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Twitter: @thisissethsblog





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 2012 | Main | December 2012 »

Fall recommended reading list

Here it is: My fall book list—this time, it's half a dozen new books, some music and even a gadget.

(Here are three past lists).

For the first time, I'm building my list using the beta version of a new Squidoo tool we call postcards. Now it's simple and easy to highlight a product or an idea and share it with friends. We take the postcards you build and arrange them into stacks, organizing them by creator, topic and popularity. You can even embed a postcard onto a website (see below).

What you see are the first steps of what we hope will be a powerful platform. I hope you'll try it out by recommending a few finds of your own.

The Stockholm Octavo

The fermata


It is a mark from the composer to the conductor: Hold the pause as long as you like.

When we finally have the attention of an audience, our instinct is to rush. Attention is precious, please don't stare, okay, I'm hurrying, there, I'm done.

It doesn't have to work that way.

If you've got something to say, say it. Slowly. With effect. The audience isn't going anywhere. At least not the people you care about.

No, don't waste their time. Yes, handle your message with the respect it deserves.

If you have to rush to say it, it might not be worth saying.

Wasted kindling

The most valuable wood at the campsite is the dry twigs and branches used to start a fire.

It's hard to imagine a bigger waste than cooking an entire meal using nothing but kindling. It burns fast and bright, but it doesn't last. You might be able to cook something, but then there's be nothing left for the next guy. No, the useful technique is to have some bigger logs standing by, and to use as little kindling as possible.

This, of course, is my analogy for marketing and promotion. That juicy link from a design blogger or your appearance on TV—that's kindling. If that's what you're depending on, you're in trouble. One manufacturer I know explained that he got about thirty orders from a post on a well-known blog, and so he needed a post like that every week to stay in business. Good luck with that.

PR and promo addiction starts this way. It's the easy and lazy way to keep your product selling. Spray and pray. Work the kindling system, get the quick bits of attention and then move on.

It might work now and then, but it's not a dependable and scalable way to grow your business. You need significant logs, things that keep the system working without a constant stream of promotion. A few:

  • a remarkable product that users enjoy talking about
  • a product with virality built in--something that works better when my friends use it too
  • a community orientation, so that each new user enhances the value of the community, creating a virtuous cycle
  • economies of scale in both production and marketing. As you grow, things get both cheaper and easier to talk about

All four are intentional (and not easy) acts of a marketer and designer who realize that they have a choice about what to build and how to build it. [Here's a post from three years ago with more on this.]

Using up all the kindling is selfish and ultimately pointless.

What are professional reviews for?

I know what they used to be for. A decade ago, there really was no way to tell if a movie, a book or a play was worth your time before you paid up. A professional review could be a valuable signal, a way to save people time and money.

Along the way, professional reviewers also decided that they could alter the culture by speaking up. Since creators of culture are often sensitive to what the critics have to say, establishing critical baselines (particularly when you are a powerful arbiter of what sells and what doesn't) became a real function of the critic.

Today, of course, there's no shortage of cultural feedback. If I want to know what people thought of a bit of culture, it's only a click away. In fact, for the consumer who doesn't want to know (spoiler alert) it's almost impossible to avoid.

With that much feedback to choose from, what purpose do the anonymous book reviews in Publishers Weekly or Kirkus Review serve? Or the long movie reviews in the Times or the short ones in Variety? Or the restaurant reviews in the local paper?

They might be saying, "I have a track record, and if you agree with my past picks, you'll agree with this," which works fine if it's always the same reviewer and we know them by name.

They might be saying, "our publication has a good track record in picking what's going to be popular, so if you're a theater owner or a bookstore, pay heed," except they don't have a good track record, they have a terrible one.

Or they might be saying, "attention actors and directors and writers--we don't like it when you make books and movies that we don't like, and we're going to pillory your work until you stop." Assigning someone who doesn't like an author's work to review the author's next book seems cruel to all involved.

[And sometimes, they're just fun.]

All a long way of saying that if you make something that people are likely to criticize, pay careful attention to which critics you listen to. They probably don't view the world the way you do, and worse, the way your fans do.

Reading criticism just to ruin your day is a waste of your talent.

