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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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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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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 Red Fez

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

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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?

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THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« August 2014 | Main

The most important thing

The next thing you do today will be the most important thing on your agenda, because, after all, you're doing it next.

Well, perhaps it will be the most urgent thing. Or the easiest.

In fact, the most important thing probably isn't even on your agenda.

Without a keyboard

When the masses only connect to the net without a keyboard, who will be left to change the world?

It is possible but unlikely that someone will write a great novel on a tablet.

You can't create the spreadsheet that changes an industry on a smart phone.

And professional programmers don't sit down to do their programming with a swipe.

Many people are quietly giving away one of the most powerful tools ever created—the ability to craft and spread revolutionary ideas. Coding, writing, persuading, calculating—they still matter. Yes, of course the media that's being created on the spot, the live, the intuitive, this matters. But that doesn't mean we don't desperately need people like you to dig in and type.

The trendy thing to do is say that whatever technology and the masses want must be a good thing. But sometimes, what technology wants isn't what's going to change our lives for the better.

The public square is more public than ever, but minds are rarely changed in 140 character bursts and by selfies.

Law and order

At some point, the world (the project, the moment) becomes so chaotic or dangerous that we sacrifice law in exchange for order.

The question is: when.

When is it time to declare martial law? (or your version of it)

When do you abandon your project plan because the boss is hysterical? When do you go off the long-term, drip-by-drip approach to growth because cash flow is tight? When do you suspend one set of valued principles in order to preserve the thing you set out to build in the first place?

When Richard Nixon was at his most megalomaniacal, he was willing to suspend any law in his way to preserve what he saw as order. Failed entrepreneurs and project leaders fall into the same trap: it feels as though this time, it truly is the end of the road, and throwing away principles is tempting indeed.

You've probably met people who declare this sort of emergency ten times a year.

History is filled with examples of people who pushed the order button too soon... but few instances where people stuck with their principles for too long.

The launch meeting

You've probably been to one. The organization is about to embark on something new--a new course, a new building, a new fundraising campaign. The organizer calls together the team, and excitement is in the air.

Choose which sort of meeting you'd like to have:

The amateur's launch meeting is fun, brimming with possibility and excitement. Everything is possible. Goals are meant to be exceeded. Not only will the difficult parts go well, but this team, this extraordinary team, will be able to create something magical.

Possibility is in the air, and it would be foolish to do anything but fuel it. After all, you don't get many days as pure as this one.

The professional's launch meeting is useful. It takes advantage of the clean sheet of paper to address the difficult issues before egos get in the way. Hard questions get asked, questions like:

  • What are the six things most likely to go wrong?
  • What will lead us to go over budget? Over schedule?
  • How will we communicate with one another when things are going well, and how will we change that pattern when someone in the room (anyone in the room) realizes that something is stuck?

Right here, in this room, one where there's nothing but possibility and good vibes—here's your moment to have the difficult conversations in advance, to outline the key dates and people and tasks.

By all means, we need your dreams and your stretch goals and most of all your enthusiasm. But they must be grounded in the reality of how you'll make it happen.

Worthless (priceless)

We can transform a priceless thing into a worthless one. Mishandle it, disrespect it, break it, leave it out in the rain. The compromise of the moment, the urgency of now, the lack of a long view--it's trivially easy to destroy things we think of as priceless.

But we can also transform the worthless into things valuable beyond measure. When we attach memories to something, it becomes worth treasuring. And when the tribe uses it to connect, we have a hard time imagining living without it.

The value of access

Access to people

Access to capital

Access to technology

Access to infrastructure

Access to gatekeepers

Access to trust (and the benefit of the doubt)

Access to civilization

Access to energy

Access to information

Access to a clean, natural world

Access to responsibility

Access to freedom

Some come from free markets, some come from societal infrastructure, some from technology.

So easy to undervalue, until you don't have them. I don't think we should be so quick to take these for granted.

Functional jewelry

Watches and eyeglasses have morphed into devices that many choose to spend time and money on, becoming not just tools, but a form of identity.

We could extend this a bit to handbags and to cars, but the number of items that qualify as functional jewelry is fairly small--and the market for each is huge, far bigger than if the only use was as a tool.

