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SETH'S BOOKS

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

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all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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linchpin

Linchpin

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

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meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

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

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permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

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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.

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purple.cow

Purple Cow

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

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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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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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the.big.moo

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

The Big Red Fez

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

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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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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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tribes

Tribes

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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« July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

Will I see you tomorrow?

There is no greater indicator of future behavior than the answer to this question.

Fly-by, drive-by, anonymous, see-you-sucker interactions are easy to start, easy to be disappointed by, hard to count on when it comes to civility or a career.

We work to create the alternative. Masks off, snarkiness set aside, committed to long haul. That's the connection that the connection economy is built on.

An end of books

Books, those bound paper documents, are part of an ecosystem, one that was perfect, and one that is dying, quickly.

Ideas aren’t going away soon, and neither are words. But, as the ecosystem dies, not only will the prevailing corporate systems around the paper book wither, but many of the treasured elements of its consumption will disappear as well.

THE BOOKSTORE as we know it is doomed, because many of these establishments are going to go from making a little bit of money every day to losing a little bit. And it’s hard to sustain daily losses for long, particularly when you’re poorly capitalized, can’t use the store as a loss leader and see no hope down the road.

The death of the bookstore is being caused by the migration to ebooks (it won't take all books to become ‘e’, just enough to tip the scale) as well as the superior alternative of purchase and selection of books online. If the function of a bookstore is to stock every book and sell it to you quickly and cheaply, the store has failed.

THE LIBRARY is limping, partly because many of them have succumbed to being a free alternative to Netflix or the boarded-up Blockbuster. As fewer people dive into a sea of printed books, libraries will have no choice but to stop stocking that sea with expensive items that few use.

THE TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER is culturally connected to the bookseller. That's their customer, not you, the reader (ever tried to call customer service at a book publisher?). As the bookseller disappears, and as the open nature of the ebook platform rewards individuals and quick-moving smaller entities, many in traditional book publishing will find their particular skills no longer valued the way they used to be.

SINGLE TASKING is an anachronism. As soon as ebooks moved from the Kindle to the iPad, the magic of reading was threatened by the opportunity (“for just a second”) to check on email, Words with Friends or an incoming text message.

READING FOR PLEASURE was largely extinguished by four generations of not-very-good teaching philosophies. By treating a book as homework and a punishment, we’ve raised people to not look forward to reading. More than once, friends have said, “you should be really pleased, I even finished your new book.” My guess is that no one says that to Laurence Fishburne about his new movie. There’s no real ebook piracy problem because most people don’t think books are worth stealing.

THE BELOVED SHELF (or wall) of books is less well-thumbed and less respected than it was. We’re less likely to judge someone on their ownership and knowledge of books than at any time in the last five hundred years. And that shelf created juxtapositions and possibilities and prompted you when you needed prompting. Ten generations ago, only the rich and the learned owned books. Today, they're free at the local recycling table.

THE PAVLOVIAN RESPONSE will fade. You go to a bookstore, a quiet, civilized, respected greenhouse of ideas. A person you connect with hands you a book, wraps it, charges you a surprisingly small amount of money and you go home, ready to curl up for five or six or thirty hours, to immerse yourself in a new world or a new set of ideas. And then you will take that volume, one that’s designed to last for a century with no technology necessary, and either share it with a friend or place it in just the right place on your wall. Your brain was wired to be taught to be open to these ideas, to be respectful of the volume itself, because all of the elements of the ecosystem, from the author who took a year to the editor who curated the book to the jacket designer and the printer and the store… they all aligned perfectly to create this method of consumption.

None of these changes, by themselves, are enough to kill a venerable information delivery and cultural touchstone like the book. But all of them together? I’m writing this on a train filled with educated, upper income suburban commuters of all genders and ethnicities (book buyers, until recently). I can see 40 people at a glance, and 34 are using electronic devices, two are asleep and exactly one person is reading a traditional book.

Yes, we're entering a new golden age for books, one with more books and ebooks being written and read today than ever before. No, books won’t be completely eliminated, just as vinyl records are still around (a new vinyl store is opening in my little town). But please don’t hold your breath for any element of the treasured ecosystem to return in force.

Is it traitorous to my tribe to write these words? I'm not arguing that we should push the ecosystem out the door, but I am encouraging us to not spend too much time trying to save it. First, it's a losing battle, but more important, we have bigger opportunities right in front of us.

Twenty years ago, I saw the web and wrote it off. I said it was a cheap imitation of Prodigy, but slower and with no business model. Partly, I just didn't see. But a big part of me wanted Prodigy (my client) to succeed, along with a business model I understood. As a result of my arrogance, I missed the opportunity to take advantage of a brand new medium.

I fear that our cultural and corporate connections to books as a delivery system may blind us to the alternatives.

I’m not as bitter as I might be, as we’ve traded in our books for some fabulous alternatives mixed in with the time-wasters. But yes, after 500 years, after building not one but several industries around the creation, publication, distribution and storage of books, I’m pretty nostalgic.

