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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

« December 2012 | Main | February 2013 »

Exactly the same vs. exactly different

You will almost never find a case study or lesson that precisely fits the problem you're aiming to solve. You won't find a book that shows you what someone precisely like you did to solve a problem precisely like this one.

The search for the exact case study or the exact prescription is the work of the resistance, a clever way to stay safe, to protect yourself from your boss or your self-talk. If you wait for the perfect map before departing on your journey, you'll never have to leave.

It's also true, though, that you have never once had to solve a problem that is exactly different from what's gone down before. We'd like to romanticize our problems as unique, as the one and only perfectly difficult situation that is the result of a confluence of unrepeatable, unique causes.

Your problem is your problem, and it is like no other. But it's close enough to those that came before, close enough to the ones you've studied, that it probably pays to stop stalling and take the leap.


Is it interesting because it happened...

or because it happened to you?

If George Clooney sits next to you at a restaurant, that's interesting to you, no doubt, but only interesting to your friends because you're so excited. I mean, he had to sit next to someone!

Should we read your press release or come to your gallery opening or take a sales meeting because it's important, or because it's important to you?

Marketing is the art of seeing (and then creating) what might be interesting to more than our friends.

There's a circle of friends in our lives that care a lot about what we care about. The rest of the world? They mostly don't.

[Feel free to insert "important" and "urgent" as well. ]

Possession aggression

It's actually not that easy to give something substantial away. That's because accepting it means a change (in lifestyle, responsibility or worldview) of the person receiving it. It's stressful.

Far more stressful, though, is taking something away. Once a person or an organization comes to believe that, "this is mine," they erect a worldview around their possession of it. Taking it away instantly becomes personal, an act far greater than living without a privilege or object in the first place would be.

We care more about the change than the object or privilege itself.

With great power comes great irresponsibility

It's possible that Peter Parker was uninformed.

Organizations tend to view "responsiblity" as doing the safe, proven and traditional tasks, because to do anything else is too risky. The more successful they become, the less inclined they are to explore the edges.

In fact, organizations with reach and leverage ought to be taking more risks, doing more generous work and creating bolder art. That's the most responsible thing they can do.

Two people you might need in your professional life

An agonist. While an antagonist blocks an action, the agonist causes it to happen. Even more than a muse, a professional agonist might be exactly what you need to provoke your best work.

And of course, a procrastinatrix. Someone who's only job is to hold you accountable for getting it done, now, not later.

In a world with fewer bosses than ever, when we are our own boss, these two functions are more important than ever. If you can't find a way to do it for yourself, spend the time and the money to find someone to do it for you. Neither job is particularly difficult to do, but it's hard to do to yourself. Two more job titles for the future...

[Thanks to Sunny for the nomenclature.]

When a conference works (and doesn't)

When we get together with others, even at a weekly meeting, it either works, or it doesn't. For me, it works:

...If everything is on the line, if in any given moment, someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can't possibly be the same if you hear about it later. It might even be you who speaks up, stands up and makes a difference. (At most events, you can predict precisely what's going to be said, and by whom). In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will.

...If there's vulnerability and openness and connection. If it's likely you'll meet someone (or many someones) that will stick with you for years to come, who will share their dreams and their fears while they listen to and understand yours. (At most events, people are on high alert, clenched and protective. Like a cocktail party where no one is drinking.)

...If there's support. If the people you meet have high expectations for you and your work and your mission, but even better, if they give you a foundation and support to go even further. (At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support.)

...If it's part of a movement. If every day is a building block on the way to something important, and if the attendees are part of a tribe that goes beyond demographics or professional affiliation. (At most events, it's just the next event).

The first law of screenwriting is that the hero of a great movie is transformed during the arc of the story. That's the goal of a great conference, as well. But it's difficult indeed, because there are so many heroes, all thinking they have too much to lose.

What's it for?

If, seventy years ago, you asked Henry Luce, "What is Time magazine for?" he'd probably talk about setting society's agenda, capturing the attention of the educated and powerful and most of all, delivering the best weekly news package he could.

Today, the answer is clear. The purpose of the magazine is to make as much money as possible. Everything else is in service of that goal.

It used to be that the profit enabled the magazine to reach its goals. Today, the goal is to reach the profit.

If you ask a typical food service manager at a typical high school what school lunch is for, the answer is probably not, "to educate kids about healthy food and help them to make nutritious choices for a lifetime." No, the answer is probably, "to feed as many kids as fast and as cheaply as we can, given the limited resources we have."