Apple has long flirted around the edges of this psychological sweetspot, and the reaction to yesterday's watch is fascinating to see.

1. What does this remind me of? is a key question people ask. Certain glasses make people look smart, because they remind us of librarians and scholars. Some cars remind us of movie chase scenes or funerals... If you're going to put something on my wrist, it's going to remind me of a watch. What sort of watch? The Pulsar my grandfather wore in 1973? A 175,000 euro Franck Muller Tourbillion, with complications

Marketers rarely get the chance to start completely fresh, to say, "this reminds you of nothing, start here."

2. Do people like me wear something like this? is the challenge that the Google glass had (a challenge at which, so far, they have completely failed). Remember when bigshots used to wear Mont Blanc pens (oh, another bit of functional jewelry) in the outside pockets of their Armani suits? They didn't need a fountain pen that handy... it was a badge, a label, something the tribe did.

3. What story do I tell myself when I put this on? is the core of the fancy wristwatch marketing promise, because, after all, most people aren't going to realize quite how much you paid.

4. Do I want this to be noticed or invisible? is the fork in the road for all of this. You can buy a car or glasses or a watch that no one will comment on, remember or criticize. Or you can say, "look at this, look at me."

The iPhone and the iPod weren't launched as functional jewelry, they were pocketable tech, designed to be a tool for a user seeking a digital good-taste experience, but not originally thought of as jewelry. White headphones and phone cases and then Beats transformed these devices into a chance for individuals to wear a label and a message and tell a story (to themselves and to others) about their importance and tool choice.

The challenge the Apple watch faces right now is that there are only three of them. And successful jewelry is never, ever mass. Even engagement rings come in 10,000 varieties.

So, as technology people continue to eye the magical fashion business with envy, they're going to have to either change our culture, to create a 1984-style future in which all jewelry is the same jewelry, for all knowledge workers, slave to their devices, or they need to shift gears and understand that people are sometimes more like peacocks, eager for their own plumage, stories and narratives.

Or they could just make tools that are hard to live without.

The most important marketing decision the CMO makes...

Is the goal to get people to notice what we make?

or

Are we setting out to make something people choose to talk about?

If you don't know your boss's answer to this, find out. If you do, act accordingly.

Hint: getting people to talk (or care) about your average stuff for average people is a lot more difficult than it ever was before.

Things well done (and the smartest Lt Gov candidate ever)

The Overcast podcast app is my favorite. And this is my favorite podcast.

Chris Guillebeau's new book is a pleasure to read. And here are two insightful books on b2b consultative selling, one a classic, one new. And Rohan's blog is better than ever.

Tim Wu, perhaps the smartest person crazy enough to run for Lieutenant Governor of New York, wrote a book called The Master Switch that ought to be read by every person who cares about the future of the internet, even if you're not able to vote for him tomorrow.

These earplugs actually work. While it's not true that reading in bed will ruin your eyesight, it's pretty easy to set yourself up for fifty years of aural unhappiness in exchange for just a few too-loud experiences.

The Sprout is a simple, elegant, powerful way to listen to music that sounds better than you're used to...

Hover is my go-to for domains. They're humans. That says a lot.

Are you willing to build a trail?

A few years ago, I posted a help-wanted ad. I was recently looking at some of the application questions:

Point to your personal website

Show us some of the projects you’ve led that have shipped and made an impact

Show us work you’ve done on the clock, and how you made it work

Are you restless? What do you make or do in your spare time that leaves a trail and makes an impact?

Find a particularly lame example of UX on the web and fix it into something better than good

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Steve Krug or Steve McConnell?

Point to a blog post that changed the way you think about connecting with people online 

Have you created anything worth watching on Vimeo or YouTube?

Where do you work now? What’s great about it?
 
If you saw an ad like this today, would you be ready to apply for it? Of course, not everyone posts jobs like this, but if you had a portfolio like this in hand, would it help?
 
If you work on creating this sort of digital trail and point of view for an hour a day, you'll be ready in six months... No matter who is running the ad.

« August 2014 | Main