I called this post, "An end" as opposed to "the end." As always, we'll reinvent. We still need ideas, and ideas need containers. We've developed more and more ways for those ideas to travel and to have impact, and now it's up to us to figure out how to build an ecosystem around them.

Your first mistake might be assuming that people are rational

Your second mistake could be assuming that people are eager for change.

And the marketer's third mistake is assuming that once someone knows things the way you know them, they will choose what you chose.

Message amplification isn't linear

Put two loudspeakers next to each other, and the perceived sound isn't twice as loud--and ten times as many speakers certainly doesn't seem ten times as loud.

But when you hear an idea from two people, it counts for twice as much as if you randomly hear it once. And if you hear an idea from ten people, the impact is completely off the charts compared to just one person whispering in your ear.

Coordinating and amplifying the evangelists of your idea is a big part of the secret of marketing with impact.

Q&A: Where is the free prize inside?

"Where do Purple Cows come from?"

Continuing in our series, Bob at Arnold Architectural Strategies asked a question that was similar to many: What's the free prize, why don't you talk about it more and how do I use it?

In Free Prize Inside, my sequel to Purple Cow, I point out: As marketers, our instinct is to believe that we have to make a product or service that flies faster, jumps higher, costs less, works infinitely better and is generally off the charts at doing what the product is supposed to do. We get our minds around one performance metric and decide that the one and only way we can be remarkable is to knock that metric out of the park. So, hammers have to hammer harder, speakers have to speak louder and cars have to accelerate faster.

Nonsense. This is a distraction from the reality of how humanity chooses, when they have a choice.

We almost never buy the item we buy because it excels at a certain announced metric. Almost no one drives the fastest car or chooses the most efficient credit card. No, we buy a story.

The story is the thing that the product also does. It's the other reason we buy something, and usually, the real reason. Simple example:

You have a seven-year old daughter. The last time she unexpectedly woke up after going to bed was three years ago. Of course, you're going to hire a babysitter and not leave her alone, but really, what are you hiring when you hire a babysitter? Is it her ability to do CPR, cook gourmet food or teach your little one French? Not if she shows up after the kid goes to bed.

No, you're hiring peace of mind. You're hiring the way it makes you feel to know that just in case, someone talented is standing by.

If her goal is to be a great babysitter, then, good performance doesn't involve honing her CPR skills or standing at the door, listening to your daughter breathe. Good performance is showing up a few minutes early, dressed appropriately, with an air of confidence. Good performance is sending a text every 90 minutes, if requested, to the neurotic parents. Good performance is leaving the kitchen cleaner than she found it.

It sounds obvious, but it's rarely done. It's frightening to build and stand for 'other' when everyone else is making slightly-above-average.

The free prize is the other metric, the thing we want to talk about, the job we hire your product to do when we hire a product like yours. That's what we tell a story about.

Magic + Generosity = the brand crush

A decade ago, I was walking through Union Square in New York. The farmer's market was on, and the place was jammed with early adopters. Fortunately, I was wearing a Google shirt, a rarity at the time, a gift from a gig I had done for them.

Across the way, a woman shouted, "Google! Do you work for Google? I love Google! Google is my best friend..." as she waltzed through the crowd toward me.

How many brands get a reaction like that?

Let me posit for a moment that most people aren't capable of loving a brand, not if we define love as a timeless, permanent state of emotion, connection and devotion. I do think, though, that people have crushes on brands all the time. And a crush can get a brand really far.

The first element of a crush is magic. When a product or service does something so unexpected, so inexplicable that we are in awe of what just happened, it feels magical. It might be the mystery of how a 1969 air-cooled Porsche made someone feel when being driven for the first (or hundredth) time. Or, more recently, it might be the surge that comes from connections found, the sort that Facebook used to deliver to new users all the time.

Sometimes that magic is almost Jungian--the roar of the crowd, the smell of flowers on your wedding day, the look in a student's eyes when she hears she got into Princeton. Other times the magic is literally that, the magic of Arthur C. Clarke and any sufficiently advanced technology (the sort of magic that woman in Union Square felt in 2002).

Remember back to the first time you saw an iPhone or tasted a warm donut--these are leaps in experience that connect us to a feeling of wonder we don't often experience, one that (sadly) decays over time.

The second element? Generosity. When the wizard happily shares his potion, when the device or the service is affordable, sold for less than it's worth. Not necessarily free—Harley Davidson motorcycles were never free, but the magic of being accepted by a generous tribe was more than enough to overcome the price of entry.

In software, particularly online, generosity comes naturally. Not only does Google find you what you seek, not only does Twitter let you broadcast to your world, but they appear to do it at no charge at all. Magic and generous at the same time.

It's difficult for the day laborer, the replaceable freelancer, the commodity supplier to earn a crush, because they are cogs in the system... selling the expected, for a fair price. We complete our transaction with you and then move on, even steven.

The crush, in contrast, goes far beyond delivering what's expected. The crush builds value for both sides, delivering a quantum leap in the urgency of the interactions. Ask David Cassidy...