Freedom in a digital world

For a long time, there was alignment between what we wanted when it came to privacy and what was possible for the government to do. We relished our privacy and got used to the freedom to act anonymously at the same time that the government and marketers really couldn't keep track even if they wanted to.

In the pre-internet world, there was just no way to imagine a useful database of every citizen's fingerprints. The thought that a store would know every item you've ever purchased (and not just at their store) was crazy. Freedom from intrusion existed largely because the alternative was impossible.

Today, of course, we know that we can sequence the DNA of every resident and put it in a database. We can install so many cameras in a city that just about every corner is under surveillance. We can even wire cars so that they give themselves tickets when the driver is speeding. And yes, marketers already know about which websites you've visited recently.

Which leads to a series of questions that we're not asking.

Should there be speed limits? If so, should a violation depend on the bad luck of getting caught by a random cop on a random road (maybe)? Or should it be automatic?

Should drunk driving be permitted? If not, why not have a breathalyzer in every car, so that a simple puff of air is necessary to start the car? What if the insurance company gave you a big discount if you opted in?

Should everyone, even the presumed innocent, be required to put their DNA in a databank so that violent criminals are much more likely to be found? If not, who should have their data shared? How many innocent people behind bars could we free (and guilty parties could we catch?)

Should the government be able to sift through bank records looking for money laundering behavior? What about seeking out trends in tax records or cell phone calling patterns?

What about building a database of everyone who attends a football game (using facial recognition)? A politcal rally?

Should we take advantage of technology to allow us to trace every bullet and know what gun it was fired from?

One argument is that those with nothing to hide are already being surveilled in countless ways, and we probably ought to make laws to get those that would hurt the rest to be included.

The other argument is that all surveillance is too much, and it should be permitted to wear a clown mask into a bank and there ought not to be speed limits.

As usual, we're going to end up somewhere in between, but like all things the Net breaks, this one is going to take a long time to catch up to what's already happening.

In the meantime, I wish we were asking more questions.

"This is the best I can do"

vs. "It's not good enough."

Both are symptoms of a huge problem that doesn't even have a name.

Entire industries lull themselves into believing that what they make and how they make it is good enough--until someone comes along and turns the market on its head by proving them wrong.

At the same time, countless projects go unlaunched, improvements hidden, thoughts unstated--because the person behind the idea is hiding behind the false understanding that their work isn't good enough yet.

Which problem do you have?

Accepting small promises

Marketing is about making promises and then keeping them. The marketer comes to us and makes a promise. If we accept the promise, a sale is made.

If we seduce ourselves into accepting small promises, we let everyone down.

The small promises of a feature added or a price reduced cheapen us and the marketer who would have us flock to him. 

The big promises of transparency and care, of design and passion, of commitment and stewardship--we ought to be demanding more of this. 

We get what we settle for.

Free coffee, next exit

That's the most effective billboard one can imagine, particularly if it's typeset properly and if the coffee is good.

Most billboards aren't nearly as useful, because the wrong service is promoted, or, more likely, because someone saw all that space and worked hard to fill it up.

The same thing is true of most websites. You know so well the why's and how's of what you built and how terrific it is, and the thought of using just a few words when a bunch will do is frightening indeed.

No, your solution doesn't have to be simple or obvious. But the story about what it accomplishes does.

The goal of a marketing interaction isn't to close the sale, any more than the goal of a first date is to get married. No, the opportunity is to move forward, to earn attention and trust and curiosity and conversation.

Simple, clear and actionable.


When John Coltrane plays the melody early in the track Harmonique, you can hear some of the notes crack.

Of course, Coltrane was completely capable of playing these notes the traditional way. And yet he didn't. 

It's this effort and humanity that touches us about his solo, not just the melody.

Sometimes, "never let them see you sweat," is truly bad advice. The work of an individual who cares often exposes the grit and determination and effort that it takes to be present.

Perfecting your talk, refining your essay and polishing your service until all elements of you disappear might be obvious tactics, but they remove the thing we were looking for: you.

When you don't know what to do...

That's when we find out how well you make decisions.

When you don't have the resources to do it the usual way, that's when you show us how resourceful you are.

And when you don't know if it's going to work, that's how we find out whether or not we need you on our team.

Making instructions is harder than following them.

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