walking on the moon, perhaps, or caught in the grip of extreme poverty--there's no room at all for error. It's a luxury you can't afford.

For the rest of us, though, there's a cushion. Being wrong isn't fatal, it's merely something we'd prefer to avoid. We have the privilege of being wrong. Not being wrong on purpose, of course, but wrong as a cost on the way to being right.

As you gain resources, the act of being wrong goes from being fatal to annoying to a precious opportunity, something that you've earned. You won't advance your cause or discover new truths if you're obsessed with being right all the time--and so the best way to compound your advantage and accomplish even more than you already have is to set out (with relish) to be as open to wrong as often as you can afford to be.

Just imagine how much you'd get done

...if you stopped actively sabotaging your own work.

We must be talented, powerful and resilient creatures indeed given how much we manage to produce despite the constant undercutting, ridicule and needless censorship we aim at ourselves.

The future of the library

What is a public library for?

First, how we got here:

Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own.

This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn't have to own. The library as warehouse for books worth sharing.

Only after that did we invent the librarian.

The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.

After Gutenberg, books  got a lot cheaper. More individuals built their own collections. At the same time, though, the number of titles exploded, and the demand for libraries did as well. We definitely needed a warehouse to store all this bounty, and more than ever we needed a librarian to help us find what we needed. The library is a house for the librarian.

Industrialists (particularly Andrew Carnegie) funded the modern American library. The idea was that in a pre-electronic media age, the working man needed to be both entertained and slightly educated. Work all day and become a more civilized member of society by reading at night.

And your kids? Your kids need a place with shared encyclopedias and plenty of fun books, hopefully inculcating a lifelong love of reading, because reading makes all of us more thoughtful, better informed and more productive members of a civil society.

Which was all great, until now.

Want to watch a movie? Netflix is a better librarian, with a better library, than any library in the country. The Netflix librarian knows about every movie, knows what you've seen and what you're likely to want to see. If the goal is to connect viewers with movies, Netflix wins.

This goes further than a mere sideline that most librarians resented anyway. Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don't shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won't unless coerced.

They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

When kids go to the mall instead of the library, it's not that the mall won, it's that the library lost.

And then we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.

Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.

Post-Gutenberg, books are finally abundant, hardly scarce, hardly expensive, hardly worth warehousing. Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data.

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. (Please don't say I'm anti-book! I think through my actions and career choices, I've demonstrated my pro-book chops. I'm not saying I want paper to go away, I'm merely describing what's inevitably occurring). We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now (most of the time), the insight and leverage is going to come from being fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.

The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who understands the Mesh, a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it's fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

The next library is filled with so many web terminals there's always at least one empty. And the people who run this library don't view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight--it's the entire point.

Wouldn't you want to live and work and pay taxes in a town that had a library like that? The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information? There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.

An end of magic

Arthur C. Clarke told us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Head back to the 1800s with a Taser or a Prius or an iPad and the townsfolk will no doubt either burn you at the stake or worship you.

So many doors have been opened by technology in the last twenty years that the word “sufficiently” is being stretched. If it happens on a screen (Google automatically guessing what I want next, a social network knowing who my friends are before I tell them) we just assume it’s technology at work. Hard to even imagine magic here.

I remember eagerly opening my copy of Wired every month (fifteen years ago). On every page there was something new and sparkly and yes, magical.

No doubt that there will be magic again one day... magic of biotech, say, or quantum string theory, whatever that is. But one reason for our ennui as technology hounds is that we’re missing the feeling that was delivered to us daily for a decade or more. It’s not that there’s no new technology to come (there is, certainly). It’s that many of us can already imagine it.

What (people) want

What do customers, friends, the socially networked, users, neighbors, classmates, servers, administrators, employees... maybe even brands... want?

notice me
like me
touch me
do what I say
miss me if I'm gone

 

« April 2011 | Main | June 2011 »