Here's where the famous, "don't be evil" mantra kicks in. When it was first uttered at Google, it meant, "don't be like Microsoft was." In particular it meant, "don't use the magic we're creating in one place to allow us to be ungenerous, and in particular, don't use our magic in one place to eliminate choice in others." When Microsoft used the hegemony of the Windows OS to force people to use IE, they were being 'evil'. They traded their magic and stopped being generous.

Crushes don't last forever. You need to keep adding magic and generosity.

Marketing driven or Market driven?

A marketing-driven organization is run by the Marketing department. It revolves around what marketers do.

A market-driven organization is driven by what the market wants, regardless of what the marketing department feels like doing.

(And of course, there are organizations driven by Sales, by Shareholder Relations and by Operations and Tech too. Even a few that seem to be run by the Employee-happiness Department. Not many, though. Even in these organizations, the option remains: you can be market driven instead. The first step is to choose your market...)

Why not give?

Not because it's the holidays or because you get a tax deduction.

Not because someone is going to match your funds or because your neighbor won't be able to enter a marathon if you don't.

Not because the kid is at the doorbell with those cookies or because it's pledge week.

And not because you read something that pulled your heartstrings.

Right now, for no good reason (and for every good reason), even if it's only $5. Pick whatever cause you care about. And tell a friend.

What if everyone did that, right now?

Generosity is its own reward. Go for it.

Choosing to be formidable

You've met people who are an accident just waiting to happen. What's the opposite of that?

What we're looking for in a boss, in a CEO to invest in, in a business partner, in a candidate, is formidability. Someone to be reckoned with. Not someone with all the answers, because no one has all the answers. No, we want someone who is magic about to happen.

This is the electricity that follows the star quarterback around. We aren't attracted to him because he's a stolid, reliable, by-the-book playmaker. No, it's the sense that he has sufficient domain knowledge combined with the vision and the passion to create lightning at will. Sarah Caldwell was the same way, bringing a sense of imminent possibility to the work she gave us.

They don't teach formidable in school. They teach compliance and rote and perhaps spin. They teach us to be on the alert for shortcuts and for ways to get away with less. Not surprisingly, the formidable leader takes the opposite tack in every respect. She's willing and eager to take the long way if it gets to the elusive destination. She doesn't need to spin because the truth as she knows it is sufficient.

There might only be two critical elements in the choice to be formidable:

1. Skill. The skill to understand the domain, to do the work, to communicate, to lead, to master all of the details necessary to make your promise come true. All of which is difficult, but insufficient, because none of it matters if you don't have...

2. Care. The passion to see it through. The willingness to find a different route when the first one doesn't work. The certainty that in fact, there is a way, and you care enough to find it. Amazingly, this is a choice, not something you need to get certified in.

Formidable leaders find the tough questions, and then, instead of being afraid to ask them, eagerly decide to seek out the answers. They dig in deep to the details that matter and ignore the ones that merely distract. They bite off more than others can chew but consistently avoid biting off more than they can (because they care so much, it hurts to admit that you've reached the end).

It's not a dream if you can do it.

Paul Graham gets full credit for coining the term. "A formidable person is one who seems like they'll get what they want, regardless of whatever obstacles are in the way." A must-read for startup CEOs.

The choke point

Sooner or later, all big public media companies go in search of a choke point, the place where they can find a leg up in terms of attention and monetization.

FACEBOOK said to you and to everyone else: Build your content here on our site, and we'll make it easy for you to effortlessly share it with your friends and their friends and their friends. Over time, of course, the clutter leads to less sharing, and now you can pay them to promote your work to the very people who used to bump into it for free. They have control of a scarce resource (attention) and they're building a business around it.

LINKEDIN approached many bloggers over the last year and asked them to contribute original posts on their site. In exchange, they'd direct lots of their readers to the content. Of course, it's not hard to see how soon it will become an isolated garden, a platform they own and can charge a toll on. They have control of a scarce resource (attention) and they're building a business around it.

GOOGLE cancelled their RSS reader because RSS is a free, unchokable service, one that's hard to put a toll on. On the other hand, when you build on their platform, you become part of their ecosystem, a click away from all sorts of revenue. They have control of a scarce resource (attention) and they're building a business around it.

Worth noting that GMAIL has figured out (acting, it seems, on behalf of users) how to use tabs to differentiate between "primary" emails and "promotions." If you're used to getting this blog by email, odds are you haven't seen it in awhile, because even though it's not a promotion, even though you signed up for it, by default, it's in your promotions tab (easy to fix, by the way, just drag one of the emails to the primary folder). While this tabbing default probably saves you from emails that are actually promotions, it also provides Gmail with a choke point for the future, because the person who controls which tab an email arrives in is powerful indeed.

I could go on about other companies and other platforms, but you get the idea.

Again and again, we see that if you're not the customer, you're the product. "Free" usually means, "you're not in charge." The race continues to be one for attention.

Tim Wu's book on the history of this process is a must-read for anyone who makes media.

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