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

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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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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

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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

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Unleashing the Ideavirus

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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

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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Member since 08/2003

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.

Different kinds of broken systems

From healthy to toast...

Something is broken, we know it's broken, we can fix it right away and we'll learn from it.

It's broken, we know it's broken, we fixed it, don't worry, but we learned nothing, it will break again, I'm just doing my job.

It's broken, we know it's broken, but we don't think we can afford to fix it.

It's broken, but we don't know it's broken.

It's not broken (it is, but we're not willing to admit it).

It's broken, we may or may not know it's broken, but mostly, we don't care enough to try to fix it, to learn how we could fix it better or even to accept help from people who care.

Crucial elements for the placebo effect

Placebos, used ethically, are powerful tools. They can cure diseases, make food taste better and dramatically increase the perceived quality of art. They can improve the way teachers teach, students learn and we judge our own safety.

Not all placebos work, and they don't function in all fields. Here are some things that successful placebos have in common:

They do best when they improve something that is difficult to measure objectively.

Does this stereo sound better than that one? Is your headache better today than it was yesterday? How annoying was it to wait for the bus in this new bus shelter?

Sometimes the outcome is difficult to measure objectively because it's abstract, but sometimes it's because it's personal.

If you claim that a new driver makes a golf ball go further, a simple double-blind test is enough for me to know if your claim is legitimate, and if it's not proven, it's significantly harder for me to buy in, which of course is the key to the placebo effect working.

If I tell a teacher something about his students, and that knowledge causes the teacher to take a more confident approach, test scores will go up. But what the placebo did was change the teacher (hard to measure), which, by extension, changed the test scores. 

Straining credulity is a real danger, one that denudes the effect of placebos.

In 1796, when homeopathy was first developed, we knew very little about atoms, molecules and the scientific method. As a result, the idea behind these potions was sufficiently sciencey that it permitted many people to convince themselves to become better. Today, informed patients find it can't possibly work, so it doesn't. The same thing is true for astrology, which was 'invented' before Copernicus.

Twenty years ago, audiophiles actually paid $495 for a digital alarm clock that made their stereos sound better. It faded fast, mostly because it was embarassing to admit you'd bought ridiculous magic beans like these. But today, $100 usb cables continue to be sold, because, maybe, just maybe, something is going on here. We're not sure we actually know enough about dielectrics and the skin effect to be sure.

Argue all you want about whether or not you want to be buying or selling placebos, but it's quite likely that the right placebo with the right story can dramatically increase certain outcomes.

If you want to improve performance, the right placebo is often the safest and cheapest way to do so. The opportunity is to find one that's likely to work, and to market it in a way that's ethical and effective.

What's wrong with your website?

Or your Facebook page or your tweets?

Not much.

In real life, it's not unusual for one in four people who walk into your store to buy from you. Not unusual for every friend you call on the phone to have an actual conversation with you. Not surprising that most people you ask on a date say yes, or at least politely decline.

In direct mail, you're doing well if only 99 people out of a hundred say no. Not 25%, but 1% success.

Online, though, the numbers are far worse. It's not unusual for a thousand people to visit your website before someone buys something. It's not news if you ask 5,000 Twitter followers to do something and they all refuse to take action.

Too much noise, too many choices, and most of all, too many people asking for everything, all the time.

People won't click all the things they can click, ever. They won't get three or four or nine clicks into your site no matter how responsive, webkitted and user tested your site is.

Sure, you can probably make it better.

Someone who's really good at it can probably make it measurably better.

But don't beat yourself up that it's not converting. By real-life definitions, nothing online converts. 

The secret is maximizing the things that can't work in real life. The viral effects, the upside of remarkable products and services, the horizontal movement of ideas, from person to person, not from you to the market.

Does "stationary" matter?

Formality is a curious thing.

StationaryI have trouble buying paper and pens at a store that cares so little about competence that they've misspelled the very thing they sell on their sign.

It occurs to me that this is a pretty silly reason not to buy a package of paper. I know exactly what they mean. I'm just being pedantic.

And we judge people by how they choose to wear a tie and jacket, or whether or not they use the correct typeface on their resume. Even though we're hiring them to run a forklift or balance the books.

Is it okay to read and enjoy a self-published book that is poorly laid out? What does hiring a talented layout designer have to do with writing a good book?

Is adherence to cultural norms an indicator of quality and care in other areas? If it's not, how much do we lose when we shun people who don't care about the cultural foundations that we grew up with?

We don't have a word for the satisfaction of engaging with something that's just right, that's both original and also grounded in the quality of execution that comes from an awareness and embrace of the cultural norms that people like us care about. Someone who took the time to get the irrelevant details right. That satisfaction is important to me.

And yet, the irrelevant cues might not be so irrelevant.

Not everyone will judge you because you ignore or don't understand the formalities. (And in fact, the judging and the tsk-tsking aren't always something to aspire to, if it distracts us from the work we're trying to do). But some people will judge you, and if you care about them, cultural norms are a cheap way to earn trust.

It's also a privilege to do something properly.

Will our entire culture go completely to pieces if we stop defending the apostrophe? I don't think so. But understanding formalities is a choice, and you should embrace or reject them with intent.

Marketing used to be what you say

Now, marketing is what you do. What you make. How you act. The choices you make when you are sure no one is looking. 

While you were out... (news from late August)

Two pieces of good news you might have missed while you were away:

a. I posted an opening for one or two paid internships. You still have a week to share this with a friend.

b. Thanks to my wonderful readers and my colleague Bernadette Jiwa, we were able to raise more than our goal of $200,000 for charity: water. Thanks to everyone who pitched in.

We missed you. Welcome back.