And if you ask someone working at a kitchen gadget company what the latest item is for, the truthful answer probably has nothing at all to do with pitting an avocado efficiently, or making a good cup of coffee. The honest answer would revolve around ease of manufacturing, pleasing the rep and the store buyer and most of all, producing an item that sells in volume and turns a profit without too many people sending it back.

In most b2b situations, the answer is always the same, "to please my boss."

Sure, we're good at making up backstories to explain our actions, to craft the 'why' that's ostensibly behind the reason we do things. But c'mon. The answer to, "what's it for" is all about what drives the person who makes the non-obvious decisions. If you're always having to recalibrate your actions to match someone else's decisions, that's the real 'for'.

Fedex used to believe that they were in the customer service business, and that speed and reliability were the driving factor behind everything they did. Now, it seems, they are in the profit business. That the purpose of all of those people and all of those trucks and planes is to maximize profit. The rest is merely a means to that end.

I think maximizing near-term profit can be a productive goal, especially if that's what those you work with and partner with expect. I'm pointing out that the spin of substituting something loftier can truly confuse people inside and outside of your organization. And of course, when the only rudder you have is 'profit now,' expect that your long term prospects are in doubt, threatened by those with a different goal, one more congruent with their customer's needs.

Economics often trumps good intent, particularly at scale and over time. Decision-making power accrues to those that spend and make money, one reason that industrialization and time suck the art out of so many things.

Being clear about what we're doing and why is the first step in doing it better. If you're not happy about the honest answer to this question, make substantial changes until you are.

Understanding idea adoption (you're not a slot, you choose a slot)

In the last year, millions of people have bought a copy of 50 Shades. Here's the thing: they didn't all do it at the same time.

Some people bought it when it was a self-published ebook. Others jumped in when word of mouth started to spread, enough that it became a bestseller. Most people, though, waited until it was on the bestseller list, in piles at the bookstore and the subject of positive and negative discussion and even parodies. And a few people are going to buy it two years from now, after everyone else who was willing to read it already has.

Another example: Just about all of the people who read this blog have read one of my books, and yet, just about no one who reads this blog has read my newest book yet (less than 2%, surely).

This is what almost always happens. Individuals choose a slot based on what sort of leadership or risk or followership behavior makes them happy right now. Early adopters and nerds like to go first. But some people are early when it comes to shoes, or to mystery novels, or records, while others adopt early when it comes to political ideas or restaurants.

Most of the time, most of us choose to be in the slot of mass. The masses wait to see the positive reviews, or they monitor the bestseller lists. The masses know they have plenty of time, that they'll get around to it when they get a chance, and mostly, they are driven by what their peers (the early adopters, the ones who keep track of this stuff) tell them. "Why waste time and money on the wrong thing," they argue, with some persuasion. So they wait for proof. Social proof or statistical proof.

[Beyond mass: No, everyone is not going to sign up for your new online service or buy my new book. We're talking about pockets of people, micro markets. But within those micro markets, everyone is not the same. Within those micro markets, some people are itching to go first, and plenty of people are waiting patiently to get it right.]

The glitch in the system is that many marketers obsess only about the launch. They put their time and money and effort into the first week on sale, and then run to work on the next thing, when in fact, the mass market, those that choose to wait for more than, "it's new!" haven't decided to take the leap yet.

Perversely, marketers look at what typically happens after the launch and say, "it's not worth sticking with this, because stuff that doesn't take off right away rarely does." And the reason? Because it was abandoned by the marketers who introduced it and then ran off to play with the next shiny object. It's self-fulfilling.

The fact is that almost all the profits of the record and book businesses come from the backlist, from Pink Floyd and Dr. Seuss. Apple sold almost all of its iPhones in the months after each launched, not the first day. Because that's what the market wanted. The exception that proves the rule: The Super Bowl only happens once a year, and it's just about the only time that everyone does everything at the same time.

I don't think the job of the marketer is to encourage people to jump from one chosen slot to another. I don't think it's worth the time or the energy to get someone who is comfortable with mass to suddenly turn into an early adopter, at least for today. Better, I think, to live in and work with and embrace your market, to go where they are, not to pressure them to change their habit.

For truly important problems

You know something is important when you're willing to let someone else take the credit if that's what it takes to get it done.

The cost of neutral

If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn't come at all.

If you go to work and do what you're told, you're not being negative, certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate (which, alas, you were trained not to demonstrate) costs us all, because you're using a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have added more value.

It's tempting to sit quietly, take notes and comply, rationalizing that at least you're not doing anything negative. But the opportunity cost your newly lean, highly leveraged organization faces is significant.

Not adding value is the same as taking it away.

« December 2012 | Main | February 2013 »